I spent the first day of my maternity leave wandering around IKEA, hoping to "walk this baby out." I was so ready for her to come and I didn't want to "waste" many of my days off without an actual baby. In the afternoon I went shopping at Wegmans, feeling irregular contractions that sometimes made me stop to breathe. Joel and I went out to dinner and had friends over to play games. I knew I needed to be distracted from the waiting. My friends brought some spices to help me kick start labor. I told them I was pretty sure things were already moving, but I didn't want to get my hopes up.
We went to bed around 11 and I woke up at 1 with much stronger contractions. I got in the shower to manage them and let Joel sleep another hour. I woke Joel up around 2 saying, "I need some help." At that point I was confident this was the real deal but had no idea how much longer I would be laboring.
The hours we spent at home are all a blur. I know I took at least two more showers. I know Joel called Melissa, my BFF and doula. I know they both rubbed my back. I know I was tired. I know I sat on the toilet- a lot. I know I threw up twice. I know I asked for counter pressure, some hip squeezing. I know I walked the upstairs hallway, back and forth. I know Melissa helped me breathe deeply and slowly. I know Joel got all our bags ready by the door. I know Melissa made our bed. I know I drank water. I know when we called the birth center's on- call phone the midwife talked me through some contractions and told me I could stay home longer. Twice.
Around 7 am Joel drove me to the birth center. I spent all ten minutes of that drive on my knees, leaning over the back of my seat. I absolutely couldn't sit on my butt- my back killed me and contractions were coming fast!!
The pushing was horrendous- unbelievably painful and so so hard! I can't imagine pushing for longer than I did, though I know most people have a much longer time of it. I had Joel's hand being crushed on my left and Melissa massaging my back/butt on the right. Sarah was coaching me and encouraging me and telling me exactly what I needed to do. After a little while she had me lie on my side and hold my right leg up. This gave me a chance to focus and I tried so hard to breathe deeply and push when the contractions came. Joel was holding my hand and letting me squeeze his to death and keeping a cool washcloth on my face/forehead. Melissa helped immensely by giving a running commentary... "Ohhhh, Kell, I can see her head!"Just the words I needed to hear, as I couldn't see at all and the pushing didn't feel like it was accomplishing much.
At one point Sarah let me feel Charlotte's little head, which was slimy and hairy and amazing. That slimy, hairy, amazing head gave me the courage and stamina to keep pushing despite the piercing pain of my body parts stretching
The entire experience was incredible and painful and heart-wrenching and scary and perfect and beautiful. I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful first labor and delivery. I couldn't have imagined a better team supporting me the entire way.
Though bringing Charlotte into the world was physically the hardest thing I have ever done, it was the most rewarding and the most wonderful.
Melissa of Melissa Hassey Photography.