“By the Grace of God I Can Bear All Things”

Was my internal mantra as I labored at home yesterday morning. The contractions at home were intense, but they never got really painful.

I woke up at around 2:10 in the morning on Monday with a contraction. I’d been experiencing prodromal labor for weeks, and the past two days they’d been getting more intense, but they still weren’t regular. I watched some YouTube videos until I couldn’t sit through them anymore. I woke Kyle up at about 3 to help me breathe through the contractions. He breathed with me and rocked with me through each contraction until at around 4, I told him to go ahead and call the birth center to let them know I was officially in labor. My OB was on call, and she told Kyle to have me eat some high protein food, try to sleep, and call back in four hours to see where I was. I ate some eggs and started drinking a sip or two of water between each contraction.

I tried to lie down between contractions and get a few minutes of sleep during the rests, but it was supremely uncomfortable. Still, I tried to obey her instructions, but I was popping up every couple of minutes to stand through each contraction. They felt way less than five minutes apart at this point. I finally gave up trying to sleep and asked Kyle to draw a bath. I just couldn’t tolerate lying down anymore. When I got in the water, it felt so much better than trying to lie down. I labored through each contraction, Kyle breathing with me, and put my head against the wall and rested in between. It was at this point that they were starting to get really intense. They finally reached a point where I couldn’t sit through them, even in the water, and I had to get out and labor standing up again. It was at about this point that I threw up all of the eggs and water that I had eaten and drank.

After I got out, I kept asking Kyle what time it was. It was only in the six o’clock hour. Around 6:30 he asked me why I kept asking for the time, and I told him that it was because I wanted to know when we could call my OB again at 8. The contractions were increasingly intense, and they had moved from my lower abdomen in the early morning to my hips and back by this point. Each one had two or three peaks before my body could rest, and I was shivering between each contraction. At the time, I remember thinking that I was either at like 3 cm and being a really big wuss about the whole thing, or I was in transition. It had been such a short time since I’d woken up, especially for a first labor, that I was reluctant to believe that I was already in transition. In addition, while the contractions felt unbearably intense—no position gave real relief, but some were more intense than others—they still weren’t painful. I was afraid that I wasn’t very far yet and was just not coping very well. At 6:48, I finally told Kyle to call the OB and tell her we needed to go to the birth center NOW. I couldn’t bear the thought of riding in the car even with the contractions I was having at that point. I would rather have the car ride over and labor for 12 more hours at the birth center if I had to than sit in that dang car with contractions that were even more intense than I was experiencing. Kyle called her, and she said “Well, I think it’s probably still early, but it’s possible that she’s really rocking it.” She told us to leave at 7:30 and meet her at the birth center at 8:00.

She also recommended running a shower and having me stand and labor there. I got in, but the touch of the running water on my skin made me too uncomfortable, so I got out and leaned on the bed. Kyle ran around getting our bag, the camera, the carseat and whatever else he brought. I put on a robe, and as we left had one more really intense contraction on the patio outside of our apartment. I prayed that God would help me on the 30 minute car ride over.

In retrospect, God did watch out for me. I didn’t have any contractions on the car ride over. As we got on the freeway, my waters broke. Fortunately, I had grabbed the towel from my shower in case this very thing happened and I was sitting on it. Then I felt the urge to bear down and push. The first thing I pushed out was a bowel movement. It’s a good thing I’d brought that towel.

Traffic was terrible. Kyle vowed he would get us there quickly, and we actually managed to arrive at 8:05. My OB greeted us, and I wasn’t breathing very controlled, so she stopped me and had me breathe deeply. I then got on the bed for her to check me. This was the moment of truth—was I a big wuss who was coping very badly with early labor, or was this it?

“There’s a baby right there. If you feel the urge to push, do it.”

“Am I fully dilated?”

“Oh, yes.”

I pushed about twice on my hands and knees on the bed before I got into the huge Jacuzzi tub. Kyle put on swim trunks and sat behind me. I was propping myself up on my hands, and my OB told me that would just wear me out. She told me to just lie on Kyle with my belly down and bum in the water. I said that everything was uncomfortable.

“You’re pushing a baby out, everything will feel bad. Embrace the discomfort and use it to push your baby out.”

I found that extremely helpful. I just embraced the discomfort and moaned through each push. They came two to four at a time with rests in between, and I could feel Baby moving down the birth canal. Kyle assures me that it was “very loud” moaning. I kept saying with each push “Baby, come out!” It was easier to articulate at the moment than “embrace the discomfort” although I was thinking the latter.

My OB had an appointment with a client at 8:30, so it was me, Kyle and the birth attendant. After pushing in the tub for a while, I asked the birth attendant if she could see the baby’s head. I could feel the beginning of the “ring of fire” that signals that the baby is about to crown. She said she couldn’t see anything, but after the next push she called my OB to come immediately. She came into the room. Another push and somebody said, “reach down and feel your baby’s head!”

I felt it, but I responded, “Just come out baby! I’ll hold you when you’re here!”

Pushing was the only really painful part. All of the contractions I can only describe as really intense, unbearably intense by the end, but still not painful. Pushing had hurt more, but the ring of fire was the hardest part. As I pushed the next two contractions, I called out “It hurts so bad!” The next thing I knew, somebody was putting a little blue baby on my chest. I checked, and it was a girl! Ruby Rosa was born at 8:56 am, July 16, 2012, after nearly 7 hours of labor, and a mere 50 minutes after we made it to the birth center.

After a couple of minutes, we had to get Ruby dry and warm out of the tub. Kyle hauled me up, and I gingerly stepped out, holding her to my chest, and walked over to the most comfortable bed in the universe. I held her to me for the next hour or so as they checked vitals and got me to drink about a million ounces of fluids and eat food. My body was shaking from the sprint marathon it had just done.

Ruby got wrapped in blankets, and I spent the next couple of hours mildly afraid that I had seen wrong, and that she was actually a he, and that everybody was taking the word of a postpartum lady just seconds after having shoved a human into the world on the gender of this baby. It turns out that it is a girl and other people had checked, too.

Everything with the birth went well. It turns out I coped well with the contractions at home, and I pushed Ruby out 50 minutes after we got to the birth center. It was a really great experience for me, and it makes me feel like I can do anything. I had the natural water birth that I had wanted, and my body and mind worked together to relax through the contractions and effectively push her out. It was a pretty fast labor, especially for a first baby, but although that made it more intense, I’m kind of grateful. It made yesterday a long—what with starting so early—but wonderful day. She is beautiful and has the teeniest little bitty fingers you’ve ever seen. She weighed 7 lbs 3 oz, and was 19 in. and some change (I don’t remember exactly).

I tore slightly in the back and on my right labia, but neither were large enough to require stitches. My bottom area is very, very sore, but the rest of me feels so much better. I magically am no longer nauseous, I have no more heartburn, I can lie on my back again, and I feel one thousand pounds lighter than before. Also, I’m not perpetually contracting anymore. The perpetual contractions were more irritating than anything—it was as though baby was just teasing us.

Yesterday I was so jacked up on endorphins and hormones that I couldn’t nap and all my sore bits weren’t so sore yet. I felt on top of the world. I just kept holding and rubbing my sweet baby girl. In many ways I still feel on top of the world; it’s just that the world is a more tired place now.

We’re very happy, if slightly overwhelmed at this whole parenting thing.

13 thoughts on ““By the Grace of God I Can Bear All Things”

  1. I just read all your posts from present to this one. I love the baby stories. This is amazing. God has blessed you with a wonderful, beautiful baby! Maybe I’ll get to meet her one day. :)

  2. Wow! Congratulations Eliza! I am so excited to hear that you experienced such a beautiful birthday for Ruby! What a loving arrival :)

  3. Where was this tub idea and natural water birth 30 years ago when I was having chindren??? What an amazing, beautiful experience! You write so well Eliza. Your children will love reading about their birth story. You are an amazing young lady. You go girl!!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing the whole story! I’m so glad that everything went well and that both you and Ruby are healthy and happy. I can’t wait to meet her at the end of the summer!

  5. What a beautiful story. What is really eerie is this is almost the exact same story when I had Andrew minus the car ride since he was born at home. I need to copy and paste it into Andrew’s baby book. :) Laboring in the tub made such a huge difference for me as well. What an empowering and amazing experience that will surely change you forever. Now… let the fun begin. Love you all.

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