Often, we think of childbirth as this beautiful calm experience. But many times it’s just not how we planned. But isn’t that just how life is anyway. Life and most things in it just don’t go as we plan. So don’t sweat the changes and enjoy the ride.
Not How We Planned
We had had three boys first and kinda figured a girl was not in the cards for us. When we found out we were having a girl I think I seriously went into shock. It was really exciting to think of finally having a girl! She is now already five months old. So with spring here and her growing fast, I’d like to share her birth story.
A little background, this was my fourth child. My first two births I had the epidural without a second thought. My third baby threw us for a loop. I started contractions in the morning and when I got to the hospital I was already eight cm dilated! And I delivered within a half an hour with my third. It was a crazy experience as I had not prepared to labor naturally. So this fourth time I wanted to be prepared, educated, and ready.
I wanted to deliver naturally for the experience. I had talked to so many other mothers who had experienced a birth without medication and I wanted to try to have a calm delivery experience. My husband and I discussed this option. I started reading books and surfing Pinterest. I had my birthing plan and ideas to help my husband who wanted to be my coach. We practiced breathing rhythms and birthing positions. I thought I was ready this time.
A couple days before my due date my doctor offered to strip my membranes. I knew this would help labor along. For me waiting a week to have my highly anticipated chica was an eternity! I know I am impatient in this area. It’s funny to me how one week can sentiment. I was three cm dialed. This was normal for me at 39+ weeks. The doctor did the procedure and I left. I tried to get a few things done since I knew this could start contractions. I ran a few errands in the mid-afternoon and that’s when they started.
At first, the contractions were very mild and very similar to Braxton Hicks. I was so excited that contractions were starting that I walked every moment I could. By the evening the intensity rose. We decided to relax a little. My husband and I sat on our couch watching our shows while tracking each contraction. (There are some really awesome contraction tracking apps out there.) They were between 10-20 min apart. I knew the hospital would never keep me so we waited. By the last show, my contractions had dipped under 10 minutes. I got excited. At this rate, we would deliver by morning at the latest and though painful, the contractions were manageable.
Around 11 pm we called my sweet sister-in-law over. We had asked her to hold down the fort while we were in the hospital or until my family could get here from Las Vegas. She came over with her overnight gear. Contractions were close to five minutes. Finally progression. We gathered the hospital bag. I then hopped into the shower to rinse off and relax before going in. This was not the best idea for me.
When I got out I started tracking my contractions again. They had slowed to the 10-20 minute pace. I had read that your labor will progress if you are in real labor so I didn’t think going in the shower would have any effect. But, for whatever reason it did. I felt discouraged but decided this meant I might be able to get some sleep. So we decided to wait til morning.
I laid down around midnight only to wake up one hour later which painful contractions. I tossed back in forth in bed for I’m not sure how long. It was torture at this point to lay in bed. I would start drifting off only to be woken up in pain. Finally, I got up. I went to my basement and started cleaning. I was actually surprisingly productive between contractions. My body was weak from only one hour of sleep but I could still function.
Around five in the morning or so my husband and sister in law woke up. Even though my contractions were not a consistent five minutes apart they were starting to get a bit more painful. We decided we should go in and see how much progress I had made. When we got in around six or seven I was still a 3! The nurses monitored me for an hour as normal procedure. They saw I was having consistent strong contractions. But not enough to qualify for labor. They did assure me that I was in early labor and I would be back by the evening. They gave us the option to stay and labor or go home.
We went home. We relaxed and watched a movie. I bounced on my birthing ball pausing with each contraction. They were starting to get pretty painful. I was able to lay down in the late morning and sleep for an hour. After lunch we decided we should walk. We walked around the whole neighborhood. My kids loved it and it was nice to get some fresh air. One of neighbors saw us walking and joined us. It was fun to have her with us. Though I was pretty tired of now 24 hours of contractions and a couple hours of sleep, I was still functioning.
We got home and back to the birthing ball I went. For me it was really comfortable. My contractions were still only seven minutes apart. I started falling apart a little. My mom called and expressed my exhausted frustrations with her! Why was it taking so long this time!? My pain level was about a 7, why aren’t the contractions closer?! I started really having to work through each contraction. I was breathing and my hubby started really coaching me.
It was about the time that I almost started crying with each contraction that we decided it was time to go in. My husband insisted even though they weren’t close enough, we should go in. So we loaded up again this time around four in the afternoon. I was really in anguish at this point. The pain was equivalent to when I was at an eight with my third. Why weren’t the contractions closer?
I had discussed my plan to deliver naturally with many other people beforehand. And one of my friends who had delivered naturally offered her help during labor if I needed it. At this point of my labor, I was desperate. I called this friend on the way to the hospital. And I just cried. I wasn’t crying because of the contractions but because of the experience. I had hardly any sleep and contractions for over 24 hours. I was frustrated that the labor was going so slow. She was such a huge support at this moment. For some reason, she knew exactly what to say to me and I am so grateful for that. She assured me that I had done everything right. I was strong. I had tried and if in the end I ended up with the epidural it did not mean I was a failure. She helped me to regroup and refocus. She also mentioned that I may need to relax.
I was a wreck when I got tp the hospital. My complexion was pale. My composure was gone. My physical appearance must have resembled a ghost with crazy hair and droopy eyes. The nurses were concerned. They monitored me and found I was four almost five cm dilated and proclaimed active labor! It was about five when I was admitted. Hooray!
Luckily the hospital I was delivering at had one hot tub room. I was so relieved to arrive and find out it was vacant! I knew the hot tub would help. They helped me undress and filled the hot tub. My husband helped as well and unpacked some music, granola bars, as well as our oil diffuser. I slipped into the tub and into periodic bliss. My countenance changed. It was amazing how much it helped! I felt renewed and ready to do this! I still had to breathe with each contraction and they were the most pain I have ever felt in my life. But the hot water felt amazing. In between contractions I smiled and talked with my husband. The nurses commented on my improvement. I felt hopeful.
My friend had been right. I did need to relax. While in the hot tub I did start to progress faster. Every half an hour I was dilating a cm. By seven at night through the contractions still weren’t under five minutes apart. And I was not dilating anymore. I was seven cm dilated now. I told the nurses I’d like to wait another hour to see what would happen. I knew at eight cm I would be in transition and labor would go fast. I was an eight with my last and I delivered in a half an hour. I was getting close.
We had to make a hard decision around eight pm when the nurse informed us that I was still a seven. My husband and I talked over the options. We prayed. Though the tub felt great I was pretty worn out at this point and pretty sure I couldn’t sleep in there. The contractions felt pretty darn painful to say the least and were still not under five minutes apart. I was extremely tired.
Talking to my friend earlier was really helpful to me. I decided to get the epidural. I could have gone an hour or two more but at my slow rate I didn’t know if that would be it. On a side note I was also really impressed with the hospital. They were not pushy and fully supported me wanting to deliver naturally. They did explain that my contractions needed to be closer together in order to transition but let me decide what I wanted to do.
The nurse and my husband helped me out of the tub. My body shook and the cold felt like daggers. I know it sounds dramatic, but it was the worst. I no longer had the warm comfort of the water and my body knew it. Each contraction, while I was getting dressed, seemed to drain the life out of me. The epidural could not come fast enough. But when it did, it felt like Christmas. After the pain was taken away I suddenly realized how exhausted my body truly was. It’s crazy to think I was in that much pain that I didn’t feel the exhaustion that had overcome my body.
I was instantly grateful I had chosen to get the epidural. Even with the epidural, the contractions did not speed up. So they added Pitocin. Even with the Pitocin I did not become complete until 10 at night! I cannot imagine how long it would have taken if I hadn’t been on Pitocin.
When it was time to push they found my baby was posterior. Meaning she was facing with her spine against mine. I found out later this may have been a factor in the awful labor experience in comparison to my last. The doctor informed me that she would need to be flipped. And that with the epidural he would not have been able to do this so it was a good choice. Without flipping her the pushing time would be over an hour more and very difficult and painful.
She was flipped and in a couple pushes we finally had our baby girl! I am really glad I had got the epidural in the end. I told my husband afterward that I think I would have died if I had been in the pioneer days. I’m not sure I could have gone another night without sleep. And in the amount of pain I was in and my pace of labor I’m not sure my body could have handled it. For me getting the epidural saved my life. I know, I’m being dramatic again.
This story wasn’t meant to scare anyone from doing natural labor. I really think it can be beautiful amazing experience and I fully encourage it if that is your choice. It was ironic that the time I chose to try to deliver naturally things did not go as planned. But that’s life right? You can’t control everything or hardly anything really.
This was an awesome bonding experience for my husband and I. He supported my choice and was my rock through the experience. I also learned how strong I really was. I feel proud of myself for making it as long as I did. I can legitimately tell my daughter, “I was in labor for over 30 hours with you!”. Haha. It also taught me that when it comes to pregnancy and labor, you cannot always predict the experience. So even though this happened to me, it doesn’t mean it will happen to you. Or that it will even be the same for me next time. I’m just glad to have made it. And I get to drive you all crazy with pictures of my baby girl now. She was definitely worth it.