With Callie’s birth, I had been trained as a childbirth educator and doula, and I felt much more prepared and educated. I once again planned for an unmedicated birth, and actually felt some confidence that I hadn’t felt before. I had an uneventful, smooth pregnancy, and taught my first childbirth class while pregnant. It was fun, since the couples in my class were all due at about the same time I was.
Just as before, this labor began at about 1 am. I had to laugh when I realized I was in labor, because the last thing Darrin had said to me before bed was “I’m tired, so don’t go having the baby tonight, OK?” and I had promised to do my best. At a doctor’s visit that day, I had been 4 cm dilated, which threw me into a panic as I was not at all prepared. I’d spent the rest of the day buying the things I’d needed, packing my bags for labor, finding someone to babysit Kyra, etc.
I spent the early hours of my labor rocking in the darkened living room with only the Christmas tree lights on, listening to soft carols on the stereo. Very relaxing! Once again I let Darrin sleep (I thought it was the least I could do) until I though we needed to get things moving towards heading to the hospital. I woke Darrin and sent him to the shower and called my sister to come take over with Kyra. It was a bitterly cold night (I’d just heard on the radio the current temperature was 13 degrees) and so when my sister knocked at the door just as a contraction started, I felt I had to let her in. Darrin was in the shower, and Leslie is famous for her “no coat in any weather” attitude, so I knew she would be freezing! I answered the door hunched over in a position that relieved the back pain caused by the baby’s posterior position, and then squatted on the floor just inside the door for the remainder of the contraction. Leslie was about to call 911, having never seen a laboring woman before!
When Darrin was dressed and ready to go, we headed off to the hospital. I was disappointed to learn that I was only 5 cm dilated, only a bit more than I had been at the doctor’s office, and after 4 hours of good, strong labor. Logically, I knew that with a posterior position, dilation would be slow, but emotionally I felt disappointed. I should have been farther along after all that work! After negotiating with the nurse for intermittent monitoring, I set about getting this baby to turn. I tried a variety of techniques that encourage posterior babies to turn. After an hour or so, I finally felt the baby rotate to a better position. Immediately labor became more intense and sped up. The change was very noticeable and I was glad for it, though it was more difficult to deal with the stronger, more effective contractions. The thing that helped me the most was making very low sounds. I switched from moaning to growling to buzzing, all very low pitched. It was as though making sounds pushed the pain away.
Darrin was wonderfully supportive, rubbing my back and providing pressure where it hurt the most. When I felt as though I was going to break down and lose all my coping skills, he said just the right things to me. He needed some coaching in how to do certain techniques to help relieve my pain, and that was tough to do as a laboring woman. In hindsight, I would have liked to have a doula there to take that responsibility for helping him help me so I could have focused on myself and not needed to teach him during my labor.
This time I was determined to feel the “urge to push” I had read so much about, and so when I was completely dilated, I waited for it. After about 10 minutes and 3 or 4 very painful contractions, my doctor suggested I give a little push just to see how pushing felt. So with the next contraction, I pushed a bit, and it took away most of the pain of the contraction. You bet I wanted to push now! It was almost an irresistible instinct to push and relieve the pain. It wasn’t long after that before I had my little Callie in my arms. As with Kyra, we did not know the baby’s sex, and I was determined not to have the baby taken away from me before I could find out and see for myself. I will always remember Darrin’s excited shout of “It’s a girl!” as Callie was placed in my arms and I lifted her up.
The emotional high of those hours and days after birth are incomparable. Everything seemed more vivid, more sweet, more delightful. Even the middle of the night feedings and lack of sleep couldn’t get me down. There was no postpartum depression, no crash at the end of the high. We just settled into a new family routine with little difficulty.
My physical recovery was also much easier, for several reasons. Not only was I on an emotional high that made the exhaustion easier to bear, I did not have back pain at an epidural site, I bled much less, breastfeeding went easier, and I was not sore all over. The most difficult part was feeling torn between my two daughters. I remember vividly a time when Callie woke up crying with a vengeance right as Kyra fell and cut her lip and was crying and bleeding. I didn’t know where to turn and just cried! (I took care of the bleeding child first, in case you’re interested.)
Callie is now a senior at Utah State University, studying theater and costume design. She also really enjoys science and performing improv comedy. She made the floral coat in the photo on the left!