On Saturday, May 9th, 2009 I woke up to a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. Aaron and I ate breakfast and spent a lazy morning watching TV. My contractions were feeling stronger but not significantly stronger than they had been. We had plans to go to the Plaza for a friend’s engagement party that evening. We decided it would be fun to head to the Plaza to enjoy the afternoon and eat a nice dinner together before the party. As I was getting ready around 2pm I discovered my plug had come out.
I knew we needed to let Anita (our midwife) know but her first question would be how frequent my contractions were. I had no idea so we measured them for an hour. My contractions were about five minutes apart at that point, not very unusual for me. We decided to go for a walk to see if they got worse or stopped as we’d learned that walking can help you tell if labor is for real or not. If the contractions continue it’s real if they stop it’s not. They definitely did not stop. In fact, they started intensifying.
We called Anita to give her the update. She suggested that we try to ignore it as long as possible and see what happened. It was clear that labor was on the way but we weren’t sure when it would kick in. It could be two hours or 48 hours. I decided that just in case it started sooner I didn’t want to drain all of my energy by going to a party.
Aaron immediately started getting things ready and went to the store. It had not occurred to me how much there was to do. Meanwhile, I mostly sat on the living room floor on my hands and knees rocking my hips from side to side. It was the only position in which I could tolerate the strengthening contractions.
When Aaron came back from the store he bought me three red roses. One for me, one for him and one for the baby. It was such a sweet and touching gesture. I cherished those flowers. The flowers would follow me from room to room as labor went on throughout the night.
After about two hours we called Anita back to give her an update. The contractions were intensifying and growing closer together. At this point she confirmed that I was definitely in labor and that I would be having the baby soon.
By now it was about 5 or 6pm. We called our families to let them know. We called my brother to come get Plato and I tried to eat dinner. We turned on a movie and every few minutes I was down on my hands and knees swaying my hips to get through the contractions.
I had sent candles to several friends and family to be lit when I went into labor. I sent out a text message letting everyone know it was time. I received so many wonderful words of encouragement back from them. We also made a post on the blog. Candles all over the country were lit for me. It was a great feeling.
Around 9pm the contractions were continuing to get stronger and I was getting more anxious, so we called Anita. She suggested that I try to sleep if possible. I lay in bed, with Aaron snuggled up behind me. I definitely couldn’t sleep but it helped me to relax.
After about two hours of lying in bed I had to get up. It was roughly 11pm. I wasn’t able to sleep and I was uncomfortable. It was about this point that the back labor started to set in. The only thing that helped was to have Aaron apply counter pressure to my lower back with his hand. I wanted to call Anita again. I could tell that she felt it was too early to come but I told her I would feel better if they came. Plus I REALLY wanted to get in the tub.
Aaron started to fill the tub while I spent the next hour in “laborland”. I was in my own world. All of the lights were out and several candles were burning. Aaron put on my relaxation playlist. It was a wonderful and relaxing atmosphere, aside from the contractions.
Amber (Anita’s assistant and our birth class teacher) arrived first. Prior to getting in the tub they want to check me, I was a three. I was very disappointed with this news because that meant I had a long way to go. Really I was worried at the level of pain of the contractions at this point and how much stronger they would get before I reached a ten. But I was allowed to get in the tub and I was elated!
The water felt so warm and soft. Immediately my body felt lighter and more relaxed. The contractions definitely felt better in the water. The best part is that I was able to move my body in different positions. I quickly discovered that Amber had a magic touch. During each contraction she applied counter pressure to my back perfectly! Aaron tried to take over at one point and it wasn’t the same. Amber had to do it.
At one point I mentioned to her about being afraid of the contractions getting stronger. She told me that from this point on they wouldn’t get any stronger. This was what my labor would feel like. She said contractions would get closer together but not stronger. That was the biggest relief! It really helped me mentally to know that this was as strong as they would get. I could deal with that.
Anita arrived around midnight. She wanted to check my vitals. She had a neat thermometer that she just brushed across my forehead to take my temp. She had a little machine that could go under water to hear baby’s heart beat. Then they took my blood pressure. Everything was looking good.
The rest of the night was mostly a blur for me. My eyes were closed most of the time as I rested between contractions. Anita and Amber took turns napping throughout the night. Aaron stayed awake most of the time occasionally falling asleep in the chair. He kept our family updated with text messages throughout the night. I just took each contraction one at a time.
Then all of the sudden around 4am I felt my body bear down and try to push. I announced this to the room and they said to follow my body. It felt so good to do something else. Unfortunately I’d heard a story recently of someone pushing their baby out in three pushes. That altered my perception of how this process would work significantly.
Not long after the pushing sensation started I felt a pop! Like something shot out of me. My bag of waters had finally broken.
It took me a while to learn how to push effectively. I tried different positions and basically half pushed for a while. The sensation was so strange. Eventually they instructed me to push as hard as I possibly could. There was little progress. I kept checking to see if I could feel the baby coming down but felt nothing. They encouraged me to try new positions. I continued to push with all my might through each contraction. It was a while before I did but eventually I felt a hard thing and they assured me this was the baby’s head.
The later part of pushing I needed something to hold on to. So I used Aaron. He put his elbows on the side of the tub with his forearms up in the air like columns. Held on and pulled and he resisted. Over and over and over we did this. I’m sure he was extremely tired, I was pulling so hard. I think we did this for two hours. I didn’t have back labor during the pushing but after. After my three big pushes my back would throb. Amber’s magic hands again were a necessity.
I discovered that pushing made more progress when I sat in a squat position. I stayed in that position until the end. The baby’s head kept coming down lower and lower. With each push I would start to feel my body stretching around it’s head. It felt so good to stretch. However, the progress was slow. But eventually out he came.
Aaron reached down and brought our beautiful baby to the surface of the water. We looked at him together in amazement. I couldn’t believe he was actually here. At 9:06am on Sunday, May 10th, Mother’s Day, Elijah Wolfgang Zimmerman was born.
We both looked down about the same time and said “It’s a boy!”. I think I said, “I knew it, I knew it was a boy.” I think I also commented on how big his head was. It was funky shaped in a coned from coming out. He coughed a little and worked out his first few breaths. His little whimpers were the most beautiful sounds in the world. He was a little blue when he came out which I knew was normal so I didn’t worry. Within no time he was turning a healthy pink color. Aaron picked him up and held him skin to skin for a little while. I looked up at Aaron who had tears in his eyes as he looked at our new little guy. It was an amazing moment. Then he passed him to me and I held him in the water and stared in amazement at this beautiful little creature that I loved so much.
I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect baby. He is absolutely wonderful. I can’t get enough of him and would do it all again in a heartbeat. I am in awe of the human body and it’s fragility and strength.