For baby number three, Fit Pregnancy's editor Laura Kalehoff was able to have the natural childbirth she wanted. Read her inspiring story!
I feel like I'm in participating in some sort of reality show challenge: Average five hours of sleep a night and then attempt to write coherently between your 10-day-old son's whimpers and feedings, as he twitches and hiccups in the co-sleeper next to you. Eloquent words aren't exactly coursing through me right now, but love, pride and a feeling of accomplishment are.
Marlon must have known how much I relished my pregnancy, and maybe he wasn't quite ready for it to end either, because my due date came and went uneventfully. His older brother was born three weeks early and his sister was one week early, so I assumed he'd debut early too, only to be reminded, once again, that motherhood is an ongoing lesson in surrendering control.
One aspect of my baby's birth that I did want to have control over, if conditions were safe enough to allow it: I wanted to try delivering drug-free this time. I have great appreciation for modern birthing technology. I'm grateful for the fetal monitor that indicated when my eldest son was in distress during childbirth, and for my ob/gyn who swiftly delivered him via C-section. I had a terrific vbac experience when delivering my daughter in a sunny, happy hospital room (yes, there is such a thing as a happy hospital room!) surrounded by a supportive medical team. But like running a marathon, or editing a magazine, and certainly becoming a mom, natural childbirth was a life experience I wanted to say yes to. For months, I had been working toward that goal by listening to relaxation downloads from HipBirth each night. The goal: to prime my body and mind to recognize that contractions are natural, to accept them without fear, to relax during them and to find respite in between them. Relaxing is not my forte—I have trouble shutting my thoughts off during a massage—but listening to these downloads transported me, and I felt good about trying this approach. Seven days past due, I got my chance.
Throughout the day, I'd felt contractions, but assumed they were Braxton Hicks rather than early labor, since they weren't painful, just a repetitive yet sporadic seizing up of my stomach. My back ached too, but I blamed it on my heels (I know, I know). At dinner though, around 7:30 p.m., my still-not-painful contractions were about five minutes apart yet remained more a curiosity than anything I perceived as pain. My husband, Max, and I put the kids to bed, then I sat down to work on a report for work before finally feeling an "It's showtime!" contraction (think: part period cramp, part torso abruptly filling with air) and realized we needed to leave for the hospital then or risk delivering this baby on the West Side Highway. My ob/gyn had warned me, "Third babies come fast, so when you feel like you're in labor, whatever labor means to you, get to the hospital." He was right.
At about 9:10 p.m., Max and I left the kids with my mom and were off! As we zoomed through the streets of New York, I listened to my labor HipBirth contraction downloads that urged me to "go deep" into relaxation as each contraction, or "surge," came over me. By the time we arrived in the triage waiting room at about 10:10 p.m., I could no longer sit through the contractions and instead circled the hallway each time I felt one rise within me. When we were given a triage room about half an hour later, I was between 4 and 5 centimeters dilated, and the contractions were fierce. Max applied pressure on my back while I tried to follow HipBirth's instruction to relax every muscle during each surge. Every part of me seized up in the face of the pain, yet by going limp I found I could open up.
After an hour of this, I sat up a bit, felt extreme pressure, and—pop—my water broke everywhere (warning: keep your fancy camera and leather bag a safe distance away from your triage bed!). The contractions were rushing over me in such quick succession, I felt like a castaway caught in life's fiercest storm. At about 11:40 p.m., I was loaded onto a gurney and wheeled into labor and delivery. "You're fully dilated," the doctor announced.
Pushing felt like a relief at that point. The so-called "ring of fire," was a couple seconds of slight burning not worthy of the name. The real work had already been done by my uterus through its steady surges, and by my brain, in shutting off and letting the rest of me do what it needed to do. At 12:12 a.m., Marlon landed on my chest and tears sprang to my eyes. Just as my body knew exactly how to build this little man—down to every fine detail from his tiny fingernails to his debonair hairline—it knew exactly how to deliver him. I'm so glad I trusted it to show me that.
Don't miss Laura's Loving It—where she shares a few of her favorite things right now.