Hi Ladies! I never really posted on this board, but I lurked a ton and I learned a LOT. I wanted to post my birth story since I liked reading successful natural hospital birth stories while I was pregnant.
For background, my DH and I had planned a low-intervention (aka med-free) hospital birth using sort of a collection of research and methods like Bradley, Ina May Gaskin's techniques, etc.
I started having contractions at 1 AM on Oct 24th, which was 40 weeks and 4 days. I had been having timeable braxton hicks contractions for weeks, but these definitely felt different. These were like period cramps and I was having to focus to get through the peaks of them. I let DH sleep until 2 AM, then woke him up to time them.
We timed contractions, which were 4-5 minutes apart until 4:30, then called my mom and the hospital to let them know we were coming in. They were increasing in intensity, but I was still breathing through them ok. I couldn't walk or talk during them, but I was handling it.
We got checked into L&D triage, and I was 2 cm and 80% effaced. We walked the halls for an hour and I had progressed to 3 cm and 90% effaced. We thought "Hey! Making progress here! Awesome!" The OB on call said she'd be back in a few hours to make a decision about admitting me. So 3 hours later, contractions were still intensifying, coming more like 3 min apart, but they checked me and I had made NO progress. So the OB offered us 2 options: 1) Send me home and let me labor at home with instructions to come back when the contractions got even more intense or 2) Admit us and break my water.
We decided to stick to our low intervention plan and go home. I was so deflated. We had been in triage for 6 hours having good contractions, and I was starving and sooo upset. They were saying it still wasn't active labor.
Ironically, the SECOND I stepped foot outside of the hospital and got in the car to go home, things got crazy intense. I started having to vocalize through the contractions. We got home, and I labored in the shower, bath tub, used the birthing ball, ate a turkey sub (haha), rocked in the glider, etc. That lasted about an hour and a half. I finally looked at DH and my mom and told them that if this was still early labor and could last for days, I couldn't do it med-free. I told them I wanted to go back to the hospital and get checked in and if I had made progress great, but if not, I wanted the epi and to have them break my water. DH was great... he was on board although he did admit he was mildly disappointed that we weren't going to follow the plan. He was flexible though.
We get back to the hospital (OMG that car ride back was hell on earth), they send me right to an L&D room and check me and I was 7 cm. So in the 2.5 hours since I'd left triage, I had gone from 3 to 7. They asked me if I wanted an epidural, and I seriously considered it. I knew I still had transition and pushing to get through, so I asked for 10 minutes to think about it. They never asked me again, and I started progressing fairly quickly at that point, so med-free it was!
It took me about 3 hours to go from 7 to 10 cm. They broke my water at 9.5 cm to help with a lip of cervix that I had left. Transition was... um... crazy. While I was in a contraction, I was kind of like an "animal self" if that makes sense (vocalizing, standing, crouching, swaying, totally involved in the contraction) and then it would stop and I would just be zen and totally still. It's a blur from my point of view. I was totally in the zone. I really don't remember much, other than that the pain was completely overwhelming.
I pushed for about an hour. I was prepared for the labor pains, but I was NOT prepared for how much pushing would hurt. It was sooo much pressure, and I absolutely had the "ring of fire" experience. But they assured me I was making good progress, and I liked being able to push in a bunch of different positions.
Avery was born at 6:32 PM, and it was incredible. They put her on my chest, and the pain stopped immediately and I was instantly euphoric. I was so amazed that we had made it through. I did have a 2nd degree tear, but it wasn't too bad. Labor was 17.5 hours, start to finish. Not bad for a first birth!