Whew. It’s been a joyful, crazy, magical, dreadful, emotional couple of weeks. :)
I wanted to write about my birth experience before my brain is completely gone. It might be too late, but I’ll give it a shot.
On Thursday afternoon around 2:45 PM I decided that I would watch the first episode of Mad Men online. Good show, by the way. That’s when I had my first contraction. It was obviously noticeable, but mild, so I still wasn’t sure if it was a labor contraction or a Braxton Hicks contraction. I continued to watch Don Draper smoke cigarettes. About 20 minutes later, I had another.
Then it was time to go to my weekly OB appointment. My doctor checked me out and told me I was 1.75 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and that Nathaniel was in the 0 station. I told him that I’d had 2 or 3 contractions at 20 minutes apart before I got to his office and he said that we should just keep an eye on things and see what happens. He didn’t think I was really in labor at that point.
We left his office and the contractions kept coming. At around 4:30 or 5:00, they were about 10 minutes apart. I tried to watch the second episode of Mad Men, but even Don Draper couldn’t distract me at this point. Okay, so maybe I could watch something else. Something I didn’t really have to pay attention to. Maybe something I’d already seen. I turned on the TV and E! was showing Knocked Up.
Sadie: Where do babies come from?
Debbie: Where do you think they come from?
Sadie: Well. I think a stork, he umm, he drops it down and then, and then, a hole goes in your body and there’s blood everywhere, coming out of your head and then you push your belly button and then your butt falls off and then you hold your butt and you have to dig and you find the little baby.
Debbie: That’s exactly right.
But that didn’t really work to distract me either. I finally started to think, “Maybe I really am in labor.” Even though I felt that I needed to move around in different positions to deal with the contractions and use my birth ball, I still wasn’t convinced.
At this point, I was in our living room with Drew and he was finishing up his work because we thought that there’s a good chance we’d be heading to the hospital soon. I also did a few last minute things for work between contractions. We called our doula and let her know what was going on. At around 6:00, the contractions were 5 minutes apart. We were supposed to call our OB when they were 5 minutes apart for 2 hours. Drew made dinner. I ended up not being able to finish my dinner before we left for the hospital, so I got mad at him. :)
By 7:00, I was getting worried. Things that were going through my head: “I don’t want to have the baby in my apartment!” “How am I supposed to deal with these contractions in the car?” “If it’s this bad now, how bad is it going to get?” “Why didn’t Drew make dinner earlier? I’m starving!”
We had most of our stuff ready for the hospital, but didn’t have the bag packed yet. We rushed around to get everything packed, fed the cat, and called our doctor and doula at nearly 8:00 PM. I had just seen my OB a few hours before and I don’t think he really thought we were going to have the baby that night, but he told us to go ahead and go to the hospital if we felt like we were ready to do that. I was definitely ready to do that.
I don’t remember much about actually going to the hospital or checking in. We were in our room by 8:30 PM and the nurse came in to examine me and by that point I was only 2 1/2 cm dilated. Our doula arrived shortly after we did. The nurse called my OB and he said that he’d like me to be monitored for 2 hours. If there was no progression, I could go home if I wanted. Whatever, I wasn’t going anywhere.
The contractions were more difficult at this point, and since about 6:15 - 6:30, they’d been about 4 minutes apart. Our nurse and doula suggested I try getting in the tub. I thought that sounded like a great idea. I kept wondering how long I could hold out without getting an epidural. I really didn’t want to have one, but I also really didn’t think I could do this without it. Each time I had a contraction, I felt like I was going to ask for one. Then, when the contraction ended, I decided not to.
The tub helped. It helped me relax, as much as one can relax when a baby is making his way through your body. For some reason, maybe because Drew is a fan and we saw him at the Temecula Balloon and Wine Festival in 2008, the Kenny Loggins’ song, Don’t Fight It started playing in my head. Thank you for coming to me during the birth, Kenny. I had a few breaks between contractions that seemed a little more peaceful…for a little while, at least. I stayed in there for almost 2 hours.
When I got back to the room, I found out I had progressed to 5 cm. Halfway there. The nurse called my OB to let him know. The rest of the timeline is pretty much a blur. My doula wrote some things down for me and will be sending the info soon, so maybe I’ll update this post with more accurate information at some point. Here are some things that I remember:
- During the rest of the labor, I usually kept my eyes closed. I felt like I really needed to go within. I tuned most of the talking out and I hardly ever looked at anyone.
- It’s not helpful for a nurse to tell you, “Okay, when you get to about 7 cm you’re going to go into transition and it’s going to be a lot more intense and you’re going to feel out of control.” She said this about three different times before my doula escorted her out and asked her not to say that to me again. Geez, lady. This is hard enough as it is. You think I want to hear that shit? Seriously?
- Some of the things that I heard about during my childbirth class (going into “labor land” when you feel out of it/in a different world, your body taking over and doing some sort of “rhythmic” activity) really did happen. Even before transition, at times I felt like I wasn’t really part of the world that everyone else in the room was in. And during transition, I found some sort of rhythmic “chant” (“Sha! Sha! Sha! Sha!”) that I used for a while during the contractions.
- I stood up a lot during labor - walking, bouncing, bending over the bed, swaying. I also labored a good bit on all fours on the bed. These positions seemed to work best for me.
At the end of transition, I started my pushing phase. Luckily, my OB made it to the hospital in time. He was actually stopped for speeding on the way there! The police officer actually called the nurse’s station to verify that he was an OB and had a patient in labor! I thought this stuff only happened on TV. I pushed for 1/2 an hour. I remember thinking that even though pushing was really hard, it seemed better than transition. I was very vocal during labor - “Sha!”ing, moaning, screaming, whatever - but at this point, my OB gave me a tip. Apparently my doula and nurse had said this same thing, but for some reason it never made it through the thick cloud of “laborland.” He told me to take all of my energy that I was using vocally, push it down through my body, and apply it towards pushing. That really helped.
At 12:55 AM, Nathaniel slithered out of me. That’s what it felt like. Actually, when I tell people what it felt like, I use a sound to convey the feeling, but I can’t do that in writing. My total labor time from 2:45 PM on Thursday to 12:55 AM on Friday was 9 hours and 50 minutes, and my total labor time in the hospital was 4 hours and 25 minutes. I was SO GLAD for it to be over. It was incredibly painful, but I’m really glad that I got to do it naturally, the way that I wanted.
Right after Drew cut the cord, I got to meet my baby for the first time. They placed him on my chest where he remained for at least an hour. He was beautiful and perfect. I was so happy and so emotional and overwhelmed (in a good way). He nursed within the first hour, which was awesome. Unfortunately, breastfeeding did not end up going well and I just recently had to stop doing it, but that’s another story for another day. I want to stick to the happy story right now. It was amazing to look at my baby and think that this little boy had been inside my body! And now he’s here with us…and the adventure begins.