Labor began for E. and I on December 10th, 2008; however, I didn’t know I was in labor until nearly the 11th. For lunch on the 10th I had ordered some Chinese take-out. It was delicious, noodles, veggies, lots of onions… so when I started having gas pains around three or four o’clock in the afternoon, I wasn’t terribly surprised! These gas pains kept coming, lasting through dinner and into a post-dinner walk with my husband.

During the walk I kept having these pains, and started wondering if perhaps I was in labor. I decided that I probably wasn’t (ha!), so I should just get some sleep.

Sleep was futile, so I got up around midnight to try and go to the bathroom. Success! I had diarrhea, so I thought that perhaps these gas pains would be over and I could get back to sleep. Before trying to sleep though, I tried to time the pains, just to see if “perhaps” they might be labor. The pains were about four to five minutes apart, but not terribly regular, so I decided to head back into the bedroom.

Trying to sleep the second time was even worse, so I got out of bed and started pacing the floors of our apartment. I didn’t wake up my husband, as I figured that he would need all the sleep he could get. By this point, I knew that I was really in labor. These pains hurt! I turned on some music, tried to set up some comfortable “contraction” stations, and swayed my way through the pain, just like I had learned in birthing class.

Around three in the morning I decided to start timing the contractions again. They were anywhere from four minutes to two minutes apart, lasting thirty to forty-five seconds. I was starting to think that I needed some companionship or I was going to go crazy, so around three thirty I woke up my dearly beloved husband. He was a bit tired, but started helping immediately, holding me, talking to me…

After spending some time with me and timing the contractions, my husband noticed that they were less than five minutes apart and pretty long in length. We had heard that if the contractions were five minutes apart, you should head to the hospital. As we weren’t going to a hospital for the birth, at about four or four-thirty in the morning we called the labor hotline (the midwives!). One of the midwives, Vroni, talked to my husband and said that she would come over to our house and check me out.

Vroni came over and observed me during the contractions. She talked with us for a while, explaining that these types of pains could go on for days, as it was my first pregnancy, and that I should prepare myself for a long night. I could hardly believe what she was saying, as I was in what I thought (at the time, ha!) was intense pain, very regularly!

My husband and I decided right then to have Vroni check to see how far dilated I was. We just wanted to know if there was any chance that I would have this baby tonight. I laid down on the couch and Vroni worked her magic. The look on her face was priceless. She looked up at me and said, with great shock, “You are already three to four centimeters dilated!” I breathed a sigh of relief. Apparently I wasn’t going to be feeling these pains for days… labor was in full swing.

I convinced Vroni that I was doing just fine at home, so she went back to her apartment for some rest. I had decided that I wanted stay at home until 8:00 in the morning. It was my goal!!!

I marched around the apartment, swayed on the changing table, listened to classical music, held onto my husband for dear life, knelt on the floor in front of the couch, and made my way through another four hours of contractions. At 8:00 my goal was reached, I was in pain, and I was ready for the help of a midwife! We called the labor hot-line again and talked to the new midwife on call, Katharina.

Katharina had been my midwife for a majority of the pregnancy. I met with her when I was only eight weeks pregnant, and was very excited to have her as my midwife at the birth. My husband told her that I was feeling some serious pain and that I was ready to go into the birthing house. We decided to meet at the birthing house at eight thirty.

My husband and I had all of our bags packed and ready to go, and he had already picked up our rental car, so we threw me and the bags into the car and headed down the road to the birthing house. Thankfully traffic was moving fine, and so the drive there was uneventful, if bumpy.

We settled into the birthing house. Well, I should say that my husband and Katharina got us settled in while I moved around the room having contractions. All of our bed linens were put on the bed, towels put in the right places, and the computer was set up to play that nice relaxing music again. We did forget to light the candles, but in the end I suppose that didn’t matter too much!

I decided that I wanted to try out the birthing tub to help me relax, so we filled it up with some nice warm water, and I “hopped” in. Lying in the water was very peaceful, but I started to have body shakes. I don’t think it was from being cold, but either way I was quaking and shaking like I was having a seizure! I think around this point Katharina asked me if I would mind it if a student midwife came to observe my birth. I figured the more the merrier, so I said yes, and then Isabella came downstairs to assist.

Around ten in the morning (Dec. 11th) I got out of the birthing tub. I was shaking violently and just wanted to be warm and back into some clothes. So I lumbered out, and laid on the bed to warm up and calm down. At this point we thought it might be interesting to see how far dilated I was. After I was a bit more relaxed, Katharina checked, and I was five to six centimeters dilated. Progress!!!

Now here is where I start getting a bit more fuzzy. I know that at some point between ten and twelve-thirty my water broke. The midwives put me into these funny little cotton underpants with a huge pad and I waddled around in my tank-top and underwear, laboring. I believe that during most of these contractions I was on my knees at the end of the bed. Scott was sitting on the end of the bed, my arms were around his waist, and my head was resting on his legs during the contractions. I would sit back and relax on my legs during the breaks. I also did quite a few contractions standing up, my arms around my husband`s neck. I would do anything, if it meant I could be just a little bit comfortable!

Sometime around noon I started having this weird feeling during the contractions. It felt like my stomach was pushing down. I asked Katharina about it, and she said that it was “pushing”. I immediately panicked, thinking that I didn’t want to be pushing if I wasn’t fully dilated. I asked Katharina to check me out, and at twelve-thirty PM on December 11th, I was dilated to ten centimeters. A relatively quick progression I was told, as the “real” labor started around midnight, and approximately twelve hours later I was fully dilated. (At this point Katharina called Regina, the second midwife, to help assist with the actual birth.)

I thought that I’d soon be done, but I had a bit more work to do before my baby joined us in the world.

Now, I should say that I was barely drinking, and hadn’t eaten since dinner the day before. I had felt a bit of nausea while at home, and didn’t want to throw up during the birth. I also just wasn’t in the mood to drink, despite the fact that my husband and Katharina were both constantly urging me to do so.

I suppose if I had eaten and drank like I should have, the exhaustion that hit me at this point might not have happened. But either way, my body was just tired. For about the next hour and a half I laid on my side in the bed, relaxing, and my contractions slowed down. I think they may have gone back to being five minutes apart. I was still feeling the urge to push, but I wasn’t pushing too hard. I just wanted a break.

The midwives were constantly checking my babys heart-beat, to make sure that she was doing fine while inside of me. After my relaxation period on the bed, they decided that it was time for me to get back into action (I learned later that the baby’s heartbeat wasn’t doing well). They made me a “power” drink of something fruity and urged me to start pushing again.

I pushed, and I pushed, but it felt like nothing was happening. My contractions were closer together, but still slow and not great in number. I would push through two contractions, and then they would stop! I was so frustrated, so I kept on pushing even though there were no more contractions.

Eventually they could see the head, but with each push the baby would go back up inside. So, the midwives decided that it was time to change into a power-position. I was whisked onto the floor, into a squat. Scott was sitting at the end of the bed, holding me up from behind, and I was squatting on a mat. The two midwives were in front of me, and Isabella to the side.

This position certainly was a good one for pushing. I felt as if I was going to die with each contraction. Burning sensation and incredible pain. I think I might have said for the first time that I just didn’t think that I could do it. Everyone there, of course, told me that I most certainly could! And I really didn’t have much of a choice by that point! Finally, Katharina told me that I could touch the head. I didn’t have the energy to do anything, so she grabbed my hand and I felt it. Warm, hairy, and… wow, it was a baby!

Just knowing that I was so close gave me an extra burst of energy. With each contraction I pushed as hard as I could. In fact, at one point the midwives said, “stop pushing!!!” But I couldn’t stop. With one great push (and I believe my only real yell) I pushed out the baby.

There it was, lying on the mat, quiet and still. Its head was longer than it was tall, skin color anything but pink and no signs of moving or breathing. I asked them “is it alive?!!” Katharina calmly assured me that all was well, and kept suctioning fluid out from the lungs. Eventually we heard a big cry, and knew that everything was okay.

I then asked, “is it a boy or a girl?” and Katharina said, “why don’t you look yourself?” I was so tired that I couldn’t move, but my husband looked over and said, “It’s a girl!!!!!” Yes, a girl, and a beautiful one at that.

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