- 8 years ago
- Wedding: August 2009
I didn’t know we couldn’t link to our blogs so I’ll try to cut and paste… hopefully this works.
Sunday, May 23rd I woke up at exactly 4:20 am with painful contractions. I’d been having painless, yet annoying Braxton Hicks contractions for months but these felt different. I can’t really describe the way they felt because honestly, I’ve forgotten. Try as I may, it’s true that after you give birth you get amnesia. I think it’s nature’s way of assuring that the human race will continue. Anyway, all I remember is that they did indeed hurt. At this point I could still breathe through them just fine though. I started timing them, hoping that this was finally the beginning of my labor. They were coming around every 10 minutes, not close enough to be considered real labor. I was told to call the midwives when they were coming every 5 minutes, lasting a minute each and for more than an hour.
Bryan had the day off so we settled in for a long day. We watched a few movies and went on a walk up at Buffalo Park, hoping that the exercise would help things along. Later that afternoon I called my midwife to check in and let her know what was going on. I felt bad because she had obviously been sound asleep and she let me know she’d been awake for the last 48 hours attending two other births. She told me to call her back when things picked up but that it was possible that this very early labor could go on for days or even stop completely. Great. I was so done being pregnant and just wanted to get the show on the road. As the evening wore on the contractions began to taper off and I began to feel discouraged as I was only getting one or two an hour. Later that night my midwife called back to see how I was doing. I told her that things had slowed down but hopefully I would see her the next day. She told me that she hoped to see me later that night! But alas, that didn’t happen. I didn’t get much sleep that night though because around midnight the contractions started up again, still about ten minutes apart. Luckily I was able to sleep between them, but as you can imagine, it wasn’t the most restful slumber.
The next morning Bryan and I debated about whether or not he should go to work and in the end decided that he should and that I would call him if things began to pick up. Being the awesome husband that he is, he called me every hour to see how I was doing and came home to see me during his lunch break. Unfortunately everything was staying the same, but the time alone was good for me. It gave me a chance to work with the contractions- I practiced making different sounds and using breathing techniques to deal with the discomfort.
Later that evening, around 8:00 I noticed that the contractions were finally beginning to come closer together. We started timing them and lo and behold they were coming every 3- 5 minutes and lasting over a minute! We waited hesitantly to see if the progress would continue and at 9:30, shortly after I had my “bloody show” Bryan called the midwife and told her it was time to come over. She arrived a short while later with her assistant. She took my blood pressure and it was high, 140/90 so she decided to wait to unpack her stuff. I found out later that she thought for sure we were going to have to transfer to the hospital but as the night wore on my blood pressure dropped back down to within a normal range. She also checked my cervix and I was just about 5 centimeters.
After they arrived things sort of become blurry, but I do remember that as the contractions began to grow in intensity I became more and more relaxed, which my midwife said she hadn’t ever seen before. They filled up the birth tub we had rented, but in the end I don’t remember spending too much time in there. I do remember taking a long shower though. Things had begun to get really intense and I started to feel tired and I wasn’t sure how much longer I could go on, so I laid down in the shower and actually took a nap. I stayed in there until the hot water ran out and when I woke up I felt so much better. My midwife checked me again and I had progressed to 8 centimeters. Damn, I thought by this point I was at 10, but she assured me that transition was usually the quickest part. We all laid down on the bed and Bryan put in a movie. My midwife began massaging my feet, her assistant massaged my legs and Bryan my back and head. This was by far the best part of labor, which is weird because for most people transition is the most intense part. I went into a total trance though. I was so relaxed that I slept in between contractions, it was great.
By this time the sun was starting to come up. I got checked again and I was at 10 centimeters but I didn’t feel any urge to push. I asked my midwife what I could do to get things going and she recommended walking around and squatting. This is where the birth tub actually came in handy because squatting “on land” was quite painful, yet it was tolerable in the water. So I spent some time in the tub squatting and finally felt a few urges to push. I got out and laid back down on the bed on my side, which was much more comfortable. The sun was up now and I heard my midwife on the phone telling the other midwife on-call (they try to have two at every birth) that it was time for her to come over.
Ok, here’s where things started getting hairy. Up until then the contractions, although painful, were totally manageable. I don’t consider myself to have a high pain tolerance, so trust me, if I can do it, anyone can, but the pushing part was a whole other story. It scared me, literally scared the crap out of me. To say it was intense is an understatement. All of the sudden the need to push became totally overwhelming, but at the same time totally terrifying because lets face it, it hurt like hell. It took me a little while to figure out how to work with the enormous amount of energy and pressure. I’m not going to lie, with those last few pushes I screamed like a banshee and wanted to give up. I finally understood why so many women get epidurals. It was the only time during the last 52 hours of labor that I didn’t think I could do it. My wonderful midwives assured me that I could do it, that I was doing great and that it was almost over. Thank god they weren’t lying because after two more pushes and experiencing the infamous and horrible “ring of fire” our son was finally born at 9:02 am on Tuesday, May 25th. The midwife quickly put him on my belly, all goopy and bloody but I didn’t mind because he was finally here, he was healthy and the pain had finally ended.
Bryan cut the cord after it had stopped pulsing and about twenty minutes later I delivered the placenta which thankfully didn’t hurt at all. Soon after I took a much needed shower, and Bryan hung out with the baby. Unfortunately I tore a little bit and needed five stitches which was no fun at all, but the midwives’ assistant did the newborn exam right next to me on the bed while I was getting taken care of. It was a good way to take my mind off of what was going on downstairs. A few hours later, after learning how to breastfeed, the midwives left us and we got to spend the day together as a new family, safe and comfortable in the privacy of our own home.
Ina May Gaskin wrote that “women in labor don’t need drugs, they need encouragement and companionship” and I could not agree more. I was lucky to be surrounded by positive, loving and kind people who believed in me and believed in the wisdom and strength of my body. I am immensely grateful for my fantastic midwives and the amazing support of my husband, without whom I probably couldn’t have done it. 53 hours of natural labor was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was absolutely worth it.