My water broke at 3:30 am on January 16th, 2010 (six days after my due date). Two days earlier my mucous plug detached so I was eagerly awaiting signs of labor. About 45 minutes after my water broke, I felt my first contraction. It felt like an intense menstrual cramp. It was manageable. I had three or four of those before I began timing them at around 5:00. At that point, they became too intense to concentrate on all the relaxation I had been practicing for months. Let me be clear; I spent most of my days for months in advance practicing the art of relaxation in multiple formats. I was almost obsessed with it. But on this morning, I felt like it just wasn't possible to concentrate on relaxing through a contraction. At 7:30 I woke my husband, Rick, up to get him to help me relax. He insisted we call our midwife immediately. (She thanked us for waiting until 8:00 to call her). I was calm but serious in talking to her so she asked us to call back in an hour. She recommended we eat breakfast and soak in the bathtub for a few contractions so we did just that. However, I only ate a few bites of food even though I usually eat plenty. I recall telling Rick "I'm not going to throw up but I can understand how some women do." The surges were intense.
Rick began to notice my serious signpost so he worked on getting the car ready to leave. He took a picture of me before we left and could see in my face that it was time to go. (This is a trick we read about to know if it really is time to leave. If the woman smiles then it probably isn't time yet). I felt we still had some time to labor at home but he didn't agree so we left the house around 10:00 and arrived at the birth center 45 minutes later. In the car ride, Rick was testing my emotional signpost with humor but I distinctly remember not saying one word during the entire car ride, other than "here comes another one" so we could keep timing the contractions.
As soon as we arrived at the birth center, the midwife examined me to find that I was already dilated to 9 cm! So, they put me into the tub immediately where I labored extremely intense contractions for 45 minutes. Rick got his bathing suit on and got into the tub behind me, which was very comforting. Then I began to feel an urge to push. I pushed for another 45 minutes, before our angel was born. Amelie Grace was 20 inches long and weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces. She had a full head of hair, very alert, and cried very little. Her apgar score was 9/10.
My labor went by so quickly that I never had time to feel the 'self-doubt' signpost. In fact, my labor lasted a total of 7.5 hours, including the pushing stage. I remember comparing myself to a train; there was nowhere to go but straight ahead. My labor did not allow me to get side-tracked. This was the same thought I had in high school when running track. On the last leg of the race, I'd think of myself as an accelerating train pushing toward the finish line with spectators cheering for me to finish.
Amelie did have the umbilical cord wrapped once around her neck so I had to slow the pushing down while the midwife fixed it but as soon as I worked my final push, they pulled her out of the water and onto my chest. It was unbelievable. There she was; this perfect, tiny angel that I had been nurturing for so long. I finally got to hold her in my arms and it felt amazing. The quick and intense labor I experienced was completely worth it!
Afterward, I felt great. The midwives and birth assistant took such good care of me. I got multiple therapeutic baths and I didn't have to lift a finger. They even dried me off and clothed me before helping me into a super comfy beautiful bed. I felt like I was at a spa. They cleaned and weighed Amelie and put her back into my arms to nurse. Then our family rushed into the room to welcome our l'il angel (and shower me with chocolate!)