For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to find funny pictures and what have you to put together with my child birth experience (mostly to soften the blow, but the experience wasn’t exactly awesome) and I haven’t had any luck. So I’ll do my best to tell some funny jokes and maybe make a few puns along the way.
This is a story I have really wanted to tell because I never heard of anyone having an experience like mine. And while my journey was within what you could call “normal” it is definitely unusual.
The due date given to me by my midwife was February 27th. Because you are highly likely to be overdue with your first child, for most of my pregnancy I was mentally preparing to give birth no later than March 12th (that would be 42 weeks). By the time I was 30 weeks along all that mental preparation basically went out the window and at 37 weeks (what is considered in the medical community to be full term) I was eating spicy foods, pineapple, and drinking raspberry leaf tea like nobody’s business. So you can imagine my excitement (?) when I left work early on Wednesday, February 26th with contractions 15-20 minutes apart. While I knew it was not time to go to the hospital yet I was also basically useless to get any actual work done. I went home, fully expecting that I would have a baby by the end of the day on the 27th. I got some snacks, changed into my pajamas, and climbed into bed. I periodically timed my contractions and by the time I was ready for bed (feeling pretty worn out) I wasn’t any closer to having contractions 5 minutes apart than I had been earlier that afternoon. I attempted to take it in stride, hoping that if I got some rest labor would just take off.
That is not what happened.
Finally, on Sunday, March 2 my contractions were 5 minutes apart! After resting all day, drinking tons of water, and having a decent amount of food I told Nathan that I thought it was time to go to the hospital. We told our parents what was going on and my parents started the drive down so my mom could be with me. We also called ahead and they were ready for us when we arrived around 8 pm. I made my way to a triage room and a wonderful midwife examined me. Much to my dismay, I was dilated to 1 centimeter and only 50% effaced. I had imagined that after laboring for 4 days I would have been slightly further along than that. We stayed at the hospital for 2 hours and they checked me again.
I had made no progress at all.
They sent me home with something to help me sleep. My parents arrived at our home and promptly went to sleep, fully expecting that we’d be getting up some time in the next few hours. Nathan stayed up with me all night, rubbing my back every five minutes (the sleep aid didn’t do jack for me) as I breathed through the contractions.
I labored all day on Monday. My mom and Nathan gently cajoling me into doing things I didn’t want to do (walking and eating. Truly, it was just too much effort.). I was not a pleasure to be with. That night, March 3, my contractions were 3 minutes apart for several hours and so I said again that I thought it was time to go to the hospital. Again, I made my way to a triage room and they examined me. I was now 2 centimeters dilated and 95% effaced. So definitely some significant progress on the effacement, but not so much on the dilation. They kept me for two hours and then checked again.
Again, I made no progress while I was at the hospital.
Nathan & I spent another sleepless night timing contractions, trying to get a little rest. I had a clinic appointment on Tuesday morning and my mom drove me in (Nathan, amazingly, went to work). I was tired and grouchy and was definitely not pleasant to be around. I asked the midwife if there was anything we could do to speed things along because I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could take. She cheerfully (annoyingly) told me no, but that I had made some good progress and she was sure I’d have my baby that night.
I was not convinced, I felt like I would be in labor forever.
That night, with contractions 2-3 minutes apart I said, with trepidation, that I thought it was time to go to the hospital. We drove in, Nathan dropped me off in the E.R. and went to park the car while an aid wheeled me up to the maternity wing (there was no way I was walking there at this point). This time they put me in an actual hospital room – I was cautiously optimistic. Nathan joined me and I was examined. To my extreme relief I was 4 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced! I had finally made enough progress to actually be admitted to the hospital!
By this time I was so exhausted that I knew I would not be able to do this without some serious pharmacological assistance. Because I wanted limited intervention, I first asked for something to take the edge off (I had an IV narcotic, but don’t remember what it’s called right now) but said I may want an epidural so it would probably be a decent idea to call the anesthetist. We all agreed that if I changed my mind the order could always be cancelled. After laboring for some time with the IV meds I decided we needed to bring out the big guns. The anesthetists, who seemed almost as grouchy as I was, came in and administered an epidural.
For those of you afraid of needles I will say right now that you do not see the needle going in. Really, after having contractions for some time you don’t feel anything either. The numbing took effect and the rest of what I needed was placed (a heart/O2 monitor on my toe and a catheter). They told me that when it was time I would feel pressure like I needed to have a bowel movement. Nathan and I promptly fell asleep while the excellent nursing staff took care of me and our mothers got some sleep in the visitors room. Four hours later I woke up and my nurse was checking my vitals (your blood pressure can sometimes drop dangerously low with an epidural so I was on some medication for that and they were monitoring me quite closely). I told her that I felt some pressure and I thought it was time. She checked me and apparently it was definitely time because suddenly our mothers, my midwife, and another nurse were all in our room staring intently at this baby that was rapidly exiting me.
After 20 minutes of hard pushing I had a beautiful 8 lb. 5 oz. baby laying on my chest and looking right up at me. I was so happy to finally meet her, so relieved to not be in labor anymore, and just so darn hormonal that I started to cry. My great nurse immediately helped me to start breast feeding as my midwife finished with the clean-up.
So, all in all I labored for 6 days. There were no signs of fetal distress during this time. Indeed, the only distress was mental distress on my part. I had every intention of having a 100% natural child birth, but I am ultimately EXTREMELY grateful that the tools were available for me to have the absolute best outcome for myself and my child.