(Photo taken by the amazing Lori McBride)
CR’s Birth Story, October 2008
Why did I let them check me? Here I was, a day shy of 41 weeks pregnant, and there was no baby in my arms. While that fact alone didn’t surprise me, it sure surprised me that I could be walking around at 4cm for weeks and NOT be in labor. When I was 36 weeks pregnant I was 2cm. When I was 37 weeks pregnant I was 3cm. And finally, for some reason, when I let the midwife check me at 39 weeks, I was a full 4cm with good stretch. Nevermind my mucus plus, I never saw it. At 39 and 40 weeks I had let the midwife massage my cervix- Because surely I was close! Although I was indeed excited to think he/she could come soon, I was in no pain or hurry. Pregnancy suited me. Perhaps it was something to do with the midwife’s timetable. Either way, we tried to alter fate with no reward. And that morning, I was lying in my bed contemplating if I could ever regain excitement after having my hopes up for almost 5 weeks.
Really, I should have known better. I had taken 12 weeks of classes on “The Bradley Method” of childbirth with my husband. Declining cervical checks was mentioned often, both in class and when talking to other natural birthing mamas. Luckily I did listen to almost all of the other advice. My husband and I had practiced labor techniques, positions, coping mechanisms and relaxation every other night for weeks. As I lay in bed with a twinge of a contraction, I wondered if this could indeed be it. I was determined to not get too excited- Yet. The first deep twinge that woke me up was around 530am. Around 7am,I felt I had better get up and shower. I decided to squat through one contraction. It felt so natural, relieving and...kind of wonderful. I wasn’t in any pain, but I could feel the waves becoming stronger and begin to pull downward. I told my husband and Mother in Law after my shower that I thought I was in labor. They were excited! We decided we should take the dog to our friend’s house and maybe stop for breakfast since we could be in for the long haul. Around 9am we arrived at my friend’s house and I had to use the bathroom. Uh oh! The red color surprised me. Seriously? Bloody show just 3 hours into labor and contractions were still so manageable. I mean they weren't fun, but they weren't that bad, either. I knew from clinical experience & Bradley classes this meant my dilation was increasing. This really was The Day! Wow! Mother in Law caught on that contractions were getting stronger and suggested the drive through line for breakfast, even though I was still insisting on a sit down restaurant. Maybe we should go to the mall? I need to go walk! No no, they decided. Time to go back to the apartment. My husband called the midwife, but had to wait for her to call back. What was all the fuss about? Surely it would be hours before we needed to go to the hospital.
It was about 950am. Once we got home I started trying to eat my breakfast. I wasn’t very hungry, but made myself take bites between contractions. I needed my energy! I’d be at this all day! My husband alternated from giving me small bites to holding me and supporting me through contractions using various labor positions . Another visit to the bathroom and I began do doubt myself. Could I really do this? I was excited. I started to shake. Was I scared? Or cold? My husband hugged me closer. The midwife called back. I could hear my husband “Hey, my wife is having contractions about 1 ½ minutes apart and has started to shake. Ok. Goodbye.” I was sure I had heard wrong. “1 ½ minutes apart? They are at least 3 minutes apart!”
“Sweetie, they haven’t been 3 minutes apart since we dropped off the dog.”
And out the door we went. Above is the picture we took on our way out- I was smiling. REALLY smiling. Anyone else would have thought it wasn’t time by my face, but my husband knew. He had learned. We arrived at the hospital around 1020am. They checked me in and started asking questions about alcohol & drug abuse. I laughed. “I only drink alcohol once a day. Drugs? Meh, I stopped those by my third trimester.” They laughed too, but didn’t check my cervix or have a midwife or OBGYN assess me. No wonder, they probably figured I was very early on by my light spirit. My midwife arrived and checked me around 1040am. I was 10cm dilated! Complete! WHOA! She wanted to break my water, and I let her. I should not have.
I lost my entire cushion. This was no longer light spirited. My room had no fans and no tub to labor in. I was hot, sweaty, upset and in transition- With NO urge to push. Only pain. After 1 ½ hours of trying different (limited!) positions, and being on oxygen because they couldn’t get a good angle to check the baby’s heart rate, we finally gave birth. Laying down. On my back. Pushing too hard. Counting. Our son (yay!) was born at 1215pm and NICU was called. He was fine, praise the Lord. But I was bleeding a lot. Luckily it was nothing “serious”, but I had torn in many areas. My son’s elbow had been by his head (possibly from breaking my water) and this was the reason for my lost urge to push, pain, prolonged pushing stage and intense tearing. All in all, we recovered well and easily. He was put to the breast with a nipple shield automatically. It later took us DAYS to get to him to nurse regularly without it. The shield had been given by the nurse, literally pushed on and held there while I nursed, because our son was under 7lbs when he was born. I endured a lot of pain during the transition as he hadn’t learned to latch completely normally. I wish I had stopped her and at least tried to nurse on his own. Ah, but he nursed :D
Over all, it was the birth I wanted. No medications, being coached and supported by my husband, breastfeeding and “rooming in” with my baby were what I was aiming for. It was a successful, beautiful unmedicated birth. I healed well and felt really good in spite of my stitches. I had trained, prepared my body, kept it as healthy as I could, and aimed high for what I felt would be the best for me and my baby. I was so happy, and excited to see if I could have a more peaceful birth with number two.
What do you love about your birth story? What do you think could have been different, or better?