Just over one year ago, my little boy was born. He was five days past his due date and I was ready to have him out! Before now, I have never written the story of his birth but I remember it like it was yesterday. I’m going to go into all the gory details so if you’re squeamish, I’m warning you, stop reading now! I want to share everything that happened because I read every blog post and watched every birth video I could find in the months leading up to his birth. I poured over every detail in hopes that if I read enough birth stories from other mothers, that I could be maximally prepared.
Two days after my due (since my due date landed on a Saturday) I had a doctor’s appointment with my OB. I was a grand 1.5 cm dilated which is not significant. My baby boy hadn’t even dropped yet. My doctor wanted to schedule an induction for the following Monday which would be nine days past my due date. I tried to talk him out of it, to wait and push it out further but in all his years of experience delivering babies, he felt confident that anything much past 41 weeks was just inviting in complications for the baby. I ended up agreeing that if I did not go into labor within the next week I would be induced. I was scheduled for a 7am induction the following Monday and told to eat a decent breakfast before arriving. I later called the hospital to push out the induction one more day. I was still working full time and my days off were Sunday, Monday and if I was going to be induced I was going to take my last full weekend of freedom before having a baby. I wanted a whole two days to rest, recover and gear up for this birth if I was going to have to plan it like this!
Customers at work kept asking me how I was doing and “I thought you were suppose to have had that baby by now!” Well yes, I was suppose to have had him already but as you can see, he’s still in there….. I felt totally normal and good. No Braxton Hicks contractions, I was running and doing yoga daily, still on my feet all day at work. I started running even more miles in hopes of naturally inducing labor.
I had this fabulous belly band that would support my pregnant tummy as I ran and at 39 weeks pregnant I stopped using it because I wanted every bit of his weight pressing my cervix open. I couldn’t jog more than a quarter or half mile before I needed to stop and pee an obnoxious one ounce but that one ounce felt like my bladder was going to burst! I was simply running laps around my block.
My doula speculated that since he was predicted to be a very large baby, that his head might be stuck in my pelvis and that was why he hadn’t dropped yet. She gave me a list of exercises and stretches to help open up my hips to hopefully help him wiggle down into my pelvis and start to more effetely dilate my cervix. Some of these exercises were things like walking along a curb with one foot up on the curb and one foot in the street. My strategy was to run the straight sections, then stop and do some air squats and curb walks at the corner, then run the next straight section of the block. It was insane but I was highly motivated to get him out. The induction date was looming and I desperately did not want to be induced.
The morning of April 7th I was scheduled to be at work at 9 am and had a dentist appointment at 8 am. I set my alarm a little early because I had read that sex can help induce labor. Despite how large and uncomfortable I was willing to try just about anything. Around 10 am at work I remember feeling a funny numb, tingly feeling around the front of my belly. About 20 minutes later I felt it again. It wasn’t uncomfortable, the best way I can describe it is that if felt like someone gave me a shot of Novocaine in my abdomen. At first I thought maybe I was finally getting some Braxton Hicks contractions and that my body was finally gearing up to have this baby. After a few more of these I decided to start writing down the time and intensity of each contraction. I really didn’t think I was in labor yet but I was interested in documenting the progress so I could report it to my doula or doctor in the future if I needed to. Around noon I was in the bathroom and lost my mucous plug, which was an unexpectedly gross experience. My doula and fried who was a midwife and of course the internet all told me about the mucous plug and how at sometime around the start of labor women usually lose it. It can also be called the bloody show because it often is streaked with blood. My doctor however dismissed the mucous plug as completely insignificant when I asked him about it at an earlier appointment. I still don’t know who was right but I do know that is I lost mine at the start of labor. After using the bathroom, I wiped as usual and it felt kind of slimy so I looked at the wad of toilet paper I was holding and there was this massive, clear, glob of mucous with a decent amount of blood in it. I was probably half the size of my palm; Google it if you’re brave and curious. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind what it was.
I texted my doula a picture of the mucous plug and my contractions. The last few days I’d been wearing a pad to work. I was doing this because I thought that this giant baby in my belly was making me randomly pee myself. I was horrified that my life had come to that but at this stage of pregnancy I didn’t really care much about anything but giving birth soon. More on this peeing myself later….
Around 1 pm, the contractions started to really pick up, they were roughly 8-10 minutes apart and some were getting quite intense, my stomach got very upset. I making trips to the bathroom about every other contraction, the upside to this is that there was nothing in my system so my fears of pooping on the hospital bed while I was pushing were gone. The downside was that there is some sort of pressure point that happens during labor when you sit on the toilet…. Every time I was in the bathroom on the toilet I had the strongest, most painful contraction and it wouldn’t stop until I somehow finally used the handicap bar to pull myself back up. At one point I almost started crying on the toilet in the bathroom at work because I was so scared I was stuck and wasn’t going to be able to get up and one of my coworkers was going to have to come get me.
My husband decided against my will to come pick me up from work to take me home or to the hospital and I was secretly relieved when he arrived. I knew at five days overdue and still working that no one was going to stop me from leaving work so I wasn’t worried about asking permission but I still needed to tell the store manager I was leaving. I had told no one, nor let on to anyone that I was in labor. I waited outside his office door for a contraction and once it was over I popped my head in and just said I was feeling tired and was going to leave. I swiftly walked out before he could stop me to chat at all and risk me having a contraction during that conversation. The contraction were about three minutes apart and they were intense enough that I was struggling to focus and talk through them. I could talk but I was sure nothing intelligent was coming out, it all sounded jumbled.
My husband wanted to take me to Labor and Delivery but I had other plans. I was convinced that this was still early labor. I had been totally fine just hours ago and there was no possible way that labor during my first pregnancy could progress so fast. I wanted to go home, take a nap, a shower and to paint my toenails so I had something pretty to look at when I was pushing; my fantasy of labor. We settled on a compromise, he would take me to my OB’s office to get quickly checked out and to see how far I was dilated. I called the office on the ride over and they booked me a quick check with his nurse. The woman I spoke to at the desk said that since I was still able to talk to her through the contractions it was probably just early labor.
The nurse checked me and announced I was 5.5 cm dilated and that I should head over to the hospital across the street. I gave her a blank look and said I planned to go home for a bit. She was like, “nope, honey you need to get over there and have a baby, you don’t have time to go home.” I begrudgingly went straight to Labor and Delivery where they monitored my contractions for 20 minutes before going to the birthing room.
My doula arrived shortly later, and my husband Matt ran out to go grab us some food from the Coop. I wanted a green juice, something liquid, light but packed with nutrients. I hung out on the birth ball making hip circles, bouncing and making small talk with her. I only took a few sips of my juice when Matt got back before the contractions really started to pick up. He massaged my low back a little while I sat on the ball during contractions. The room had a tub and I was planning to transition (the labor process between 8-10 cm where labor is notoriously painful and overwhelming). My friends who had just had babies said that the tub really helped to manage their pain. I was 6 cm when I first arrived in the birth room at 6 pm about an hour ago . I finally asked to get in the tub feeling defeated that I hadn’t even managed to get to transition before needing the warm water for pain management. I had two contractions in the tub before I looked up at my doula and sacredly said, “I know I’m not suppose to yet, but my body is pushing. I can’t help it, what do I do?” She called a nurse over who wanted to check my cervix. I carefully got out of the tub and stood leaning forward over the edge of the bed while she checked me. She announced that I was fully dilated, I was shocked to hear that I had already transitioned but was relieved that was why the pain had suddenly escalated earlier. She asked if my water had broken in the tub and I said no, its still in there. She then told me that my water was gone. I suddenly realized that I’d probably had a slow leak for about a week and just attributed it to peeing myself at work, hence the pads.
My OB came in shortly and I started pushing. The contractions where coming one right after another and I didn’t have a chance to move from where I was standing at the edge of the bed. I knew that I didn’t want to birth my baby in the traditional hospital style, laying down on my back. I figured I’d probably squat, get on my hands and knees, or in this case standing and squatting down a little during the contraction. The back labor was intense, baby had flipped to face sunny sided up. Each contraction a nurse held a fetal monitor to my belly, it was making me so angry. I hated the way it felt against my belly, it hurt. I snapped at her to stop but she didn’t and I’m sure she is probably trained to ignore mean things women say during labor.
I pushed standing for 45 minutes before my doctor asked me to get on the bed and lye on my back because the baby was stuck above my pubic bone. I don’t know how I managed to get up on the bed and turned over because I was in paralyzing pain but somehow, I got up there. He started instructing me to push in three, 10 second intervals per contraction. The problem with this was my contractions where short and I had lost the urge to push once I got on the bed. I think this was because I no longer had the help of gravity. I think once I pushed him down under my pubic bone I should have tried to get up onto my hands and knees or some other position. He asked my husband and doula to try some nipple simulation to amp up my contractions. It must have worked because a few contractions later baby came out.
Almost two hours of pushing and at 10:10 pm, a 8 pound, 14 ounce slimy little creature was placed on my chest all squinty eyed and upset looking. He didn’t cry at all until they hit his back several times. I tried to breastfeed him but I couldn’t get him to latch on for more than a second and finally I just gave up because I was exhausted and overwhelmed. I’m not sure why breastfeeding was a struggle, no one ever told me that it would be hard, they all just say to breastfeed immediately after birth. I never had any issues with his latch later so maybe it was just everyone was a little overstimulated.
The nurses took him away to examine him after the cord was cut. I don’t remember much of what happened next except it was more painful than labor itself. I tore quite badly and my uterus hemorrhaged. I was swiftly put on an IV Pitocin drip to help stop the bleeding but I lost as much as a cesarean birth. I ended up asking for medication to manage the pain about 2 hours after the birth. I was in and out of consciousness and shaking badly from the pain. I fainted twice when the nurses tried to sit me up because I was begging to get to the bathroom to pee. The process to sit me up took about 10 minutes and each time once I was finally fully sitting, this tingly burning sensation flooded my body and black closed in around me as I desperately fought to stay conscious and then I was out. I did finally manage to sit up and get to the bathroom. I felt a little better with the pain meds kicking in and I was finally transferred to recovery 6 hours after giving birth.
I had desired a natural, medication free childbirth which I achieved. I had decided pre labor that I was open to pain medication, if at any point I became completely overwhelmed or if I ever got to a point where I just wanted to leave or rip the baby out. I didn’t experience any of that, I was surprised by how much less painful the actual birth process was than I thought. I was not expecting to have such a painful recovery though. I was not prepared for that part. Mentally, it was such a struggle because I thought that pushing the baby out would be the peak of pain and that the level of pain would start to drop after the baby was out. I feel good about my choice to have a medication free birth and my decision to ask for pain meds after the birth. I was in a super overwhelmed, terrible place after the birth during recovery. I just hadn’t been expecting that after childbirth would be the time I might need pain management.
I hope that my birth story was interesting and that whoever is reading it can learn from my experience and feel empowered. Each woman has a different labor and they are all beautiful and powerful regardless or where or how she chooses to have her baby. I probably read at least 50 birth stories before experiencing my own and I found them all so fascinating! I learned something valuable from each one.