Simon is now just over two months old and it’s taken me about that long to bring all my thoughts together about my first time giving birth. It’s had a profound impact on my life and I feel very very lucky to have had the experience I did.
The Lead Up
From about 36 weeks on I felt like I was on edge with anticipation of “baby time.” Every cramp or Braxton Hicks contraction made me wonder whether it was go time or not. I’m pretty sure I told James no less than three times that I thought today was baby day.
Leading up to Simon’s birth day I was having lots of practice contractions and felt utterly exhausted. I also felt large and in charge. Sleep was not coming easily and our AC decided to give out with a couple weeks left. That made for a few very long nights.
FINALLY, on July 12th around 2:00 AM I rolled over in bed and my water broke. I thought for a second that I peed myself (lol), but nope. Two seconds later it was like a scene from a movie where the expectant mother’s water breaks everywhere. I woke up James and let him know what happened.
I called my midwife and let her know what the deal was. We headed to the hospital to make sure baby was feeling good and to confirm my water broke.
We arrived around 3:30 and everything checked out and was good to go. James was in for quite the surprise when he was able to join me bedside in triage with some other moms who were in heavy labor. Lots of sights and noises that neither of us experienced before.
We were sent home for 12 hours to try to get labor started. I did the Miles circuit, bounced on the ball, walked my heart out and stayed hydrated to get labor started. 12 hours later and still nothing. We headed back to triage at 2:30.
Upon arrival we both had a giddy feeling knowing that next time we left, we would be parents.
Labor still had not started when I got back to the hospital. I was only at 4cm and anxious to get things started. I went into this process trying to have as little intervention as possible while also keeping an open mind. I would do what kept baby and me the safest and healthiest.
When the nurse came in and suggested I take a dose of misoprostol to get things moving I was skeptical and peppered her with questions. Why is this necessary? Can I wait longer and see what happens? Are the baby and I in any current danger? She was frustrated and said she would call my midwife. I wasn’t meaning to be a difficult patient, but I wanted to make the right choice for our family and what I wanted.
I knew that anything that kickstarts or induces labor could make labor more painful and that made me scared that I would want an epidural. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an epidural, but with my scoliosis it made me nervous and I wanted to avoid it. I also wanted to be able to transfer to the birth center at our hospital, and that would not be possible if I were administered certain medications.
I fully trusted my team of midwives I saw for prenatal care throughout my pregnancy. They truly seemed like they cared and showed so much patience with all of my first-time mom questions. My midwife advised that it would be ok if I took the misoprostol and assured me that I would still be able to be transferred to the birthing center if everything kept progressing well. She reassured me that a pain med free birth was still possible and reminded me that I knew what I was doing.
Before the dosage I was admitted to a room in L&D. It was BUSY that day. By this point it was 7:00PM. Around 7:15 I took the dose of misoprostol and 10 minutes later I had my first real contraction.
When the real contractions hit I finally understood what everyone meant when they said “you’ll know” when it’s the real deal. The contractions were starting every two minutes and were lasting a minute each. By 7:45 I progressed to 6cm. The contractions hurt but I was using the yoga ball along with breathing techniques I learned from our birthing class to get through them. I knew that there were the “easy” ones, but I had to push that out of my mind to keep my concentration.
I didn’t expect them to start out every two minutes. Every piece of info I read said that they will start out further apart and that it’s getting closer to active labor when they’re five minutes apart.
These contractions were hard to talk through and took concentration so I wouldn’t just break down in tears. James was the best support person ever and somehow knew where I needed him to be. There was only once or twice when I needed him to switch it up to back or neck rubs or nothing at all. The yoga ball was my saving grace.
By 10:00 the contractions were starting to feel very intense and I hopped into the shower to let the hot water hit my back. This not only helped the pain, but really calmed me. The nurse let me know that my midwife was here and was going to come talk to me about transferring to the birth center. A small part of me thought that the nurse assumed I was going to ask for medication soon and was just waiting for it. Her bedside manner wasn’t my favorite. I’ll just say, I preferred quiet speaking at the time, and quiet was not her go-to.
My midwife came in and monitored the baby one last time. I was relieved to know I met the requirements to be transferred to the birth center. I was in a LOT of pain by this point and scooted my butt to the wheelchair to go down the hall.
The Birthing Center
Entering the room at the birthing center was like in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory when the kids saw all the candy for the first time. I was relieved. It was dark, quiet and there was a warm bath for me to get into. I labored in the tub for about an hour before the midwife suggested I move to the bed to lean on the peanut ball.
This was BY FAR the hardest part. It was very hard to concentrate. It felt like one contraction would start before the other one ended. I was trying my best to not feel overwhelmed but WOW.
My midwife knew exactly what my preferences were (if possible), and I couldn’t even tell if she were in the room or not. James was there letting me squeeze his arm and the midwife was there assuring me all was good every now and then.
Not long after getting onto the bed I felt like it was time to push. I let my body do the work and baby came quickly. Just two pushes and he was here. I remember being so shocked all I could do was sit there and stare at his little face. It somehow didn’t feel real until he was in my arms. The primal feeling that people describe when you have a baby was definitely there and I’m so glad that James was right there next to me to experience it.
- Any sense of modesty I had went out the window when things got more intense. Before birth, being mostly on display for everyone in the room was a point of anxiety for me. Once the transition period hit, I could not have cared less.
- A team of nurses, midwives and doctors you trust can make all the difference. I feel extremely lucky to have had such a perfect team and access to modern medical care.
- I’m beyond grateful that James took the birthing class with me so he knew what was going on at all times and was able to be present. Understanding the science behind the birth process was calming for me. It helped me place more trust in my own body.
- I feel very lucky that labor was only 7 hours for me. I don’t know how I would have coped otherwise.
- I am at peace with my first birthing experience, and I wouldn’t change anything about it.