The day I became a mother

Somehow I’ve been blogging for six years without ever blogging any of my birth stories. But celebrating our oldest daughter’s birthday a few weeks ago, and then being with our second daughter when she gave birth, got me thinking of my first birth experience. I wish I’d written more back then; I’m sure I’ve forgotten so many details. But here is what I remember about the birth of our Amanda, the beautiful now-grown girl who first made me a mother, and who is expecting her own baby very soon.

She was due in late January and we planned to have her at the birthing center where my mother worked as an OB nurse. Thanks to my mom, I already knew a bit about childbirth.  For much of my childhood, my mother taught childbirth classes in our basement family room, and often I’d sit just around the corner on the stairs to listen in on the class.  Before I was 16, I’d read most of the books in her childbirth library.  I’d also been present when my mom gave birth to my three youngest siblings at home.

When it came close to time to deliver my own baby, I don’t remember being especially nervous.  Curious, eager to do this thing, and incredibly excited to see our baby, but not really nervous.  The childbirth classes that John and I took with a bunch of other first time parents were interesting, and we dutifully practiced the breathing.

My due date came and went.  A week passed.  And another.  When I was two weeks overdue, we went in for an appointment and the doctor decided it was time to break my water. He did so, and sent us home to wait for contractions. It was Monday afternoon.

Since nothing was happening at first, my mom encouraged me to take a nap.  I tried, but I was too excited, and too intent on waiting to feel those first twinges of labor.  Around  9 PM Monday evening I started having contractions, and within a couple hours they were hard.  I remember walking around the living room in between contractions, then kneeling during contractions on the green shag carpet and leaning on a little stool, rocking and breathing.

Mom talked to me on the phone a few times, then around midnight came to see how things were going. When she checked, I was disappointed to find that I was still 2-3 centimeters, about the same that I’d been when the doctor broke my water earlier in the day. This might take awhile.

My mom had always had slow labors. Twenty-four hours or so was normal for her, even after she’d had multiple kids.  She encouraged me to save my energy and rest in between contractions.  I remember her settling me on my side in bed with a cocoon of pillows around me, then later moving me to the couch and settling me in there. John and mom both dozed during the night too. But with contractions every 5 minutes or so, none of us slept much.

By the time the sun came up on Tuesday morning I was nauseated and vomiting, still having contractions steadily, still not progressing much.  I remember watching the grey February daylight growing in our living room, and thinking that today, certainly, our baby would be born.

Mom went home to sleep for a few hours. John hung in there with me, dozing between contractions, and waking to breathe with me during each contraction.  By late morning I was tired of laboring at home, and still vomiting. Mom decided maybe it would be good to go to the birthing center  and get some IV fluids for hydration.

On the way to the birthing center, our little Chevy Luv died.  Just quit, about half a mile away from the birthing center.  There was snow on the ground. My contractions were clicking right along still, and when John got out of the car to use a neighbor’s phone, I felt a surge of panic, which grew as he stood chatting with the person for what seemed like forever after using their phone.

Not long after that, mom came to get us, and we left the truck there to be dealt with later.  Once we got to the birthing center, Mom started my IV and then checked to see if I was dilated.  By then I’d made it to 4 centimeters or so.  I sat in the rocking chair that I’d brought from home and rocked, trying to distract myself.  Mom and John sat on either side of me talking quietly, and then breathing with me though contractions.  During one contraction I got irritated with the conversation and told them to be quiet.  Later I felt apologetic about being cranky, but at the time that talking had.to.stop. I was tired, and felt emotionally done with this. It was a good thing that I didn’t know how much longer I still had to go.

The birthing center had a nice shower with a seat in it.  Several times during the next hours I went and sat in the shower, which helped a lot with the pain.  Until the water ran cold, anyway. As Tuesday evening turned into Tuesday night, the contractions got harder. John and my mom took turns putting pressure on my back, which helped a lot with the pain. I remember John sitting in a chair next to my bed, and laying his head down on the bed to doze between contractions. Sometimes he’d keep sleeping through the start of a contraction, and I’d wake him in a panic, needing him to press on my back again.

As long and hard as my labor was, I don’t think I ever thought of pain medication. I was miserable and wanted to be done, but I’d decided long before to have an unmedicated birth, and I never wavered from that choice, not even in my head.

Late Tuesday evening, finally, I was starting to progress, maybe a centimeter every two hours.  Still slow, but better than the previous night.  I moved to the ‘hee-hee-hoo’ (late-labor) breathing many hours before I actually hit transition.  But the other option– slow mellow breathing– didn’t work for me.  I was not feeling slow or mellow, despite my pokey progress.

After a long night of labor, finally, finally around 6:00 Wednesday morning, it was time to push.  That was hard work too, but an incredibly tremendous relief.  Finally I could do something to hurry this along. It suited me much better than what I’d been doing for the last 33 hours.  Amanda was born at 7:04 AM, and surprised the doctor by weighing a very respectable 8 pounds 8 ounces.  (He’d been expecting me to have a 7 pound baby.)

John, who’d been hoping for a boy, took exactly 5 seconds to fall completely in love with his little girl.  And as for me, I’d been hoping for a girl all along.  She had tons of black hair, and chubby cheeks and arms.  She was completely gorgeous in every way, and utterly worth every minute of labor.  We couldn’t take our eyes off her. What a blessing. What a gift. What an amazing day.

{ 18 Comments }

  1. You are so cute in that picture, and so young. :)

  2. What a wild birth story! I adore that picture of you with newborn Amanda. She is just so stinkin’ cute!!!

  3. Wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it. I’ve wanted to have an unmedicated birth (a homebirth was my ideal), but God has had other plans each time. My first was a c-section (breach with the cord around her neck), my second a VBAC with mandatory epidural, and our third was born at 31 weeks by c-section. While I still think a homebirth would have been ideal, I am thankful that we have three healthy children, regardless of how they arrived! :)

    That photo of you three at the end is adorable!!

  4. Awesome!! How amazing!!! My my my how unfortunately different it would be today if you went overdue like that. Glad things were different back then!!! :)

  5. I love reading birth stories. Thank you for sharing yours. I have short labors and always wish for pain meds even though I home birth and know I dont really want them.

  6. What a beautiful story! And beautiful baby! I love the looks on your faces as you looked at her.

  7. Such lovely photos to accompany your amazing story! She was a CUTE baby and you were a CHAMP! :)

  8. I can’t imagine a doc these days breaking your water and sending you home. Ack–the liability issues! :) It’s great that you had the option of a local birth center.

  9. Love this story! And the photo at the end is great!

  10. Love it!!

  11. Thanks for sharing, can’t wait to hear the other birth stories.

  12. Oops! I didn’t intend to comment twice. The first one didn’t show up after I clicked “submit comment”, so I wrote the second one. It didn’t show up either, so I gave up. Now, they’re both here! Sorry! :)

  13. Love the story, sniffle.

  14. Aww! You three look amazing for having just been through a drawn-out labor/delivery! Your story brought back so many memories of my first delivery. My Sarah was born with a head-full of hair just like Amanda’s, and at five years old now, she still has the longest hair of my three.

    The part of her birth story that I tell every birthday is how I woke up early the morning before she was born, in labor (it lasted about 30 hours total) craving chocolate donuts from a local bakery. Hubby and I got up and went to the shop, before dawn. He went into order. Not until he was at the register did he realize he had no cash, and they didn’t accept debit cards. When he explained that his wife was in labor in the car, craving their donuts, they told him to take the bag, and come back with the money. So the next stop was an ATM. But I got my chocolate cake donut!

    We had homebirths with all of our babies. Even though I had intense back labor with the first, I never wished I could go to the hospital for meds. I guess I am more afraid of big needles than the pain! In fact, I wasn’t scared about labor at all. My mom had 8 natural births and made me read birthing books in highschool. I guess I assumed if she could do it, then so could I. Now that I’m on this side of birth, I think that may have been the easiest part of parenting.

  15. Brought back memories of our first birth- a year to the month after our wedding, unmedicated long labor. But we did it, and it was an amazing accomplishment.

    I’m amazed that you had the type of relationship with your mom where you wanted her to check you and be there. What a blessing. And now you have that blessing with your daughters!! Wow!

  16. Nothing like a birth story! Love it!

    And what a sweet baby:)

  17. I don’t think I would have recognized that was you in the photo if it weren’t attached to this story. Oh my. As to the birth itself, every.single.time I hear stories like this, I am reminded how blessed I was to have such a quick labor. I’ll refrain from discussing just how fast it was. I figure that was God’s compensation for deciding I needed a child at a time I would certainly have called inconvenient and poor timing. LOL.

  18. Tiffany says:

    I never tire of hearing stories of birth…particularly the ones that made us motmmies. I find it a truly empowering experience that God blessed us with to walk us into motherhood. Natural birth especially brings you so close to our creator! Thanks for sharing!