The Short Version:
I began having my first real, consistent contractions at noon on Wednesday. By 9pm they were coming every 7-10 minutes, and by 1am every 5 minutes. When we arrived at the birth center at 5:30am I was dilated to a 4. By noon I had only progressed to a 5, so they broke my water. By 5:30pm, 12 hours after arriving at the birth center, I was still only measuring a 7. I was finally given the “okay” to push at 7pm.
The Super Duper Long Version Only Me and Maybe My Mom Will Appreciate:
Around 4am: I woke up with a few contractions. I had been losing my mucous plug gradually the last week or so, and today had a bit of the “bloody show” I’d been waiting to see. I told Adam my contractions may be starting, so he had a heads up for the day. I tried to go back to sleep, but was restless and excited, hoping today would be the day.
Around noon: Mom and a friend and I went out for lunch. As we were walking in, I started feeling a heated cramp wrap around my lower back, into my pubic area and travel down into my inner thighs. I told Mom each time I had a contraction, and we figured they were coming about 3 an hour, or every 20 minutes or so.
Around 6pm: I was still feeling contractions that inched down into my inner thighs, coming about every 10 minutes and lasting about 45 seconds each. Adam was watching a few funny videos on YouTube, and I had to turn away and not watch because laughing was too painful during a contraction. We started watching a movie to try to distract me and to pass the time. I only made it about halfway through it, and around 9pm I went to lay down and tried to relax through my contractions. I turned on some of my Hypnobirthing, but was pretty distracted with timing the contractions - they were slowly starting to last longer and come closer together. I thought for sure I would be calling the Birth Center before the end of the night. I even told my mom that if she went to bed now, when she woke up we’d be back with her grandson in the morning. We packed milk and cereal to eat after delivery, and double-checked our bags. Adam fell asleep around 10:30pm, and I tried to rest and relax as much as I could, but I was still busying myself with timing contractions. I didn’t sleep, and around 1am my contractions were coming every 5 minutes, lasting 60-70 seconds, and had been for the last 1-2 hours. It was time to call the Birth Center.
1am: I had the midwife paged, and she called me back within 5 minutes. I didn’t have a contraction the whole time, but was nervous. She asked me a few questions, and said I was free to come in now if I wanted, or I could try relaxing some more and waiting longer at home. I said I would wait a little longer and would call her back in a few hours. Adam ran a bath for me, and I poured water over my stomach for the next hour. I was a little disappointed to feel that between the excitement of calling the midwife and relaxing in the tub, my contractions had actually lessened. They were now coming every 7-10 minutes. I went back to bed and tried to sleep a little longer.
4:30am: My contractions were back up to coming every 5 minutes, and though I had originally told myself I wanted to labor at home for as long as I could, I now was starting to think that I would be more comfortable just being there and not having to worry about leaving at the “right” time. So I called the midwife back and she said to come in, she was already there with another couple who had come in a little bit earlier.
5:30am: I was a little disappointed that I was only dilated to a 4 or a 5 when we arrived, but still felt more comfortable just being at the center (the car ride over was quite uncomfortable) (Though I must say it is interesting to write about the “pain” I experienced in the beginning stages of labor, knowing now that it would be nothing compared to what was to come.) They told me I could either lay down in bed and rest or go for a walk to get things moving. So, we walked for a half hour, and then we would rest for a half hour, alternating between the two. I would listen to my Hypnobirthing tapes while we were resting, but I found it very difficult to really get into them.
Midmorning: After quite a few hours, I hadn’t dilated anymore, and my contractions still weren’t very strong (keep in mind, they certainly felt like it to me at the time, but the midwives knew they were far from being what they needed to be). The midwives have and used a lot of homeopathic medicines; throughout the whole night they would come in with little white cups and say, “This is such and such, it will help with this....” and then they would slip it under my tongue and I’d have to suck on them for a few seconds. They also gave me a Labor Tincture that was pretty bitter, but was supposed to help bring on stronger contractions.
At this point, they had me use a breast pump. I was to put the pump on, and take it off when a contraction started, and then put it back on as soon as the contraction was over. Within 5 minutes of using the pump, I could tell a distinct difference between the past contractions and the ones that were coming on now. They started coming anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes apart, sometimes beginning just as one was ending, leaving me with no break to relax and prepare for the next one. It was not only physically exhausting but mentally, as well, because I felt like it was a self-inflicted pain! Each time I put those pumps up, I knew it wasn’t going to be long before another contraction came. As good as I knew this was, it was still difficult.
In front of the birth center is a decent hill, with a Jewish church ontop of it. After pumping for an hour, they told me to go walk up and down that hill for another hour. I only made it up twice, because I had to stop and breathe through each contraction. So many people drove up and down that road and would watch me as they passed. I really wanted to laugh at the situation, but couldn’t find the energy to do so or to really care. One lady in a van pulled right up next to me and said, “May 17th is a great day to have a baby! It’s my mom’s birthday and my anniversary!” I think that was supposed to be encouragement, but all I could say was, “I hope he comes before the end of the day...” I was really disappointed in how slow things had been progressing.
When we returned to the center, Adam - who had been keeping track of my contractions on the walk - told the midwives that they weren’t coming as often or lasting as long as they had on the pump, so they put me back on it for another hour. I rotated between being on the bed, the birthing chair, and an exercise ball.
2pm: The midwives checked my cervix, and I still had not dilated any further. It was so frustrating - I felt like I was going through all this pain and it was serving me no purpose. I tried reminding myself that each surge brought my baby closer to me, but when I wasn’t seeing the proof of it, that was really hard to believe and to want to keep going. I was pretty discouraged. The midwives were also wanting to see progression - it was at this point that they offered to either give me some medication to go home with to help me sleep and come back later, or, if I wanted, they would break my water for me. They had brought it up earlier as an option so I had had time to think about it. We decided to have them break my water - I was halfway there and it would have been really hard for me to go home and just sit and wait at this point. I was surprised that it didn’t hurt at all, and the fluid was really hot.
Now that there wasn’t any cushioning between the baby’s head and my cervix, things were able to start progressing a little bit faster. I spent a little bit of time on the birthing ball, and things began to pick up in intensity. This is when I started losing steam. There was one point where we heard a newborn cry from just outside the door. We figured it must be the other couple’s baby who had come in just before us. It was both encouraging and disheartening at the same time: “She did it! She did it and so can I!” but also “She did it....she’s done, and I’m still going through it....when will I ever be done?” This was the first time I cried. I cried because I was tired, I cried because the contractions hurt and were so intense now. And then Adam mentioned that he felt like we weren’t alone in the room, that we had some guardian angels - ancestors - in attendance. And I cried some more then too.
Soon after, I asked the nurse if I could get in the shower. I really wanted to get in the tub, but they were worried that it would make my contractions slow down again, so they wanted to wait until I progressed farther. I got undressed and started the shower. Between the water and the new and stronger sensations, I started to get really shaky. My legs were practically clashing together while I sat on the bench and my teeth began to chatter. My legs were so sore from clenching during contractions, I couldn’t control them. I didn’t really want the water on my face, but wanted them to first run over my hands to warm me up, and then on my belly and back. There was some relief in the shower until I hit the blessed “Cold Sandwich” that the nurse warned me of. The water turned freezing cold and didn’t get warm, leaving me still violently shaking and chilled. Adam wrapped me in a towel and I sat on on the birthing chair for a bit, but the seat was so hard and I was still so cold with my wet hair that I asked the nurse if I could please get in the tub now.
I found some relief in the tub. I thought I would like the jets on but they just irritated me. I thought I would want it hot, but that just irritated me, too. So I sat in lukewarm water, pouring cupfuls over my belly. However, the tub is also when I began to feel the extremely heavy pressure down in my lower bowels. Pressure unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Pressure I was NOT expecting. Uncomfortable, butt can’t touch anything, want to bear down and get it out pressure. I was glad to be in the water then, because I could lift myself off the tub floor and just let my bottom float in the water during the surges. This pressure took me so much by surprise -- I literally did not know how much longer I could handle it. It was so uncomfortable. I moaned - loudly - through each contraction. I was not a quiet, noble bearer of pain at any point during this labor. I was a wailing, moaning, crying mess. I was such a whiner. Sometimes there was a a part of me that worried that other patients could hear me, but then the contraction would come and I wouldn’t care. This was the point that I started thinking of medication. I fought against it so hard in my head - but the word “epidural” kept creeping back up. It was illogical: they didn’t have anything like that at the birthing center, and it would have been so ridiculous to go to the hospital just to get the epidural. But still I could not completely shake the idea out of my mind.
Around 5pm: After being in the tub for awhile, the nurse had me move to the toilet, facing the back of it. She put a towel on the back of the toilet so I could rest on it, but that made me feel too crunched up. I think this is when I started pushing through the contractions. I had resisted it up until now. I don’t remember what made me snap, but the next time the nurse came in to check on me, she asked me about the pressure “down in the bum” - and I said yes, it hurts. “Is there anything I can take for the pain?”
And there it was. The question I didn’t want to ask. The question I didn’t think I would ask. Looking back, I don’t remember if I felt like I failed then, or if I just didn’t care by that point. I know I had fought against the idea for a long time and wasn’t anticipating the words actually coming out of my mouth. The nurse smiled at me then, and said, “That sounds like a transition statement. Do you feel like it’s time to push?” I said I did, and she said she would have the midwife come into check me.
I thought relief would be coming soon. I found so much hope in her voice. “Thank God, it’s almost over.”
Can you imagine my disappointment when the midwife told me I was only dilated to a seven?
I was absolutely crushed. My morale and strength withered to nothing right then. 12 hours after arriving at the birth center, and 5 hours after breaking my water and all I could show for was two centimeters?
All I could say was, “Ok. I’m going to need something.”
The nurse gave me the only thing they had in terms of “pain relief” - a narcotic to help me sleep in between the contractions, to help me get my strength back up. At this point I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours and was just exhausted. The shot hurt like no other, but I had so much faith in it to help me that I didn’t care. I cried out when she stabbed me, and she said it’s gonna hurt and that I could use any swear words I wanted, the worst ones I could think of. I think all I said was, “Oh my gosh....”
The nurse told Adam to go get food - he had been only eating the snacks I had been: fruit cups, pudding, granola bars, Snickers, apple juice, Nutter Butter bars, water. She said she would stay with me on the bed.
It didn’t take long for my eyes to get droopy, and for my vision to slur and slow down, noises and lights hitting me in waves seconds after hearing and seeing them. As soon as I closed my eyes, I was asleep. But seconds later, I’d be awake again, fully experiencing and feeling the peak of each contraction. I felt a little more under control now, as I had had a moment of rest before each contraction began. However, something had changed: My body was now involuntarily pushing with the contraction. I was in such a sleepy state, I couldn’t stop it. Plus, it felt good. Really good.
The nurse sat next to me on the bed and held my hand the entire time Adam was gone. I don’t think she realized I was pushing through the contraction, even though I was grunting and would raise my body up and curl into myself. She would tell me to “take a deep breath, and then blow it all away.” I loved that - I listened to her, and it helped. It helped me refocus. At the end of each contraction, I would look at her with my sleepy, doped up eyes and I can only imagine how ridiculous and pathetic I looked but I just wanted to tell her “Thank you...” each time, but nothing ever came out. I was so grateful to her for staying with me while Adam was gone, but was also so relieved when Adam returned. It felt like he had been gone for hours, but it was only 30 minutes.
Adam was an amazing Birth Companion. He made sure I stayed well hydrated, and made me eat every hour or more. He stayed by my side the entire time and did exactly what I asked. He brushed my hair, he touched me when I wanted him to and gave me space when I needed it. I trusted him 100% and even though I knew he was seeing me at my absolute worst and lowest. I was showing him my true colors - my true strength, or my lack of, at certain times.
Around 6:30pm: Finally someone noticed, and asked, “Are you pushing through your contractions?” Her tone of voice said I probably shouldn’t be, but I wasn’t about to deny it. She said she better check me then.
My body was so slow to react to these contractions.
This was something else I was NOT expecting. I don’t know if it was because I was fighting against them, or what, but it really shocked me and depleted me of a lot of my confidence.
Something else happened when she checked me this time, though, too. When she removed her hand, she kept it cupped and showed the other midwife. “Look.” She said. A few minutes later, the head midwife came in and sat on my bed. She looked me square in the eyes, and I tried to focus back on her, but was still feeling the narcotic. “There is meconium in your fluid. We are going to need to transfer you to the hospital. We don’t want to run the risk of him breathing in meconium with his first breath, and if something like that does happen, we need to have quick access to the NICU.” I heard Adam ask them how long I would stay in the hospital, and they told him two days. This wasn’t supposed to happen --- why was nothing going according to my “plan”? But I wasn’t fully comprehending things, so I just nodded my head and said Ok, but something in the back of my mind yelled, “I’m not going to make it to the hospital.” I tried imagining getting out of this bed and into the ambulance, driving the whole way there, being transferred to a new room and new bed, getting all hooked up --- it was going to take too much time. It was all so much work, and too much time. “I’m not going to make it.” The midwife turned to Adam, who was on the bed next to me, and said, “I’ll ride in the ambulance with her, you will follow in your car.”
I didn’t like that. That got me feeling panicky more than anything else.
I don’t know why, but they decided to have another midwife check me one more time before calling the ambulance.
Finally ---- something went my way. Finally, I had been right about something. Just this one thing I was right about: I wasn’t going to make it that long.
I heard the midwife’s voice and overwhelming relief poured into me.
“9 and three quarters. Let’s have a baby.”
Read the rest of my story: Delivery.
2 years ago