By: Felicia Dougherty
By the following evening I was having intense enough contractions that I called our doula, Alexia, and by eight or nine we were on our way to the hospital. When I arrived they checked me into the triage room to see how I was progressing before they took me to a labor room. I was only 1cm dilated but the contractions were so painful (so I thought at this point) it didn’t make sense. I remember feeling that I couldn’t progress because I felt in this “purgatory,” I wasn’t in the room I’d deliver in and I wasn’t at home. The midwife suggested I go home with a prescription sleep aid and try to get some rest. At this point this felt like a blow to my confidence. Leading up to this night I had had multiple dreams about a fast, peaceful labor and I felt like a failure that it had already taken this long. I was believing for the pain-free supernatural childbirth that I knew (and know) is possible with God. He intended my body to give birth, he created it that way. It of course would be intense, but I was believing for pain-free! Alas, this was not my birth story. What Tyler reminded me was I was going to have my own birth story and I couldn’t compare myself to anyone else’s. After some convincing and my realization that I was already not relaxed and not at peace— which was not how I wanted to birth, I agreed to go home.
Sleep was difficult but I’m thankful for the bits of sleep I got and by morning I was definitely experiencing longer and stronger contractions and labor was progressing. The contractions stopped me in my tracks and I let them run their course. Each contraction was like a wave, it came on gradually, there was a peak and then faded out. My way of staying focused was counting by breathing in and counting my breathing out, trying to make them match, a tool I learned in prenatal yoga. Throughout this process I tried every position I could think of and Tyler was being unbelievably supportive. When Alexia got to our house again, she asked me how I was doing and I knew she meant not just physically. I was still struggling with letting go of the fast labor idea and I was ready to meet my son. I remember her telling me that there were things we could try to speed things up but she wanted to make sure I was ready. I told her I was. Looking back I know that was when it all shifted, the power of the spoken word and me saying yes— I’m sure in addition to the things we tried—is what got things moving.
Upon our second arrival to the hospital they took me to a room with a tub (which I had been praying for!), Teale, the photographer, arrived and I felt like this could happen any moment. Prior to this point I had been praying to myself almost every contraction. I was praying for God to help me, get me through this, give me the strength, etc. I fought fears that said I would be sent home again and chose to believe that it was time and He’d give me the strength. Sure enough, I was dilated to about a 6 and ready to continue on the journey.