The drive to the hospital was painful, exciting and nerve-wracking considering my contractions had slowed down to about 8 minutes apart. When we pulled up to the hospital we were greeted by my parents and our best friend. We all walked into the birthing suite and everything was all ready to go, they were filling up the pool and everyone was so excited to finally hold the little sprout we had waited so long for.
My midwife checked me and I was still only about one centimeter and my contractions were still very inconsistent. She told me not to worry and to do whatever made me feel comfortable. What made me feel the best was sitting in the shower with a detachable shower head. Paul sat beside me and sprayed the water on my belly and back, this made me calm and made the contractions hurt less. I spent about an hour in there and then sat on a yoga ball while rocking my hips back and forth and my head down on the bed. I spent a good 2 hours or more doing this. Out of any position this felt great, during very painful contractions I could squeeze the pillow, rock my hips and breath deeply… I highly suggest this method.
Things started to get pretty crazy sometime the next day (Sunday). My contractions picked up. But not the nice way they are supposed to, instead they were piggy backing on one another. I would have one contraction and then one immediately after! This was intense to say the least!! I couldn’t believe what I was feeling, I thought that I would get breaks in between contractions but I wasn’t… this continued the entire day. I spent more time in the shower and on the ball and on the bed. The midwife was amazing and stayed with me the entire time, rubbing my lower back and showed, Paul, my parents and my best friend how to make me more comfortable. I had different people behind me rubbing my back all through the day and night, as well as many nurses and contraptions put on me that I do not remember. Everyone tried to get me to eat but by this point and with one bite of toast I was on the verge of throwing up due to exhaustion and pain.
By Sunday afternoon my midwife suggest drugs to get me to sleep. I hadn’t had good sleep since Thursday night. I refused and continued to push through. However, things were continuing to not improve. I bawled my eyes out in the bathroom with Paul in between contractions. I felt like the most horrible mother for even considering the drugs. This was my first true test of motherhood and I was about to fail it. I talked it over with Paul and my family and they all felt I really should sleep. So after even more crying I gave in. I slept and slept until I woke up to sunny skies. I was feeling great! Still having contractions but ready, lets do this! We went for a walk, I swayed, hula danced, did some squats….come on baby! But of course even though I was completely ready my body and the baby were not. The midwife called it prodromal labor. My case was pretty extreme and abnormal but can happen with first time pregnancies. Now if I had been in my right mind, I would have gone home, got some wine and powered through the best I could. But knowing nothing about prodromal labor and being completely and utterly exhausted and emotionally overloaded I stayed.
Things continued on the same track the entire night and once again I faced a tough decision. I had only dilated to 3 centimeters and the piggy back contractions were getting worse. My mom had talked the midwife into letting me get into the water because everyone figured it wasn’t going to happen the way I had imagined and she wanted me to still have some sort of water experience. They had to refill the pool with warm water and in I went. My girl Bre sat beside me while everyone else was trying to catch up on sleep. The water was warm and comforting but the contractions were so painful and frequent and I was so tired that I kept falling over in the tub when I did get a break.
Even though I was in so much pain and tired my focus on breathing was always there. The nurses had thought I did hypno-birthing classes because of my breathing techniques. I had read up on different ways to stay calm and get through the pain and was glad a did!
Monday early morning things hadn’t improved. So the decision was made. I was getting an epidural and going to be induced. My water had broken but I still wasn’t even close to pushing and emotionally I was on overload. I cried and cried but knew that I would never get through the pushing if I didn’t take action at this point. So during contractions they stuck me with a needle. I held my midwife tightly and cried in her arms as they punctured through my spine, I will never forget that moment. Paul said this was the most painful thing to witness. After that I can not tell you what happened because the epidural worked its magic and I got some needed sleep, again! I woke up to immense pressure coming from my downstairs area. I told my midwife (now another one) that it was time! that seemed hesitant, but I kept insisting I felt it was time. They checked and sure enough it was. I was thankful just enough of the epidural had worn off that I could feel this and feel when the contractions were happening and when to push.
I pushed and pushed and pushed …..and pushed. I absolutely hated being on my back. I asked if with support I could squat, but with the epidural you are stuck on your back. I was so uncomfortable and had such a hard time being in this position, I couldn’t use my instinctual birthing feelings, instead I had to lay there….not a good feeling. My dad was by my head rubbing it, my mom was holding one leg, Paul holding the other, and my girl in complete shock with a front row seat. I used all my upper body strength to hold myself up as much as I could with the bars above me. Cedar’s little head went in and out for a good 1 and 1/2 hours. I tried so hard to keep it together and not give into the emotions I was feeling, until finally I screamed and oh man did that feel good! We all worked together, everyone telling me how strong I was and how amazing I was and then the midwife said, “this has to happen soon, or we are going to have to take him out” I went into high gear. Instead of pushing 3 times per contraction I pushed 4 or 5 and then finally he came through! The moment he was placed on my chest nothing else mattered. I was finally holding my Cedar after years of infertility and a birth that lasted what seemed just as long as the infertility. Every bit of discomfort and pain was worth it when I held him.
I had heard after, the hospital staff thought I was going to need a c-section. I was glad I was able to have him vaginally. I was pretty beat up after, pulled my groin from the pushing, and my arms felt as if I lifted weights for days and although I needed physical therapy after I do not regret having him this way. I did it, despite the odds I was able to push him out, not the way I wanted to but I did it. I talked to a Craniosacral therapist after his birth and she gave me the confidence in my feelings. I broke down and cried for many days after the birth, it was a lot to go through and such a release to just recognize what I was feeling. I was so happy but couldn’t stop thinking about the labor. I finally have come to terms with it and that is why I am able to share it with you now. I feel that I went through the labor I did because I was afraid to have him in the hospital, all along it was not what I wanted. The mind is a powerful thing and I believe it had taken over me. If I am lucky enough to get pregnant again some day I will be having a home birth. This is my choice because this is where I am most comfortable. This was also proved to me while breastfeeding Cedar. He had a difficult time in the hospital but when we got home he latched on instantly. Whatever makes you most at ease is where you should have your baby, if it is at home, the hospital, birth center etc… link into your inner desires and recognize those feelings. I shut mine off due to advice I was getting and lack of confidence to just do it, which was wrong. I still might have had prodromal labor but I really don’t think it would have lasted as long as it did, had I been at home. Also if you want a natural birth remember hospitals will quickly offer you the drugs and once you except it turns into a spiral effect. I was even getting antibiotics for a slight fever I had, without even being talked to about it. If you do not want drugs then it might be best to get a doula. They will support you and your decisions when you are not in the right mind to make them anymore. They will be there to give your partner a break and offer you the support you need to get through the labor. I was so lucky to have such a good support team during that time. My family was amazing and I couldn’t have gone through it without them. I also loved my midwives and don’t blame them for giving me the drugs, most people will take them and they are in a hospital where they are easily accessible. If I had a doctor, no doubt Cedar would have been born via C-Section.
I no longer look back on this experience with regret about decisions made but rather look at it as a learning lesson. I am choosing to remember the positives from the birth, like holding my son for the first time and having amazing support throughout the labor. I really urge you to do your research and find the option that is best for you. Ina May Gaskin has amazing books for woman from everything from pregnancy, birth, to breastfeeding…cannot recommend her enough. There is also a new movie screening in different locations around the U.S. that you can see called the Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin & The Farm Midwives. Giving birth is our right as woman and an experience that will be remembered forever, we are built to give birth. Is it easy? No….Is it fun? Not really….will it hurt? Yes!….but it is a beautiful process and oddly enough even though I was laboring for 4 days I cannot even describe to you what a contraction feels like because once you see your baby and are away from the situation it is really hard to remember and describe.
Well that about wraps it up! Hope you enjoyed reading about my experience, and if you have a birth story you would like to share I would love to feature your story on the blog! I think the more woman talk about their experiences and support one another the better and more confident we will all be when it comes to birth. Love to all mama’s and future mama’s out there, you are amazing! <3
Photography by: My father, Donald Martin