I arrived home at 3:00. I had contacted Chad earlier in the day, informing him of my progress. He was already home when I got there. Seeing him in the kitchen was wonderful. It was at this point that my calmness and relaxation evaporated. His first words to me were, “Do you want to go for a walk?” He remembered that walking could speed up labor in the early stages. He didn’t realize how far along I already was. In reply to his question, I leaned onto the kitchen counter, lowered my head, and moaned with another contraction.
Our house was not ready for the birth. Our bedroom was a huge mess. Liz shifted into helper mode and asked me what needed to be done. I slumped on top of a huge pile of clothes on our bedroom loveseat and directed Chad and Liz between contractions. “Take the sheets off the bed…. put the plastic on the mattress… put the sheets back on.” They worked fast. Soon the pile of clothes was in a heap on our closet floor and the birth kit was accessible in the bathroom.
At this point Liz left the room and I don’t recall anything else about her that day. I didn’t know it, but she stayed for two or three more hours doing baby laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and even putting the baby’s mobile together.
I got into bed. Chad stood beside me and said, “We’re going to have a baby today.” It was at that moment that my denial stopped and I realized I was really in labor. I began crying. I was scared and excited.
My goal was to imitate sleep during each contraction. I would assume the most comfortable position possible, fully relax my entire body, close my eyes, and take slow deep abdominal breaths with my mouth slightly open. The idea was to let the contractions do their thing, to accept them and not fight the pain. It is an odd concept. It was as if I was welcoming the pain inside of me. Breathing abdominally during a contraction meant breathing into the pain. This was something I’d never done before. If I stubbed my toe, I’d hold my breath, tense up, and wait for the pain to subside. With the contractions, I did the exact opposite. I let them come and go in a completely relaxed state. At least that was my goal.
Being in bed was horrible. I could not get comfortable between each contraction, so I had a hard time relaxing during them. Chad attempted to help me, but it was no use. My legs writhed with each rush of pain.
At some point Chad was on the phone with Jennifer, the midwife. He handed me the phone. Jennifer’s voice was calm, “Hi Rebekah. How are you feeling? I want to hear you through a contraction. Just hold the phone and I’ll listen.”
Shortly after the phone call, Jennifer arrived. I remember her touching my side and leaning over the bed to say hello. I turned to greet her. She looked beautiful to me. She wore a light smoky blue colored shirt – one of my favorite colors. I was happy to see her. She took my vitals and listened to the baby’s heartbeat with a Doppler. The metal was cold and hard on my belly. All the numbers were perfect.
Soon Teresa arrived. She was beautiful to me also. She wore a chunky cream sweater; her eyes sparkled and her lips were shimmery with pink lip-gloss.
I chose for Jennifer not to check my cervix. I knew I was in labor and I felt like it was progressing quickly. I knew a cervix check would be painful. Most of all I didn’t want a number to disappoint me or to give me false hope. I preferred not knowing how dilated I was. Instead I focused on each contraction and did my best to cope with the pain.