My day was fairly uneventful, I felt a bit of cramping after having my membranes stripped but I didn’t really feel like anything was happening. I had bought a bottle of castor oil the day before so I took a little bit… not even a full dose though. Despite not feeling much, I did decide I should make sure the guest bedroom was ready for my mom, just in case.
That night DH and I went to bed and watched some TV. I could feel my BH contractions were becoming more intense and painful and I knew it was the real deal. When our last episode ended I told him that it was no big deal, but that I was having contractions and that he should be ready. At this point they were already pretty painful but I was doing a pretty good job of meditating through them.
DH fell asleep right away and I couldn’t handle squirming around in bed next to him anymore. I ran myself a bath and while it was soothing, I was pretty uncomfortable in our tiny bathtub, so after about an hour I moved into the guest bedroom, where I calmly comforted myself through contractions in the dark. I’m pretty proud of these moments because of how well I felt that I dealt with labour on my own for the very first time. I texted my mom at about 3am to let her know she might have to meet us at the hospital.
At about 4am I tried to wake DH to go to the hospital but he was still out like a light. I made him a pot of coffee anyway and continued to work through my contractions on my own. At this point my contractions were probably about a minute long and coming every 5 minutes or so. At 6am I finally woke DH and told him he should be ready to go when my mom arrived and I texted her to let her know she could meet us at home but that she too should be ready to go right away. I think DH was shocked to watch me work through a few contractions and finally realized I was in labour and this baby was coming! My water broke at 7am, about 10 minutes before my mom arrived.
We left right away for the hospital but had to turn back when I realized I forgot my file… oops! My contractions slowed down a bit on the way to the hospital but since my water had broken they became much more intense. When we were halfway to the hospital I emphatically stated that if I was 3cm dilated or less, I wanted an epidural IMMEDIATELY! Who gives a crap about natural birth, anyway?
Fortunately we were admitted into a labour room right away and I was disappointed to be put down on a bed and attached to external fetal monitors right away, especially since the elastic they used to attach the monitor seemed to only make my contractions more intense. I was introduced to my nurse, Mary-Maude a soft yet authoritative Haitian women whom I hated and loved. She was so so good at putting me in my place, which was pretty much exactly what I needed. She told me to stop moaning as I was wasting my breath, I needed to just breathe and concentrate through my contractions and I would be able to get through them more easily. They checked my cervix and I was dilated to 2. I hated myself for it, but I think I must have been having some back labour because although I was feeling pain and pressure in my abdomen, the radial burning pain I had in my lower back was what really left me screeching for relief. After maybe an hour of labour at the hospital, I asked for the anesthesiologist. I talked to her about my options a bit and decided I still didn’t want the epidural, but I did want to try the IV of some unspecified painkiller, which she said would take the edge off my labour pain. My husband was supportive but told me he was a little surprised that I was opting for painkillers after I had so adamantly insisted over the last 8 months that I wanted to have a drug-free childbirth experience. I pretty much told him he could stuff it and to let me know how it went if HE ever made it through a drug free labour. I was pretty annoyed with everybody at this point and was having more success working through my contractions alone anyway, so my DH left to go get a few things from home that we had forgotten when we left that morning. After all, I was only a 2 and would probably be laboring until at least later that evening.
At some point right around this time, Mary-Maude came in and got tough with me; she told me that I still had a long way to go and that I couldn’t have a shot and decide to go for the epidural later. She also suggested that my labour was going to get more intense, so I’d be better off waiting until my pain was really unmanageable before resorting to drugs for pain relief. I told her that I thought that labour already was unmanageable because of the intensity of my back pain, but she told me that she could see I was strong and she was confident that I could make it through this stage of labour be concentrating on my breathing. Even though I still wanted relief from the pain, I relented and she told the anesthesiologist to come back in a few hours. After DH left and the anesthesiologist was sent packing, things quieted down quite a bit and my mom fell asleep. I was working through my contractions as they became more and more painful but surprisingly was able to sleep between contractions. I think this was the only way I could manage the pain on my own, and my meditation through this stage of labour was to imagine myself in a small dark room alone. I got up to pee and had a contraction on the toilet which was a nice change from the ones I had been having on the bed (I had imagined myself feeling comfort by walking through contractions but that was actually the worst for me, I also hated being on my hands and knees. Fetal position or on my back were the best for me.) What surprised me most about my contraction on the toilet, though, was that my body all of a sudden started to push. Since I had only been at the hospital at this point for about three or four hours, I was a little bit scared that something might be wrong. I was about to call for the nurse when she and the other staff came in to check me again. It was about noon at this point.
The first doctor ob-gyn, an intern, checked me but wasn’t super confident and called in another doctor to double check me. The second doctor came in and told everybody: she’s ready to go and this baby is small, she’s going to squeeze it right out! I was thrilled to know that I was already fully dilated (!!!) and my mom was in shock as she had just slept through the last two or three hours of my labour but my DH was still gone! In the mean time I was really fighting my body to stop pushing through contractions and keep the baby inside me until DH got back. Finally about 15 minutes later after a mad dash through mid-day traffic, DH arrived and I was finally allowed to start pushing FOR REAL. Only thing was, my contractions had slowed right down (I think because of my fighting against them for the past half hour or so.) The doctors made me push anyway and our beautiful daughter was born after about a half an hour of pushing (which felt sooooo good) at 12:46pm. I had a small episiotomy (which I hadn’t wanted but didn’t give a damn to fight against in that moment) that resulted in a minor 2nd degree tear but was otherwise in great shape and shocked when I realized that I had given my birth to my baby girl without any drugs, lucid and completely present for the entire experience. I am still soo proud! She looked just like a little rosebud to me from the minute she was born, and after a day with no name DH and I decided to go with my first instinct and call he what she was… our little rosebud. We call her Rosie for short and it suits her so well. She’s sweet but very feisty… she was screaming before she was fully delivered, but her father puts it best when he says “she came out singing!”
6lbs 7.5 ounces with a full head of dark hair that sticks straight up!
FOOTNOTE: I later found out from my mom that DH had pulled Mary-Maude aside in the hallway and told her about my birth plan and my goals of having a drug free birth. He basically told her that he knew I could do it; I just needed reaffirmation that he couldn’t give me… DH knows that I would have just told him to shove it, but I would respond well Mary-Maude’s gentle yet strict authority, he was right. In the days leading up to my labour I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to give me the assistance I thought I would need, coaching me through my labour and looking out for my best interests, but I was completely wrong… he stayed out of my way and stood up for me when I doubted myself and I love him more than ever for it.