I mean everyone says it’s natural and your body just knows what to do.
I read articles here and there, took a short child birthing class and even looked into having a midwife, but insurance didn’t cover it so I didn’t look any further. We considered a doula, but in the end decided we didn’t have the money for one. Looking back there are a lot of things I would do differently, especially now that I’m a doula. But I’m going to set those things aside and just tell you about my birth experience.
As August 19th drew closer and closer, I was getting anxious like most first time moms. I knew I didn’t want an induction and so I e-mailed a friend who was a midwifery student a few states over that I had recently met and gotten to know a bit. I asked about natural ways of induction. But she told me what I needed to hear, which was that there was no reason try and get the baby to come sooner. That calmed my nerves some, but I was still worried that my doctor would want to talk about induction at our next appointment.
But I never got to find out, because the next day, after kissing my husband goodbye for work, my water broke. Well, started to trickle, really. I wasn’t sure at first since it didn’t gush out like I imagined it would. But it kept trickling.
Labor had begun.
But nothing happened.
I tried to sleep and I couldn’t. We went for a few short walks. I don’t remember when, but I eventually realized that I was having contractions, I just couldn’t feel them. If I pressed down on my belly I could tell when I was having a contraction. So we began the exciting task of timing contractions. We did that off and on the rest of the day.
Some time late in the afternoon my friend arrived after she got off work. We watched a movie. I sat on the birthing ball. We waited for something to happen. But it was slow going and the day was slipping away. Around 6pm we started to think seriously about going to the hospital.
I knew that the rule of thumb was that babies to be born within 24 hours of the water being broken, which made me nervous that my doctor would want a c-section then, and I knew I would want to try to augment labor before opting for a surgery. My contractions were around 3 minutes apart lasting 30 to 45 seconds. The typical rule to go to the hospital is 5:1:1. Five minutes apart, one minute long for one hour. But I was just barely feeling the contractions. We had no idea what would be best. I thought, maybe I’m just one of those people who doesn’t have much pain in child birth.
Hahaha- Not a chance.
It got worse, much worse before it was over.
We ended up calling our birthing instructor who didn’t add much clarity except that there could be a quick turn around with the contractions that close. So we decided to call the hospital and see what they said- something I had been avoiding because I figured they’d just say come to the hospital.
Which is exactly what they said. Apparently I was supposed to come immediately when my water broke. But I was glad I didn’t. So 14 hours after it all began we made it to the hospital. We got to skip triage and go straight into a room. As we were settling in I gave them a copy of our birth plan. I wasn’t expecting the reaction I got, after all we had discussed everything with our doctor.
But we ended up having a different nurse who was great that night. She was supportive and very encouraging to us.
I believe I was 3 or 4 cm dilated when I arrived. I was feeling the contractions more than I had before, so that made me excited. Not too much happened the next few hours. At 1 am (18 hours after my water broke) they hooked me up to a bag of antibiotics. Every 4 hours after that I had to have another round. Things slowly became more intense, but not overwhelmingly so.
Some time during the night I realized that I was having back labor. The nurse said it might be because the baby is OP. So I got down on my hands and knees to try and help her flip. After a few seconds of that I became very nauseated and puked. We tried that position again a few time throughout labor since it’s a good one to get encourage the baby to flip, but always had the same result.
Sometime around 7 in the morning, the nurses changed shifts and my doctor came to visit me. We had a really good visit. I was coherent enough to talk about our music play list and laugh. She was very supportive of us having an unmedicated birth (well, un-pain medicated), but insisted that we go ahead and start pitocin. Neither Josh nor I were opposed to that and were really glad she didn’t even mention a c-section. As long as I wasn’t showing signs of infection and the baby was doing good, we could go on as long as we wanted to past the 24 hour mark.
I could feel the difference with the first contraction after they hooked me up to pitocin. The way I’ve heard it described before, and I think is quite accurate, is that pitocin contractions have a bite to them. It went from lots of pressure to having some pain with each one. I wasn’t prepared for this and neither was Josh.
The rest of labor is all mixed together for me. I had to concentrate quite a bit on the contractions and only certain events stand out in my mind and everything else is just kind of background noise that I can’t quite make out. I don’t remember moaning and groaning but I pretty sure I did both.
And maybe a bit of yelling.
Josh would testify.
I did manage to get a bit of sleep though, sometime after the pitocin was started. I thought it was begore, but Josh insists that it was after. I was so exhausted that my body didn’t have the strength to be up. Josh said I would sit up straight for the contractions and then collapse onto the raised hospital bed after it was finished. I’d stay that way until the next contraction came. I still don’t quite know how that was possible. But when your body needs it, your body gets it.
Another event that happened, I’m not sure when exactly if falls on the timeline, but around here somewhere, is that Josh refused to do the double hip squeeze (I didn’t know the name at the time, but that was what it was). I must have told him to squeeze my hips sometime during a contraction and it felt good. So I told him to do it again. But Josh thought he was pressing my pelvis together which is the opposite of what was supposed to be happening.
I asked him again to do it but he said no and that was that. After that I think I felt like I was on my own coping with the pain and shut down some to his suggestions. The one thing that actually relieved some of the pain he wouldn’t do. I don’t think Josh realized how big of an event that was to me until later when we talked about it. He said he kind of remembered it, but it wasn’t a big moment to him.
But for me, it was.
The next event that happened was that Charity began to kick the heart-rate monitor and move every time it was adjusted. The nurse would find it, it would be tracking well, she’d leave the room and have to come back in 5 minutes later because Charity kept moving.
So she suggested internal monitoring. I don’t want something pricking my baby’s scalp, so I said no. Josh felt a lot of pressure to do it. He felt that if they couldn’t get a good reading on the baby that they’d want to do a c-section.
He didn’t know what internal monitoring was.
The nurse never explained it.
I knew, but couldn’t explain it. My mind couldn’t put words together because it was focused on contractions. All I can remember being able to say was no. With the pressure that Josh felt, they both kept talking about it until I gave in and consented. It wasn’t until after it was all said and done that Josh understood why I had said no when I showed him the scabs on Charity’s head from the internal monitor.
Oh yeah, during this time I was dilated to 8 and 9 cm. I’d have to check records but I’m pretty certain that I was at 9 cm for an hour and a half. Transition was supposed to be the shortest stage! Well, if you count the previous 24 + hours, it certainly was shorter than the other stages.
I think my doctor also visited sometime in here, I don’t remember.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, I began to feel the urge- no- the need to push. The nurse came in and checked, I still had an anterior lip and was instructed not to push. I had remembered hearing that sometimes if you pushed a little it would relieve the pressure, but the nurse insisted that I didn’t because I could start to swell.
That was when I began talking about an epidural. It was very painful and I had to push, I didn’t feel like I could handle both. Josh said I could get it if I wanted but I could make it though if I wanted. The nurse was right there asking if I wanted the epidural. She looked like she was ready to take Josh out if he put up a fight to me wanting one.
I said yes, I wanted it.
Sometime a little later the anesthesiologist came in and administered the epidural. As he pierced my spine with a needle, I had to be very still. As you can imagine a contraction happened during this time, I remember thinking, if I can make it through a contraction like this, hunched over my belly trying to be very still, surely I can make it.
But then the catheter was in.
And then pain was gone.
It was an incredible relief as the pain medication kicked in. My whole body could relax. I went to sleep almost straight away. The nurse positioned me on my side with one leg in a stirrup to give the baby a better chance to flip. Every 30 minutes she’d come in and have me switch to the other side.
About an hour and a half later I was fully dilated and ready to push. My doctor came in with the nurse. Even with the epidural I was able to push in several different positions with the support of Josh, the nurse and my friend: on my hands and knees, squatting with my arms around Josh’s neck. I was very grateful for that because we were able to use gravity to our advantage. Overall, I pushed for about two hours- maybe two and half.
But Charity just didn’t want to get past my tailbone. For about an hour she would come down during the contraction and go back up in between. When everyone was out of ideas, we decided to have the c-section.
As soon as the decision had been made, everyone sprung into action. They had to call in a surgeon because my doctor was a family physician and couldn’t perform the surgery. She did stay with us through the entire surgery. It wasn’t long until I was wheeled into the OR and moved to the operating table. I was so exhausted that I struggled to stay awake.
They gave me more medication through the epidural and tied my hands down to the table so I didn’t try to stop the surgery or something. A big curtain was placed over the top of my torso. Josh soon joined me and stood by my head. He was actually quite fascinated by everything that was happening. He gave me a play-by-play description of what was happening.
It wasn’t long before the doctor announced ‘it’s a girl’ and I heard Charity’s first cries. There was a small plastic window that they opened up and showed her to me. The first thing I noticed about her was her chubby cheeks. I hadn’t been expecting those. Then they took her to the side, cleaned her up and checked her vitals.
It was about this time that Josh said, “and now they’re taking out the placenta.”
At that, I told him to shut up.
I didn’t want to hear any more.
In a matter of minutes the nurse gave Charity to Josh and he held her by my face so I could meet my precious little girl. She almost immediately latched onto my nose. I got to examine her blurry features (I didn’t have my glasses on) for a little while. She had quite a bit of reddish blonde hair and couldn’t seem to keep her tongue in her mouth.
She just wanted to eat everything.
Then Josh got to take her back to our room and have skin-to-skin time. It was a very special time for them. Josh loved holding her while she experienced life outside the womb for the first time.
Meanwhile I was being stitched back up in the OR. It was a struggle to stay awake during the rest of the surgery, I was so exhausted. But as soon as I was back in the hospital room holding my baby girl, I was wide awake loving every minute I got with her. She was born August 21, 2013 at little after 6pm, 8 lbs 4 oz.