My water broke early on May 2nd, 2019. I didn’t realize and went back to bed, but when I woke up again I texted the Mosaic team who confirmed that it was probably the start of labor. I was excited and a little nervous. My contractions stayed really mild and irregular; Michelle came to check on my progress multiple times to no avail. We tried homeopathies, acupuncture, a Foley bulb. On May 3rd Michelle checked my cervix - 4cm, same as the night before. Still no regular or strong contractions. Michelle comforted me when I cried about feeling that my body was failing me. We arranged to go to the hospital for an induction, and Michelle met us there. She had emailed my birth plan and records already. She took charge in the room, getting pillows and helping me with paperwork and setting up. I had brought a framed poem from home and a few things I wanted with me for the birth. She also started taking some photos, which she continued to do throughout the night.

A few hours after starting Pitocin my contractions got really intense. Michelle instructed my birth team on how to put counter pressure on my hips and back which helped immensely. After awhile I moved to the toilet because that was more comfortable. Time didn’t exist any more. They had me move back to the bed to better measure the monitors, which I really disliked. They cut into my skin and I had to carry this huge IV tower everywhere. (The nurse said they nicknamed them “the Cadillacs.”) The nurse did a cervical check which was very painful, and told me I was at 6cm. I cried because I felt like I should be further along, and also because that cervical check was really uncomfortable and kick-started REALLY painful, strong contractions. I started yelling through contractions, and yelling at everyone telling me just to breathe through them. When I apologized Michelle laughed and said I could be as irritable as I wanted.

Sometime after the yelling started Danielle (student midwife) arrived. She came and stood in front of me and said, “Sophia, you are using all of your energy yelling through these contractions. It’s like climbing a hill. You breathe and work on the way up, pace yourself to get to the top, and then cruise your way down.” She walked me through a couple, which was really difficult because I would panic when they started and really wanted to yell the whole way through. She kept encouraging and guiding me until I got the hang of the rhythm. She got both my hands in an acupressure hold and showed birth team how to do it. She kept coaching me on breathing through contractions, and when the pressure got too much I took my hands away and started shaking them, mostly up above my head through the peak of the contractions. Someone laughed and said I was dancing. “Like the Charleston!” I said, and started to do the Charleston on the toilet. Moving my legs and hands made the contractions feel more manageable, so I did that at the beginning of each one as well as trying to work to the top and cruise down.

Danielle told me we had to leave the bathroom to go back to the monitor. I told her I really liked the way the toilet seat felt and she said we could figure that out back in the suite. She folded towels and put them on the bed to make a birthing stool-type ring, and also transformed the delivery bed to a giant chair. After a few contractions I felt like the pain was unbearable. She had birth team continuing pressure on my hands but also pushed my legs back into my hips using my knees, and it cut the pain IN HALF.

The nurse said it might be time to start pushing, but we needed to check my cervix. I was terrified of having it checked again after the last check and how it brought a gush of blood and pain. I was fighting contractions at this point trying NOT to push, because my body was ready. Danielle told me to blow so I started blowing at the sweat under my admission bracelets. I hated them, but they gave me something to focus on. I also began throwing up into one of those tube bags. Danielle said there were ways that weren’t cervical checks to tell when transition was happening but the hospital couldn’t use those. She thought I was ready. I cried because trying not to push was getting harder than my fear of a cervix check so we did it. Danielle told me to curve the push downward and keep the momentum. She said the pressure wouldn’t stop when the contraction did because baby was moving down the birth canal. I felt him crowning and then recede between contractions. Some I was able to push a lot more than others. They tried to put my leg in a stirrup but I hated that, so Danielle held my leg and my foot while I pushed on my side.

After his head came I remember thinking “How long is he going to keep coming out of me?!” Once his head was out the rest of him just slid out. Suddenly a purple slippery baby covered in blood and vernix was on my chest. I couldn’t believe he was real; I just held him and stared.

It wasn’t my dream home birth, but Michelle and Danielle helped make sure my hospital birth was as close to my wish list as possible. I sat in the dark with my son Leon all night after and marveled at how perfect he was.