The Third Night: Through the Dark Tunnel to Delivery

Through the Dark Tunnel to Delivery
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The Hospital: Through the Dark Tunnel
Through the Dark Tunnel to Delivery

The Arrival

The ride to the hospital didn’t take long. But emotionally, it felt like I was entering a dark tunnel of complete blackness with no idea when it would end. Jodi and Elizabeth met us in the parking garage and got a wheelchair for me. I was beyond grateful not to have to walk however far it would be with my contractions. The anxiety, fear, and stress of the situation were making them more painful. And my mental exhaustion was hindering my ability to cope. We checked in and a nurse escorted us to one of the triage rooms.

The Unwelcome Visit

I think I needed to use the bathroom as soon as we got there. Right after that, they did the ridiculously stupid procedure that makes hospital labor famous. They had me sit in a partially reclining position and hooked me up to a continuous fetal heart monitor. Or whatever that thing is called that straps you down to the bed so you can’t move and every single contraction sends waves of pain crashing and crushing through your entire torso.

By this point, my mental state and coping skills went right out the window. I had little to no fortitude and I suffered in this position while the nurse got the details and went to get the OB. We had explained the situation about me being 10 cm dilated, pushing for 7 hours, and wanting an ultrasound to make sure nothing was blocking the birth canal.

The Menace of Winchester Medical

I was somewhat hopeful we would get some answers. But as soon as a sour-faced, middle-aged woman with a “Vermont” sweatshirt entered the room, tensing the atmosphere, I braced myself for the arrogant medical roughshod that was certain to ensue. I wasn’t wrong.

She began, after some curt introductions, by roughly checked my dilation. The sheer contrast between the midwives’ respectful gentleness and the utter assaultiveness of this so-called medical professional stunned me. She stood straight up and said with outright scorn “There’s no way you were 10 cm. You are only 7 cm. No one goes backward in dilation.” I snuck a peek at Jodi from the corner of my eye. They warned me that I would be told that.

The OB then blasted through the options. ” You can go back home, go to a birthing center, or labor here and get an epidural or c-section.” She said. More followed this. I remember it being rude, ignorant medical babble. But I don’t remember what exactly. She barged out of the room to let us decide.

Trying Again

At this point, my frustration and desperation levels were climbing. John mentioned that we came here to see if anything was blocking the baby’s passage through the birth canal, and the OB woman had totally ignored it. I am so glad that John and Jodi were there because, in my state of mind and emotions, I was in no position to fight back against the OB’s bullying and feel like I had a voice.

I pressed the call button and the sweet, lovely nurse came back in. Having her there was so refreshing. She was very kind. I wish I could remember her name. I reiterated that we wanted an ultrasound to make sure everything was OK and asked if she could get me out of the fetal monitor straps (aka, torture restraints) before she left. With the way the OB behaved, I thought she was going to violate my wishes too. To my pleasant surprise, she went right ahead and got me out of the contraption. Relief washed over me. I was so grateful!

Request Not Granted

After a few minutes, during which I struggled to bear the contractions and keep from losing my mental fortitude entirely, the OB came back, shoving the ultrasound machine ahead of her. She talked down to me about how it wasn’t necessary because I was only 7 cm so there couldn’t be anything wrong.

After slathering some gel over my abdomen she wiped the wand over my belly for a couple of seconds, saying, “See? The baby’s head is engaged in the pelvis. Nothing is wrong.” And removed the wand. The shock of it reverberated through my mind. Really? Like that wasn’t even long enough to see if there were any obstructions! She repeated the same thing she said earlier about my options and, once again, left the room to let us figure it out.

Decisions…and the Blackest Place in the Dark Tunnel

By this time I was in total distress. This was the blackest, most despairing, and hopeless part of the dark tunnel I was in. With every contraction, I was whimpering and half wailing “John, John, help me!” My poor husband was supporting me and helplessly reminding me that he was doing all he could.

I kept saying over and over and over “I don’t know what to do! What am I supposed to do? I just want this to be done already! There’s no way I can’t keep going, I’m so tired. I want to sleep!” Helpless, hopeless overwhelmed me. There was no end in sight.

Thanks to the OB, I felt a complete victim, instead of feeling empowered to take charge of my labor. She gave us no answers. Not really. Even her answers didn’t sound like answers, or even feel like it! I was at a loss. John and Jodi talked me through what the different options would include or entail. As much as I wanted this thing to be over and done with, I knew that I was NOT going to subject myself or my baby to either an epidural or c-section just for the sake of a little rest or sleep.

It tempted for one moment, because of my sheer exhaustion. But, in the end, I decided that I would not trade short term pain and suffering for long term pain, suffering, and consequences. All my research on the harm and negative side effects of both epidurals and c-sections paid off and it left me with one choice. The only choice that I truly wanted to subject myself to. So I made it. We were going back home, and I was going to have my home birth.

The Departure

I buzzed for the nurse, let her know of our decision, and she did the release paperwork. We packed up and left. Never have I been more glad to leave a place in my life. I don’t think that my happiness on the last day of active duty could come close to the relief I felt to be rid of that hospital.

On the way home, my contractions didn’t feel so bad, and I felt positive I had made the right decision. In the back of my mind, I worried that this endlessly dark tunnel wasn’t going to end. That I might never be able to push the baby out and I would be stuck in a continual loop. But still, I was sure that my best chances were at home. They HAD to be.

Back Home: End of the Dark Tunnel

When we arrived, Doran met us at the apartment, and a feeling of deja vu swept over me as everyone assembled in the master bedroom to discuss plans. Doran asked me what I wanted to do, and of course, my answer was sleep. It was around 10 pm at this point, so she said that she would come back in around 2pm to check up on me.

I started to settle in bed, but another contraction jolted me out and sent me to my feet with a high-pitched cry. Doran reminded me of the proper way to work through a contraction and then gave me a firm ultimatum. “You either are up laboring, or you are in bed getting some sleep and resting. Which one do you want to do?” I told her I was going to bed.


Somehow I got my exhausted mind under enough control to manage handling the contractions well enough again. I had lost a lot of that concentration and mental energy to cope when we went to the hospital. John and I lay down on our left sides, and I spent a few minutes working through the stress from the traumatic hospital visit and releasing the tension I was carrying. I was fighting the fear of never making it out of the dark tunnel my labor was turning out to be. The panic that it would never stop. Somehow, I managed to relax and go to sleep.

I slept straight through the contractions. But gradually they were increasing in intensity, waking me up. Then I would wake up and need to breathe through them. Then add purposeful relaxation. Even then I would go back to sleep as soon as they were over. Exhaustion is too mild a word to describe my condition! Finally, it got to the point that they were so close together and so intense that I could not stay in bed anymore.


It would begin in a wave that steadily surged and increased to a peak then slowly subsided. The only thing I could do to keep completely quiet so my husband could rest was to swing out of bed as soon as I felt one coming, rush to the toilet and dig my fists into my back and breathe. Back labor is painful!

When it got to the point that I couldn’t even get back to bed from the toilet before the next one would start, I was frantic. I didn’t think I could do this much longer! And worse, I was feeling the urge to push and I wasn’t because I was afraid it would be like last time.

Doran came in to check on me while I labored on the toilet, and she asked me how I was doing. I gave her the entire rundown up to this point, and she let me know it was OK to bear down, to see how that felt. That felt better. I let her check me, and I was 10 cm dilated again. Excitement surged through me! I could see the light at the end of the dark tunnel! Finally! She gave me the green light to start pushing whenever I felt the need to, and it wasn’t long after that I started. It was around 2 pm at this point.

Behind The Scenes

Clothing Is Optional

I will add here, something that I doubt I have mentioned before. The midwives gave us a folder of a bunch of helpful information. Included in that was a list of what’s normal during labor and delivery. One thing on there was the fact that it’s completely normal for a woman to be partially or entirely naked during all or parts of labor and delivery.

I am so glad that they put that on the list because that question plagued my mind and I didn’t want to be embarrassed for any reason. I didn’t know what I was going to want as far as clothes during labor. Being a survivor of multiple sexual assaults, I didn’t know how I would handle that part, or what my body would be comfortable with.

Time for the Birthday Suit!

Well, I found out soon enough. Once I was in active labor (possibly a little before then), it was like all my nerve endings got hypersensitive. The sensation of clothing became an irritant and a distraction that broke my concentration and I found myself shedding it all much sooner than I thought.

Other than the times when the fluctuating hormones made me chilly, so I needed my house robe for a few minutes, I was in my birthday suit. It eliminated the need to wonder when during labor did I need to finish undressing as delivery grew near. And I was certain that I wouldn’t want to have to make that decision while I was pushing.

I give a lot of credit to my midwives here. Never, throughout the entire labor, did I feel uncomfortable or self-conscious around them. A few times, when I needed to go away from the “safe space” of the bedroom to ask them something, did I wonder if it was a bit much. Never asked them though, cause I decided it was my birth and I could do what I want. I am confident they would agree with me.

The Hidden Dark Tunnel

City Living

What really got to me the entire labor was feeling exposed, vulnerable, insecure, and surrounded because I was having my home birth in an apartment complex. I kept that as far back in my mind as I could. The apartment may have been the place I felt the safest, but I definitely didn’t feel safe.

Lack of Privacy

The memory of maintenance being able to come into our apartment while my husband and I were getting ready to shower was fresh on my mind. They have to knock 3 times over a period of a couple of minutes, and after that, they could come in. We had no time to get dressed again, so we turned off the bathroom light, locked the door, and pretended we weren’t home while they were 3 feet away, replacing the air filter. Not a pleasant experience, mind you. It always made me feel like the apartment wasn’t mine and my privacy could be violated at any time for any reason

Background Trauma

Psychologically, it put me in a bad place during labor. It was the psychological dark tunnel within the emotional one. The feeling that I had to give birth in someone else’s space, and they had the right to violate my privacy at any time. John had reassured me beforehand that he would prevent anyone from coming in no matter what the reason, but it still gave me a cause for great anxiety. And the longer the labor dragged on and on, the more the apprehension built and mounted. It caused a lot of the rushing, the tension, and the emotional trauma that was happening in the background.

Buried Feelings

In this situation, an utterly personal, private, intimate experience, I felt just as powerless and violated as I did by sexual harassment and assault. Imagine complete vulnerability, with neighbors who saw straight into the windows if no blinds were drawn, and people living 6 inches across the wall! This whole other level to the already stressful situation compounded everything. This went on silently, unnoticed in the background, and was something I wouldn’t realize was a part of the birth until six months later.

Delivery: the Light at the End of the Dark Tunnel

The Big Push

But now there was an end in sight. I felt finally passed the dark tunnel and in the light! It was time to push! Honestly, even though with every few pushes I would ask “Is the baby crowning yet?” It really didn’t seem that long. Time flies when you know you are about to achieve your goal!

There was a big difference between this time and the last time I was pushing too! I discovered that when it’s time to push, it doesn’t feel forced, you can’t help it! It just happens! I think I said several times, “I can’t help but push!” Pushing felt SO good! The contractions were deeply intense and close together, but man, I don’t remember that! I just remember how good it felt pushing!


When the baby finally crowned, the midwives talked me through what we had discussed before, and I breathed and resisted the urge to push for a couple of contractions to allow the baby’s head to slowly stretch the tissue down there. Then it was time! I got so excited! I was like “YES! This is it!” And I pushed with gusto! I think once the baby crowned, I did 4-6 more pushes and out came the baby! It truly felt like I had just done the most humongous bowel movement of my life (my midwives always told me that).

Special Delivery

I looked down where they were wiping her with towels and said, “Did we have a boy or a girl?” John and the midwives simultaneously replied, “She’s a girl!” I thought, “I knew it! I thought so!” Then the midwives picked her up and handed her to me. I held her to my chest as they helped me sit up in the bed. Her first breath contained some amniotic fluid, so for the next 10 minutes, I reclined under a blanket with her lying face down across my breasts so her nasal passages could drain while the midwives suctioned her nose with the bulb.

I continued skin to skin with John next to me for over a half-hour. During that time it occurred to me that I didn’t know when the baby was born. I asked, and Elizabeth said 3:36 am. My placenta hadn’t birthed yet, so after about 45 minutes, they cut the cord. I handed her to John for more skin to skin time and went to birth the placenta.



The next few hours were a bit of a blur. Cleaning me up. Stitching my tear that I didn’t even know I had. I almost fell asleep while Jodi stitched me up! Tiredness had thoroughly soaked my brain. Doran saw me and warned. “Don’t fall asleep. You need to be awake for instructions!” I think they worried that they wouldn’t be able to wake me up if I dozed off!

First Nurse

After stitches, I was able to nurse the baby for the first time. It was so weird! She didn’t latch on properly, of course. I asked for help to figure out how to get her on right. Elizabeth and Jodi helped me with positioning her and opening up her lower jaw. Once I figured it out, it went from being painful to just a bit tender. It took a couple of weeks for my breasts to get used to it.


Afterward, they weighed her and did the exam. She was about 8 pounds. They dressed her up and handed her back to me. Then we went through instructions for her care, and care for me. They checked one more time to make sure my uterus was contracting to its normal size. After making sure that everything was cleaned up, they left.


It was almost 7 am by the time it was just John, me and our new baby. I was so exhausted, drained, and wiped out, that I had no emotions at all from the time I was finally pushing her out. Maybe relief to be at the other side of the long, dark tunnel. Maybe the feeling of remembering what it was like to not have contractions after it being my life for 3 days.

I didn’t feel any emotional attachment to my new baby or any connection at all. I was just void. Shut down. Blank. I tried to block out the feeling of keen disappointment. The whole thing did not go the way I wanted it to, needed it to, for my first birthing experience. I put the now sleeping newborn in her bassinet next to the bed and laid down to go to sleep.

Stay tuned for the next series on my postpartum journey!

For the rest of the articles in the series, go to my Family page.

If you want to know more about the unnecessity, and the researched pros and cons of continuous electronic fetal heart monitoring, read here and here.

To read more about the brutal, unethical treatment of birthing mothers in hospitals across the USA (not just in my case), click here, here, and here.

About Post Author

Amber Goodrich

I am a sojourner and adventurer through life, with plenty of inspiring thoughts to share! My journey has taken me through the United States Army as a Medic, transitioned me to the National Guard. On the civilian side of the ride, I am a Licensed Massage Therapist, wife and mother. Most recently I have started a new chapter as a budding freelance writer with the goal of expanding my horizons to write short stories and books. I look forward to traversing this path and seeing what it has in store!
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1 Timothy 6:18

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14 thoughts on “The Third Night: Through the Dark Tunnel to Delivery

  1. How well I remember the total exhaustion and not being able to feel joy or anything after Ashley was born. I didn’t like feeling nothing, and not being able to feel anything either. . .

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