I write this as I prepare to go back to work tomorrow - Our little girl is 3.5 months old and just amazing. Enjoy my story, I read just about all the birth stories on the bump before delivering!
It was Saturday night after dinner (around 6pm) and my mother had just gone home after helping me put the finishing touches on the nursery. I was due in 4 days and was as ready as I'd ever be. I sat down on the couch and turned on the TV for some well deserved rest, and I started noticing some mild "practice" contractions. This was awesome, since I hadn't really had any before, just the tightening on the belly you can feel with a hand laid on it and once for about an hour in the middle of the night. Since they were so super mild and totally spaced out weird, I didn't bother timing them. My water hadn't broken yet, I hadn't lost my mucus plug, and I was a first time mother. I sincerely expected to be over due.
When I was still having my mild "practice" contractions at 9pm, still weak and unevenly spaced, I told my husband something was up and suggested we finish packing our bags and go to bed to get some rest, just in case. I walked the around the house while he threw the daily stuff into our bags, feeling a bit silly. Most of my friends had gone to the hospital and got sent home at least once, so I knew not to get my hopes up yet. We both laid down, and my husband fell asleep right away. The timing was bad since he had been up the night before with a mild stomach flu and was completely exhausted. I couldn't sleep and noticed things were getting stronger (still like period cramps, but then again I have bad cramping most months). At 10pm I got up and went down to the computer and started timing the contractions online, while bouncing on my birth ball (which I had barely used prior to that night). At midnight, I noticed they had been five minutes apart for more than an hour, lasting from 30secs to a minute and a half. I was still doing really good - they came like a wave, and I only had to stop what I was doing during the peak. Also some of them seemed stronger than others, so sometimes I'd have one where I was fine.
I woke my husband up to help me decide what to do. The midwife had told me not to come in until I couldn't talk through them, but a bunch of books said 5 minutes apart for more than an hour. We decided to call the midwives around 1am, and she told me since I was group B strep positive, I could come in (since I would have to have the IV 4 hours before the birth). I told her I wasn't sure and she told me I could call back in an hour. 15 minutes later I had a bad contraction where I had to lean over the side of the couch (I had been pacing around the living room) and I told my husband to call them back, we were coming in. My mom picked us up (we had called her at 9pm and told her not to get her hopes up but I was having mild contractions) and drove us to the hospital. I was so worried the contractions would stop during the car ride, but I had a few on the way over (yay!). We went in to the ER and were meet by a nurse who walked us over to labor and delivery. It seemed like MILES (it actually was far away, on the exact opposite side of the hospital) and I had to walk really slowly during the contractions.
We got to our room, got hooked up to all the monitors, and got checked by midwife number 1 (there are about 20 in the group and you get whoever is on call). It was seriously a very uncomfortable experience, and I had been having no pain during cervix checks at my appointments so I wasn't expecting it. Then she wanted to check again just to make sure - OUCH. Turns out I was at a 5 and 90% effaced (a complete surprise since I had been finger tip dilated and 30% effaced at my last appointment). YAY they were keeping us! We were having a baby! They started my IV, which I didn't like since it made my whole lower arm feel weird and tingly. The nurse later told us she thought they'd be sending us home since I was so calm. I asked someone to go tell my mom, since she was waiting in the lobby to take us home if we weren't staying. This was a bit after 2am.
I sat on a birth ball provided by the hospital and leaned over the bed when a contraction got bad, while my husband massaged my back. It took a little to get settled, at first everyone was bust chatting and I had to remind people to help me through the contractions (and by people I mean my husband and the nurse, who was great). They were still on the super bad period cramp level and came in waves. I just thought "down and out" while they peaked. We hadn't taken any special classes (besides the expecting class at the hospital) but were going to try a natural water birth, honestly not really expecting to make it without drugs. After a little while the nurse came in a suggested I change positions to keep things going. They didn't want me in the pool yet, but would allow me in the shower/tub in my room. So I got up, and walked to the shower after a contraction finished, but it just looked like there wasn't a good place to sit or lay in it. So I started to leave the bathroom but had a bad contraction and had to sit down. This was more on the level of what I was expecting. I walked back to the bed, and had another contraction that made me clutch the side rail and tell my husband not to touch me. The nurse went out and got midwife #1 who wanted to check me, but I said no. I hadn't been there very long at all and it hurt like hell to get checked. After I insisted, they gave in and let me get into the birth tub, which was its own room directly across the hall. BLISS. I actually smiled.
Then a contraction came and I had to figure out how to brace myself in the tub, I'm very short with short legs and it was a little challenging. I ended up kinda clinging to the side. It was pretty hot in the tub too, so I had people putting cool towels on my head. At this point there was more people in the room, at least two new nurses and a midwife (a new one who had been called in since it was crazy busy, so midwife #2) who never left my side. I was miserable, I know I swore at least once and I had trouble keeping my tones low (I think I squealed at some point). They kept moving equipment in. Then at the end of a contraction my body just pushed on its own, I grunted out a push. My eyes flew wide open, I couldn't be that far along already! They checked me, and said I was ready to push with just a little lip left. Mind you, I had only been at the hospital for 3 hours and hadn't lost my mucus plug and my water hadn't broken.
Pushing only made a contraction slightly better, and sometimes they never seemed to end. I had one nurse holding each leg, my husband holding the back of my head (so it wouldn't go underwater when I tensed my back to push) and another nurse holding a flashlight pointed through the water so they could see if I was making progress. It hurt. After a while they removed my mucus plug which had made it most of the way out, and a while later my water broke. At some point I thought - it hurts like hell but it will never end if you don't just REALLY push with every single thing you got. And so I did and a bit later I feel this, explosion of sorts, at the end of a push and everyone started yelling 'look here's your baby!". The midwife told me to stop pushing for a second (hurt sooo much to hold but I did), another push after she gave me the go ahead and the shoulders were out, and another push slid the rest of her out. What a weird sensation. They put her up on my chest under a blanket, and she curled up around me. I was still hurting a little but she was fascinating and not crying at all, just kinda snuggling into me. My husband ran to get the camera and the nurse took some pictures of us as a family for the first time. The first thing my husband said was "what is it?", they hadn't been 100% positive on the ultra sound and he really wanted a girl. I had only been at the hospital for 4 hours (one of those hours was pushing) and never even got a second dose of antibiotics through my IV. She was born at 6:07am.
During this time all the hospital people were still there, but they gave us space. I kept slipping down in the water and whenever I moved her the cord tugged uncomfortably, so they asked if they could cut the cord. They did, and my husband took her while the staff helped me to the bed wheeled in beside the pool. I delivered the placenta, which wasn't bad at all, midwife #3 just gently tugged on the cord and it slipped out (it felt like passing a huge clot). Then I got stiched up (I had a second degree tear) which took a long time. I was exhausted and really, really just wanted to go to sleep. I nursed her a little (she did great) and took a bath in my room to rinse off all the blood before the new nurse let me finally lay down. At some point my mom came in, she had stayed the night (though we didn't know, we thought she had gone home). Our baby was such a sweet little thing (6 pounds, 4 ounces) and we love her dearly.
The birth did not go how I was expecting - we had a whole bag of hospital stuff packed that we never used, besides some massage oil because it was so short. It was almost too short, I never really had time to wrap my head around what was happening. Also, it turns out she was born with both her hands up by her face - which normally would slow things down. It makes me very nervous for our next baby, if we have one! I never asked for pain medication, but also I just never thought to ask (and no one offered). I was in pain and tired and just coping as best I could, and I was so caught up in the birth. My brain kinda spaced out on details. So my advice to people hoping for a natural birth is to make sure everyone knows not to ask you if you want meds, since you might not remember that they are available in the midst of birth. Also, since we had a tiny baby the hospital clothes were WAY to big for her, so make sure to pack at least two changes of clothes if you are expecting a smaller babe. And one final word of advice for people: Don't be afraid of tearing. For me it was very minor pain (with a 2nd degree tear), I took three advil every so often while in the hospital and that took care of it. Engorgement when my milk came in hurt more.
Good luck to all of you! Meeting your baby for the first time is wonderful, and I would do it all over again in a heart beat