by Krista Haggerty, BWI Trainee
I was 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant when I woke at 6am to my waters breaking. It was a small trickle, but I knew today would be the day we would meet our third child. I woke my husband, text my doula, and called my midwife. Since this would be a VBAC, I had to deliver at a different hospital than where most women delivered at my practice, and it was almost a 40 minute drive. My last labor was under 4 hours, so we wanted to be ready to go as soon as the contractions picked up.
I started having irregular contractions, but since they weren’t painful I figured we had some time. We called my mother-in-law to come stay with our other two children. Around 7am, I felt like contractions were becoming regular. I called out when they began and ended and my husband timed them as I showered and got dressed, then helped my mother-in-law get settled with the kids. When I asked him what the interval was, he said close to 3 minutes apart! I called the midwife to let her know, and we left the house just after 8.
I played my birth playlist in the car to help me relax, and my husband and I smiled and chatted during the drive. It was a beautiful morning, and we were happy to finally have our baby! The contractions were getting more intense to the point that I was vocalizing through them. They were coming closer together, but since they still were not too painful I thought we had plenty of time before things would “get serious”.
When we were about ten minutes from the hospital, I had a contraction that ended with me feeling the first twinges of pushing. I text my doula quickly before another contraction hit me, telling her to leave ASAP. I also told my husband, “it’s not an emergency yet, but maybe you should probably drive a little faster.” He was very calm as he started passing cars, reminding me to breathe and telling me we were almost there.
We reached the hospital around 8:40. By this time I was having contractions right on top of each other, and could barely move to get out of the car and into a wheelchair. The urge to push was becoming much more intense. My husband left the car right in front of the main entrance and jogged me through the front doors. We flew through the hallways (with me yelling quite loudly most of the way!) until we reached the maternity door, and waited to be buzzed in. I may have yelled “let me in!” in between contractions. Once the doors opened, my midwife and nurses were rushing towards us, directing my husband to our delivery room. As the birth team helped me get up from the chair, my husband jokingly said “she’s your problem now!”
I got on the bed and lay on my side, still vocalizing loudly and pushing with the contractions. I asked for the lights to be turned off and welcomed the soothing dusk of the darkened room after our ride through the bright hallways. My midwife checked me and told me I was only at 8 cm, so I needed to stop pushing. I was annoyed, this made me 3 for 3 births where I was pushing too soon and risking a swollen cervix. My doula wasn’t there yet, so the midwife and nurse talked me through the contractions, reminding me to slow my breathing and cheering me on. My husband caught on and joined in, letting me know he was nearby.
After what felt like a long time (is there any time longer than trying not to push when everything inside you is screaming to push?), I suddenly felt the baby’s head drop down and I said “is that the head? My midwife helped me get to a hands and knees position, and raised the top of the bed so I could be upright and lean against the bed. My husband stood near me at the top of the bed and let me grip his hands, and I stabilized myself against him as I followed my body’s cues to push. I wasn’t really hearing anyone in the room, but in my head I heard something I had learned last year: “the baby comes out the back”.
Last August, I attended a BirthWorks Childbirth Educator Workshop. The phrase “the baby comes out the back” was new to me, and was used several times over the weekend. I had a difficult time understanding exactly what it meant. It wasn’t until I saw a visual of a 9 month pregnant woman with a view into her womb; the baby was angled not straight down or slightly towards the front as I’d always imagined, but towards the back of her body. It suddenly clicked! The baby comes out the BACK!
Fast forward to a little more than a year later, and that was the mantra running through my head as I worked with my baby. I rested in between contractions, knowing I was close to the end. I pushed and breathed towards the back, and then felt baby’s head: the ring of fire! I slowed down and took a moment to breathe. When I pushed in the next contraction, my baby was born! It was only 30 minutes since we had arrived at the hospital, and I pushed for less than ten minutes. It was my fastest birth, and my first that was intervention free. I waited impatiently as they got ready to move me so I could hold my baby, and for my husband to tell me the gender since I was facing away.
It took a moment for my husband to announce in shock, “It’s a GIRL!” There was a wonderful feeling of joy in the room, everyone was smiling and laughing. It was a beautiful way to welcome our daughter to the world.