I woke up on Monday, March 2nd at 2:24 a.m. to a very painful menstrual-like cramp. It went all the way around my middle, but it hurt worse in my back. I really didn’t think much of it, but I did make sure to notice the time, just in case. I went back to sleep, but woke up again exactly 10 minutes later. I knew it was time. So I slept until the third contraction, and it was all over at that point. I couldn’t possibly sleep any longer. I was so excited, I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I got up and went into the living room and folded a load of clothes. Then I laid down on the couch with the TV on, trying to get some rest, but I just couldn’t be still when a contraction came. All I wanted to do was get up and walk; lying down made the pain worse. So I decided to get on the computer for a while and catch up on some blog reading, while timing my contractions using the Contraction Master website. I was blown away when they started coming every 7 minutes. I decided to get a shower and get ready to go, because I didn’t think it would be much longer before we needed to leave. After I got out of the shower, I went back to timing and the contractions were 5-6 minutes apart. I woke Denny up, called the midwife, and we were on our way.
The ride was horrible. Like I said, when a contraction came, I wanted to get up and move around, and I couldn’t exactly do that in the car. We got to the birth center around 6:45, and the midwife hooked me up to the monitor for 15 minutes. (Yes, only 15 minutes, unlike the hospital, where you are hooked up to the monitor the entire time.) She checked my cervix, and I was dilated to 4 cm, and was 90% effaced. Denny went and got breakfast at the McDonald’s across the street because I was going to need my energy, and then we got settled in our room. I ate, and then we walked for a little while. Since I was feeling a lot of pain in my back, the midwife suggested that I get on my hands and knees on the bed for a while. That helped a little bit, but then I started getting really hot and I almost threw up. So she suggested that I get in the shower, and let me tell you, that shower was awesome. It was my favorite thing to help with the pain, and I got in and out about half a dozen times while I was in labor. When I got out, I walked some more, and at 11:00, I was checked again. Still 4 cm dilated. I was devastated. She placed her hand on my belly during the next contraction and told me that I was tensing up, and that I had to relax my entire body, especially my bottom, if I wanted to make any progress. Looking back, I think the reason that my labor stalled was because of this midwife. I had wanted the other one to attend my birth, just because she is so much gentler and nicer. This one is more no-nonsense, with a quit your whining attitude, and she doesn’t have the most delicate touch.
So to my delight, as I was sitting in the rocking chair eating my chocolate ice cream, who walks in the door? The other midwife! I was over the moon! I swear, once I saw her face, my whole attitude changed. I no longer dreaded labor, I was now looking forward to getting this baby out. She stayed in the room with me almost the entire time, and suggested different things to help me to relax. The next time I was checked, I was at 7 cm! She said I was far along enough now that I could get in the tub for a while, and so I got back in the shower while she filled the tub. The tub was marvelous. The jets were spraying on my back and it felt so amazing; I just cannot believe how much being in the water helped the pain. It really does work. When I got out of the tub, I was checked again, and I was at 9 cm! It was almost time! My water hadn’t broken yet, so she did it for me, and she said that would help things move even faster. I have no idea what time it was at this point, but I think I got back on my hands and knees for a while, until I felt like I needed to push. I was completely zoned out; I felt like I was in another world, and I didn’t talk at all, except to ask for something to drink.
The time finally came to push, and I did for a while, with no progress. I had a little lip of cervix left, and pushing against that would have made it swell. So I was given some awful tasting herb drink – twice – but at that point, I didn’t mind. Then the worst thing ever happened – I was told NOT to push. I had to wait until the cervix was completely gone. So I laid down and rested in between contractions while the midwife had her dinner. I think this lasted for 20 or 30 minutes, and not pushing was the hardest thing that I have ever done. I remember shaking during the contractions, trying to relax and not make things worse. I think I used up more energy not pushing than I did when I finally could push again.
When the time came to push, I was out of energy. I had eaten half of a chicken biscuit and a few bites of ice cream all day. So I was running on fumes. Since I had to have an IV for the antibiotics for the Group B Strep anyway, I was given some glucose to give me a boost of energy. Then I pushed for over 2 hours, I believe. I pushed in the bed, I pushed on my hands and knees, I pushed on the birthing stool, I pushed while squatting at the sink, I even pushed on the toilet. That was another problem: my bladder was full, and it was in the way. But no amount of trying could get the pee out. I sat on the toilet for a while, then I got in the shower, hoping that the water hitting me would help it come out. No such luck. I had to be catheterized. But she used a pediatric sized catheter, and it was only in long enough to drain my bladder. And with everything else that was going on, I really didn’t even feel it. Once that was out of the way, it was time to push with all that I had. I wanted to get into the tub, but since there had been meconium in the amniotic fluid, I couldn’t. So I stayed in the bed, and I tried several positions, but the one that worked best for me was lying on my side. Denny had one leg, and the nurse had the other. The midwife put her fingers down there and told me to push them out – and that’s just what I did. After 21 hours, my little baby was finally crowning. And honestly, it really didn’t hurt until then, there was just a lot of pressure in the area. But this was different, this burned. That is why they call it the ring of fire, because that is exactly what it feels like.
I asked Denny if he could see the head, and he could! The midwife told me that the baby had lots and lots of hair, and with a few good pushes, she would be out. But for some reason, I got scared, and I was afraid to push hard. Then the words “hospital” and “time limit” came up (even though I think she said this to make me mad enough to get the baby out – I really don’t think she was serious) and I got pissed. I was determined that I would NOT go to the hospital, and that I would get this baby out NOW! I think that once I got to that point, it took about 4 more contractions to get her out. Those were the longest, most painful minutes of the entire process. The midwife told me to push as hard as I could, and all of a sudden I felt the head come out, and then her entire body – all in 1 push! I thought that it would take a few pushes, but she came out like a cannon ball. That’s probably why I tore; if she had come out nice and slow I might not have, but oh well, at least she was out. It was exactly 11:30 p.m. Then the midwife put her on my chest and that is where she stayed for the next few hours. I was a mommy! My husband was a daddy! We had our baby that we made together! It was the most incredible feeling in the world! And then she peed on me. And pooped on me – twice.
Denny cut the cord, and I pushed the placenta out within a few minutes of Emily being born. Vital signs were checked, and then the photographer came in, and we were left alone to enjoy our new baby. About an hour later our families came in, and after they left Emily was weighed. That was about 2 hours after she was born, and that was the first and only time that she left the room. I got stitched up, I got some help with breastfeeding, and after getting our vital signs checked a few more times, we were left alone for the rest of the night. We were told that we could leave in the morning as soon as I ate breakfast, and at about 3:15 a.m., we finally went to sleep – all 3 of us together in the queen-sized bed.
The next morning, I ate the rest of my half-eaten chicken biscuit, took the most refreshing shower of my life, and then we were outta there! We left at 9:45 a.m. and our world has been dramatically different ever since!
And now, on to the questions that I have been asked about my experience:
Am I glad that I decided on a natural birth with a midwife instead of a hospital birth? Absolutely! I wouldn’t change a thing! I truly believe that if I had been in the hospital, I would have had a C-section, as well as other interventions, like Pitocin when my labor stalled. Plus, I am so proud of myself! To all of those people who doubted me, who said that I would change my mind and ask for an epidural – HA! I DID IT! Who looks like an idiot now? Ahh, the tables have turned.
Will I do it again? Once again, absolutely! There is no doubt in my mind that I will have all of my babies at the birth center, as long as I am able to and there are no complications that force me to go to the hospital. Yes, it was a long labor and it hurt a lot, but the pain is only temporary, and the rewards and memories last forever.