I had been in pre-early labor all week the week before. Tuesday I was adjusted and had regular contractions the rest of the evening but they went away once I got in the bathtub before bed. I began drinking red raspberry leaf tea and taking Evening Primrose Oil per my midwife’s instruction. Wednesday night was my final yoga class and everyone wished me luck that the baby would come over the weekend and I wouldn’t be back to kick off the next session. Friday was the last day at the office. I had decided to go ahead and start my maternity leave on my due date. I was more than ready and so was Jacob. He kept teasing me that I needed to go into labor because he was ready for a week off work. Saturday, I got adjusted again and Liliana, my chiropractor, told me that she wouldn’t be surprised if I went into labor that night. My body was ready too. That night, we went to Scalini’s, whose eggplant parmigana is famous for sending women into labor. It wasn’t very good, though and I only ate about half of my food. We drove home by the light of the “Supermoon” – the largest full moon for the next 18 years. If that all of that did not send me to the hospital, then I don’t know what would.
I had contractions all night off and on. They weren’t so painful that I couldn’t sleep through them, but I was definitely aware of them throughout the night. So when I got up at around 5 to use the restroom and felt a small pop and a gush, I knew my water had broken. I ran to restroom and woke up Jacob. My panties were wet and full of what could only be “bloody show”. I immediately started having semi-regular contractions about 6-7 minutes apart and about a minute long. I went ahead and got in the shower. Jacob double checked the bag to make sure we had everything and texted my doula, Laura. When I got out of the shower, my contractions had gotten stronger. I called my midwife. She told me to keep timing and when they got to be 4-5 minutes apart and 1 minute long to call her back. Jacob brought me some water and a piece of cinnamon raisin toast. I wasn’t hungry but I wanted to try and eat since I had barely eaten anything at dinner the night before. Bobby woke up shortly after that so we called my parents to come get him. After about 45 minutes, my contractions had gotten to be 4-5 minutes apart and Bobby was starting to be a handful so we decided to go ahead into the hospital and just have my parents meet us there. As Jacob was packing up the car, I started feeling nauseous. I hurried to the bathroom and threw up the half piece of toast I had managed to get down.
We got to the hospital and waited in the main lobby for my parents. The hospital does not allow any child under the age of 18 in to the rooms during flu season. And flu season lasted from October to May. My parents arrived and scooped up the boy, gave me a kiss and wished me luck as Jacob and I headed up to the L&D.
When we got up to our room, I was contracting pretty regularly and had to use my yoga breathing to get through most of them. My doula, Laura arrived shortly after that and then my midwife, Anjili. She checked me to see how dilated I was. I was only 1 centimeterL. By this time I was hooked up to the monitor and my contractions were coming about 3-4 minutes – usually 2 back to back. Anjili gave us the option of going home or staying and laboring at the hospital. I knew I wouldn’t have a “time limit” by laboring there (and Jacob’s parents were on their way to our house) so we decided to stay.
It was a good thing we did because I labored hard all day long. My contractions were regular 2-3 minutes apart and always 2-3 back to back. I changed positions frequently. Sometimes laboring on the toilet or standing or just sitting on the side of the bed. I started to have some pretty intense back labor and so I spent the next 2-3 hours on my hands and knees (on the bed) while Jacob and Laura used counter pressure on my hips and lower back. In between my contractions, they grabbed quick bites of some sandwiches that my mom brought them
Around 4ish, I was checked again and I was at 6 cm, 80% effaced and Patrick was in -1 position. I continued to labor using my yoga breathing and sound to get through each set of contractions. I moved to the birthing ball where I made a lot of progress and started to feel an urge to push. So my midwife checked me and she said I was a “stretchy 8” and that if I had an urge to push, to go ahead and do so, just to let her or the nurse know if it felt like something was coming out. I moved to the bed with Jacob behind me, but my labor slowed dramatically so I got back on the birthing ball and everything got right back into full swing. At about 8pm, I moved back to the bed however this time I put the head of the bed all the way inclined and leaned against it so that Jacob and Laura could still use counter pressure on my hips and rub my lower back. I pushed when I felt the need for the next 2 or so hours and at around 10pm, Laura asked me if I wanted some direction, which I gladly accepted. I pushed with each contraction for the next hour or so. I could feel Patrick moving down the birth canal with each set of pushes. I had a room full of cheerleaders, everyone telling me how great I was pushing. I kept going and it seemed to me that it was taking forever. I finally felt the “ring of fire” which describes how it felt exactly. At this point I could hear Anjili telling Jacob to look and see Patrick. Since I was facing backwards, Patrick was “face out” (he wasn’t posterior) and at that point the pushing was easy, within 3-4 pushes, he was out. Apparently with his hand up next to his face. I carefully turned around and pulled my little baby to me. He was perfect. Patrick Owen Stenzel was born at 11:25pm on March 20,2011. My mom, who I had completely forgotten was in the room, burst out crying with joy. She never had a vaginal birth. It was her first as well. I held Patrick to me as he was wiped down and held him for the next hour and he started to nurse. We had a little difficulty at first since he still had a lot of mucous in him. Once the cord stopped pulsating, Anjili had Jacob cut the cord. After about an hour, the nursery came down and gave him his bath in the room with Jacob helping the whole time. They weighed and measured him- 9.3 lbs and 20 inches. Once Patrick was done getting cleaned up (and had cleared out a lot of mucous from crying), I was able to get him latched on quickly and he nursed like a champ.
The difference between this birth and Bobby’s was like night and day. This was probably the single hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but also the most rewarding. I couldn’t have done it without the preparations I made beforehand like finding a practice that supported my wishes for my birth, going to yoga and learning how to use my breath and sound to make it through the contractions and hiring a doula to help guide me through the more difficult parts of the labor. Jacob was fantastic as well. I know it hurt him to watch me be in pain, but he stayed by my side the entire time, whispering encouragements into my ear, holding me up as I doubled over during contractions, rubbing my back for hours at a time and even making sounds with me when I would lose concentration and focus. I am so proud of myself for being able to give birth to my son without a single medical intervention. There was never even talk about having a hep-lock inserted. I worked hard to get this birth and it was everything I wanted to be. The feeling of satisfaction as I lay in the hospital bed, holding my new baby, going over the birth with Laura was incredible. I had so many doubters such as my family and friends that wished me well, but always with the caution that it may not be able to happen. The doctors that told me it couldn’t be done. Well it can and I did it. And I got a beautiful baby boy out of it too.