I love reading birth stories – love it. I find it fascinating that you could talk to 100 women and get 100 different stories about how their children entered the world. From my experience, I’ve had 3 babies and my 3 births have been completely different. It’s hard to figure out how to tell mine and Max’s story but I’m going to try. And sorry in advance that it’s so long!
Throughout this pregnancy I’ve talked about giving birth naturally without pain medicine. No matter how much my husband and I talked about it I had a lot of self doubt about my ability to actually do it. The only reason I even considered it was based on my experience with my daughter. She was born after a very quick labor, 3 hours after we arrived at the hospital and 40 minutes after I had an epidural. I assumed my birth experience with my third pregnancy would be similar in that it would go quickly. I was wrong.
For nearly a week prior to Max’s birth day yesterday I had contractions every day. Not regular, not particularly painful, but definite real contractions. So those contractions combined with my doctor’s appointment last week had me thinking a baby would be coming any day. (At 37.5 weeks I was 2.5 cm dilated, 70% effaced and 0 station and the doctor predicted a baby within days.) But every day came and went without a baby.
Active Labor. Finally.
Wednesday night the contractions became noticeably more painful and more frequent. I didn’t tell my mom or my husband because we’d gotten our hopes up every day, it seemed, so I didn’t want to get everyone excited for no reason. We all went to bed but I couldn’t sleep. I had contractions about every 15 to 20 minutes – frequent enough to keep me awake. Around 2 the contractions became closer together so I woke my mom to keep me company. Around 4 we decided to start getting ready because the contractions were getting more regular and growing in intensity. I started packing my kids’ lunches for the next day, finishing up packing my hospital bag and basically walking around the house getting things together. The activity kicked the contractions into high gear and I was contracting every 4 minutes.
My husband called a friend to come stay with the kids and we packed up the car to go to the hospital. I wasn’t convinced we should go yet, but my mom and husband were concerned that I would have a quick labor again and they didn’t want to deliver a baby at home. So off to the hospital we went.
We went to OB triage around 5 in the morning and I was only 4 centimeters dilated. And the contractions stopped. Like totally stopped. I cannot tell you how discouraged I was. I couldn’t believe that after a week of contractions and a night of labor I was only dilated 4. I was strapped in a bed being monitored. I was only contracting every 10 minutes or so. This was basically my worst nightmare.
After 45 minutes of being monitored, the nurse said I could walk around for an hour to see if I progressed. Of course, when I started walking the contractions picked up again and were about every 4 minutes and much stronger. After what felt like a rough hour, at about 7 am the nurse checked me again and I was still only 4 cm. Now I was really upset. Cue the tears, folks. I hadn’t even been officially admitted to the hospital yet. I wasn’t really progressing but I was suffering through contractions for what felt like no reason. After lots of tears and talking we decided to wait for my doctor to come by to talk about options. I didn’t want to go home. I was tired and I just wanted to have my baby. But I didn’t want to labor in pain for no reason. I was seriously considering asking for pitocin and an epidural because I knew it would mean a baby in a matter of hours.
For about an hour waiting for the doctor I alternated between laying in bed feeling sorry for myself and walking around our room. I kind of hated walking, to be honest, because every time I moved or stood I had a contraction. And they freaking hurt. I wondered why am I walking around encouraging these horrendous contractions if they’re not doing anything? So I spent most of the time sitting still. I had maybe 6 or 7 contractions in the hour we waited for the doctor.
When the doctor arrived around 8:15. I gave him the quick version of what was going on, told him I wanted him to break my water or do something to move things along. He said, “Well, let’s check you and see what’s going on.” Much to my surprise, I was 8 centimeters dilated! Hearing this news made me a new woman. I was totally reinvigorated, motivated and excited that maybe I could deliver naturally after all. Oh, and I was finally officially admitted to the hospital!
My husband and mom and one Labor & Delivery nurse, in particular, were very sweet at this point telling me I was so close, doing great and that if I’d made it this far I was going to delivery naturally. I was feeling confident, too.
And then the contractions really started. They were very strong, every couple minutes. I was doing a decent job of breathing through them and I kept looking over at the little bassinet and heating lamp knowing that I was close to meeting my baby. Around 9 am the contractions became ridiculously unbearable. I was not doing well managing the pain at all. I said, “I just need a break” but it was obvious I wasn’t going to get one. There was seriously not a second between contractions to catch my breath; they were continuous and it was awful. I cried. I said, “I can’t do it.” A lot. But at that point what choice did I have?
I started to feel like I might need to push so my mom went out to get a nurse. Everything at this point went really quickly. I rolled on to my side and then OH MY GOD I really had.to.push. Only problem was that the room was not set up for delivery – no doctor, no stirrups, nothing. Everyone started running around setting things up and the doctor came running in, but I was waiting for no one. I had to push. I am pretty sure I pushed a little on my own before anything was set up. Probably not the best idea, but I couldn’t help it.
Once the doctor was in place, with my husband holding one leg and my mom on my other side I got the official okay to push. I pushed once and heard everyone say, “The baby has hair!” It hurt SO BADLY but I knew I was close – I was really doing this. I was delivering my baby! I pushed again and out came the head and then the shoulders and the little body. And then I waited a moment and heard everyone exclaim “It’s a BOY!” I think my husband must have secretly wanted a boy because I could hear him crying softly. My mom was emotional and so excited. I think I was just in shock.
Little Max was delivered at 9:24 am. 7 pounds 1 ounce and 19 inches long. And, get this – he was born with a head and hand presentation: his hand was up by his head when he came out. There’s a risk it could have hurt his shoulder or caused nerve damage, but he is doing just great. I have to say I’m thankful I didn’t have the mirror I wanted because seeing that would have freaked me out!
So the labor was much longer than I anticipated and the stops and starts of contractions were annoying and frustrating, but none of it matters now. I delivered a healthy baby who is doing wonderfully. And I accomplished a natural delivery, much to my own surprise. Turns out I’m tougher than I thought I was.