by an anonymous 19-year-old woman
Here is my version of what happened, and how I felt about it. I didn’t leave anything out, and I didn’t edit anything down. This is my story, in my words.
On Tuesday the 10th, about a week before the birth of my son, I lost my mucous plug. Throughout the next few days I kept having Braxton Hicks contractions. Sometimes they would become regular and I would start to get my hopes up, but nothing. On Feb. 14, my contractions were very regular and I was five days overdue, so we expected that he would be arriving any time. My husband and I stayed at my mom’s house that night (it is closer to the birth center), but during the night as I slept my contractions disappeared and we went home that next evening after Ryan (my husband) got home from work.
Then it was the 15th and I was soooo tired of being pregnant. The baby had spent the last two-three months with his butt up under my left ribs. It felt like they were bruised, which in all actuality, they were. Anyway, I was miserable. We got home from my mom’s around 11:30 p.m. and I got comfy and sat on the couch with Ryan. We had tried sex a couple nights before to stimulate labor, but it didn’t work too well. I had heard that nipple stimulation can help to start labor, so I gave it a shot. I was getting very, very hard contractions, one right after the other. It was extremely uncomfortable, but I kept going until 12:30 a.m. on the 16th. I went to bed still having contractions, but they weren’t regular and they seemed to taper off quickly after stopping the nipple stimulation. I decided to just accept the fact that I would be pregnant forever.
My son decided he didn’t like the idea of being in there forever — it was a bit too cramped in there for him. I woke up at around 2:30 a.m. with an icky crampy feeling, almost like I had *really* full bladder or something. I went to the bathroom and when I wiped there was a bit of bloody show, and I got really excited! My baby was finally going to come out! I went back to sleep (well not really, I dozed in and out). My contractions weren’t really contractions like I had thought they would be. They weren’t “painful” like getting your foot stepped on, they were just icky and uncomfortable. I finally woke Ryan up at 3:30 a.m. and told him I was in real labor and asked whether we should head to my mom’s or not. We laid there for about a half hour or so and timed my contractions. They were about seven minutes apart and lasting around 20-30 seconds.
We weren’t sure if I would labor fast or not, this being my first baby, so we played it safe and started to get ready to go. At this point they were lasting a bit longer and I couldn’t just walk with them anymore, I had to pause and kneel or lean over. We called my mom and told her we were on our way!
I do not recommend riding in a car when in labor, ever, it’s awful. We predicted at that point that I would have the baby by 9 a.m. — HA! We hung out at my mom’s, timing contractions and just talking about the whole thing. It was like the morning of a big trip, when everything is packed and ready, and you have extra time to just be together and enjoy the prospect of your journey. It was an amazing feeling for me.
Eleven o’clock rolled around and we all decided it was time to take a nap. I slept for awhile, but I was afraid if I slept too long my contractions would disappear again, so I just rested. We had called the birth center to inform them I was in labor a couple hours earlier, and the midwife called to let me know what I should be doing (nothing), and to set an appointment to come down and get checked to see how I was progressing. I couldn’t sleep after that, so I hopped in the shower and got dressed and ready to go.
We got to the birth center around 12:30 p.m. Of course as soon as I got there my contractions slowed down, go figure. They hooked me up to the belly monitor to take a continuous reading. I don’t remember how long they had me hooked up; it was about 20 minutes probably. I had the most painful contraction thus far while hooked up to that. I couldn’t move and that was not a good thing for me. They checked me and I was 2 cm dilated and 100 percent effaced. The midwife said all looked well and she predicted I would be back around 9 p.m. that night. She said if I needed anything to call, otherwise they’d have me come down when the contractions are 3 minutes or less apart and I couldn’t speak through them.
Back to mom’s house we went. They put in the movie “Finding Nemo,” which had just come out, and I attempted to watch it, but my mind was elsewhere. The pain was getting much worse, and I was finding it hard to get comfortable at all. I had to go to the bathroom over and over, just to find I didn’t have to at all. I have to say though, the toilet was about as comfortable as I got, so I would sit there for 20 minutes at a time until my butt hurt from the toilet seat.
I guess it was 5:30 p.m. when Ryan remembered that our ferrets would be running out of food and water by now. He thought it would be a good idea to run up to the house (a good 35-minute drive) and feed them. Murphy’s Law would have it that as soon as he left my contractions got a lot worse. My mom set me up on the hide-a-bed in the den with pillows under my butt and behind my back so I wouldn’t be sitting directly on my bum. It felt OK, but like I said, I really couldn’t get comfortable at this point. I was having a very hard time relaxing through the contractions. I would ball up my fists and squeeze during each one.
Mom gave me a little stuffed fish (about 1 x 3 inches, very cute) to squeeze, that helped a lot. It let me focus on something other than the pain, and helped me not tense up my lower region. The contractions were coming three minutes apart by now, but they weren’t lasting a whole minute and I could whisper through them, so we didn’t call the midwife.
Things progressed and I stopped timing them. I was completely absorbed in the process now. My mom came over to the bed around 7:30 p.m. and asked me how far apart they were coming. I told her they don’t seem to stop; my stomach (well uterus) feels tense all over, all the time; but that I figured the real contractions were still three minutes apart. She timed them and realized they were coming one minute apart, from the end of one to the beginning of another. So I kind of freaked at that point and started thinking that I was going to have the baby without Ryan there (god only knows why he wasn’t back yet!), or worse, in the car on the way there, good thing my mom’s a nurse huh?
My mom called the birth center. It was after hours so the answering service picked up. She told the lady that her daughter was in labor and that we were heading down there now. Mom told her to call the midwife and tell her to meet us there. We got in the car, after she placed a water proof pad under me (can’t ruin the interior now — LOL). The ride down there was AWFUL, it was so awful being in that car with the seat belt on and the bumps and the stops. My mom tried to drive gently but it didn’t matter: we could have been on brand new asphalt and it still would have killed me. It didn’t really help that I had the cell phone and I was trying to call Ryan the whole time, so I couldn’t concentrate on relaxing.
When we got to the birth center, no one was there. I guess I figured for as much as I was paying these people, there should have been someone there so I could get comfortable and feel safe, not sitting in the backseat of a car out in the 35-degree weather in extreme pain. We tried the answering service again. The lady said that they called the midwife and she would be there soon. My mom was also pretty pissed that someone wasn’t already there. She told the answering service that I was having this baby and that someone needed to get there pronto.
In the meantime, Ryan was driving back and wasn’t able to get service on his cell phone, so he had no idea we had even left. He pulled up to my mom’s house and went up stairs where my dad told him that we had left. Ryan flew down the stairs and started driving. He called me on the way and reassured me that I would not be having the baby without him there.
It seemed like an eternity before the midwife and Ryan showed up. Ryan was first. He was so sweet, asking me how I was doing and if there was anything he could do (have the baby for me???…lol).
Next the midwife rolled up, and when she came over to me she asked the strangest question (well not that strange I guess), “Have you started pushing yet!?”
I told her no, not even close. I had calmed down since Ryan showed up and realized my contractions were back down to 3 minutes apart. They hurt like hell though.
Apparently the midwife, Michelle, had been at the hospital helping a woman through the final stages of labor when she got the urgent page from the answering service. They had told her that I was about to have the baby and she needed to hurry. I think my mom may have overstated the situation to them. I believe Michelle was sort of annoyed that I wasn’t literally having the baby.
She took us inside and had me pull down my britches so she could check me. I was only 4 cm!!! AAHHH. And she had the nerve to tell me that it usually goes a centimeter an hour so I was looking at six more hours of this. That put a damper on my ideas of a natural labor, but I carried on and told myself not to think of the time, and just go with it.
She got me upstairs to the birth room and I got into some more comfortable clothes and tried my best to get in a good position. The birthing ball was my first choice, but the bed was at the wrong height (I was leaning up against the bed sitting on the ball) and it kept hitting my knees and it didn’t feel right to be sitting on my bum in labor.
A lot of what happened next is kind of a blur, mostly just getting comfortable and dealing with each contraction one by one by one. I kept thinking that there was just no way they could ever get worse than they were, that all my muscles in my uterus would just rip in two if they got any harder, but oh did they get harder!
At some point my aunt Kelly showed up with my cousin Shauvon. I really did not want my cousin there — she was 13 and a chatter box and kept wanting to talk to me or the nurse or ask questions. I guess she gets the chatter box part from Kelly, her mom. They probably weren’t that bad at all, but I wanted things to be very quiet so I could concentrate on letting things happen. My sister Jewel also showed up at some point shortly after my aunt and cousin. She luckily is also a talker and kept my aunt and cousin entertained in the waiting room. She kept out of the way for the most part, which was very nice of her.
The midwife, Michelle, asked me if I would like to try getting into the tub. I decided I should try. I wish I had sooner, it felt so great to be in a nice warm tub, as the water took some of the pressure off. Ah, heaven! I do have to say I expected more relief than I got from it, but it was still great. The tub was a bit small though, I would have preferred to squat but there was just no room to do that. It kept getting too hot from the steam then too cold from airing the room out, and this went on and on, until finally I had enough of being too hot and too cold so I got out. To me it seemed I had only been in the tub for about 20 minutes, but both my mom and Ryan said it was more like an hour an a half.
Apparently the water had helped take quite a bit of the pressure off, because when I got out of tub my contractions suddenly got much worse. I had one contraction in the hall back to the room and I decided I should be checked to see where I was at. I was deathly afraid that she would tell me I was only 5 or 6 centimeters, I wasn’t sure I could handle too many more hours of this. I got on the bed, and started to lay down when I got another contraction, this one was awful, the absolute worst yet, I really thought my muscles were going to tear apart.
When it hit I started to close my legs and turn because I was on my back and that is the worst place to be in labor, at least it was for me. Michelle grabbed my legs to keep them apart so she could check me during the contraction, and I kept telling her no. I realize now that when I said no, she stopped trying to check me she was just trying to keep me from tensing up even more. It didn’t help because I was fighting her to close my legs, and saying no, and yelling because it hurt — eek!
Well, at the peak of the contraction my water broke. That was such a weird sensation. It was a warm gush that felt like a gallon of water had dumped out, but really it more like a cup or so. It did take some pressure off, or it could have been because the contraction was ending, either way, I felt that some progress had been made. I was right; when Michelle checked me I was 8 centimeters! Transition had begun.
I had read throughout my pregnancy that transition was the worst. I don’t remember much at all actually, lol, but I don’t remember it being much worse that before I got into the tub. Honestly it felt like I was having one big never ending contraction that sometimes got worse then got better, then got worse then got better, but never ended, my uterus was a big knot. My hips started feeling achy, and my back was too. I was saying there was pressure and that’s what it was, but it was more like the dull ache you would have after you’ve exercised too.
At this point my mom finally remembered that we had a video camera she was supposed to be using and got it out. I do wish we could have had more of the beginning stages on tape, but it’s ok, we got my baby being born, and I can relive that wonderful experience anytime I’d like.
I had brought a bunch of pillows and stacked them on the bed to lean up on. The nurse recommended I use the birthing ball to lean on, but I didn’t. I do wish I had, as I needed more support than pillows can provide. Oh well, I know for next time. I stayed on the bed hunched over the pillows for a long time. Letting out long moans with each contraction trying to stay on top of it. It was difficult but somehow I managed. I tried to remember than I would never have to feel that one contraction ever again, and that I only had to get through the next one to be OK.
I decided that to get things moving faster I ought to be standing up or squatting, so I went over to the squat bar and tried to get comfortable there. I couldn’t believe the amount of pressure there was on my hips and back. The contractions were much harder to deal with standing up, but then again they were much more effective that way also.
I wanted to know where I was at, so I asked to be checked. Michelle said I was pretty much complete, but there was still a lip of the cervix over the baby’s head, and that if I wanted to, she could try to help move it while I pushed. I asked her if it would make things move faster, and she said, “Possibly.”
Possibly was fine by me at that moment, although looking back I do regret going along with it. There are actually a lot of things I regret about my birth experience. Until recently, I didn’t want to sound ungrateful about it, since so few women get to actually experience a natural delivery. But it was my labor and there were things I wish could have changed, one of them being me pushing too soon.
She had me get up on the bed, and told me to push with my next contraction. That next contraction took fooorreeevveerrr to come. When it did though I tried to push, it didn’t feel right, I had no urge to be pushing and wasn’t quite “in the throws of labor” enough to let go so I could really get a good push in without feeling self conscious about everyone looking down there. I did push though, and eventually got the hang of it, in fact once I knew how to push well, I think I was a pretty damn good pusher.
I thought that once the lip of the cervix had been moved I would stop pushing and let things progress, but because I started pushing and because I was in a bad position (the midwife had to be able to push back the lip), the baby’s heart rate decelerated. From what they were saying it was pretty low, and if I were in a hospital, more than likely, I would have ended up with a cesarean section (an unnecessary one).
They tried moving me to my sides and had me sit up more (nobody bothered to suggest squatting, which I think looking back would have done the trick. His heart rate did go back up with me sitting higher up on the bed, and with them giving me oxygen. I am glad he was OK though. I wasn’t so comfortable, but that’s the price of motherhood…lol.
I was so tired by this point — I had been in labor for nearly 23 hours. During the pushing stage my contractions had spaced out a bit, so I was able to rest. In fact, I was able to fall asleep between contractions. My mom thought that was pretty funny, me falling asleep while giving birth. Hey, at least I know I was relaxed. The pushing went on for about 30 minutes total.
When he had descended far enough, Michelle asked me if I wanted to feel his head, so I reached down to feel his head. That was when it really hit me that I was having a baby. Until then it had all been personal. “I” was pregnant, “I” was in labor, and “I” was having this baby. Now here the baby was, it’s own little being separate from me. When I touched his head I couldn’t feel it, he felt it. I felt his fuzzy hair and realized that inside me right now was a human being that I created with my husband. It was truly inspiring.
After that I was ready to have my child. I pushed and I pushed.
Towards the end when he was crowning is the part that hurt the worst. I really did feel as though I was going to rip in two. I had to slow down pushing so I wouldn’t tear, but it was difficult for me to just push a little — it was either all or nothing. I managed, but not easily. I did my best to slowly ease out his head, and as his head was coming out I could feel his ears! That was so strange to me. I feel sorry for woman who can’t feel the whole experience because of drugs or epidurals. It was so wonderful and like nothing I ever thought it would be.
His head came out; he had one eye open, ready to take a peek at the world around him. Once his head was out, I gave two more decent pushes to bring the rest of him into this world. They asked me to grab him. I tried, but man was he slippery! They lay him on my chest and started drying him off to keep him warm. He didn’t cry right away, but he was fine, still attached. He sneezed and then he started to cry, a good healthy cry.
He was so warm and squirmy and wet, but he was clean. No blood or vernix. His head wasn’t cone shaped, it was perfectly rounded. He wasn’t red or wrinkled, his face wasn’t squished. He was absolutely beautiful. I know most mothers think their babies are beautiful, but there was no denying: He was perfect.