I worked the weekend of 12/18 and 12/19. Rob and I had off on Monday until Grandmom came to Delaware for the birth. We went to deep-water workout at the YMCA on Monday night and I told them my mom would join us on Wednesday. On Tuesday, 12/21, we went to pick up my mom at the airport. Everything was perfect – I finished nursing school, my mom made it to Delaware and I got a job. Now we only had to wait since my due date was not until 12/31.

At 5:00 am on 12/22, I woke up because it was really difficult to sleep at the end of the pregnancy. I walked a few feet and my water broke. I went to the bathroom to make sure it was what I thought it was and everything was soaked. I called Rob from the bathroom because he was still sleeping to let him know what had happened. He jumped up and I said, “It looks like we are going to have a baby in the next 24 hours.” He got me some dry clothes and went to tell my mom the news. She also jumped out of bed. At this point, we all didn’t really know what to do except call the birth center. We thought we would have contractions before the water breaking so we were not really prepared for the reverse to happen. Dorinda Dove was on call so she told me to come in to my regular appointment later that day.

I arrived at The Birth Center for my appointment and saw Katie Mansur. She confirmed that my water was broken and I was less than one centimeter dilated. She gave me a choice – take 2 ounces of castor oil or go to the hospital at 3:00 am the next morning. The castor oil is supposed to help induce labor. In either case, I had to be in active labor 24 hours after my water breaking. I chose to drink the castor oil. About 30 minutes after drinking it, my contractions started. I still shudder at the taste and sensation of the castor oil to this day.

I spent some time in the shower at home, or standing and rocking through the contractions. Contractions were not that bad. They were about as bad as period cramps. Rob and my mom were very anxious to get to TBC. They were worried that my labor would progress and we would get stuck on the highway giving birth. I kept telling them I wasn’t ready. Rob called Katie a couple of times and she asked him to wait until I was ready to leave. Eventually, Rob decided it was time to go and did not give me a choice. We were on our way to TBC.

When we arrived, Katie checked me again. I was 3 centimeters dilated, but she let me stay. I promptly got undressed and got in the shower. I stayed in the shower for 4 or 5 hours until their hot water ran out. Katie came into the shower periodically to check the heart rate and to check on me. Other than that, she left me alone. I enjoyed being alone so I could handle the labor on my own in my own way. At one point, I asked Katie to give me something for the pain. She said that would be fine but she had to check me first. When she checked me, I was 7 centimeters. At that point, I declined the pain medication since I was so close to finishing. Katie said that I could get into the tub at that point. But I had to wait for the hot water to come back.

While I was in the tub, I was comfortable. The hot water helped to relieve the pain for me and the weightlessness helped me to maneuver my body into different positions for comfort. When it was midnight, my mom came in to sing Happy Birthday to me. I didn’t really appreciate it since I was right in the middle of a contraction, but I knew that I would share my birthday with a very special gift soon. Eventually, my body knew when it was time to push. So I pushed for 2.5 hours. I do not have much of a memory of pushing. I do remember that my contractions became very far apart, I fell asleep between contractions and it felt better to push. Time seemed to drag and everyone around me was either yawning uncontrollably or falling asleep.

Finally, Dylan’s head peeked through on my birthday December 23, 2010. With each push, she came out further and further until her head popped all of the way out. Katie told me to stop pushing so she could figure out which way the baby was turning. Then Rob caught her on my final push out and placed her on me. Rob was supposed to call out the sex of the baby, but he had a hard time being sure, so he whispered to Katie, “Is it a girl?” Katie whispered back, “Yes – it is a girl.” Meanwhile my mom is being impatient asking what it is. He finally blurted it out and my mom yelped in excitement. We told her the name – Dylan Evelyn Rayfield. She was so excited and I let her tell everyone who was waiting upstairs.

It turns out that her cord was really short so I could not put her on my chest but she was lying on my stomach. They transferred me to the bed to finish everything. Rob got to hold Dylan while Katie stitched me up. I was amazed at what I had just accomplished.

What was most amazing was the care at TBC after giving birth. They offer so many opportunities for new moms to succeed. I am not sure what I would have done if there were no mom’s group on Wednesdays or breast-feeding group on Friday. It gave me something to look forward to and other people to commiserate with.