Labor of Love


(this is a long one so, grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy.) Three years ago this month, I gave birth. I had planned, gone to 6 weeks worth of classes, educated myself and made choices in order to have the birth experience that I wanted. And yet, I did not get it.

After taking a quiz in childbirth class that opened our eyes as to how much control we did not have in a hospital setting, the (ex)man and I decided to look for a birthing center. We did our research and settled on a birthing center and a doula. I had a great team of midwives and let me tell you, the experience of going to one was very different from my OB (though I pink puffy heart him). Having  a doula gave me peace of mind that we would have a good support system when the time came to have the baby.


A week and 4 days after being taken off bed rest, I was awakened at 7:13 a.m. by a contraction. I don't know how I knew but I did. I knew it was early labor, though so I took it easy. I went and got my hair done. I got a pedicure and will forever kick myself for not speaking Vietnamese so that I could know what the woman doing my feet was saying after she asked me how far along I was and I told her I was having contractions. Ah yes, even in pain, the humor did not leave me.

Early labor went on all day on Sunday and I did not reach active labor until around midnight. We called the doula. She relieved the (ex)man and took over massages and water bottles around 3. At 6 a.m., with contractions 2 minutes apart and 1 minute long, she told me I was ready.

We headed to the birthing center with my mom and sister in tow. Then I got checked. And I was told I was 2cm dilated. Can I tell you how disheartened I was? Because I (and the doula) put me at around 6 cm based on the contractions. I was sent home but before I went, I took a potty break. I noticed I couldn't empty my bladder completely but I didn't think too much of it.

The next few hours at home were…chaos?! I could not pee! The (ex)man called and called and called but wasn't getting a response. Later, we would realize that it was Monday and the OB that works with the birthing center was there and they did not answer the line. Also, we figured out the man wasn't calling the emergency line. But he had the midwife's number. She told him to try to get me into different positions to pee. If you ever want me to give you a rundown of all I tried, let's chat!

At around 11 a.m. I finally had a bloody show. Calls weren't being answered, he couldn't get a hold of the doula and the pain was much more intense because I  had a very full bladder. I remember mami making me soup and me thinking is she nuts? I thank God for the birthing ball where I spent many, many hours.

Around 3 p.m. he couldn't take it anymore and decided to take me to the hospital. I kept thinking, where is my support system? Why is no one calling him back?

At the emergency room we quickly discovered what was going on. The baby's head was pressed up against my bladder and I had to be catherized in order to empty my bladder. The nurse was shocked at how much was in there. Of course, suddenly everyone was returning phone calls. He was told that he could make his way to the birthing center but by this time, I began to doubt. Not only was she up against my bladder but I had what they called a bulging bag which mean that some of the bag with amniotic fluid was coming out. I had three things fighting for space and needless to say, my bladder had lost.

I was advised not to leave. I was already 6 cm along and they were not recommending I be moved. A decision had to be made. I began to worry that if something else happened, we'd end up back at the hospital and didn't want to risk the drive to the birthing center after feeling I'd been so let down. This is exactly where I did not want to be. We got admitted.

(Because 40 hours of labor deserves two blog posts. Read part two here.)