Every mama’s birth story is different.
Some women have natural births from start to finish, others plan for natural but don’t have much of a choice in the matter, while there are some that fully embrace what the hospital has to offer…or opt out of a hospital all together. One thing is constant though, no matter how a woman ends up giving birth, each one is beautiful and valiant and should receive no judgements.
While pregnant I loved hearing different women’s birth stories and the amazing support that went along with the reenactment. No matter what their story was, painless or dreadful, the conclusion was always the same, “You’ll do amazing, and in the end you’ll be holding that miracle you created.” Hearing all of these beautiful stories and strong women pull through one of the hardest things imaginable gave me confidence and hope for when my time would arrive.
Like I said, every birth is different, because every body is different, and every mind is different, and what I have learned out of all of this is you can’t plan for anything except for a safe delivery and a healthy baby. That’s it.
I hadn’t planned much in terms of the birth, I was keeping my mind open to all possibilities, because I knew that there was a chance, well actually FACT, that the whole labor and birth process was not going to go how I imagined it in my little fairy tale brain. I thought I would go into labor, spend a few hours at home timing my contractions, then walk into the labor and delivery dilating every hour and the whole shebang would all be done within 20 hours.
I could not have been more wrong.
My journey started on Saturday (10.22.16) at 6:30pm when I went in to have my swelling and blood pressure checked since my feet were giant sausages and it was getting a little out of control. While there I began my first dainty little contractions and I thought, psh…I got this. I was 2 cm dilated and they decided to admit me after I walked around for a bit and cruised through another cm. Sure it was a bit early, but the doctor assumed I was going to continue my forward movement (as most would) and I was ok with her decision because my OB/GYN was on call in delivery that night. Those dainty contractions continued until about 3 in the morning, when they decided to almost entirely stop all together. That’s right… hours go by and my contractions decided to play hide and seek. They checked my dilation…I was still only 3cm, I hadn’t made any progress since I first arrived. So naturally I was sent home Sunday morning around 6:30am, without a baby and feeling dreadful.
Sunday was a GREAT day, because as soon as I left the hospital my little cute contractions came back, but with a little bit more of a pow. All I could hear was my OB in my head saying, “Wait until they get 3-5min apart, last more than a min for 2 hours, and when you think it’s time to come in, watch a movie.” This was her way of making sure I wouldn’t end up in the same situation. I contracted all Sunday, and by the evening I couldn’t eat or concentrate on anything because the pain had grown and was radiating from my back to my front. When my contractions became 3-5 min apart and lasted longer than a min for several hours I told my husband I wanted to go back in, because this felt HORRIBLE, and I was sure it was my bodies way of telling me I had made some progress.
We arrive at the hospital again Sunday night(10.23.16)…still only 3cm…maybe 3 1/2 (but I think the midwife was trying to be kind). Shoot me. I thought for sure since I had been experiencing those delightful bone breaking, suicide worthy contractions I was at least entering active labor, but no. So we go home AGAIN. I lay in bed unable to sleep, eat, move, breathe, laugh, cry, or talk. I felt like jumping out of a window and just giving up, at least I would have had some relief.
Monday (10.24.16) morning rolls around and I hadn’t had a wink of sleep in the past 48 hours. Since Saturday my body was in survival mode and I couldn’t deal. I tried taking a bath, which helped until it didn’t. I tried meditating, which was easy to achieve when I couldn’t even focus on breathing, ha. I tried going on a walk, but couldn’t make it around the block without convulsing into a ball and driving my nails into my husbands arms. Finally Monday afternoon my contractions went from being 3-4 min apart lasting over a min into rolling contractions greeting me every 1-2 min, some without breaks. I couldn’t even walk to the car once we realized I was in labor, but I had wanted to wait long enough to know it was the real deal because I was so scared of being sent home again.
Back to the hospital we go! It was the 3rd day in a row that we had shown up in labor and delivery, and I swear the nurses were all talking about me. I wait for the doctor to see me while my contractions continue to roll into one another. The doctor checks my dilation and finally I hear those beautiful words, ” You’re in active labor…let’s get you a room.” YES. FINALLY. The very first thing I said after that was, “Give me the epidural…when can I have the drugs?” I was exhausted and in pain and honestly would have loved to go all natural, but my body and mind were not on the same page.
Within 20 min I felt the sweet relief of that beautiful drug. Now, I had always been one of those people who had a negative opinion about taking drugs during labor, because after all women have been pushing out babies in fields since forever, and they could do it without drugs, so why couldn’t I? Because I had endured days of labor, no sleep, and I was about to crack…that’s why. And I was totally ok with it, and judge no one making the same choice, or opposite for that matter…whatever works for YOU.
My water broke during the epidural procedure and unpredictably the babies heart rate was dropping, sometimes as low as 60 bpm, during each contraction. The nurses tried not to look concerned, but I could tell. The midwife came in and inserted fluid back in to my uterus hoping that would alleviate the pressure causing the heart rate to drop. They told me the strain was most likely the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, no big deal. No need to panic. Sure. I was also placed on oxygen for the remainder of my labor which was fun. Best part is, I couldn’t lay on my back or my left side, because whenever I did…the babies bpm dropped again, so I was stuck on my right side with a ball between my legs until I pushed the little dude out.
At the wee morning hours of Tuesday (10.25.16) the midwife came in with some more glorious news, she wanted to start me on pitocin (another drug I was not a fan of) because my contractions were slowing down again and they also didn’t want to wait too long with the strain on the baby, so more drugs it was.
No plan, just a safe delivery is all I was thinking.
Luckily the pitocin worked like a charm and I was pushing within the hour. This was the easiest part of the whole labor. Pushing. I didn’t think that would be the case, but I had two awesome nurses, a great doctor and my rockstar husband all rooting and shouting motivational phrases at me. Since the babies umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck I had to push while on my side as to not strangle my child, which was interesting. But even with some minor hiccups everything worked out in the end, and after a handful of pushes I was holding my brand new little baby boy early Tuesday morning. None of the pain or issues during labor mattered anymore. Seeing his face was the most rewarding moment of my life, and I will never forget it.
Birth is a beautiful thing, and after going though it, I have so much respect for all mama’s out there. Every woman, her body, and her story is different and overwhelmingly personal and I’ve realized sharing those moments is a wonderful way to bond with other warrior women. Each story is strong, brave, scary, and unpredictable, but that’s what makes each one so incredibly and amazingly beautiful.
So all you mama’s out there rookies or veterans you have my full support and respect, and I urge you to share your story too because it really does take a village of love.
Also, remember that labor bag I spent so long trying to pack perfectly? Yeah, it meant nothing. Didn’t open it once.
Oh and this post took me about 5 days to write, because newborn. Hopefully it’s coherent enough to follow.