(this was a birth attended by Liz when she was finishing up her midwife studies)
Alondra Abigail Ramirez was born at 2pm, Friday June 26. She weighed 8lbs 2 oz and measured 18.5 inches. She was born at home with absolutely no medical intervention. It was the worst pain I have felt in my life but worth every second.
My contractions started on the 25th at about 9am. It’s funny. People kept telling me that I would know when labor had started. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between my Braxton hicks contractions and actual labor. Well, they were all right. I even told my husband that it felt different.
It was like a Braxton hicks but it was accompanied by a slight cramp in the lower abdomen. I didn’t want to get my hopes up so my husband and I decided to wait a while before calling anyone. I went about my normal routine and Joe went to work. It was only the second day of my maternity leave so I thought that if this was it, then it was too good to be true.
The contractions continued with no regular pattern until about 2pm. That is when I noticed they were growing in strength and were coming every 7-8 minutes. First, I called my husband to give him an update. Next, I called Beth, my midwife and told her what I was feeling. She said that it was probably early labor. She asked that I continue to time them, get out of the house for a while and try to walk a bit. That is when I called the family. I told them not to start driving over just yet. They live about 3 hours away and I didn’t want for them to make the trip for nothing.
Around 5pm my husband and I went to the mall to walk around. They kept getting stronger and a little bit longer, but were still bearable. This continued until about 11pm when I tried to get some sleep. I couldn’t sleep thru them anymore. I started walking around the house at each contraction.
My mom and mother-in-law arrived at about 2am. That is when I tried walking outside. I was only able to make one round on my street. I had to stop walking with each contraction and lean on my husband. The walking still had an effect because once I got back home the contractions got closer together. They were only about 3 minutes apart and had me bent over the bed on my knees.
The next thing I remember is Beth and Liz getting there. Even if they couldn’t really do anything to take the pain away, I felt so relieved that they had arrived. She checked me and I was about 3cm dilated. This gave me some encouragement because it let me know that the contractions were not in vain, my little girl was closer with each one.
Beth and Liz were wonderful. Each contraction got stronger and lasted a little longer. I felt my body getting more and more tired and my emotional strength felt drained as well. Liz was massaging my lower back and applying counter pressure which helped a great deal but they contractions were still much worse than I had expected.
Being a first time mom, I didn’t know what to expect, all I knew is what Beth told me. Labor is intense. I guess that is why it is called labor. After that, I only remember bits and pieces. The next time they checked me I could see the sun was starting to come up and drain in thru the blinds. I was 7 cm and it must have been about 5 or 6 am. I was told it shouldn’t be much longer. Abigail should be here by 11am.
That is when things really increased in intensity. My water was ruptured which made the contractions significantly stronger. My mind or my body, I’m not sure which was having more trouble relaxing thru the contractions which was making them more difficult than they needed to be.
I threw up twice because of the pain after that. The next time, I was dilated to 8 cm, then 9 cm shortly after that. I told Beth that I was feeling the urge to push but she said that it wasn’t time. I hadn’t fully cleared the cervix and my baby’s head hadn’t slipped under the pelvis yet. It was already 12pm and Abigail still wasn’t here.
I felt a little discouraged and I could feel my exhaustion take a toll. After examining me again, Beth told me that my baby was at attention, tilting her little head up instead of tucking her chin into her chest. That is why she wasn’t dropping into the birth canal. She had me try different positions to try to reposition the baby’s head. At the same time Liz was manually maneuvering the baby’s head into position.
Finally at about 1pm, my baby’s head cleared the cervix and had slipped under the pelvis. Beth, offered me the birthing chair, which is like a toilet seat without the bowl. With these contractions, I could feel my uterus pushing on its own. It was the strangest feeling I had ever experienced.
It was similar to a dry heave but in your belly. I worked with my body at that point and began pushing little Abigail into the world. I was on the chair for about 40 minutes which felt like 10 minutes to me. I heard Liz ask Joe if he was ready to catch his daughter.
I felt such a sense of relief that it would all be over soon. Each push came with a feeling of happiness and almost pleasure. Once her head was showing, I was able to reach down and feel her little head. I knew then that she had a full head of hair.
A few grueling pushes later, she was in my arms, warm and squirmy. It was the most amazing experience of my life, I don’t think anything will ever top it. At that point I didn’t care about anything else except my child.
I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my wonderful midwives Beth and Liz or without my family. They never lost faith in me and encouraged me every step of the way.
(Liz is now the midwife here with Bay Area Birth and Beth is the midwife of ABC Midwifery)