April 9, 2018, I woke up at 3:30 am to one of my roommates yelling at her dogs. The previous night, we had eaten fried gator tail medallions, which I maintain as what actually triggered true labor. I felt the first contraction around 3:40 am. I had been having bouts of insomnia for a couple nights now and this night was no different. I tried to fall back asleep but it never came. Contractions were irregular. Some five minutes apart others 45 minutes. It went on like this until about 10 am. I was still in bed.

My boyfriend came into my room after dropping off another roommate at work. I was under the impression that these contractions weren’t going anywhere as I’ve been having prodromal labor for months. We were both feeling frisky, so we decided to do the deed. Little did we know that it would be our last time before baby came. We had decided beforehand that we needed to go to Home Depot for a drain snake and drain cleaner, so we headed there. While shopping, I noticed the contractions were back, I had three in the 20 minutes we were in the store, and they were coming closer than they had that morning but I was still in denial that this could be true labor.

I hadn’t eaten anything yet, that day, so we headed across the parking lot to Wendy’s. I got a homestyle chicken sandwich meal. On my third bite, a contraction came that I had to focus and breath through. It was about noon and I decided I should start timing them. They were still fairly irregular and far apart and, because of this, I was still firmly in denial. When we got home, we tried using the items we got at Home Depot. Unfortunately, we discovered that the drain we were trying to clear was actually blocked by a broken drain plug. Unclearable by what we had purchased. There goes my plan of using the shower for relief during labor. I puttered around the house until contractions became regular. I layed down for about 45 minutes to see if they would stop. They didn’t. It’s about 1:30 pm at this point.

My boyfriend had set crab traps the day before and went to check them right after I realized this labor was real. We didn’t know how long we had until baby, but contractions were 9-10 minutes apart, so, more than likely, we had plenty of time. I labored alone, on my yoga ball for a couple hours, until he got home. He heard me vocalizing through contractions and came to check on me. It’s now around 4:50 pm and contractions are about 6-7 minutes apart with every fourth contraction at 9-10 minutes apart. He needed to go pick up our roommate from work. I was alone again. I decided to try to check my cervix but couldn’t reach it. I noticed I couldn’t feel a presenting part for the baby either, meaning he wasn’t engaged like he had been earlier that day. It was nearly 6 pm when he and our roommate got home. My contractions were a steady 5 minutes apart except for every third or fourth that was still 8-10 minutes apart. I knew at this point that there was something amiss with baby’s presentation or my psyche that was causing the irregularity in my labor pattern.

I knew that there was something going on with my boyfriend’s psyche when he, once again, decided to leave me to take a shower at our roommate’s dad’s house. In response, I decided to to go to the closest hospital. I wasn’t going to give birth alone when I had planned to have this baby with my boyfriend present and he had told me he planned on catching him. That obviously wasn’t going to happen. At least, not at home.

I drove myself to the hospital and checked in at 7 pm. The last contraction I clocked on my phone app started at 7:02 pm. In triage, the nurse checked my cervix and declared I was at 4 cm and -2 station. They decided to admit me with that information. Babies heart rate was steady and contractions became completely regular. Before I was moved to an LDR room, a second nurse checked my cervix. In the 30 minutes I had spent in triage, my cervix changed to 5-6 cm open, very soft and stretchy, 80% effaced, baby still high. All the while, between contractions, I’ve been texting with my boyfriend, arguing really. He didn’t want to come to the hospital due to past experiences with one of his other children. He thought I still had hours to go.

I was moved to an LDR room and, shortly after, I noticed I had hit transition. I was spacing out between contractions as the nurses whirled around me. A saline lock was placed, blood samples and baseline vitals taken and discussed with the midwife and nurses what I wanted and didn’t want for the birth and my baby once born.  I wanted to keep my placenta, not be on my back, to utilize the squat bar, decline all vaccines and the eye ointment, I would be breastfeeding so immediate skin to skin, no pain meds. It’s now 8:30 pm and I texted my boyfriend one last time.

His response pissed me off and I thought to myself “I don’t care anymore. Just give me an epidural and take the baby to nursery once he’s born.” I figured out I was in transition with this thought. Instead of asking for an epidural, though, I asked to go to the bathroom. I was still attached to the monitors. The nurse asked if I was feeling pressure. She didn’t want me to have the baby on the toilet. I didn’t feel the urge to push, just a normal urge to have a bm. I sat on the toilet, had a contraction that I needed to vocalize through, peed, had another contraction that I needed to vocalize through, at which point the nurse was rather insistent that return to the bed.

I made it to the bed without having another contraction but decided that if I was going to use the squat bar, it needs to be placed now. As I waited for nurses and techs to figure out how it was supposed to attach, they put it on facing the wrong way in their first attempt, I had another contraction. It was all that intense but it made visibly, physically agitated. I couldn’t stop moving. I was bouncing, shifting from foot to foot, shaking my hands in a jazz hand motion with them at sides. The attending midwife noticed and asked if I felt it was time to push. I said “Not yet, but it’s coming.”

The squat bar is now on the bed properly so I get on the bed in a kneeling position, facing the foot of the bed, leaning on the bar. Contractions hit hard. The first wave in this position is so intense, I vocalize, I sway, I have to actively think about not clenching or activating certain muscles. My training and experience as a doula kicks in. Open mouth equals open pelvis. Soft hands equals soft vagina. The second wave hits at, I’m assuming 8:50 pm. My water releases. It wasn’t a violent “pop” like I’d had with previous deliveries. Just a gentle flow.

For some reason, it was extremely pertinent, to me, to tell the nurse next to me that my water had broken. They didn’t see the puddle at first, so I moved and we all saw that it had and there was blood, just enough to make chux I was kneeling over turn pink where it was wet. The midwife acknowledged the puddle beneath me and exclaimed “Now it’s on.”

With the next wave, before it could even peak, I was pushing. Something told me not to hold back. The pressure was different with this delivery. It wasn’t as focused as any of my previous deliveries. The midwife came to my side to check where baby was as I was still kneeling with my arms on the squat bar but my head was hanging underneath it. She was surprised to find him already crowning at +3 station while I was actively pushing but he moved back when I stopped bearing down. I pushed a second time in that contraction and everyone in the room was trying to coax me into a true squat, but, I knew if I were in that position, it would be easier for them to get me on my back and I could easily tear. I shook my head no at their suggestion. The midwife then asked if I would lay on my back. I shook my head again and heard some of the nurses exclaim in advocation that I had said earlier that being on my back for delivery was not what I wanted.

The suggestion was then made to lower the end of the bed, take off the squat bar and turn to face the head of the bed. I agreed. As I turned, between contractions, the nurses took off my gown. I wrestled a bit with the monitoring cords, so those came off, too. I backed down to the foot of the bed and another wave started. I pushed. I knew his head must be close to being born but there was no relief when I knew there should have been. The room became quiet. Then the nurses told me with urgency, to keep pushing, but I wasn’t having a contraction, so I didn’t until I felt the urge again. While I was pushing this time, I could feel the midwife pulling and maneuvering my baby around. I knew something was amiss, but then I heard a faint gurgle and a loud cry. He was here and he sounded just fine. I nearly screamed “Can we do delayed cord clamping?” Because I had forgotten to discuss that in particular as I was being checked in. Luckily the cord had not been touched and remained intact.

As we were discussing what leg I would lift to bring baby to my front, as was still on my hands and knees, I heard the midwife mention something about his arm. She was asking a tech “which arm was that?” I asked if he a nuchal hand. She said no and a nurse interjected with “It was more compound presentation.” I heard them mention that he had his hand on his ear with his arm, still debating which arm, on his head. A nurse mentioned that my position was probably best given baby’s presentation.

I had brought my boy up to my chest and sat in the bed. One of the nurses exclaimed “That’s how to have a baby!” I’m guessing they don’t see natural birth all that much. As the nurses and techs bustled around I just got to hold my baby and rest. Achilles Titan was born at 9:02 pm. Almost exactly two hours after I checked into the hospital. The midwife came up to the head of the bed to check the cord. It was white and ready to be clamped. In my postpartum, birth high haze, I asked if we could wait. She showed me the cord and asked if I wanted to cut it. She then clamped an area off and I cut my our cord. I then attempted to nurse Achilles but he was more interested in resting after his ordeal. The placenta was born and placed in a container for me to take home, per my request. Then, after a quick vaginal exam to ensure I didn’t need any tissue repair, we were left alone to rest, nurse and just take each other in.

At nearly 9:30 pm, I took a couple pictures of my fresh baby and sent them to my best friend and my boyfriend. Baby nursed shortly after. At about 10 pm the charge nurse came back in to weigh and measure Achilles. He was 8 pounds 14 ounces and 20 inches long.