I am not one of those people who has a beautiful, mother-earth kind of pregnancy. I get swollen, my face gets all chipmunky, I pee every hour, I can’t sleep well, I feel nauseous. So staring down week 41 of pregnancy with my second child was just plain depressing. I had labor pains that built up and then petered out at week 39, and thought for sure it would be any minute, and then any hour, and then any day. As the weeks crept on and I started thinking any week now, I became sad. I couldn’t stand anyone’s joking comments (“you’re STILL pregnant?!”) without breaking into sobs. My amazing midwife, Deb, scheduled me for an induction on May 24th, 2016—the day before my 34th birthday.
Then anxiety took over. I wanted a natural birth! Why was I agreeing to an induction? Wasn’t induction a fast-track to C-section? I began trying every natural remedy for inducing labor known to woman-kind. And if anything, my contractions lessened. I felt further away from having that baby then ever before as we drove through the early morning darkness to the hospital for my 6AM induction. Once there, I got checked in and talked to the nurse while my husband, Scott, tried to make me laugh by writing silly things on the All About Me white board. My sister, Kristen, and doula, Marisa, met us shortly thereafter and my midwife came in to begin the induction via Foley catheter bulb and Cervadil. The insertion was a little painful (but not as painful as the IV the nurses had to start to treat my Strep B—I’m a hard stick and it took about 3 painful tries), and then I felt uncomfortably full. Full of a fully grown baby. Full of a bulb full of saline. Full of worries and fears and hope. Full.
About 30 minutes after the bulb was placed, I began having contractions. Small at first, and building in intensity. My supports were all talking to me and joking around. My amazing doula was diffusing lavender and the lights were low, music playing. After about 2 hours, I felt the need to pee, and lo and behold lost the bulb in the toilet, which meant I was dilated to approximately a 4. Encouraging! From there, I got on the yoga ball and bounced and rolled while my doula rubbed my back. The contractions were intensifying and I was having trouble talking, using all my focus and attention on my waves of contractions. I began deeply breathing in a small lavender oils satchel that a friend had gifted me as I labored through each contraction.
From there, I took to my feet with plans to walk the halls, but quickly gave that up due to the building intensity of the pain, and opted to move and sway in my room leaning against the countertop with the support of my husband and doula. By this time, I was deeply inside myself in a meditative state. I was focused entirely on each wave bringing my baby closer to me. I was visualizing a beautiful waterfall and a grassy, tree-lined space. Then I puked. I got scared. I wondered if I could do it. Wondered if I would need an epidural if it didn’t end soon. Marisa gently encouraged me to make it through another contraction and see, and then another. My supports lovingly praised me and encouraged me. Then I think I started to cry. I got on all fours, which felt like the thing to do. I asked the nurses to please check my progress because I wasn’t sure I could do it without meds for much longer. I dug deep for the courage to continue and push past this wall. They began checking me: dilated to an 8 and 100% effaced. They called in my midwife, who said my bag of water was bulging and broke it for me. My midwife encouraged me to place the peanut ball between my legs on my side.
The rest feels like a blur because it happened so fast. They asked me if I was pushing. I said I didn’t know. I was having trouble speaking due to the intensity of the pain. My midwife stated that she could tell I was pushing, and was checking to make sure I was completely dilated—I was. The pushing was truly involuntary. It came from the deepest part of me and could not be controlled. At that point I was turned on my far left side, with my left arm underneath me and my right leg wide open. With four mighty pushes that came with four primal screams out came my beautiful baby, Emerson Rose Foulk, born at 1:27PM. She had dark, wet hair and was absolutely perfect. She was immediately laid on my chest for skin to skin and began to nurse. After her chord stopped pulsing, my husband cut it and she remained on my chest for what felt like hours. Eventually she was scooped up and weighed 7lbs 3oz, 20inches long. My labor challenged me to trust my body, trust the pace, trust my supports, and most of all to trust myself.