I lay on the couch waiting for Luis to come home from work. Being 9 months pregnant, I was a bit tired. I started noticing some gas pains so I decided I would practice my surge breathing through them. I cannot explain what made me do that but I think it had something to do with my massage therapist telling me her labor felt like gas pains (in retrospect, I probably should have known what was going on…)
Luis arrived and made dinner while I sat in the kitchen looking at my swollen feet, apologizing for not being able to cook or wash dishes (yeah…as if I would have cooked otherwise. I may…MAY…have done the dishes if it didn’t cut off circulation to my feet). While he was cooking us dinner, I decided to hop in the shower to make myself feel better. The hot water beating down on my overwhelmed belly was just heavenly. I don’t know how long I was in there but I got out when the water started to turn lukewarm.
Around 8:30, when dinner was on the table, my gas pains seemed to take on a mind of their own and I asked Luis if he would go to the market and get some prune juice. I remember through childhood, my mom giving me a can of prune juice when I had constipation so I figured it would get things moving along. In the meantime, he called my doula, Debbie, to see if she had any special things she knew of to help with constipation because I was miserable. She told him to make me flax seed pudding. Off to the grocery store he went to get me my prune juice and flax seed pudding ingredients. While waiting for him, I turned on the TV to try to distract myself. I had the brief thought to time my “gas pains” as if they were contractions but decided that was silly and set the idea aside. When Luis got back, he quickly made the pudding and I downed a big mug full of warm prune juice and just waited for my body to finally let me poop! About an hour went by and it seemed like the gas pain was getting worse and I just couldn’t poop! I kept doing my surge breathing and at some point started swaying my hips. I couldn’t reason with myself why I was doing that…it just felt good so I went with it.
I finally felt like I could actually go to the bathroom and, sorry for the explicit details but, when I went to relieve myself, I lost my mucus plug and had the “bloody show.” I knew that was normal and it could still be days, even weeks, until I went into labor but I asked Luis to call our midwife, Becky, just to make sure it was ok. After all, I was bleeding and it freaked me out a bit. She said it was fine and, after hearing about my severe constipation, told me to take Metamucil. Back to the store Luis went. While he was away, I was walking back and forth in our room (his brother was home and I didn’t want him to know I was in so much pain over a little constipation…it was embarrassing!) When Luis got back, I instantly chugged the cup full of Metamucil and then downed another 8 oz glass of water.
At around midnight, I felt like I could go to the bathroom again. I went to wipe myself, after only peeing (much to my dismay), I saw a ton of blood. It looked like period blood…very dark and clotty. I was so scared that something happened to my baby because I was trying really hard to poop. I know that seems silly but that’s what was going through my head. Luis called the midwife and told her what was going on. She asked if the baby was moving and he was but she told me we could come in and have her take a look to put my mind at ease. No one was really worried about anything but Luis grabbed our labor bag. I remember thinking that was smart but couldn’t pinpoint why exactly I thought it was smart of him to do since I wasn’t in labor. We arrived at the Birth Center and after a few gas pains with me swaying my hips and Luis massaging my back (I really should have known…I mean…who does that when they just have to poop???), the midwife gave me a vaginal exam with my permission and said, “Well, you must be a strong woman because you are 9 centimeters dilated and about to have a baby.”
At this point, I stripped and jumped into the birth tub. Floating in the water seemed so inviting! Unfortunately, the water was a bit cold so the birth assistant, Adriana, had to keep warming up water and dumping it in. I felt like we were in the medieval ages and it was kind of a cool, surreal feeling. Three nurturing women surrounding me, and my wonderful partner doing anything and everything I needed at the moment. It was not long before I felt the urge to push. I breathed my baby down as much as I could in the tub before I changed positions to the toilet. It felt better to push on the toilet at that moment. I had a few good pushes sitting on top of that wonderful porcelain throne and my water broke. Before I climbed back in the tub, my midwife asked for me to do at least one push in the squatting position, so I did as Luis held my arms. She asked if she could check me out because the baby didn’t seem to be coming down like she thought he would after so many good pushes. I agreed. It turned out his head was getting caught on my anterior lip. With my permission, the midwife maneuvered my anterior lip around my baby’s head. Luis was watching and he said to me, “Honey, I saw our baby’s head!” My reply was, “Does he have hair?” He did. We were ready to bring him into our loving arms!
I wobbled back into the tub with the help of my partner and doula and leaned over the edge of the tub on my knees. Thank god for both of them because as Luis was pressing my lower back through each surge, Debbie was talking me through each one of them either by telling me I’m doing wonderfully or telling me my affirmation or, what was especially helpful, moaning in low tones with me to move my baby downward. Then my midwife told me to reach around and feel my little one’s head. It felt squishy and I could feel a bit of hair. Then Luis reached down to feel him. For me, the “ring of fire” was no joke. As my baby crowned, it was the only painful moment I had. I felt like my vagina was going to tear in half and remember screaming, “Oh my god! Get him out!” It was Becky, my midwife, who calmed me down. She told me to breathe and let my vagina open. I did, with the help of Debbie breathing with me, just that and the pain was over in less than a minute. His head descended and I felt a slight tug as Becky unwrapped the cord from around his neck. With one more push our baby was born into Luis’ arms and laid on my chest. Galileu Luis Chapman Alves was born at 3:32 a.m. weighing 8 lbs 6 oz and measuring 21 inches long after 7 hours of labor. He was such a strong and curious baby that he instantly lifted his head up right after birth to check out what was going on.