I have never gone into labor on my own. For all five of my previous births I have always had an induction, some were for medical reasons, others for convenience. Three of my babies were born at about my due date, one was two weeks early (due to pre-eclamptia) and one was a week past. For this baby, my sixth, I decided that I really wanted to go into labor on my own. After reading and researching I had decided that letting my body go into labor when baby is ready was the best choice for me and my newest addition. Talking it over with my doctor (who has the heart of a midwife, really) he was more than happy to let me go two weeks past “the date” and is willing to help me deliver any way that I want to, excepting a homebirth.
So there I was happy to let nature do her thing, to wait until baby was ready, to happily gestate into week 42 if I had to. Or was I? When week 37 hit was I going strong ready to have this baby, ready to let my body do its thing, and more than willing to try every folk remedy, wives tale and rumor out there to get baby here as soon as possible. Every little twinge from my uterus made me stop, and if there were two twinges I was ready to time my “contractions”. Was this it? Would I know? Would I go early? Should I call Dadzoo, my doula, my Mom? What should I try first to speed up these contractions, drink 2 gallons of raspberry tea instead of one? Take extra Primrose oil? Castor oil? Run the stairs? Meditate on a flower opening? Only to have all my excitement and hopes dashed in an hour or so when no more contractions came.
What was I doing wrong, why wouldn’t baby come? I was ready, the house cleaned, closets de-junked, all necessary items washed, sewn, pressed and put away all awaiting the arrival of my baby. My freezer is full, the nursery painted and decorated, children taken care of, laundry done. I was practicing relaxation, eating well, resting as much as I could, thinking positive thoughts, loving my man, reading all the birthing books and blogs I could. I am ready, really ready, where is she?
Then came Monday night. That evening I started to contract, sporadically at first, then it settled into a nice pattern of 10 minutes apart. They weren’t uncomfortable, but enough that I noticed them. Figuring that I should sleep while I could I went to bed, only to be woken up at about 3:30 am with some hard contractions about 3 or 4 minutes apart. I lay in bed for about two hours, timing and contracting, they were very consistent, 3 to 4 minutes apart, but weren’t particularly hard, however they did command my attention. Was this it? It had to be, right? Remember, I don’t know what it feels like to go into labor on my own, in this aspect I feel like a first time mom. At about 5:30 am I got up, cleaned the kitchen, bathroom, checked my bags and walked the hall waiting for Dadzoo to wake up. When he woke up, I told him I was pretty sure I was in labor, could he work from home today in case? He was more than happy to do so and I continued to walk the hall, contracting, getting more and more excited. This HAD to be it!
About 8:00, I noticed that the contractions I had been timing for about 4 hours started to be less noticeable, and were stretching to 5 or 6 minutes apart and I was completely exhausted. I lay down for a little bit, fell to sleep and they stopped completely. At 9:30 I got up and got ready, I had a doctor appointment that morning and I was hoping that I had dilated a little bit, knowing that early labor will sometimes stop and start and maybe I was just so tired that my body decided to give me a little rest….right….? Dadzoo came with me to the appointment, and while I had a few more contractions in the car, nothing really started up. My doctor examined me and I hadn’t changed, I am (was) still dialated to a “1” like I had been for the past two weeks and soft. Here I am, 39 weeks pregnant, with my SIXTH baby and only dialated to a ONE!
I. Was. Crushed.
My doctor was kind. Dadzoo was disappointed. I wondered what I had been doing wrong and what is wrong with my cervix!
Dadzoo drove me home and when we got there I went right to bed, so very mad. Luckily Dadzoo could work from home that day, he took care of everything, while I holed up in the bedroom and licked my wounds, wallowed in the discouragement and did a little thinking and praying.
The whole appeal of letting my labor start of naturally, and laboring unmedicated wasn’t something I came up with lightly. It isn’t some romantic ideal, an endurance competition or bragging rights. I really feel that it is best for my baby and for my body. In the frantic last weeks of my pregnancy I had been forgetting something very important. It is the idea of surrendering myself, my control, my body to something that is bigger than myself. This world is all about schedules, timing, fast quick and easy, having what we want NOW, and being in complete control all the time no matter what. Pregnancy and child birth, in its natural form is none of those things. From the first moments of conception we give ourselves over to this tiny little soul that grows within our body. We give ourselves over to morning sickness, fatigue, sore backs, pelvises and breasts all for the sake of a child, our child, our Heavenly Father’s child. I understood that about pregnancy, but I wasn’t treating the idea of birth in the same light. Birth happens slowly, sometimes over the course of weeks, we slowly open ourselves, we give up control of our body and its functions, we surrender to the great forces of nature and its timing, not ours.
So while I am not giving up completely on the old folk remedies, and I don’t condemn anyone for choosing an induction, for me and this baby I am learning a great life lesson.
That sometimes you just need to surrender.