A note from Japan Birth Resource Network:
Birth comes in all shapes and sizes. We often hear the negative side of birth. By sharing women’s stories we hope to put a positive outlook on the experience when giving birth here in Okinawa.
I went into my 38 week check-up at the Naval Hospital on a Friday determined to discover how close I was to meeting my baby girl. The midwife arrived in the room to do an elective cervical check; she informed me that I was 80% effaced, -1 station of engagement, and 2 cm dilated. She expressed surprise that my cervix was so ripe at 38 weeks, and told me it was quite possible that I could go into labor that weekend. I was shocked! I could feel my heart rate increase and I had butterflies in my stomach. I drove home eager to prepare for the arrival of my baby.
After I got home from the hospital, I went into full nesting mode. I wasn’t sure how much time I had, and I wanted everything to be ready. I called my doula to inform her that it was likely I wasn’t getting through the weekend without a baby. I called my parents, packed my hospital bag, made an awesome labor playlist, and organized all the baby’s clothes. I did all of this within the course of a few hours.
The weekend came and went quickly, and I experienced no contractions. I convinced myself it was the calm before the storm, because prior to that weekend I had experienced a great deal of prodromal labor contractions. On Sunday night around 11 pm, I decided that the midwife had been wrong. I felt like I was going to be pregnant for forever. Just as I had accepted my fate to have the world’s longest pregnancy, I felt a really intense contraction. The midwife had been right after all! I told my husband that this was it, and we were going to meet our baby soon. I was a ball of excitement and nerves. My husband acted as my voice of reason. He convinced me that if I was indeed beginning to go into labor, it was best to try and get some rest. I closed my eyes to rest, but sleep did not come easily.
At 5 a.m. the contractions became so strong that it was difficult to breathe and talk through them; they literally stopped me in my tracks. I then decided that I desperately needed my doula, and she came shortly after to assist me.
When my doula arrived, it was as if all was well in the world. She was really my saving grace. She and my husband worked as a dream team to comfort me. They kept me distracted and active. With encouragement I walked around our block 2 or 3 times, did yoga stretches, and labored in the tub. I became famished and requested that we order a pizza. My water broke while waiting for the pizza at around 11 a.m. As soon as the pizza arrived and the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart, we set off to the hospital.
When I was admitted into triage, it was evident that I was in active labor. I had a difficult time answering all the questions I was asked, as I was trying to breathe through the contractions.
It was quickly determined by the staff that I was 7 cm dilated, and since my water had broken I was a priority for a room. As soon as I got into my room, I beelined it for the shower. I labored in the shower for around 2-3 hours. It was heavenly. The staff was respectful and hands off. The nurse only came in a few times to check me with a handheld fetal Doppler. My husband sprayed hot water on my back and kept telling me “you’re so beautiful and strong. You can do this”. After being in the shower for awhile, I felt the urge to push. I screamed to my doula, “she’s coming!
She’s coming! I’m going to push!” The nurse was called in to check my cervical dilation and told me that I was almost complete, but I had a cervical lip.
Since I was extremely close to delivery, I was moved from the shower to the bed to labor.
I was coached into different positions to help the cervical lip clear so that I could begin to push.
After about an hour of trying different positions, I got the “ok” from my nurse to push. I was ecstatic. It felt wonderful to begin to push. I knew I was going to get to meet my baby soon, and I felt as if I was in total control for the first time during my labor. My body was making progress quickly, and doing what it was meant to do. I kept yelling my mantra “she’s coming, she’s coming!”. I asked my nurse for confirmation at one point if my daughter was indeed coming close to being out. My nurse took my hand and told me to feel my baby. I did. It was the most beautiful experience. Feeling my baby’s head for the first time as she was emerging empowered me to push with all my might. I needed to meet her. Five minutes after that, Coraline was born.
Coraline was immediately placed on my chest, and as I stared down at her I was overcome with joy. I couldn’t stop smiling, laughing, and crying. As my husband, Coraline, and I all sat in the bed as a family for the first time, the rest of the people in the room began to dissolve into the background. We had done it.
In experiencing the birth of my daughter, I learned that I was capable of more than I ever thought possible. I learned that my mind and body are stronger than I had believed. I learned that I am capable of loving profoundly and unconditionally. I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support from my husband, doula, and wonderful nurse who believed in me and encouraged me in times when I doubted myself. Coraline’s birth is truly an experience that I will cherish forever.