Today I thought I'd share my first birth story with you. Enjoy! You can also read about my second birth (a home birth!) HERE.
On Friday night, June 26th, 2009, I was concerned by the feeling that something was falling out of me. I checked myself, and found that something WAS coming out. I was pretty sure the bag of waters was beginning to sag outside me, and the water was about to break.
At 3:30 a.m. on Saturday I woke up to go to the bathroom. I felt wet and when I sat down I found that the panty liner I was wearing was soaked pink. I was pretty sure my water had broken, so I woke up my parents and husband, Aaron.
We gathered our things to go to the hospital. I was frustrated and sleepy. I was not having any contractions, and I didn’t want to go be in the hospital to be in labor all day. I was also concerned that since the contractions hadn’t started yet, perhaps interventions might be necessary.
During the 15 minute drive to the hospital, I began to have contractions. At first they were not painful, but they became progressively difficult. By the time we reached the hospital and I got out of the van, I had a contraction that was so hard I had to stop and lean on Aaron until it passed. We got upstairs and the nurses worked on paperwork while I stood for what seemed like an eternity at the counter. I had a difficult time maintaining my composure during the contractions, and occasionally had to kneel down during a contraction.
At the Hospital
Finally they sent me to a room to check me, but I could not make it down the hallway so they gave me a wheelchair. I had to go to the bathroom before they checked me out, and as I stood up from the wheelchair fluid gushed out as my water broke even more. Aaron came in to help me put on the hospital gown, and I felt panicky about the entire experience, but Aaron helped me to calm down.
Somehow I was moved to a small room and they attached a fetal monitor around my stomach to gauge the baby’s heartbeat and the contractions. The nurse came in and had me sign papers at this time. I was on my back and very uncomfortable. The contractions were two minutes apart by this time, and I was dilated 7 cm and fully effaced.
As I lay there, I focused on relaxing through the contractions and thinking about the baby moving down and coming out. I knew that if I was relaxed, he would have an easier time coming out, and the labor would be quicker and less painful. I told myself that I was not experiencing pain, because pain is a signal that something is wrong. I focused on the thought that this is something entirely different—it is labor, not pain. THIS feeling was a good feeling, because it was causing the baby to be born.
The Birthing Pool
After an eternity, I was walked down a long hallway (so it seemed, but it was actually only a few doors down) to the birthing room. I lay on my side on the bed as my dad and Aaron set up the birthing pool. This time seemed to pass very quickly. I was soon helped into the pool, where I felt immediate relief. I thought, “This isn’t going to be so bad, after all!” The water relaxed me and I felt so much better. I rested on Aaron and used a noodle for balance. However, as the contractions became more difficult and closer together, I began to feel panicky because there was no hard surface to rest on. I felt insecure and wanted a stool or something to lift me out of the water somewhat. I felt like I was going to drown (even though Aaron was holding me securely), so it was more difficult to relax (later I learned the water was too deep--I couldn't sit comfortably).
I also began to feel the urge to push, so I got out of the tub to go to the bathroom. I remember my mom telling me not to have the baby in the toilet. :) I got into the tub again, and in addition to feeling insecure during contractions, I also began to feel overwhelmingly hot. I wanted to get out of the tub.
I was then moved back to the bed. I was wet, but I didn’t care, because the wetness helped me to cool off. I felt like a normal person for a moment between contractions as I rested on my side on the bed, and I just wanted to fall asleep and rest… but the contractions weren’t letting off any, so I couldn’t relax very well.
Worst Part of Labor and Transition
The midwife came in and asked if I wanted to push on the bed, on the birthing stool, or in the water. Three options were too many for me to consider because of the pressure I was feeling from the baby, so I just said, “I don’t know.” I didn’t want the birthing pool, and when the midwife said something about how the birthing stool was “murder on a first time mom’s perineum,” the matter seemed to be decided, so I stayed on the bed.
I was most comfortable halfway between my side and my back, and I think I switched sides at least once. I kept feeling hot and cold at the same time, so I would ask for a cool cloth, and then once it was on my head I felt cold and asked that it be removed. My doula fanned me and placed the cloth on my head.
The details at this time become fuzzy, and I remember things clearly, but not in chronological order. Aaron stroked me where I asked until I asked him to, “DON’T TOUCH ME!”
Pushing and Delivery
As the pushing became more intense, I remember the midwife saying that it would only take about three pushes for the baby to come out. I did my best to push hard, but after three pushes I was tired and frustrated that the baby hadn’t come yet. People kept saying “you’re almost there,” and then “I see the head!” but I am certain I had to push many times more than only three as the midwife had predicted.
I began to be overcome by the pressure and the intensity of the pushing, so I began to pass out. The feelings that accompanied losing consciousness felt GOOD. I WANTED to pass out and be away from the situation. I was getting mad at everyone for saying that I HAD to push, and that I COULD push, when I just wanted to stop and rest for a while. I felt like I was being pushed harder than I could have pushed alone. I would have taken it easier and tried to rest more if they had let me.
During the final pushes, the baby was coming out and I knew that the hardest part was over. I was so tired of pushing and of being overcome with the strong feelings and of the inability to communicate at all or to take a rest. I didn’t like the way it felt as the midwife rubbed around the baby’s head. I wanted her to leave me alone, and I wanted everyone to be quiet, but there wasn’t any way for me to tell them these things. Therefore, as the final pushing was taking place and I knew I didn’t need to reserve energy, I screamed out my frustration and painful feelings. It was a scream of triumph as well. I was irritated that they said I was “losing control” because I knew exactly what I was doing and screamed because I felt like it.
My son was born at 7:59 a.m. on Saturday.
Aaron cut the cord, which I couldn’t see because I didn’t have my glasses on, and then they took Josiah away to clean him. I was upset that I hadn’t had a chance to look at him. I wish they had held him up for me to see, or at least taken a picture for me. If they did hold him up, it was too far away because my glasses weren’t on. I wanted to hold my baby.
The first time I got up, I passed out. I had lost a lot of blood from (a) the (unneeded) episiotomy and (b) from pushing too hard when the midwife forced me to (both because the midwife was in a hurry). I pushed so hard, I broke blood vessels in my face and had blood-red spots all over my cheeks. I was weak for weeks from the blood loss, and the episiotomy took months to heal. I didn't get to see my baby until he had been cleaned and clothed and I felt like I missed out.
Overall, I was not happy with my hospital birth experience. But here are the good things:
(1) The entire process took 3.5 hours from first contraction to delivery (4.5 hours from when
my water broke)
(2) I had an unmedicated birth with no major complications
(3) I gave birth to a healthy 7 lb, 5 oz baby boy on June 27th, 2009
(4) I absolutely loved staying in the hospital for two days afterward! People brought me food
and gifts, and I could spend all my time with my son without any chores or anything. :)
Poor baby with drops in his eyes and not being held by his Mama...