This is a long post, but don’t worry – not as long as Labor and Delivery was for me!
When I told folks I planned to give birth naturally, most responded, “But you’re getting the epidural, right?” I had to inform many people “natural birth” meant NO pain medications! In our birthing classes (waste of time and $!), the instructor (who didn’t find our laughing at the 80s-era birthing videos humorous) had us line up according to our birth plans (full meds, considering meds, and natural birth/no meds), my husband and I were the ONLY couple planning a natural birth! However, due to the lack of preparation from the childbirth classes (other than 10 minutes of “breath in, breath out” practice), when I started labor, I almost bailed on the entire plan.
It was Sunday morning. Baby K was a day late. I woke up to a LOT of blood where there wasn’t supposed to be any. No contractions. I freaked (yep, I did that a lot). Our midwife met us at the hospital; after a checkup, she informed me I was 3 cm dilated, but said, “you could be like that for days.” DAYS!!?! She sent me home where I fretted and lay on the couch feeling uneasy.
Around 9:30 p.m. I had a few mild cramps like period cramps. I thought it was from the baby shifting, or Braxton Hicks contractions. Suddenly, at 10 or 10:30, I got a few more cramps, more severe. So we started to time them. 20 minutes. 15 minutes. 12 minutes. The time shrunk and the cramps intensified. I threw up dinner. About three times. I panicked (again!). I couldn’t remember how to breath. I breathed in when I should’ve breathed out. I continued to feel nauseous to the point of a severe headache. I had Matthew call the doctor – how could he be so calm!? She said to call back when the “cramps” (contractions!) were less than 5 minutes apart.
At 12:30 a.m, I begged my husband to take me to the hospital – I needed the professionals. Now, I figured since the contractions had rapidly approached 5 minutes apart, I’d be done in no time. After all, ALL my friends who’d recently had babies were done in 2-5 hours. Let’s be clear here – labor feels AWFUL! Anyone who says you forget the pain after the baby is born hasn’t met me yet. I have these friends who say: “I wasn’t sure I was in labor,” or “I was a little uncomfortable,” and, “I pushed twice and the baby came out,” and “I was only in labor for 2 hours.” Honestly! My contractions felt like having the worst period, the worst flu, and the worst gastro-intestinal pain at the same time. All while having a 35 pound beach ball sitting on your hips. And they lasted 11 hours!
Once in the hospital (I made my husband wheel me in a wheelchair!), I met Nurse Kim. Thank God for Nurse Kim. I continued to spaz out with the pain, and immediately asked for all the pain medication options available. (No matter that I was the crazy loon who filed a two page, typed up birth plan a few weeks ago!). Fortunately, Nurse Kim knew my intentions to go naturally, so she didn’t paint a pretty picture of the pain meds. Frankly, she made their side effects sound worse than the contractions. I opted to only get some anti-nausea meds and that took the edge off.
However, now it was 1:30 in the morning. I hadn’t slept the night before, so I was getting very shaky. Laboring on hands and knees, or other positions (I will never look at a gym exercise ball the same way again!) sapped my strength. I tried lying down, but that intensified the pain. I asked about medication again, hoping for encouragement to ditch the “all natural” plan. I told Nurse Kim, “I don’t think I can do this!” And she said the most important words I ever heard: “But you ARE doing it, dear!” So I persevered.
My labor was incredibly “textbook.” Nothing worthy of appearing on a reality show. Nurse Kim said I did a wonderful job especially considering I was a first-timer and not on meds. “You’re really working with the baby.” Okay, then WHY was it taking so long? My contractions topped out at 4 minutes apart and came in a relentless wave of monotonous pain. I hardly spoke (I’d read about the benefits to the baby of a “silent birth” and although I wouldn’t say I was silent, I wanted to keep the scene as calm as possible!), I almost fell asleep in the 1 minute breaks between contractions because I was so tired.
My first words were, “Oh thank God, I’m finished!” Then, “I have a boy!” Okay, so it’s true, for those first few moments, I did forget about the pain while I held my warm, wet 7 lb 7 oz baby boy in my arms and looked through tears at my amazing husband! After 11 hours of labor, we had a boy!
Read more about our start into cloth diapers and post-delivery days tomorrow and Saturday!