The day before I gave birth, I woke up at 5 a.m. to different contractions. Not Braxton Hicks (preparation) contractions, these were real. Mid-morning, I shot a heads-up text to my doula and told her that I think baby would be here between 24-36 hours from that moment (about 10 a.m.). My contractions followed a very normal pattern, getting more proximal. Every 2 hours to 1 hour to 45 minutes to 30 minutes to 15 to 10…
When I got around 10 minutes, my family was concerned that I was still at home and not in the care of my midwives. I remembered that we weren’t supposed to head to the birth center until contractions were 5 minutes or closer. I was excited for this moment and so was my family. My mom and grandma (my main ladies) were convinced I needed to go to the midwifery immediately. I was not convinced but I also wanted this baby to come out.
My doula arrived, comforted me through the pangs and helped get me ready.
Against my midwife’s suggestions, we drove to the center around 9 p.m. or so. She checked me, I was only 2 centimetres dilated. We drove back home. AGH.
In the next two hours, things sped up! And I started to lose normal ‘consciousness.’ Midwives called this “going into Laborland.” I have to explain that because I may not remember every detail exactly and because this state is a bit mind-altering, thanks to the body’s natural response to birthing pain.
I was in the zone.
We got to the birthing center between 11 p.m. and midnight. I was 6 centimetres dilated, WHEW! I got to stay. The pain was not bad at this point, it was more like strong pressure.
They immediately began preparing the huge inflatable tub as my doula helped alleviate heavy sensations with massage and other methods. 45 minutes to an hour later, I was able to get inside the warm tub where I would have MY DREAM WATER BIRTH!
Or, so I thought…
The water felt AMAZING, I was definitely relaxed and even enjoying the contractions (as part of the excitement about birth). The birth assistant even commented on my hyper-calm state, saying she’d never seen a first-time mom that relaxed.
And then it faded. Labor was sloooowed down. Water birth was no longer an option. I got out of the tub and the contractions returned with a vengeance.
I truly had no concept of time so I can’t tell you accurate hours of the following events.
I tried hard pushing in several sitting-like positions but it was to no avail. Eventually, I got a period of rest where I laid on the bed because I was low on energy. It was a few hours past midnight, snack and bathroom breaks for everyone else.
My water broke when nobody was there to witness it (I thought that they would see it and didn’t have enough energy to talk). I did attempt to read the analog clock when I felt this so my brain believes this was around 4 a.m.
My brain also believes that around 6 a.m. (sun was coming up) is when they learned my water broke, I muttered something about it after they saw a puddle underneath me.
My midwife sounded a bit worried, “why didn’t you tell me?!”
From this, came an urgency to pop this baby out!
They still let me rest in between push sets but now I was hard-pushing all over the room in different positions: on a chair, on a yoga ball, standing, laying on side. These attempts felt so long, thank God my doula coached me through it.
This was EXHAUSTING work and I started to doubt whether I or baby would survive birth. Especially because hours kept passing after my water broke, I believed baby and I were at risk.
Finally hope came mid-morning as baby began crowning at the height of the push.When the contraction subsided, she would slip back into my birth canal, though. No more head in sight.
The midwife believed the shape of my canal to be a hindrance because baby was being restrained by my pubic bone?
I know little about anatomy.
But I do know it felt like war trying to get her through the threshold. It was even more traumatic for her because she was hitting her head over and over against this blocking bone, this actually caused a large cephalahematoma on the side of her head.
At this point, the midwife suggested I recline back so she could hold me open in an effort to make room for baby’s head and shoulders.
Overwhelm got me and I began struggling to breathe, my muscles would not relax, I was worried that my child would not survive. My bladder was filling up on all the fluids but not emptying. Too much movement and talking going on around me, my frustration was building. I was feeling very weak, silently, I wanted to give up.
When the midwife decided to put an oxygen mask on me and stuck a catheter in because my full bladder was also an obstruction. (OUCH!!!) I kept taking the mask off, my breathing was very shallow but I just decided to keep pushing harder and harder. No mask, please.
Now, I think she tried to reverse psychology me because she mentioned having to be transported to the hospital.
NO! My refusal was used as energy to push like superwoman in a squat. Very loud groans. On the third push, she FINALLY flew out about 27 hours after I sent that prediction text to my doula!
I was swollen like a balloon, there was fluid everywhere, my perineum had to get stitched up. But none of that was even a factor when my baby was finally delivered. All the work was over around 3 p.m. and there was life in my hands. Time stopped. Pain stopped. Frustration stopped.
AH, I DID IT! I had a baby naturally with all its painful glory, she was laying on me, our temperatures matched, my princess was here.
Hours Contracting: 34
Hours in Active Labor: 14