It’s hard to explain why I’ve been ignoring this blog over the last year and a half. But so much has happened in my life and there are a million new things I’m trying. It’s time to start writing again!

The first thing I feel I should share is my baby’s birth story because it’s the most important and most amazing thing that has happened in my life. Don’t worry! I’ll start writing about knitting and gardening soon enough.

The eve of my due date was no different than most days throughout my pregnancy. I slept a little through the night, did some grocery shopping, washed some dishes, took a nap, and felt like I had swallowed two whole watermelons. Shortly after waking from my nap at 5pm I started feeling some cramping across my entire abdomen that wouldn’t really subside. My mother had just come home from work and we sat at the table and chatted for a while and I realized I should eat something but felt really nauseous. I managed to eat some dinner but made frequent trips to the bathroom because I was fighting the urge to vomit and peeing like crazy. Over the course of a few hours I passed my uterine seal (mucus plug) and the cramping worsened but I was finally able to distinguish the pain of a contraction and the resting time between. I sat in a recliner and watched parts of a movie and started timing my contractions. At first they were anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes apart but by 11:00pm they were consistently 6 minutes apart. The blood that I was passing increased enough to alarm me so I called Alisa and she told me the blood was normal and that I should call again when the contractions were 4 minutes apart.

We decided to pack up the car and head to my sister’s house because she was only 10 minutes from the hospital whereas we were an hour away. We had to wake my dad and I think he was more nervous about what was happening than I was. By 11:30pm I had also called Brian (who was just getting off of work) and told him it was TIME and that he should meet us at the rendezvous point. It was hard for me to leave the toilet because it felt the most comfortable to labor there since every contraction made me pee. The 45 minute drive was long and by this point I really started moaning with each contraction. I focused on taking deep breaths and the fact that after each contraction was over, it was one less that I would have to endure. My parents were in the front seat trying to tell me to ‘stay calm’ and ‘just relax’ which was getting a little annoying because I was already doing that. I guess they mistook my moans for signs of panic. My dad was trying to recount all of the things he had learned in the few labor support classes he attended with me and decided turning on the radio would help (and it might have) but what came blasting out of NPR at that hour was the 90s song Boombastic by Shaggy. I snapped and asked them to turn off the radio and for the remainder of the ride my parents chatted quietly in the front seat while I labored in the back.

When we got to my sister’s house around 12:30am I really started feeling the contractions peaking and realized they were coming closer – about 4.5 minutes apart. I labored on the toilet through some and got on my hands and knees in the living room for others. Lying on my side on some pillows on the floor was the most comfortable for my resting periods. My parents and sister tried to make sure I was drinking water and were helping by massaging my back and feet. Brian finally arrived and came right to my side. (He later admitted that when he first walked through the door he felt a tinge of panic because I was in the middle of a moaning spell but quickly regained control.) He walked me around in the kitchen and sat with me in the bathroom and offered to perform the double hip squeezes we learned in class and I was surprised to hear myself telling him I didn’t want them! I kept telling him I wanted to vomit and returning to the toilet to labor while my sister was floating around in the background trying to anticipate what we needed. I was starting to feel a little hysterical through some of the contractions and it took a great deal of concentration to bring my focus back to my breathing. I managed to make it back to the living room to labor on all fours and during a contraction, in a bout of hysteria, I heard a sound like a giant water balloon popping and felt a wetness come from within me. My water had exploded! I was told that everyone backed up for a moment and then rushed toward me again with towels and drinking water. When the contraction subsided I told everyone that someone needed to call Alisa and there was a scramble to find her phone number in my purse. Brian informed her that my bag of waters had broken and that my contractions were 3.5 minutes apart and we were heading to the hospital. I remember joking and saying ‘I thought that only happened in the movies’, referring to my water breaking and later apologizing to my sister that it happened all over her carpet. I returned to the toilet for a few more contractions and I started to feel the urge to push. My sister freaked out a little and told me not to push so I tried holding everything in with super kegels and bundled up a towel to cover my crotch for the car ride because fluids just kept leaking out.

We got into two cars around 1:30am – my parents and myself back in my car and my sister and Brian in his. I gripped the sides of my seat and fought the urge to push the whole way to the hospital and did the same as I was being wheeled to the Labor & Delivery floor. We got into a room pretty quickly and once we were in I was hooked up to monitors and had to answer a bunch of ridiculous questions like whether I had ever broken any bones and whether I learned better visually or by reading. They made me lay on my back on the bed because the fetal monitor kept shifting and even though I felt uncomfortable, I was ever reassured by Brian whispering in my ear and bringing my focus back to deep breathing. When Alisa arrived she gave me a quick vaginal exam and said something like ‘Oh my goodness, you’re ten plus two. You can get into whatever position you want and start pushing with the next contraction.’ I managed to flip back onto all fours while I was still on the bed and everyone helped me pull my dress and bra off. The first contraction came and I beared down to push with all my might. Alisa said she saw hair and it made me feel excited to know my baby was almost out. The next contraction came without a peak so I just moaned through it. The third contraction brought another urge to push so I gave in to it and I could feel great pressure moving downward as my birth canal opened up. From what I could tell, her head was out and there was a pause until I immediately felt like pushing again. Alisa barely had time to assess the baby’s position and clean off her face before she was completely out and crying on the bed! My baby was passed to me through my legs and I could feel the oxytocin coursing through me. The monitors were removed and I was able to flip over to lay on my back with her on my chest. I couldn’t believe how alert she was. She started nursing within minutes. I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life. In the meantime, Brian cut her cord and Alisa helped deliver my placenta. I was told I was bleeding quite a bit and a nurse had to work on massaging my uterus to stop the bleeding while Alisa tried to suture a small tear. The pain of the uterine massages was worse than the labor pains and after a while I couldn’t focus on holding the baby. Brian took off his shirt so he could hold our baby to his chest while Alisa and the nurse finished working on me. The bleeding finally slowed and our baby was looked over, weighed, measured and had her footprints done.

Reagan Alexis Wray was born at 2:55am on November 13, 2011. She was 19.25 inches long and weighed 7lbs 8oz. My active labor, transitional labor and the birth took less than 3 hours together which is was a rarity for first-time pregnancies. She also came right on her due date which I was told happens for only 5% of births. I have to thank Chama for preparing myself and my family for all of the possibilities the labor and delivery might have brought even though it happened so fast we didn’t have a chance to use many of the techniques we were shown. For you mothers that are still pregnant, take all of the advice you can get but remember that sometimes it’s okay to just go with the flow. Your baby will come however it wants to come, 24 hours of labor or not. I also have to thank Alisa, my parents, my sister and of course my amazing fiance Brian for their roles in bringing Reagan into this world. I needed every one of them and am glad they were all part of the experience.