Hi, everyone. Here is my birth story! I typed it into my email so the formatting might be weird.
Short version: Baby Truman was born May 20 at 3:04 p.m., 13 hours after my water broke and after 3 hours of pushing. He was 6lbs13oz. We had a midwife-attended, medication-free hospital birth. I had one small tear that didn't need stitches.
Very Long version: All week I had been having Braxton hicks and intermittent contractions. It felt like my uterus was hard all the time. At my appointment on Friday the midwife said she could feel the baby?s head low In my vagina, but my cervix was still too high for her to reach. On Sunday things started to feel a little different. The baby was moving a lot and my contractions were just different. They weren?t stronger or more regular, I?m not sure how to describe it! I figured it was because I had been on my feet a lot the day before. I made garlicky shrimp and biscuits for a late dinner, and we watched Cave of Forgotten Dreams while I sat on my fitness ball or did figure-8s with my pelvis. I regretted that garlic later! It was all over my hands and coming out of my pores. I didn?t want to go to bed and get indigestion, so my husband and I sat on the couch for a while watching my tummy move. Around 2:00 I felt a small gush of moisture, like the extra discharge gushes I had been getting for weeks, and decided to go to the bathroom to check it out. My undies looked normal, but a few seconds after peeing I had a second little trickle that definitely wasn?t pee! My water broke! I called and talked to the midwife on call, and decided that since I wasn?t having regular contractions yet I should just stay home. My husband and I went to bed but I couldn't sleep.
About an hour after my water broke I started getting real, regular contractions. I started timing them on my app, and they were roughly around 5 minutes apart almost immediately. I got up to take a shower to see if that would help. The contractions persisted. Eventually I woke up my husband and told him we should go. He got ready and got everything in the car, while I got dressed, squatting through contractions, and throwing up twice. We arrived at the hospital around 6. I had 4 more contractions between the car and the birth center.
The L&D nurse who checked me in checked my cervix and said it was really soft, almost fully effaced, and she couldn?t feel the far side of it but guessed I was 6-7 based on how soft I was. We were both surprised! Maybe this was going to be on the easy side! I labored for a couple more hours, in the bed but moving positions a lot, when the next midwife and a different nurse came on-shift. At around 8:30 the midwife checked me again and said she had good news and bad news. I asked her to wait for me to get through a contraction before telling me! The bad news is the first nurse was wrong and I was only 3 cm, but I was fully effaced. I decided to just focus on the second part. A while after that they suggested I move to the water birth room, and the nurse wheeled me down the hall.
I labored in the tub from about 9:30 to 11. It wasn?t as relaxing as I thought it would be, but I guess it worked because in that time I almost completely dilated. My husband tells me I was in some kind of hypno zone state! I had to ask him all of these times because I really don?t remember anything other than moaning through the pain and relaxing in the moments of no pain. The midwife thought it would be best at that point form me to try to move around. We walked over to the bed and tried a few different positions. I remember kneeling facing the raised back of the bed. At one point I squatted on the floor and then kneeled. It felt like I was kneeling for a short time, but my husband says it was quite a while, and the midwife actually got on the floor to look at was going on up there! They finally convinced me to get back in the bed, and after the midwife checked me she said I could push when I felt the urge. I could see the clock so I know it was noon. I sat up with the birth bar for a while, then was on my side, then curled up pulling my knees back. This part was so intense. I remember feeling like he was so close for so long, and I was so, so tired. I just sobbed in between contractions. I was getting three or four pushes per contraction. My husband kept bringing me cola and water to drink in between contractions. At one point I was moaning ?ouuuuuuuuuuut? during each push. I thought over and over to ask for something to take the edge off, but before I could get the thought to my mouth another contraction would hit. Finally I said I needed to take a little break, and I breathed through a couple of contractions. I think it was during the two after that that I pushed him out. He was born at 3:04 p.m. They put him on my chest and I just cried and laughed. He was really purple, but crying heartily, so they waved the oxygen tube under his nose. I was bleeding a lot so they gave me a shot of pitocin before delivering the placenta. I had one tiny tear that didn?t need stitches. They ended up taking the baby to the nursery for extra oxygen and warming. The nurse brought me a Popsicle for my sore throat and an ice-filled diaper for my nethers, and wheeled me into our recovery room. I?m not sure how long it took for my husband to come back with the baby, but I think it was about an hour. I was walking around a bit, but I strained my rib pushing and taking full breaths was painful. I got into bed with him and we had some of the skin to skin snuggling we missed out on earlier.
I gave birth right at the shift change, so I didn?t get a chance to talk to our L&D nurse until she checked in on us the next day. She said she was so proud and amazed that I did it completely without pain meds, and that even there, where most births are midwife attended and epidurals less common, she could count on one hand the women who don?t have any pain relief at all. I was really surprised by that! She said she kept wondering if I was going to ask for some, and was honoring my birth plan by not offering any!
The birth was so different from so many of my expectations. I think I?m still working through it. It?s hard for me to think about without crying. From birth stories and films we saw in childbirth class I thought we would have some early labor time to walk around and ease into it, and I thought I would be more conscious instead of going into the animal-like trance state I fell into, but it got so intense so fast. I also thought I would feel a sense of euphoria and tremendous accomplishment after, especially doing it med-free. I was happy to see my baby, but it was sort of like, well, I did it and it hurt and still hurts and now he?s here! Maybe that was a bit of a let-down? I didn't really prepare except for reading Ina May Gaskin's books, reading a lot of birth stories, taking prenatal yoga, and taking a childbirth preparation class at the hospital. I read some of one of the Bradley books, and some of Marie Mongans (sp?), but neither of them seemed like something I could see myself doing. I can't help thinking I could have had a "better" birth if I had prepared better, and I'm disappointed with myself for thinking that because it pretty much went the way I wanted. I'm sure most of this feeling is hormones!