I have to admit, I almost feel guilty posting my birth story here!!! This board was my solace when I went past my due date... then even past the average date for first-time Moms (41W 1D). For some reason, that was really hard for me. I don't want to "rub it in" for those remaining.Induction Looming…
Friday morning, I hit 41 weeks and 4 days of gestation. The hospital’s official procedure is to routinely induce at 42 weeks, so the date was looming over my head. Of course, I could refuse, but I decided to try having my membranes stripped. I called the office and they were able to fit me in that morning, which I greatly appreciate.
At 10:30 the midwife saw me and said I was already at 3cm and went to another 4cm as she did the stripping. While she did not tell me the % effaced I was, she said, “It’s a perfect cervix. Really perfect. I think you’ll go into labor by tonight.” Personally though, I made an effort to not be too optimistic!
I went home and kept busy. While I did feel a sensation like menstrual cramps, it was a constant achy feeling with no rhythm of contractions. At 12:30, I was on the phone with my husband and felt my first contraction. Nothing too significant, but I felt something happening, although I considered it important not to get my hopes up. I put a watch on and simply glanced at it when I felt them start. I didn’t even keep a close eye on their progress! I just noticed duration of about 30-40 seconds and a frequency ranging from 3-5 minutes. They were significant enough to cause me to pause briefly for a moment at their peak, but not too bad.Relaxing in the Pool
At about 1:30, contractions had increased slightly in intensity and continued duration of 30-40 seconds, frequency about 3-5 minutes. (Again, my monitoring of their frequency was not precise.) I knew things could stop, so I wasn’t even considering myself “in labor” at this point in time. However, I thought perhaps I ought to really focus on relaxing during contractions. As it was a nice sunny, hot day, what better way to do that than in our pool?!
I thought floating limply on a raft might be ideal. Oh, how right I was!
It was phenomenal!
By about 2:30 the duration of contractions increased slightly to 40-45 seconds. As this had progressed for two solid hours now, I called my husband and asked him to come home. I still did not think for sure I was in labor, but it was enough of a sign that I wanted him with me.
He arrived home at a bit after 3:00 and we called the doula to give her an update. She had arranged for a babysitter so she could come join us. At this point, the contractions further increased in intensity and I found I wanted to moan slightly with each one. Making the noise seemed to help in coping with the discomfort. Fortunately, at this point, the pain was still not bad.
It approached 4:00 when I got out of the pool. Our pool is obscured by shade by late afternoon and without direct sunlight, I became a bit cold just floating in the pool. DH had been keeping a much more detailed track of contractions & they were increasing in length to one minute.Pack the Bag in Advance? Nah! We’ll have Plenty of Time!
I moved upstairs and things got intense! DH was running around rather like a chicken with a head cut off to start packing our bag. Ha – we had thought labor would last plenty long enough to leave time for packing the bag. This was a mistake! Even if labor had not progressed so quickly, I had NO INTERST in bothering to time my own contractions. So they went untimed when DH was packing.OK, Now this Hurts! (Transition)
At this point, contractions were definitely, seriously painful! My thoughts were essentially, “Man, this sucks!” I really wanted each one to be over with! I was quite noisy, as groaning and yelling were a nice release. No different position that I attempted really provided much relief, although I held out hope that hands and knees would continue to be nice, so I kept moving into that position as contractions started. I relaxed lying on my side in between contractions. Fortunately, I was getting a nice break between them and was not in pain then.
DH coached me to relax a few times and tried to rub my back, but I just wasn’t interested in help. For some reason, every time he touched me, it almost hurt! In hindsight, we realize now that this time was transition! Transition is the completion of first stage labor and one of the most painful parts. Neither DH nor I had suspected that this might be transition. I suppose it did not occur to us that things would move that fast.All Done First Stage? Time to Push?!
Around 5:20 I started feeling an urge to push. While this is generally a good thing, it worried me slightly. I know it typically signals the end of transition, however, sometimes the urge can come without transition being complete. It is a problem if you give in to the urge to push with a cervix that is not fully dilated. Not only will it just put extra pressure and stress on the baby’s head, it will also stress the cervix and can cause it to swell, leading to problems with the continuation of labor.
DH called the doula again and told her I was having the urge to push. She was only about 10 min away, so we were going to walk out the door when she arrived. When she arrived I think I said, “It really hurts,” or something. She replied, “I know,” and I realized, “Yeah, she does know.” Ha! Not only does she know as a professional doula, she knows personally from having been there twice. There was some comfort in that. I told her how the moaning made me feel better. I think I didn’t want to be perceived as flipping out or not able to cope with the pain based on the noise I was making. In reality, the noise was a nice coping mechanism. When she started to hear me, she said, “Just keep it low, grunt,” and made some noise herself.On the way to the Hospital
The doula agreed it was time to go! This was at about 5:30 – only 5 hours since the first contraction! Thankfully she agreed to drive so I could lay down in the back of her mini van with DH. It was tough to be having the urge to push with contractions, but know that I could not yet. It also caused me to worry. At the absolute peak of the contractions, a few times, I could not resist the urge to bear down and push. I think I only did it a handful of times, but I know it could be risky if I was not fully dilated. When I did push, it really felt as though I had little choice. I was actively pushing my muscles, but I could just barely resist that urge – my body and I did it together.Chit Chat in the Reception Area
Thankfully, traffic was fine, although the ride was still about 20 minutes. We got out of the van and walked into the reception area. I was clear headed enough to chat briefly with the receptionist, until a contraction hit and overwhelmed me! I tried to drape myself in DH’s arms, but with my weak and shaky legs, that didn’t work, so I dropped to my hands and knees on the reception room floor. At that point, some nurses came in to retrieve me and I heard my doula say, “We have to get her back there, she’s been having pushing contractions for 30 minutes.”Triage? No, We Need to Go!
They take me to triage. I’m so anxious to just see the midwife, have her check me, confirm that I’m 10 cm and I can push! After maybe just a couple minutes, she walked in and DH said he could see the relief on my face. Again, I believe my doula said, “She’s in second stage,” to let them know we needed to get straight to a “Labor/ Delivery/ Postpartum” room, rather than triage. Someone took my shoes off, I’m not sure who. There was apparently a room available, so they said we could go. I think I only had one contraction in the triage room. When they said, “Room 11” I got up and walked QUICKLY in my bare feet along with the midwife! Ha! Again, I was so anxious to get checked and confirm that it was OK for me to give in to these urges to push.
Things got chaotic when we hit room 11. It was a blur. Apparently, my baby was born about 45 minutes after we got to Room 11, but it still seems like barely 15 to me. I had a contraction & felt the urge to be on my hands and knees. I think I heard the midwife say, “I can’t check her during a contraction.” Ha! That was fine with me anyway. Right after that contraction was done, I flipped over. She checked and said, “Yup, you’re 10 cm.” Woo hoo! I know that meant – next contraction – PUSH! YES!
With my first big push, I both heard and felt “POP!” I glanced down, but only a bit of water had come out. Thankfully, it looked clear (no meconium staining). One nurse was holding the EFM monitor onto my belly, I don’t think they ever even tried to put the belt around me! Another was starting my hep-lock IV access and also drawing blood (I’m not sure why, but I didn’t really care.) At least 2 others were getting the baby warmer & other equipment ready while perhaps yet another nurse held an oxygen mask to my face because the baby’s Heart Rate (HR) was dropping a bit. I got in a few good pushes on my hands & knees and they felt GREAT! I was still noisy, but I think these sounds were slightly different. As I remembered, they were very similar to the sounds some of the guys at the gym make when they’re lifting heavy weights!
While I was up on my hands & knees, I felt him move down. I also remember pushing maybe twice – two good strong pushes at the apex of each contraction. I realized I could have pushed more, but it still hurt a bit and I didn’t want to exhaust myself. Besides, I consciously thought that I was in no rush to push out this baby and if I took a bit more time I’d be less likely to tear. But oh, it felt great to push.
I heard the midwife say that the HR was dropping and they needed to get me into another position – she suggested on my side, so I flipped. I think I pushed through one contraction like that, and then his HR recovered, so I went back to hands and knees. Unfortunately, as my midwife said, while I liked that position, baby did not! His HR dropped again so the midwife said I needed to get back down to my side. On my side with one leg lifted, the midwife helped hold my leg at one point and then DH took over. That position hurt more and I felt like I didn’t have as much natural power to push, so I didn’t want to be in it, but hearing that baby’s HR was down, I wasn’t going to argue!
I had been thinking I didn’t want to know how far down he was. If he was crowning that is the “ring of fire” and if the pain had not yet significantly increased, knowing I was in the midst of the ring of fire might increase my perception of the pain. But I don’t remember one instant when the pain increased significantly and I felt a serious burning sensation.
My doula suggested I reach down and feel and he was right there. As my doula said, I “let out some choice words” at this point.
With the next push his head was out and the midwife unwrapped the cord from his neck – it had been wrapped around twice! Then everyone encouraged me to give yet one more push. His whole body emerged and DH grabbed him and placed him on my chest.Enjoying my “Prize”
He let out some small cries and started to pink up immediately. I was very shaky- which I believe my doula said is normal. My caloric intake had been way too low all day, so I’m sure lack of food was still a contributing factor to this problem. I just lay back staring at him, so glad to finally see him. I said, “I feel like he is my little prize.”Afterbirth – I still have Work to Do??
The midwife encouraged me to continue to push with contractions to get the placenta out. She joked, “The good thing is that it has no bones!” It wasn’t much longer and just a few pushes and it was out. My husband and I both were curious to see what the placenta looked like! After we looked and my husband took a photo, the midwife cleaned me up to check for tears. She said I had a few little tears, and she thought they needed sutures only because the bleeding was not stopping.Postpartum Thoughts – So what was the Pain Really Like?
Reflecting days later, I do distinctly recall that the transition period was intensely, horribly painful. However, only about 40 seconds of each minute-long contraction were agonizing. Furthermore, I had a three minute break between each contraction during which I was not in pain. Finally, this period lasted about an hour and a half at the absolutely longest. On the whole, I’d say not so bad!
But precisely what did this pain feel like? Honestly, I can’t recall! It is the strangest thing. I remember early labor felt like bad menstrual cramps. It was always tolerable. But in reflecting on the intense pain of transition, I cannot recall the precise sensation. If I think about what it feels like to stub a toe or have a fingernail rip off below the quick, I can bring to mind what that feels like. However, I can’t bring to mind the sensation of transition, other than to remember it was horrible and intense pain.
So perhaps there is some truth to the theory of birth creating amnesia in Moms so they forget the pain of labor. However, from an evolutionary perspective, I think it is rather worthless to forget the specific sensation of the pain if you still remember the fact that it was, indeed, agonizing pain! So in that regard, it seems to be a faulty theory that “Mother’s Amnesia” ensures we will have more children. It is just an interesting point on which to reflect.