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My labor started on a Friday night in May while most people were getting ready for Memorial Day weekend. I was already a week late and had been drinking lots of "blue-cohash tea", so I was not mistaken in thinking that tonight was the night. I was starting to go to sleep pretty early all week so as I would be prepared for "oh my god, this-is-it" night. So when 4:PM came along and I started to feel what can best be described as "menstrual cramps" I mentally started to prepare my self.

By about 7:PM, dinner time the contractions were about 20 minutes apart and lasting about 15 seconds. After eating a high-carb dinner, I was sure that this was "it", so I called my midwife and gave her the details. She told me to take a warm bath, relax and keep her updated. Over the next several hours things progressed nicely. By about 10:PM the contractions were about 5 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute each. Since I was only a town or two away from the birthing center I wasn't too worried about getting there. The midwife and I agreed to meet there at about 11:PM

Now I had gone to an 8 week very intense birthing class focusing on the "Bradley Method" and had prepared myself for a completely natural birth and although this was my first child I was completely confident that I would "rise to the occasion" and look good doing it. So freshly showered, dressed and face on, I arrived at the center. As a matter fact, when I did arrive, the attendant asked if I was the Midwife. I was like, "Are you nuts?! I'm the one in labor!"

So after a brief introduction the staff on that night, I was examined by my Midwife, Samantha and to my surprise was told I was only 4 cm.! I almost passed out. To compound things, she told me to relax, because it looks like it's going to be a long night. I continued my labor at the center, after changing into a gown and resting against a bed. I had prepared a "heat sock"* and that really helped a lot (* I filled a long sock with uncooked rice and dropped a few drops of lavender oil in to give it a nice scent, tied off the one end and heated it in a microwave just until comfortably hot). My back was feeling a lot of pressure but when my labor partner massaged that up and down my back it was wonderful while it lasted. Soon I felt as though I was not able to get comfortable so, off to the hot tub. AAHHH. now this felt good. "This is going to be a breeze", I said to myself. I stayed there for about an hour and calmly dealt with the contractions, sipping juice in between. All of a sudden I felt a POP! I told my doula and she and the midwife confirmed that my "water" had broke. I thought "How convenient! No mess. This is going to be a breeze." That was the last time I said that.

I now know the meaning of the term "coming on like gangbusters!" I went from calm to a mess in about 10 minutes. First I threw up. Then I could not handle the contractions in the tub. I could feel myself starting to panic. "Oh my God, what have I done?" Everyone reassured me that I was doing "great" and I told myself, "I bet they say that to all the girls." I was in a lot of pain. It seems that the hot tub progressed by dilation quickly. I went from 4 centimeters to 8 in about 45 minutes. Hence, the vomiting. Next it was off to the shower stall. Now this worked for a little while, about an hour. I used one of the techniques learned at class, to hang on your partner. I let the shower beat down on my back while hanging all my weight on my partner during the contractions. Needless to say we all got wet. It was then that I really started to "lose it". I started telling my mother and aunt that "I couldn't do this!" and "I needed help!" I could see the sympathy in my mother's eyes, she going through this 3 times already and she reassured me that I was dong fine and that I COULD do this! Soon I found myself telling everyone that I had to push! It's true what they say about knowing when to push. Up until that moment, I had no urges to push. But by God, I DID now! After trying a few unsuccessful positions I climbed onto the king-sized bed and with my labor partner supporting me from behind I proceeded to begin the 2 hour pushing. Now let me just say that everyone in that room was so vital. When I told people who was going to be with me during the labor I received mixed emotions and opinions. Some thought it was wonderful while others, including my husband (unfortunately stationed overseas and unable to attend, although called about 20 times during the labor), thought it sounded more like a cocktail party. However, in hindsight, I don't know what I would have done if they weren't there. My mother was there for moral support, my aunt stood in as a wonderful Bradley/labor partner and the doula and midwife were like the "professionals". So there I was, a room full of women all pulling together to help me bring my baby into this world. And that's exactly what happened. After about 2 hours of intense pushing and lot of primal sounds that I didn't even know I was capable of, out she came. She was so clean and unmarked that I thought she had been bathed. They gave her to me immediately and as I held her on my belly I pushed out the placenta. I continued to gaze in complete awe at her even as they stitched up my 2nd degree tear (no episiotomy). She was momentarily taken away for a quick inspection and when she returned I was amazed to find out that I had given birth to a 9 pound 2 ounces baby. El-Natural! And I lived to tell about it. I nursed her right away and have been since. She has grown so quickly that I feel as though I just gave birth to her last month even though she's already 8 months.

So in conclusion, let me say that to all those out there who would like to have a natural birth and are questioning their ability, YOU CAN DO IT! Everyone should do what is best for them and the baby, but don't let anyone scare you with horrible birth stories. Childbirth should be felt and experienced. As hard as it is sometimes, don't let people take this away from you with promises of easing your pain and handing all control over to them. Every thing has its pros and cons, even childbirth. Become well versed on the subject and weight all the options. I read "The Birth Book" by William & Martha Sears and have continued on to "The Baby Book" by the same authors. Since then Mommy and Daddy are doing fine and continuing their goal of caring for baby Madeline.

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