"I honestly don’t know how long I pushed…that’s one weird thing about labor: your body kind of kicks into necessity mode and makes you forget about all the pain once it’s over."
Not loving it...
I wouldn’t say I was one of those women who loved being pregnant. I spent the entire 10 months feeling bloated and moody and with a ton of hip pain, so as the days ticked closer to my due date of September 16th (one day before my own birthday), I pretty much spent my time trying every old wives tale remedy in the book (mac n’ cheese with Worcestershire, raspberry tea, spicy foods…) and willing the baby to come out. The due date came and went, and the morning of my birthday (the 17th) I felt something like a Braxton Hicks with a little bit of tightness in my back. I remember looking at my husband and saying, “That felt the closest to what I’d guess a real contraction would be.” But it only happened once so I went into work anyway. A few hours later (maybe 10am) when I went to the bathroom I noticed some spotting. I called my OB and they recommended going to the hospital just to get checked out; they said it could be a sign of labor or I could go another week (yuck)! I called Brent, who immediately freaked out, and we met at home for the short trip to the hospital.
They poked and prodded awhile, hooked me up to a TOCO (or, as we called it, a “taco”) machine and confirmed I was having mild contractions. Then they told me I was only a few centimeters dilated, that the baby was fine, and they sent us on our way. We kind of got the “call us when you’re REALLY in labor” feeling, but we figured that might happen. By the time we got home it was almost 3pm and I felt a little tired so I took a nap.
When I woke up from my nap around 5pm, I felt my first “this feels like labor” contraction. It wasn’t terrible, but had all the right characteristics: tightening of the uterus, heavy cramping feeling, a little back pain, and it lasted for about 30 seconds. I walked around and kept track of them and they were coming pretty consistently about 15 minutes apart. We checked the hospital bag, I skimmed every baby book ever made for info on labor and delivery (even though we’d read everything already), and we pretty much just toughed it out for awhile as the contractions got worse and worse.
All of a sudden, around 10pm, I had a contraction 5 minutes after the last one…and then another 5 minutes after that. My contractions had jumped from 15 minutes apart to 5 minutes apart! Up until now, I’d told Brent that I refused to go to the hospital until I was having crazy contractions every 5-7 minutes apart like all the books say, so at this point he looked at me and said, “you’ve got 30 minutes of this and then I’m taking you to the hospital whether you like it or not!” And that’s exactly what happened.
Trying anything that works
We called the parents on the way, were shuttled right into a labor room when we got to the hospital, and settled in for the long haul. My labor plan was to really try to do it med-free but to not be too disappointed if I eventually chickened out. I didn’t like the idea of an epidural, plus I secretly wanted the bragging rights of going natural…but mostly I felt like labor is something that I was supposed to go though and that the pain would make me appreciate everything even more. For the next few hours I labored on a ball, in the bed, squatting, leaning…everything hurt. And the contractions were coming right on top of each other--about a minute apart--and lasting about 55 seconds. I was exhausted. I remember at about 3am the contractions were close to unbearable, and Brent said I’d breathe through one and fall asleep for the 5 seconds before the next one started. I tried to be a trooper, but at 5am I was 8cm dilated and had had 2 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours, so I agreed to let them give me an epidural. It took a little bit of time to get the anesthesiologist there because there was a girl across the hall from me screaming in pain and I remember getting a laugh when we heard the doctor get on the phone with someone and say, “I don’t care how loud that woman’s being, mine is 8 centimeters dilated and she’s only 2!”
Like night and day
15 minutes later, I was a new woman. I joked with the nurses, relaxed, and got 2 hours of glorious sleep. When I woke up, I laughed, “Let’s get this show on the road!” They put me on pitocin, broke my water, and not too long later they said it was time to push. There was a ton of pressure on my butt area and I was really afraid I was going to poop on people! But the doc said that was normal and that if I were going to poop on anyone, it would have happened already. I honestly don’t know how long I pushed…that’s one weird thing about labor: your body kind of kicks into necessity mode and makes you forget about all the pain once it’s over. I do remember that last push though…such an intense physical feeling of relief!
William Case McInnis was born at 8:40am the day after my birthday (almost exactly 24 hours after that first tiny contraction), and was 7lbs, 6 oz and 21.5 inches. They cleaned him up, gave him to me, and it was the most surreal feeling…like the importance of the day was filling up the room or something. It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that he was finally here…he was so alert and perfect in every way. Looking back at the whole event, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I labored so long naturally that I don’t feel like I missed out on the experience, but the medicine eventually let me relax and enjoy the process, too. Will has been a huge blessing, and I’ve loved every minute of it…even those 3am contractions!