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I was feeling antsy to get labor started in week thirty-nine, so you can imagine I was beside myself by week forty. Typical labor is an ascent: contractions begin mild, short (thirty to forty seconds long), and widely-spaced (five to twenty minutes apart), and gradually progress to intense, longer (sixty to ninety seconds long), back-to-back (two to three minutes from the start of one to the start of the next). I knew Richard would be able to help me most during labor if he got as much sleep as possible, so I wanted to delay waking him up until there was actually something he could do to support me. Kneeling in front of the couch so I could lean forward and rest my body weight on the cushion between surges.
One thing we were both able to enjoy, between contractions anyways, was the beauty of the moment. I thought about making myself a soundtrack for labor ahead of time but I decided it would be a waste of time.
Our doula, Britt Fohrman, was giving Richard advice over the phone, and suggested we try the shower. After my first shower, we migrated to the bedroom, instead of back to the couch, where I spent some time side-lying with my Snoogle pillow. Barbie was vocalizing a lot, so we started saying lots of positive affirming things instead of just moaning, groaning or screaming. Britt was able to speak a lot better to Barbie than I was and got her into more powerful trance-like states, and switched her to some different poses that might help. We tried a couple new positions: on the toilet, kneeling in the shower with chest and arms on an exercise ball, standing bent over in front of the bathroom sink with my forehead resting against my hands on the counter. In the shower, Britt suggested I sit on the exercise ball, but I couldn’t handle the increased intensity of doing so. After a couple hours, we weren’t able to really keep her breathing or focused through the powerful surges.
In our last round in the shower, I got a subtle sign that my epilepsy might be starting to get aggravated. I told Britt it was time to go to the hospital, and she diligently tried to tease out my reasoning and make sure it was actually what I wanted. As I walked into the bedroom where Barbie was, I heard the distinct sound of chunky water dumping into a bucket. When we got to the hospital Britt asked me if I wanted to walk or get a wheelchair, which in my mind was a ridiculous question; of course I wanted a wheelchair, I was done. They put the head of the bed on an incline so I could kneel with my forearms at the top of the bed. As they were monitoring me, someone brought up fentanyl, an opioid they can give laboring women so they can get a couple hours of sleep and then come back strong once it wears off.
The midwife, Becca, told me that when it was closer to the time to push, I’d start to feel pressure breaking through the epidural. I have no concept of time, but well before dawn sensation started to get overwhelmingly intense and I began to get an urge to push. The only thing that made be feel better was to push, so Becca coached me through pushing with one knee pulled into my chest. Eventually the nurse came back in with instructions on how to give me a dose or two more until Dr. When the epidural next wore off in the morning, Becca checked me and let me know that the baby had descended much more than before and I could push if I wanted to.
At first I was laying on my back and hugging one knee into my chest with the support of a Becca, Britt, or a nurse.
Britt and Becca helped me into a squatting position and got Richard to sit behind me on the bed. I felt most productive when I pushed up into the squat bar as hard as I could with my hands. The hardest moment of my life to that point was when Equinox’s head was 20% of the way out. When I read or heard about tearing during pregnancy, it always seemed to be presented as something that happened to women, completely outside of their control. I know I’m supposed to think that everything about birth is beautiful and empowering, but I still think consciously ripping apart my own skin and muscle tissue was a little messed up.
It’s worth noting that I chose to get postpartum pitocin to help my uterus clamp down and release the placenta without hemorrhage (this was the one drug I had been planning to get all along unless I had an absolutely average birth—I didn’t want the thought of bleeding out taking up head space).
I’ve had several people tell me the stitches were the most painful part of childbirth, but they weren’t too bad for me. Finally, all the unpleasantries were out of the way and I was ready to have my baby back on my chest. Britt snapped a picture of Equinox and me in this moment, and Equinox’s facial expression is one I’ve seen many times while breastfeeding since: instinctual, animalistic, feral. This week, Richard and I are starting to feel like we need to have everything ready to go for the baby’s arrival.
My doula told me that Rachel’s class was experiential rather than just providing a bunch of information about birth, and this was definitely true of the first and last days of the course. Similarly, if the baby is spending a lot of time head-up in utero (not promising for vaginal birth in the hospital), there are some easy, harmless techniques you can attempt yourself to encourage the baby to turn head down before the hospital recommends medical interventions to try to flip the baby in the last month (like walking up stairs). Earlier in pregnancy, after reading through the manual for the Hypnobabies Self-Study course (reviewed here), I felt like if I didn’t have the ideal birth situation—with the baby head-down, facing my back, and a pitocin-free labor—I could no longer expect the techniques to be successful. The idea of giving birth in the comfort and relaxation of home with a big birth tub to labor in, dimmed lights, and a yard to walk around in appeals to me.
When we walked into the labor and delivery room, it was like small hotel room with its own private bathroom with a shower. Update: Now 30 weeks pregnant, I am more confident and comfortable than ever with my choice to give birth in a hospital. I used to focus more on “natural birth” but after years of attending all sorts of births, I started to see how limiting that focus was.
Up until this week, I haven’t had the wherewithal to think much about my birth preferences. In the first trimester, I did enough investigation to figure out I wanted to get prenatal care and give birth at a hospital with a low-intervention philosophy, and settled on Saint Luke’s. My doula friend, Heather Charmatz, has been incredibly helpful in giving me advice and recommending books during my pregnancy, so I was already feeling good about doulas. So far, Richard and I went to a Meet Local Doulas night at Saint Luke’s (the San Francisco Doula Group does a few of these around the city every month) and we also interviewed Heather and her doula partner, Joy. My number one advice for people planning a wedding is, “Get a wedding planner!” That’s what I would have done differently.
Second to the man o’ war, my next most painful experience was running a marathon, for which I was sorely under-trained.
Upon the recommendation of many friends, I bought the Hypnobabies Home Study course, and have been enjoying it. This may be committing yoga blasphemy, but I think that distraction may work by better for me than complete presence and awareness in this case. I teach yoga and meditation to people who suffer from chronic pain, and one of the most important techniques we master is to halt the pain-tension-pain cycle.
And, finally, I’m cherishing every single last moment with my first little girl right now. There’s actually lot I could write about right now, but the past few days all I can do is cry.
So, instead of writing a real post I’ll just give you that little update, share a few new belly pictures.
If you enjoyed reading this post you might want to sign up for future posts by RSS or email. Btw I have a friend who is 4 days past her EDD and she is also soooo ready for baby to come. Hi Beth,I just wanted to say that your 40 weeks pregnant belly shots are SOOOOO BEAUTIFUL and that’s including your outie bellybutton too!!!Thank you for sharing them with all of us!!!!!!!!!!!!! We used the name Equinox Namaste-Firestorm in the subject line of our birth announcement to get a laugh out of our friends and family (although, I’m sure at least someone was disappointed. I kept busy alternating swimming in the sunshine on one day (and, as a Canadian, being amazed that an outdoor pool was open in March) and practicing prenatal yoga the next.
My labor was more of a relentless cross-country trek in which I didn’t know if the mounting intensity was due to progress or fatigue. She had sent me and our doulas a list of positive affirming things that resonated with her the week before, so I was able to integrate those, some of the things from [our childbirth preparation class], and the doula’s advice into useful things to say during exhales. Without it, she would forget her breath, was more likely to just yell out, and was more visibly exhausted at the end. I wish my current-self could go back and laugh in my past-self’s face for thinking the two would be comparable. The coping techniques I’d been using were either not enough, or maybe I’d simply burnt out on them. In the last position, I could see my sparkly toe nails and thought about meeting our daughter. While I think she had enough physical energy (we had been feeding her a steady stream of food and drink), she was definitely burning out emotionally. It takes a lot for me to have a grand mal seizure, and the flutter I experienced in my eyelids was a long way from that (maybe it wasn’t even epilepsy-related), but it still shook my confidence and impaired my ability to completely relax.
I read the Wikipedia article on it later, and apparently it’s fifteen to twenty times more potent than heroin.
During a breastfeeding-induced oxytocin high (which was remarkably similar to a fentanyl high in our first blissful week postpartum) I was contemplating Equinox’s birth story and toying with drawing an analogy between my labor and playing Super Mario Brothers (it was a long, steady course, the regular closely-spaced contractions were like flying turtles, there was a princess at the end…). Mike’s credit, the epidural was a breeze, and once it set in, I was able to get several hours of sleep.
She had the most amazing reply, and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude I got this response in a hospital setting.
During contractions, she had me take a deep breath, hold it for ten seconds as I pushed, and then release. Then they set up the squat bar on the bed and looped a sheet over it so I could pull myself up into a crunching position and get more power.
Becca told me she would give me a dollar for every time I pooped, and it’s true, it does feel pretty much the same as pooping. I’ve heard many times that pushing is a relief because you actually get to do something. Then after the next contraction when her head was 30% of the way out, that was the hardest moment of my life.
That night, when the memory was still visceral, I was afraid to fall asleep for fear I’d dream about it. She was breathing and making little noises, but because she didn’t immediately cry loudly, there were four frantic hands, poking her, prodding her, and bulb syringing her the whole time she was on my chest.
My friend told me in retrospect it seemed ridiculous that she was so worried about that first hour, because there was so much more time to bond with the baby after he was stable. One of the purported side-effects of postpartum pitocin is that it can interfere with the mother and baby’s bonding. Because the epidural was long since gone, they used several lidocaine injections to numb the area.
I have a couple friends who’ve given birth six weeks before their due dates, and I think I subconsciously set 34 weeks as the time to have everything ready.
It’s a foam core mattress that is so light I can lift it effortlessly, which made me feel good about myself in the store.


Early on, a friend recommended I take a third-party birth prep class instead of the one the hospital offered to get less biased education. We tried out several birthing techniques that involved breathing, relaxation, visualization, affirmation, and intimacy (I wont go into specifics and give away her trade secrets).
My favorite part of these days was hearing birth stories from Rachel’s years working as a doula. As it turns out, I would have to put up a fuss at the hospital to officially find out which direction my baby is facing before 36 weeks, so I’ve chosen to pick my battles and wait. The Hypnobabies affirmations are specific and concrete, relating mostly to that one ideal type of birth. That was before I had my first appointment and tour of the labor and delivery ward at the hospital I plan to give birth at.
I’ve read books that advocate for home birth, and they describe hospital birth as quite an ordeal. They have the option of doing group prenatal care (instead of one-on-one appointments) with a consistent cohort of expecting mamas who have a similar due date.
The Meet Local Doulas night helped us establish expectations about a doula’s scope of practice, how much they cost in the Bay Area, and what their packages typically include. I enjoyed and took pride in planning my own wedding with the help of friends and family, but on the big day, rather than relishing in the experience of being the bride I felt like I was also playing the wedding planner. My running shoes went missing the morning of the race, and I was running in an old pair that were half a size too small and slowly turning my toe nails purple. When I was at the height of my nausea, although it was hard to drag myself out of the house to teach yoga, teaching made me feel better because I was focusing on others’ bodies rather than dwelling on the discomfort of my own.
She has a weird fascination with Q-Tips, and usually I’d be annoyed finding her having dumped out an entire box of them. I look back on the experience with no regrets, and–now–feel incredibly positive and grateful now about how it went. On my guess date (Monday) I treated myself to a comically large almond bubble tea smoothie (the place I went was automatically upgrading every order to their 32oz size that day. I didn’t get to make cupcakes or do any watercolor painting because I either skipped typical early labor or slept through it. We opened the drapes and the sun was coming up, and it was casting warm sunlight onto our back fence and overgrown green garden, which was bright and wet from the fog and dew. During contractions, he would hold my head between his arm and his waist, which felt so supportive and comforting. Richard remarked later that as labor progressed, I spent more and more time in the bedroom, the most cave-like room in the house. With it, she maintained a smooth rhythm and recovered faster, which mattered a lot with only 30 to 60 seconds between waves to recover. Although I was in extreme discomfort when I ran the marathon that I barely trained for in shoes that were half a size too small, I still painstakingly ran the whole thing.
I also have a vague recollection of being at just the right (or wrong, in this case) angle to see the clock on the oven, and how it did not seem to be progressing at all. It felt like I’d fallen asleep, and I had no idea if 10 seconds or an hour had elapsed. Britt told me that the shaking was the energy of birth, and to let it happen rather than resisting it.
Perhaps earlier in labor I could have handled more intense positions that may have spurred labor to progress faster. When intense sensation meets fear, it becomes unendurable pain. I became less and less able to handle the contractions.
My epilepsy, or at least my anxiety about my epilepsy, combined with the relentless and mounting intensity was too much for me to keep meeting. I’d heard that it didn’t necessarily do much for the pain, but it made you care about the pain less. Becca checked me and found out I was 9.5 centimeters dilated and there was still an unbroken piece of my bag of water covering the baby’s head. Both she and I were on the same page that we wanted to delay active pushing not only until I was ten centimeters dilated, but until the baby had descended most of the way via the involuntary contractions of my uterus, and I didn’t think I was experiencing intense enough sensation for that to be the case. Mentally, I had cut a deal with the pain that if I held out until I got the epidural it would go away forever, so I was not open to its return. In the meantime, I was having a hard time softening to the pain and was getting increasingly agitated by the delay.
Despite the proud look of accomplishment on the nurse’s face, I don’t think it worked. Maybe because the squat bar was right there in front of me, I had a moment of clarity and thought, This is stupid.
He breathed with me through every surge and then between them he repeated affirmations to me and told me I was amazing. Equinox surprised everyone by coming out “sunny-side-up” (face toward the front of my body). However, the next day, I still remembered that it was hard, but I’d let go of (or repressed) the raw, kinesthetic memory of what it was like. Also, they had no problem breastfeeding despite not initiating it until quite some time after birth. Maybe it contributed to my need for space, maybe I was just plain overwhelmed from going through the most arduous experience of my life.
A childbirth technique I could never really connect to was to use the baby as an inspiration, but I finally get it now.
She also suggested a class that spanned several weeks instead of one packed all into one day so we would have time to digest the information and identify questions.
I’d already read several books about childbirth, so doing a birth prep class that focused more on practice and experience than information and facts appealed to me. We also went over many of the interventions the hospital could do, the rationale behind their protocols, what the evidence had to say about these protocols, and what our options were. I often feel kicking under my ribs and hiccups in my lower belly, so I’m fairly certain the baby spends at least a chunk of her time head down. It would be great to not be on a clock tick-tocking down to being coerced into getting interventions because my labor is longer than is convenient. The overhead fluorescent lights were off and the room was softly lit by a small bedside lamp. You see the same women every time so you have a support group to go through pregnancy with.
This week (30 weeks pregnant), a friend pointed me to an article called Conscious Birthing, which just so happens to be written by one of my doulas, Britt Fohrman. I have come to understand that any birth can be conscious, no matter where it happens and how much it stuck with the mamma’s original plan. Hiring a doula increases a woman’s chances of doing so, both via the doula assisting with non-medical comfort measures and advocating for the mother in an intimidating medical setting. We didn’t see ourselves working with any of the doulas at the Meet Local Doulas night, but Heather and Joy were great! The book outlines some exercises that get the reader to think back to experiences planning big ritual events (like a wedding) and participating in endurance events (like a marathon), which helped me make some concrete decisions about what I want for my birth.
As my lips parted from my new husband’s after our first kiss, one of my hands lovingly caressed the back of his neck, while the other discretely gestured to music person to start playing our exit song. The funny, encouraging signs people held or posted along the course were wonderful, because they gave me enough of a mental distraction to let my willpower recharge slightly. The course also includes a 30 minute track of positive pregnancy affirmations, which is so up my alley. After I got stung by the jellyfish in Cabo San Lucas, Richard and I somehow made it back to our hotel room where he read a book to me.
That increased tension creates more pain, which causes us to tense up even more, and the cycle continues. However, in light of our upcoming addition, it just seemed like a funny game to play along with this time, and so we enjoyed our Q-Tip time, counting them, cleaning Mommy’s ears and eventually throwing them away.
It’s so big,so round,so out there and SOOOOOO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After settling in the living room, I asked Richard to play an album I hadn’t thought about in years: Camaradas by Three Altos, which features amazing three-part harmonies.
At the start, with Britt’s help, Barbie was able to really focus inward and became very still as she dealt with the surges. She kept telling me that this meant things were moving in the right direction, and internally I asked, “But when? Since the birth I’ve found myself wondering maybe if I’d asked Britt to come sooner, or maybe if we’d put Rachel Yellin’s tracks back on, or maybe if something else I would’ve been able to labor naturally for longer (or even have a completely unmedicated birth). When I dragged myself back into bed to labor there, I had a flashback to a conversation I had in which one of my yoga students was telling me what a great experience she’d had with her epidural when she gave birth many years ago. The bed, the floor, the surge protector, all the cables, the night stand, and some into the trash. Richard told me later that one of the nurses watching the monitors called my contractions inhumane (although maybe the fact that I was bawling through every surge influenced her opinion).
The only way I was going to skip out on that epidural was if they told me I couldn’t get it because it was time to push. However, I stand by one piece: when you get your magic mushroom of an epidural, you swell up to twice your normal size. They fit me with a blood pressure cuff that automatically whirred tight every fifteen minutes to make sure my blood pressure was still in the safe range.
Becca said we could 1) use the drug pitocin to augment contractions and speed things up (she thought that was overkill), 2) break the forebag so the baby could descend more easily, or 3) watch and wait. Everyone knew that it was just a coping strategy and I wasn’t actually going to push the baby out in that moment, but in retrospect it was a good practice session. When babies are born in this position (occiput posterior) they are much harder to push out (thank you Preggo Pilates for giving me the strength) and mothers are much more likely to tear, so there may have been nothing I could do to avoid it.
A couple months before I gave birth, Richard and I visited a friend and her month-old baby who had been born six weeks premature. After honoring my wish for delayed cord clamping they clamped and cut the cord, and whisked her away to make sure she was breathing okay. I was grateful to have heard her story because when the nurses and doctor finished up with the baby and brought her back to me, I felt too overwhelmed to take her. I felt like the obstetrician and the new midwife who’d just come on shift were being overly social across my perineum as he explained the stitches he was doing to her, but I was probably just anxious to be done. In one sense Equinox is totally helpless, but in another sense she is incredibly intelligent, fierce, and tapped into an intuition and instinct most of us have forgotten how to access. Upon the suggestion of my doula, Richard and I chose to do Rachel Yellin’s 4-day childbirth preparation class, which focuses on the use of relaxation and hypnosis techniques during childbirth.
Her homework assignments involved bonding time between partners, listening to her hypnosis and relaxation audio program, and checking out other resources she provided. But at the end of the day, between the possibility that I could have a seizure due to my epilepsy and a comparison the mortality rates of hospital birth versus home births in the USA, the hospital won out for me (granted, there’s ongoing and vehement debate about the statistics around home birth versus hospital birth). I chose Saint Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco because they employ nurse-midwives to attend the low-risk pregnancies and are known for having a low intervention philosophy. Apparently I can even bring my own LED candles or Christmas lights if I’d prefer those for lighting. Richard and I have zero family in the area, so having more local connections—especially ones going through the same challenges at the same time—is so, so, so valuable to me.


The only times I seem to get nauseous now are when I get hungry and when I overexert, so as long as I adequately snack and laze, I’m golden. Instead of making an automatic decision between a good choice and a bad choice (well, not bad—just not a the right fit for us), I wanted to be able to make a thought-out decision between two good choices.
I mentioned to the doulas I interviewed that I was thinking of using hypnosis techniques, and they advised that some women like hypnosis because it distracts them from the experience of giving birth, some women don’t because they want to be completely present to the experience. It distracted me enough from the pain that I could sleep the afternoon away until the pain had softened.
If, at that first sensation of pain we can soften instead of hardening, we stay at that base level of pain instead of initiating an ever-escalating cycle. Just as with any other goal, the clearer, more insistent, and more determined you are about it, the more likely it is to happen. And frankly crying doesn’t lend itself well to writing, at least not for me right now.
At one point, we were provided a brief respite from the intensity and duration and able to fall asleep on each other on the couch next to the beautiful scene outside… It was, in a sense, a very intimate and uniting experience for me.
Richard and I learned the song “O Mama Bakudala” at a yoga retreat we did together shortly before getting engaged, and we still sing it together sometimes.
Every now and then I could work in a reference to meeting the baby, and it would get a small smile or a relaxed face. Now, looking back, I don’t even think I have the framework to fully remember what it was like. She’d been trying to labor drug-free, and when she caved and got the epidural, she thought, Wow, why didn’t I do this sooner?
A pregnant friend of mine told me she was hesitant to tour the labor and delivery ward of her hospital for fear of hearing women screaming during labor.
Luckily someone warned me ahead of time that when you ask for an epidural, it takes about forty-five minutes to actually get it because they have to spend that time pumping the mama full of IV fluids first as a precautionary measure.
After taking some time alone to discuss our options with each other and Britt over the phone (she’d gone home to rest while we did), Richard and I chose to break the forebag.
That meant it was safe for me to push, but ill-advised because there was such a long way to go that I would get exhausted actively pushing the whole time.
They had me reach down and feel her head a couple times, but it wasn’t progressing nearly as quickly as I wanted it to, so I stopped feeling for it.
Immediately after birth, instead of thinking, Wow, I am never going to do that again, I remember distinctly thinking, Wow, that is going to be so hard to do again next time. That was the size I’d been visualizing, and my baby had to be at least fifty percent bigger! I still had to deliver the placenta and get stitches—I wasn’t feeling relaxed and ready to be present with my baby. I asked them how many stitches I was getting, and they said it wasn’t so much individual stitches as it was one long thread that followed an atypical (but nothing to worry about) path.
She pushed with her strong little legs against my hands and started crawling up toward one of my breasts.
Next time I give birth, I know both Equinox Firestorm and the little one to come will be some of my most powerful inspirations.
It is well known that for many years doctors routinely performed episiotomies (cutting into the perineum to make the vaginal opening larger) because there was a theory that this would reduce tearing and other complications. She seemed genuinely interested in giving parents-to-be the resources to make their own decisions for their bodies and babies.
As if the birth of my child is diminished at all because it’s going to happen in a hospital.
They have a squat bar, birthing ball, and birthing chair (whatever that is) at my disposal so I can give birth in any position my body calls for. Based on some online research and recommendations from friends and other doulas, Richard and I have one more doula interview lined up in a couple weeks. My outer hip muscles immediately went into a spasm that wouldn’t let up unless I started running again. On my marathon, the only things that kept me going were the yummy and humorous ones that distracted me from the sensation of running. Using distraction can still be meditative—just as we may use the breath as a drishti (focal point) for our meditation, we may similarly use any of these other distractions as a drishti. I think little distractions like inspiring or funny affirmations, hypnotic visualizations, or gummy worms will help me do just that. That afternoon I had a prenatal massage with acupressure from Carole Moore, who has a track record for kickstarting labor. I tried to sleep, but they were intense enough that I had to focus and use breathing techniques to relax, and there wasn’t enough time in between them to doze off. I was there for her when she really needed me, providing support for her in whatever way she needed it, whether it was food, massage, reassuring words, preparing the bath, or simply giving her a sip of water. The downside of that (or, the upside for California’s drought) was I could only stay in the shower for so long before overheating. To everyone who warned me of exactly these things: I apologize for never genuinely believing you. As Rachel Yellin said repeatedly in our birth prep class, “Birth is mystery.” Maybe if I’d labored naturally for longer I wouldn’t have had the energy to push my baby out. There wasn’t much we could do, and it started to feel like I was forcing my will on her to keep going.
I told her it was important to me to labor naturally, and added, “But if I get to the point that I’m absolutely suffering instead of softening, I’ll request pain medication.” Curled over in fetal position on the bed, I thought, I’m suffering. I think this is the reason why Britt drove us to the hospital with me and Barbie in the back, and a gallon sized plastic ziploc just in case. I responded that I didn’t think women really made as much of a ruckus in real life as they did on TV. I was happy that all those hours laboring had been to some avail and grateful that I’d come to the hospital for some relief because there was still a ways to go (although it’s impossible to know how fast a cervix will dilate.
I could still wiggle my toes, and I felt it when my mucus plug came out and when my water broke in the middle of the night. Still, I kept asking when the anesthesiologist was going to get there and as time went on, I started sobbing, “He’s not coming!
Honestly, when I think about all I have put this man through over the years and how he has stepped up, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and joy to have him as a birth partner, a husband, and the father of my child. They offered to hold up a mirror so I could see my progress, but I thought it would just freak me out. Our birth preference was to delay all newborn procedures until after the first breastfeeding session, but when Richard turned his back for a moment to update me, they gave her the vitamin K shot after he’d expressly told them to wait (they said something about wanting to make her cry and achieving both that and the injection at once). Someone suggested that Daddy do skin-on-skin contact with the baby, and he didn’t need to be asked twice to fling his shirt off. The gesture the OB made with his hand made it look like a winding trail that hooked around at the end. One of the reasons we delayed the antibiotic eye ointment was so that she could clearly see the darker nipple with respect to the rest of the breast. Then they actually did some research and found out that in most cases episiotomies don’t prevent anything and often lead to a challenging recovery. The monitoring equipment they use is waterproof so that I can use the shower throughout labor. After enough relentless and desperate pleading, Richard caved and tried to suck the venom out. I was determined to finish, and I realized that whether walking or running I was going to be in pain, so laboriously, clumsily, and dejectedly, I started running again. Sure enough, that night I awoke several times to sporadic contractions, but they were gone by the next morning.
We listened to that album twice through, and then switched to Rachel Yellin’s Ultra Depth Relaxation and Birth Rehearsal tracks. I could’ve completed those last three centimeters in an hour or in two days and an hour). However, I was numb enough that if I wanted to roll over to my other side, I had to press my call button so the nurses could come help me.
It was so sweet and heartwarming to see the two of them bonding while I was finishing up with what I needed to do. Without any guidance from us, she found her way up to my nipple and instinctively latched on.
Also, when discussing doulas, Richard brought up a past experiences to illustrate his apprehension about supporting me through pain. Shortly thereafter I came to an aid station that had more than the standard water, Gatorade, and gel packs—they had RealFruit gummy candies.
The book acknowledges that the risk in becoming attached to your birth plan is that you may feel disappointment if your birth doesn’t happen exactly the way you wrote it down. After swimming on Wednesday, I indulged in another bucket of bubble tea (the promotion was still on) and then got a pedicure. Some surges she would breathe through, but more often she’d cry, sob, or lose her breath.
After all was said and done, one of the nurses discovered that the epidural tube had actually popped out of my back during all the movement I did pushing, so by the time the baby was coming out, there was literally no epidural. It was a second degree tear, which is the most common type. The recovery time was much longer than I expected: they recommended I avoid exercise and keep my legs together—both figuratively and literally—for six weeks! All of the staff members we met (both midwives and OB’s), welcomed laboring mothers handing them a page of individualized birth preferences upon arrival and seemed genuinely supportive of low-intervention birth. The women at the nail salon were impressed that I was out-and-about past my due date (little did any of us know I’d go into labor that very night). They injected it into my IV, and as my next contraction faded, I got sleepy and melted down onto the bed. Everything about that room was a little hazy, but then Britt got her face right in front of mine, and that image was crystal clear. They say women are not on the clock when they get there, and can take as long as they need to labor (although, I’m sure there are limitations on that). Needless to say, Richard fully supports having a third party present at all times to protect him from the ill-advised demands of a laboring wife. Anyone who is used to setting the types of lofty goals that are worth achieving knows that some of them don’t pan out.
I knew that our baby’s middle name was probably going to be Firestorm, so when I saw the ostentatious orange and yellow glitter polish, I couldn’t resist.
They are so supportive of having doulas present, that they even host a Meet Local Doulas night once a month.
That handful of corn syrup and gelatin that I savored over the next mile was all that kept me from collapsing into a pile of tears on the side of the road and calling a cab.
During my labor, several of the hospital staff commented on my glitzy pedicure, reminding me that everything I was going through was so we could meet our little Firestorm.
After I ran across the finish line, I grabbed some more RealFruit gummies and continued jogging over to the massage tent to get that spasm worked out of my glutes.
Besides, as long as nobody’s stopping by postpartum to rub the discrepancies between my birth plan and what actually happened in my face, certainly any disappointment will be overshadowed by the immense joy of holding a happy, healthy baby in my arms. The rest was said like a no-nonsense boot camp drill sergeant, and that was exactly was I needed in that moment.



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