I continued to CrossFit throughout my pregnancy up until the day before my due date. (I gave birth a week later.) After finding out that we were pregnant at my gynecologist, we decided to continue our care at NYC’s only freestanding birthing center. My boyfriend, Keith, and I really wanted to have a natural experience and knew our best chances of that would be at the Brooklyn Birthing Center. The center employs only Midwives and being a RN, I felt more comfortable with them. I went into labor on Friday 1/9. That same day Keith’s dad, George, passed away. I felt bad that I couldn’t really comfort him as I was dealing with my own aches and pains. But as they say when one soul leaves a family another one enters. The Midwives stressed that labor support was essential. We decided that my mom and Keith would be my support and they wound up being excellent doulas throughout. (I wouldn’t have had it any other way.)
Over the next 24 hours we monitored my variable contractions. On Saturday afternoon it seemed that the contractions were becoming one long contraction. This was a different sensation. It was more like constant pressure and it was becoming hard to tell when one contraction was ending and another beginning. I couldn’t seem to get comfortable. We called the Midwife on call and she said to come in. Lily examined me and found I was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if we were back that night. Boy was that car ride home uncomfortable! At home, I tried to sleep but found I couldn’t lay or sit or stand. I spent a lot of time hanging over the arm of the couch, wiggling my butt in the air. By 8pm, I couldn’t take it anymore and we drove back to the Center. Lily was still on call and upon examination she found I was 90% effaced but still only 3cm dilated. But she said the baby was so low she could touch his head! So she gave me the option to manually stretch me to 5cm. She said that it may hurt and I was more than happy to say yes. Anything to get me closer. Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt much and since I was at 5cm I was finally able to be admitted.
9:15pm, we entered the birthing room. We got the big one with the tub, bathroom, and king size bed since we were the only ones to be giving birth at that time. The center can only accommodate 3 births at one time. Because it was shift change time, I had to say goodbye to Lily. 2 new Midwives that I had never seen came on shift, Linda and Kathy. I was a little anxious because I didn’t know them and one was orienting the other. (Turned out to be for the best!) I tried getting into the tub but because the weather was so cold the water couldn’t get warm enough so we scrapped that idea.
As time went on the pressure became unbearable. I began vomiting anything I drank, projectile style. Good thing I have good aim, hah! I tried to relieve the pressure by leaning over the ball. My sister, her fiancé and my best friend came to wait out Ryley’s birth. The pressure was growing and I asked to try the only form of pain relief they offer, low dose laughing gas. I took a few hits but no relief. Scratched that idea. I knew I couldn’t go on like this much longer and almost broke down in tears. My mom got the Midwives and they rechecked me. Still 5cm! You got to be shitting me! I told them that I was about ready to throw in the towel, but they and my mom and Keith said no you can do this. Linda, a Midwife with 20 years of experience, said you are going to do this here and now and I am going to help you.
She proceeded to break my water and stretch my cervix manually over Ryley’s head from 5 to 10cm! It was excruciating and I begged for breaks. She kept at it and after what seemed like hours of torture (I’m sure it was probably only minutes) she said I was ready to start pushing. We were almost done. Thank god! I tried pushing with the next contraction but wasn’t quite getting it. I think I was using my abs and legs and not really bearing down. It wasn’t until they got a mirror that I made the connection between how to push and what will make him emerge. Wow, there’s the top of his head! Once I got it, my contractions slowed down again. I would have to wait 5 to 10 minutes between pushing. I think this is why it took an hour to push him out. Keith kept coaching me as I pushed. He kept saying one more rep! And then proceeded to tell the Midwives that I shave my hands and how they rip from doing pull ups. He went to the bathroom and my mom had to scream for him to get back as Ryley’s head began showing. I could feel the tearing but kept pushing as I could excitedly see his head emerging.
Just as I was ready to keep pushing to get his shoulders out, Kathy said to stop. What do you mean stop I thought! But I had to as the cord was wrapped around his head once. So I stopped and Kathy quickly unwrapped the cord. I pushed out the shoulders easily. (And I heard that’s usually the hardest part, huh.) But as they helped him out, my eyes bugged out of my head because I felt like it took forever for the rest of his body to emerge. He was so long, 7lbs 15oz and 21in! I felt immediate relief once he was out. No more pressure! On Sunday at 4:05am they placed him on my chest. I thought that I would cry when I gave birth but nope. The labor was so arduous, 47 hours, that I just felt relief, excitement and love. He was perfect!