Editor’s Note: this month I’m featuring birth stories. I personally found giving birth to be the most empowering thing I’ve ever done, but was surprised while pregnant that you have to look for positive birth stories. We have some lined up – even from a male perspective – so stay tuned. This first one is from PW. – MD
I was overdue and scheduled for an induction on Wednesday February 7th, 2007. I was hoping to go into labor on my own terms and was lucky enough to have had that happen. The day before my scheduled induction, I had a nice day planned for myself. I knew it was my last day as a pregnant, “just me” so I wanted to really enjoy the last moments. I ran some errands, took the dog to the groomer, and hung out in the Barnes and Noble quilting book aisle for a good hour and a half. I felt contractions on and off all day, but after weeks of experiencing these, I wasn’t buying into and ‘oh this might be it,’ mentality.
I had a nap planned for that afternoon and got in bed at 1PM with a good book. I awoke at 4PM and had a contraction soon after, not a braxton hicks but the kind that feel like menstrual cramps. Again, I didn’t think it was true labor. Either way, I resumed my afternoon of packing the last few items for the induction the next day, taking the garbage out, and taking one last shower. After the shower, I decided to lie back down and record the contraction duration and interval to see if there were any pattern. Sure enough they were about :45 sec long and 8 mins apart. I decided to resume getting ready, still not knowing that I was really in labor. I continued to keep track, and the contractions got closer together by a few minutes and around 5:30PM I had bloody show. This convinced me that labor had started.
I continued tying up loose ends around the house, but a bit faster. For example, earlier that day, I had placed a bid on an item on eBay which I won around 6PM. I went online to pay for this and it turned out that the seller only took cashiers checks or money orders so between contractions I wrote an email to the seller explaining that I was in labor and it was unlikely that I would get a check in the mail for a few days. Funny little loose end to be tying up!
My husband got home from work around 6:45 and I told him this was it. Around 7:30PM I was done getting the rest of my things together and headed for the couch. Around 8PM we called the doc and she said to come in or labor at home. A big part of me wanted to get to the hospital and get settled in our room and work at laboring there, but we stayed at home until about 10PM and then got in the car to go to the hospital. I remember saying to my husband on the way to Meriter that if I were around 4 cms I would be thrilled but if I were only at 2 cms (I was 1 at 36 weeks) I would be pretty upset because I knew we would be in for a big long night.
John dropped me off at the emergency room entrance of Meriter (the main entrance was closed), I talked to the desk and told the receptionist that I was in labor. During that moment I wasn’t having a contraction. She told me to wait and they would send someone down from triage. I sat in a chair and proceeded to have a couple contractions. A nurse came out the waiting room to get a patient for the ER, saw me mid-contraction and told someone to get a wheelchair and get me up to triage right away.
Triage was crowded and the nurse told me to wait on the bench outside the triage door. I said that I needed a minute to get out of the wheelchair, because I felt a contraction coming on. The nurse saw that my contractions were serious enough to get me into a triage bed soon after that. They hooked me up to a fetal monitor and while sitting on the bed in triage I proceeded to have a double contraction that I couldn’t help but to scream the f-word over and over again, loudly. The rest of triage, while crowded was pretty quiet. My string of expletives was a crack in the silence and the nurse came to check my cervix soon after that. She said I was 7 cms with a bulging bag of water. I was so happy that I cried for a moment and gave my husband a high five. But I knew that getting from 7 to 10 was going to be hard work.
Soon after that they moved me into my room and got out the birthing ball. I ended up preferring to stand. They drew a bath for me and I got in. The resident measured me then and said I was at 81/2cms and told me this was my last chance for pain meds. Because things were going so quickly, I decided against pain meds. For me, this was an easy decision. While the contractions were painful, I didn’t feel that the labor pains were unmanageable.
Soon after the measurement, I felt like I had to go #2, I mentioned this to the nurse and she said, ‘no, you don’t have to poop, that is the baby’s head. And the feeling you are having is the urge to push.’ She told me that I was not yet far enough along to push and gave me some breathing instructions to get through it, ‘hee, hee, hee, hooo.’ I really did not enjoy this part, because after a few contractions I just couldn’t get my body to stop pushing. The doc came in and measured me, she told me I was at 10 cms and that it was time to push.
I was up on the table and they taught me how to grab the backs of my legs and put my chin to my chest and push. This was the hardest part, I thought. I was to push 3 times for each contraction. After about 20 minutes of pushing, my beautiful 7 pound 3 ounce baby boy was out onto the table. All that I could think was that I couldn’t believe that he was already here! I thought that we were going to be in for a long night of labor and using all of the gadgets and birthing balls and enduring a long night, but no, my beautiful baby boy was right there on my chest at 12:45AM.
I LOVED holding those first moments. It was a very blissful and challenging event.
All told, I labored from 4PM to 12:45AM the next morning, 8hrs and 45mins.