The birth of Elijah Ulao: 05/11/2005

Elijah Ulao

Tuesday was a busy day. I was running all over the place. I noticed that my step had gotten faster. I was walking with Juoazes, a friend from Lithuania, and he kept telling me to take it easy, but for some reason I wanted to walk fast. Well anyway, by the end of the day I was beat and I remember the last thought I had before going to sleep is, I hope labor doesn’t start tonight because I am exhausted. Well, I don’t know if it is Murphy’s Law or what, but at 3:00 in the morning, I felt lots of warm liquid flowing down my leg. I stood up and there was a big puddle on the bed. I went to the bathroom and more gushed out there. Well, I called the midwife to let her know that my water broke. She said to go back to bed and try to get some rest. Well, I went back to bed but I don’t know about the rest. I timed a couple contractions and they were about 10-15 min apart. So I stopped timing them and probably drifted off for a bit.

Adam, my husband, had to work at 6:00am, so I was up by 5:30am or so. We thought about having him stay but the contractions weren’t bad – I could still walk and talk through them, so we decided he should go to work and I would call him if things got more heated. He went to work and I got an apple and watched “dog whisperer”. Well, the contractions kept coming and by now were about 6-7 min apart. The midwife called to see how things were going and she was pleased that contractions had started and things were on their way. However, she also told me that it just so happened that another client of hers was at about the same place in labor. So she called Coral (a doula whom we had planned on assisting during the birth) to come over and check me to see how dilated I was. I started to get a little lonely so I called my friend Sarah, whom we had planned to have attend the birth, so that she could come and keep me company. She got there around 11am and Coral got there shortly after. Coral checked me, and I was 2cm and almost completely effaced.

I mentally prepared for a long road ahead of me. I knew it was early and there was much to be done. Soon the contractions started to take more of my attention. I kept feeling like I wanted to go to the bathroom for every contraction. So I did. For a while I just sat on the toilet. I sat facing backwards, leaning on a pillow for comfort. I felt right like that. But the contractions just kept getting stronger and stronger. I decided to go back to the living room.

By this time a doula named Maggie had arrived. I hadn’t planned on her coming and I hadn’t met her yet, although she had attended my friend Sarah’s birth. (Jan: With 2 women in labor at the same time, I chose to send Coral, who had originally been scheduled to assist me at Kat’s labor, to be with my apprentice Lucky, who was managing the other labor that was happening. This meant I needed another person to assist me at Kat’s delivery, and I knew that Maggie lived nearby. She was able to drop everything and come to Kat’s when I called her, which was a Godsend. I didn’t know which labor would go the fastest, and wanted someone there with Kat if I couldn’t get there right away.)

Maggie suggested leaning over the birthing ball. We draped a blanket over it for comfort. I did that for a while but I didn’t feel like I could rest adequately in between. My contractions were steadily building stronger and closer together. I noticed Maggie was timing them. I was so curious to know how close they were together but I didn’t want to waste energy by asking. At this point, I still felt like we were just getting started and we had a long way to go. I didn’t let myself believe that the culmination of this labor was anywhere within sight.

By this time, Jan had arrived and started setting up the tub. I moved from leaning over the ball to sitting on the couch with Adam behind me, and Sarah sitting at my feet. The ball was still there for me to lean and rest on in between contractions. It was great. I loved being able to completely release all of my muscles to utter calm. It gave me the strength to get through the next. When the contraction came, I would imagine my baby moving lower and lower into the birth canal, all the while trying to convince myself that this was really happening. Adam and Sarah gave me their full attention. This was better than any narcotic. Sarah was running her fingers up and down my legs, while Adam supported me from behind and would stroke my hair. It was perfect. Everyone was very respectful and would whisper to each other. This made me feel cared about and respected, which made it all the more bearable. I felt like I was just getting into a groove there when someone said that I had been sitting there for an hour and suggested changing positions. I was a bit surprised to learn that I’d been there for an hour.

I decided to try going to the bathroom. Once I got there, I regretted it. The contraction I had there was atrocious. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. So as soon as that one was over, I got out of there and went back to the couch. I saw the tub was getting closer to being filled, so I asked if I could get in. I could, and I did. I asked because I’d heard that you shouldn’t get into the water before 5 cm, and I had no idea how far I was. But I got in anyway.

In the tub, the contractions just kept coming and coming. I remember thinking that I couldn’t do it anymore, but I didn’t want to say that because I learned in Bradley class that that is typically what you think in transition, and in my mind I was miles from transition. I had puked earlier and now I noticed I was shaking: all signs of transition. I thought, hmm that’s interesting that it’s happening to me while I still have so far to go. I said out loud. “They just keep coming.” That’s when I heard the beautiful words from Jan: “That’s because you’re in transition”. I could have kissed her. It was like a gift. I started to get a bit excited and before I knew it I was feeling rectal pressure and was ready to push. I pushed for an hour and a half and out came my little boy.

It was as good a birth as I could have imagined. I am very blessed.

Kat Arn