The first contraction started at around 9 pm on Thursday evening. Of course, at the time, I didn’t know that it was a contraction, I thought it was just a cramp. I went to bed not long after and between the “cramp” that kept coming back and my snoring partner, I was struggling with falling asleep. By 10 pm, I decided I was going to take a shower.
Oh yeah, much better.
I felt like I could have stayed in the shower all night (that should have tipped me off, but it didn’t), but I decided to get back to bed. I was extremely tired, but just couldn’t fall asleep. Thinking that my snorer was the bulk of the problem (sorry honey, my inability to fall asleep had to be blamed on someone 😉 ), I went to the living room to try the miracle couch (which is where I sleep when I just can’t sleep in my bed).
But it didn’t work. The darned pain kept hitting me again and again no matter what position I was in.
And then, my brain did something wonderful, it decided to play the game of “connect the dots” that my body had initiated. I started timing my pains. They were suspiciously regular.
Contractions they were!
A part of me was super excited that my body was going into labour on its own (more on this in Charles’ birth story) and that I would finally be meeting my little boy or girl. Another part of me was still wondering if I was truly going into labour. Yet another part of me told me to get up and tell my partner that he would not be going in to work the next day. I calmly listened to that rational part of my brain. Then I went downstairs to tell my brother that he would have to watch Charles the next morning until either my parents or in-laws came to get him (it was 11pm by then and I didn’t want to wake the grandparents).
I called L&D at the hospital and was told to come in when I mentioned that my contractions were about 5 minutes apart. Of course, the nurse also mentioned that I would not be admitted unless I was at least 4cm dilated, but I wasn’t too worried about that.
I got into the shower again as I waited for my partner to wake up and get ready and then got into the car as he loaded the already packed hospital bags. We were on our way (after a small pit stop to get some gas in the car).
We arrived a little before 1am and I was checked. To my dismay, I was only dilated 1cm (the cervical check I’d had three days before had me at 1cm). A part of me was afraid that I was making a fool of myself and wasn’t really having contractions. Another part of me reaaaaaly did not want to go back home. Nonetheless, the nurse hooked me up to the monitor and I was, well, monitored for almost an hour (the L&D wing was full so she kept being delayed before coming back to see me). Once it was established that I was indeed in labour and that everything looked good, the nurse told me that she was going to have me walk along the hall just outside of the L&D wing for half an hour and see how I’d progressed. After that she’d decide if I was worth admitting or not.
Well, walk I did and my contractions got closer and closer. My partner was wonderful and each time one of them hit, he helped me get down on my knees so that I could lean against a chair and he massaged my lower back as I breathed through them. He also made sure I stayed hydrated by handing me my bottle of icy cold homemade “Labour-ade”. He and I were both amazingly calm throughout our walk.
We went back to L&D where I was checked again and admitted (yay, the baby was indeed coming!).
In my room, I alternated between bouncing on a birth ball, getting down on my knees against a chair and taking a shower to help me through each contraction. The nurse had been very supportive when I’d told her that I was aiming for a natural birth and she only came in once in a while to see how I was doing. Despite the fact that I didn’t hand her the birth plan that I had brought with me, everything was going as planned.
Things were going really well, but eventually fatigue caught up. Since my contractions had started right before going to bed, I had been awake since 6:30am the previous morning (it was now 4am Friday) and I was exhausted by that time. Another contraction hit me and I decided then and there that the next time the nurse would come in, I would ask for the epidural. I didn’t feel defeated by my decision (and I still don’t), it just seemed like the logical thing to do. I knew that the fatigue would make the pain harder and harder to manage and I didn’t want to get into panic mode and end up fighting the pain and the contractions. I knew from experience that fighting the pain made the progress of the labour slow down.
Since the nurse thought I was nearing transition (she told me that many moms aiming for a natural birth feel like they can’t manage anymore at around 8 cm), I was checked (and was at a 7) and the anesthesiologist was called in. Half an hour later, I was all set and it did not take long for the epidural to work its magic. The nurse told me that she could call the obgyn to have her break my waters and help labour progress more quickly, but I declined and asked to wait things out. She was very supportive of my decision.
My partner and I managed to get some much needed rest while my body continued its work. At 6:15am, while my partner called my parents to ask them if they could go grab Charles at our place, I was checked again and was almost fully dilated. The nurse offered to ask the obgyn to rupture my membranes and though I had initially planned to allow them to rupture naturally, I felt like it was time and agreed.
My partner came back, my membranes were ruptured and then I felt something I did not expect to feel: the urge to push. An extreme, unrelenting urge. My body had taken over. I immediately told the nurse and obgyn who were surprised and told me to hold it in while they got ready (yeah, like that’s easy to do LOL). I requested to be allowed to deliver on my side and turned to my left side as I waited for my body to tell me to push.
Ten minutes later, I was holding my beautiful daughter in my arms. I was so enthralled by the moment that I only realized when it was too late that I should tell the doctor that I wanted to wait for the cord to stop pulsating before it was cut. Oh well (note to self: next time, give the nurse your birth plan instead of counting on your brain to handle everything).
I am very happy with the way the everything went. Both my partner and I remained calm. I know that his support and implication were the cornerstones that helped me progress without pain medication for as long as I did. The staff was also very supportive and despite the fact that everything did not happen the way I had initially planned, I have no regrets with the decisions I made.