Hi ladies! So I'm just now reaching the half-way point, and I've gotten really interested in watching birth videos and reading birth stories, which of course has me thinking of my own upcoming big event.
I'm mostly happy with my first labor and delivery experience. I had my prenatal care with nurse-midwives at UCLA and enjoyed it. I would have loved it if I were able to have my daughter in a birth center, but insurance wouldn't cover it so my second choice was to achieve a natural birth in a hospital setting. I wanted to hire a doula but we couldn't afford one, so I just did a lot of reading about natural labor and attended a class offered by the midwives, but I didn't choose any single method or use hypnobabies/birthing. Labor started around 1AM when my water broke, and ended 28 hours later. We arrived at the hospital when I was 4cm dilated and I did a lot of walking and also labored in the shower with hot water spraying on my back. The hospital did not have tubs available, but I wish they had. after a pretty productive first stage of labor, I stalled out a 7-8cm for about 8 hours, so they administered pitocin to get me through transition. It. Was. Horrible. The contractions came fast and furious, one on top of the other, and the little time I had between them was spent vomiting. After a few hours of that I was damn near ready to beg for a c-section. In fact, i'm pretty sure I told them just to knock me over the head with a lead pipe and get the baby out. Luckily my mom, husband, and midwife were amazing support and really helped me get through it, and I ended up birthing my daughter vaginally without pain medication (2.5 hours of pushing, no tearing) Overall, it was a positive experience and I have decided to go with the nurse-midwives again because of it.
I truly believe that my body stalled out right before transition entirely due to unrecognized fear of transition. I swore up and down that I wasn't afraid of going through natural labor (I didn't know anyone at the time who had given birth without an epidural) but I had read enough about transition to know that it can be intense, and I was afraid that my birthing team wasn't well-equipped or experienced enough to help me through that. It turns out that despite lack of experience on the part of my mom and husband, they were amazing and provided exactly the support and assistance that I needed (my husband provided counter-pressure through most of my contractions and massaged my back for hours and hours, and also held the broken shower head so that it would spray water on my back where I needed it. He was right there laboring along with me for the entire ride! And my mom was amazing at helping me to relax and visualize myself floating on clouds, riding out the contractions. She also helped me on all of my bathroom visits and even wiped me a few times when I couldn't manage it!)
Still, I distinctly recall when the contractions started to slow down in intensity, and instead of feeling like I should do something to encourage them, I kind of sank into the relief which ultimately was a bad idea. I also think that despite my attempts to relax through the contractions, I actually did more clenching to fight the pain, but I was kind of in denial about that because I refused to admit that I was harboring fear of the process. I'd like to figure out a way to get beyond that this time.
I also think I was too dependent on outside information, rather than going inside and listening to/trusting my body. I remember wanting frequent cervical checks to tell me how many cm I was dilated (thankfully my midwife knew better than to give into my requests given the fact that I labored 24+ hours with ruptured membranes. But my need to know how many cm I was dilated was a control-freak, anxiety thing for me and I think that it also contributed to my long labor and failed transition.
I have noticed that I am the type of person who likes to have an end-point in sight. I'm not very good at just being present in the moment, I'm always looking ahead. When I do workout videos, I prefer the ones that have a countdown clock in the corner for each 30 minute segment. When I can check in on that and see how much time I've got left, I'm better able to give my all to the workout. Also, I've learned a lot about myself from running, particularly from the longer distances. I love running because I know just how long I have to go before I reach the finish line, and I know roughly how long each mile takes me to run, so I have a time frame. When the going gets rough and I just want to quit I can tell myself I only have 1 more mile to go--8-10 minutes and it will be over. Or I can see the finish line or next mile marker coming up and I focus on that. For this reason, I abhor treadmill running because there is nothing to focus on but the digital timing display. Labor kind of feels like treadmill running, but without the timing display.
Anyhow, if anyone has managed to make it this far and actually understands what I'm trying to say through all of the above rambling, any advice (or commiseration!) would be appreciated.