Since today is labor day, I decided to finally share my son’s birth story (and this gives me a chance to share some maternity photos 🙂 ). He is 18 months old now, so I wrote this a while ago. Just a warning, it is very long! Also, if reading about birth is not your thing, then just stop reading here. 😉 Ok, here it is!
Nine at night, the night of my due date, I had my first contraction.
I was laying in bed when I suddenly felt a strong uncomfortable cramp like feeling in my lower back. I obviously had no idea what a contraction would feel like so I was mostly thinking it might be a Braxton Hick (which I had not had any of during my pregnancy either.) I had read that a real contraction would start in my back and work around to the front of my belly. I texted my doula what I had felt and she told me that it sounded like pre-labor and that I should try to get more sleep. I went to lie down and remember being almost asleep and then waking up due to another contraction.
This went on for a few hours until I decided to get up and finish packing my bags since there was no way I would be able to fall asleep. I remember all I was thinking was “I can’t believe this is finally happening!” Once I was done packing, I decided to wake up my husband because I felt like things were progressing and that it was time for him to know. It was about 1:00am when I woke him and we spent the next thirty minutes timing my contractions and debating whether or not to call my doula and let her know that the contractions were getting stronger and were about 5-8 minutes apart during that thirty minutes. We finally called her around 1:30am and she listened to me having a contraction over the phone. At that point I wasn’t talking during contractions but it was not because I was not able to but because it was slightly uncomfortable to. (Looking back now, it seems funny since it was NOTHING compared to the contractions about 15-20 hours later.) After hearing me not being able to talk during my contraction and hearing that it lasted about a minute and that they were about 5-8 minutes apart, she said she would be on her way as soon as her baby sitter arrived.
We went into the living room and attempted to get me comfortable in order to let labor progress and while we waited for her to arrive. I had a snack and drank some lemon water to keep my electrolytes up. I kept cracking up because my husband cut some cheddar cheese up in slices and gave me some saltine crackers to eat with it and I was getting crumbs ALL OVER the floor! All I could think was that we would need to vacuum when we got home. (Nice, I’m in labor and thinking about needing to vacuum…) My doula arrived around 3:00am. She immediately began playing worship music and helped make the house environment more comfortable. I used the couch and my birthing (exercise) ball to help make me comfortable during contractions. I kept waiting to feel them in my stomach, but I was still only feeling them in my back. It is funny because one of the clearest memories that I have is that they wanted me to eat something before we left for the hospital so they gave me a cutie (clementine) and I thought it was the BEST thing ever! (I had my mom bring me a bag the day we got home from the hospital).
We finally decided to leave for the hospital around 6:30am. I remember that just leaving the house seemed like a huge production. My husband went to get the car ready and to bring all of our bags down to the car. They set up the car so that I could sit in the front with Christian (my doula/friend) behind me in case I needed any counter pressure in my lower back during a contraction in the car. I think I asked Christian like five times when my husband would be back from the car so we could leave. He had also stopped by the managers to drop our rent for the next month off in the drop off box (can’t have late rent! 🙂 ). When we were finally all ready to leave, I remember dreading walking down the stairs. We locked the door and I had a contraction right after walking outside, so we stopped in order for me to breathe through it. Then we decided the best thing was just to walk as quickly as possible to the car so that hopefully I would be in the car and all set to go before I had another. Thankfully we made it! The car ride is somewhat of a blur. I feel like every time I had a contraction I saw my husband begin to drive faster. I know for a fact that the trip to the hospital was the FASTEST we have ever gotten there. Haha! (Just a side comment: Who thought there should be like 30 speed bumps in the labor and delivery parking lot! WORST IDEA EVER!)
Unfortunately, the drive to the hospital caused my contractions, which were about 3 minutes apart to become about 5 to 8 minutes apart. We had decided that it would be best to walk around a little before checking in. We wanted to walk around in the nice grassy area outside but it was FREEZING outside and I REALLY had to go to the bathroom. So we decided to go inside.
My husband and I had taken a tour of the hospital a few months prior and I remembered that it was a long walk to where we had to check in, but that day, needing to stop for contractions, it seemed like the walk took FOREVER! There was not a single bathroom near the front either. We had to walk all the way in to find a bathroom. I remember once we did find one, it was right near where I would need to check in and the man asked if he could help us. Right at that moment, I had a pretty big contraction and just casually (as casually as a woman in labor can be) leaned against the wall and breathed through the contraction. After it was over, Christian said to the man, no we don’t need anything. We just need to use the restroom. He gave us a look like, um, ok…whatever you say. We finally made it to the restroom and my husband went in with me in case I had a contraction and wasn’t able to get up or something like that. I don’t remember what it was that we were talking about but I think we were both EXTREMELY nervous and excited for what was happening, so I think one (or more likely both of us) tried to say something corny and off topic in order to distract ourselves. Whatever it was, I remember laughing in the bathroom with my husband moments before checking into the hospital to have our child. (Aren’t we just the cutest…ha!)
Once we finished, Christian asked if I wanted to walk around some more before checking in and all I could think about was wanting to know how far along I was (wishful thinking that I was already to a 5 or 8 or something crazy like that…ha! Cute…) And, I did NOT want to walk all the way down that long hallway again. So we decided to check in. They took our information and gave us our hospital bracelets. My husband filled out the paperwork as I stood there complaining that I didn’t have time to paint my nails (to which the lady working there was like, “You’re here to have a baby, I don’t think anyone will notice that your nails are not painted.” I was extremely upset by her comment because I had taken a lot of time deciding what color to paint them [a pretty nude/grey color] so they would look good in all the pictures that were bound to happen once he was born). They then gave me a bag for my belongings and a hospital gown.
My husband and I went to the dreaded room where they tell you if you are far enough along to get admitted or if you have to hang out for a while to let labor progress. I changed into the gown all the while still feeling a bit in shock that it was actually happening. Once changed, they hooked me up to the machine to monitor my contractions. They were still about eight minutes apart (urg! That long car ride…) But they finally decided to check and see how far along I was. (Keep in mind at my last doctors appointment, there was nothing…no dilation, no thinning…NOTHING) But my crazy mind was hoping and thinking maybe just maybe I would be a 5 (waahoo half way!) But of course, no such luck, she said I was a 3 ½ to a 4. (Yay! [sarcasm] Just barely out of early labor and far enough along for them to check me in) We had to wait a while longer, due to my blood pressure being a tad bit high so they wanted to monitor it to see if it dropped into a normal range (Is there a name for having high blood pressure just when you are having it checked?), and I got to meet the midwife who would be delivering our son. I instantly liked her and was so glad she would be delivering.
Finally they moved me to my labor and delivery room and Christian (and my mom who arrived shortly after we checked in) were able to join us. I went in the hospital without a written birth plan (gasp!). Everything I read said that I should have one, but I know that this is not something that you can plan out and have it happen exactly that way. So I gave my doctor my birth “preferences” as I made a point to say they are just my preferences. They wanted me to sit on the bed while they monitored everything (mine and baby’s heart rate, contractions, and of course, blood pressure) for at least thirty minutes. It said in my birth preferences that I would like to be able to move around during labor (I wanted to do whatever I could to make labor go faster and sitting in a bed the whole time seemed like it would not help) so I was a bit disappointed about needing to be monitored even more due to my slightly high blood pressure that was most likely just due to the fact that I was nervous that it was actually “go time”. I did get in trouble a few times and had a few people come in and check on me because I disconnected the machines because I had to use the restroom…(well, excuse me, but I had a baby sitting on my bladder!)
At that point they also put in my IV (which I have been told my whole life that I have good veins for drawing blood…well I guess not for having an IV put in, so they had to put it in my hand). I requested a hep-lock, so I was not constantly connected to whatever they could be sneakily pumping into me. I got one, but I was also connected to a bag of something. I asked what it was thinking it was the antibiotics and they said it was just the saline solution and that I would not be needing the antibiotics until my water broke…(nice! Good thing I didn’t listen to my doctor and head to the hospital at 9:00pm…*she said as soon as labor starts I would need antibiotics…) At that time, just as I was recovering from having a HUGE needle shoved into my hand, a nurse came carrying what looked like 30 tubes (it was probably closer to 6) to take some blood for who knows what. I was NOT happy. I had to get an IV AND have a ton of blood drawn!? The lady took my blood and quickly left as I was left slightly light headed. I when to move a little and an empty tube fell! (She forgot one!) I was NOT happy that she would have to come back and take more blood…but if I recall correctly, she never came back. Ha! Hopefully it was not important…
Finally, my nurse came in and told me that I could be disconnected from the machines for thirty minutes because everything looked fine for however long they had been monitoring me. (Yes! Freedom!!) Christian asked me what I wanted to do with this freedom and I could not think of anything. So I ended up just doing what I had been doing the entire time so far. We were just staying near the bed and getting in whatever position felt most comfortable during my contractions. (Which was pretty much sitting at the end of the bed. Due to only having back labor, none of the positions that we practiced in the labor classes felt good.) I tried kneeling at the head of the bed and was in WAY more pain than I was just sitting. I think the worst was lying down, though. I remember Christian encouraging me to stand and sway with my husband, but standing during a contraction was almost as bad as laying down. Which made going to the bathroom a dreadful task. I would unhook the monitors right after a contraction and try to get to the toilet to sit down before the next one hit and then try to wash my hands and get back to the bed before another. I felt like I was progressing and I REALLY wanted to know how much further I was so I asked if I could be checked. Christian told me not to be discouraged if I was not as far along as I thought I may be and I just blew it off thinking I just HAD to have progressed a TON! Finally the midwife came in to check. I was at a 4… (You have GOT to be kidding me!) A 4!! I felt like I was there for hours and I had progressed like a ½ a centimeter! I was crushed and frustrated.
The time at the hospital pretty much is a blur in my mind (I think God just does that to us so we can get through it, like your mind shuts down in order to get through the pain and so you’re not dwelling on it). One thing that I really remember was how HOT it was in the room! They finally brought me a fan to try to cool things down. I remember they finally brought something to eat and it consisted of all things liquid…beef broth (I tried it…never again!), juice, a popsicle; things like that. I didn’t end up eating anything besides the one sip of beef broth. (Really? Beef broth!? Gross!!) I just remember asking for my water the entire time. (Which was also interesting since I was told I couldn’t have any water because of the IV…not sure if that was ok or not, but I asked for it later where there were nurses in the room and they didn’t say anything about it…hmm). At some point I was checked again and I was at 5 centimeters. All I could think was “oh goody, in about 30 more hours I might be up to 6…”
I remember at one point I fell asleep. I have no clue how long, but when I woke up, my husband was laying next to me (he got up as soon as I moved), and Christian was also asleep, so it was long enough for that to all occur (although since we were all pretty much running on no sleep it probably took about thirty seconds for us to fall asleep). It was interesting though because I know it was longer than just in between contractions, but I did not have a contraction for however long I was sleeping for (perhaps another thing God allows to happen in order for you to get even just a tiny amount of sleep to replenish your strength). Then they were back, stronger than ever…and each one lasted a LONG time! I remember being super nauseous and kept feeling like I was going to throw up but never did until I tried to kneel at the head of the bed again. (Asking my husband later, I threw up three different times and they were passing around the little bags and pretty much had a few different ones laying around in case I needed one). I think it was during one of those LONG contractions that I lost it and began sobbing and telling my husband that I COULD NOT do this and that I NEEDED an epidural. I could see the look of panic in his eyes. I knew he did not want me to get an epidural and he knew I had said that I didn’t want to one either…before I went into labor.
Pretty much at that point, Christian stepped in and told me that I could do this. That I was created to birth a baby. That I was almost there. That I was doing this for me and for my baby. I remember her telling me that I can do it and that I was created to do this exact thing. I didn’t like it. I did not want to hear it. I wanted the epidural…that was it. I didn’t care. I didn’t care about the risks…I wanted the pain to stop. Which she kindly pointed out that it would not stop the pain, it would just dull it a tad. She went on a little more about how I was capable and that I needed to just picture my baby. And picture him being born… And I think at that point it really hit me that there is actually another human being inside me.
That thought got me through until the next contraction that I began practically begging my husband for an epidural. At a certain point after I asked the last time, Christian took him aside and they talked for what seemed like quite a while. He returned with a very serious look on his face but he didn’t say anything. He just took his position next to me, as he was the entire time to help me though each contraction and to support me after each one was over. At that point, I knew that I was too far along to get any type of pain relief.
To be continued….