- Summer 2015
- First Baby
- Mom’s Age: 27
- 3 Days Late
- 28 Hour Labor
- Vaginal Birth
- Columbus, Ohio
- Ohio State University Hospital
- Patricia Dodge, CNM of Ohio State University Midwifery
Ignorance is bliss. Especially when you are pregnant for the first time. It took 28 hours (20 being drug free + 2 hours of pushing). Prior to D-day I spent a lot of time thinking about how I wanted to bring my baby into this world. Home birth? All Natural? Drugged up? C-section? OBGYN? Midwife? They should have a catalog with all the ways in which a baby can be born, it’s crazy. I read numerous books, watched hundreds of videos (you do not want to know how many lady parts I’ve seen push out babies – seriously – it may haunt your dreams), and even took classes to figure out what was best for me and my family. After all of my research I thought I was ready for my natural birth. I was wrong. No Salt N’ Pepper song, no mantra or breathing technique could have ever prepared me for the intensity that is labor.
I had an appointment to see my midwife on my due date (Wednesday). I used the Midwife program at the Ohio State Hospital, where there were six different midwives who I met with throughout my pregnancy (my favorite ended up delivering my son). At this appointment my midwife checked to see what my effacement and dilation was. The Midwife tells me I am 2CM and 90% effacement. She strips my membranes (sounds sexy, right?) and tells me that the baby will be coming within 48 hours and that because he is sitting so low that it will be a ‘quick delivery’. Famous last words. “Great!” I thought “I will just walk this baby out!”
Around 4AM Friday morning I started having consistent contractions. The second I told Phil they were consistent, he was a Nazi about timing them. I couldn’t sleep and I was so uncomfortable as I was now 3 days over due (there is an unspoken reality with overdue pregnant women – it’s like dog years, every minute in a non-pregnant persons world is like 7 minutes to a pregnant woman. Unless you have to pee then the opposite is true). The rule we learned in a birthing class is to go to the hospital when your contractions were 5 minutes apart lasting 1 minute in length for at least an hour. The contractions were stronger than the Braxton Hicks I had experienced and were about 10 minutes apart. We called the midwife and she said we should head into the hospital around 8AM. WHAT?! Shouldn’t we be rushing like they do in the movies? Nah, turns out it isn’t that dramatic and the baby doesn’t just fall out (at least with your first) so we tried to get some sleep.
HOSPITAL VISIT #1
We got to the hospital around 8:30AM and at this point I am thinking “oh, I can handle this drug free birth, these contractions suck but they are not that bad”. The midwife checked me (3CM – 90% effaced) and then had me walk the halls for an hour to try and speed things up. No progress. After two hours of monitoring we were sent home with the encouragement that we would be back sometime later that day/tomorrow morning.
What does one do when you are in early labor and no where to go? Get food of course. These contractions had nothing on my appetite. We go to this very SMALL brunch spot, Katalina’s. Let me paint this picture for you – have you ever seen a fat rat squeeze through a tiny hole to get to cheese? Well, that was me. I was the quintessential hungry pregnant woman. And because every one throws political correctness out the window when it comes to pregnancy (hi let me touch your belly and tell you how huge you are), I got lots of stares and whispers. To make matters worse, as soon as we sat down to eat my contractions got stronger. They became so intense that I had to start breathing techniques between bites.
HEE-HEE HOO-HOO HAA-HAA. Bite. HEE-HEE HOO-HOO HAA-HAA. Bite.
The two girls that were next to us stared at me, horrified. I’d like to say I probably saved them a years worth of birth control by the look on their faces. I don’t think they blinked as they watched me suffer through each contraction, only to be followed by the inhalation of my breakfast tacos. Neither site was pretty. My husband asked if I wanted to leave, but there was no way I was leaving without finishing my breakfast tacos. Once they were in my belly we decided to go home until we reached the 5:1:1 rule.
LABOR AT HOME
I was somehow still starving when we got home. I downed some fruit and nuts, pulled out my birthing ball and waited for my parents to arrive. They had driven down from Cleveland to be helpful and supportive. Key word. HELPFUL. I love my Dad but he was anything but helpful. Every time I got a contraction (which now were so intense I was lying on the floor in the fetal position) he wanted to have a conversation.
“HEY, ARE YOU HAVING A CONTRACTION?” “HEY, DOES IT HURT?” “HEY, HOW FAR IS THE HOSPITAL FROM HERE?”
I was in a vulnerable spot, but it didn’t stop me from threatening my fathers life if he continued to talk to me while I was in the middle of a contraction. Even though my Dad was naive to my pain, my mom was amazing. She rubbed my back and got me what I needed. After a couple hours at home my contractions were anywhere between 3-8 minutes a part, lasting between 30-90 seconds. I was confused because they say the the contractions will be consistent in length , but mine were not. However, they were getting much more intense. When I got to the point that I couldn’t talk during a contraction we decided to head to the hospital for round two.
HOSPITAL VISIT #2
As any first time parent would do, my husband drove 90 MPH to the hospital. Thank goodness because there is another unspoken rule when pregnant – contractions in the car are 1,000X worse than any other place. Once in the hospital, I would have to stop walking every few feet during a contraction. I thought I was going to have the baby ANY MINUTE and it felt like eternity by the time we arrived to maternity ward. I waddle to the front desk and to my dismay there was a WAITING LINE. I had no choice but to labor in the waiting room. You know, where families are happy and eager to meet their new sweet babies – not witness how they actually get here. They put the mothers behind heavy secure doors for a reason, it isn’t pretty people. But they couldn’t usher me back there fast enough so I had to make due for 30 agonizing minutes. With each contraction the only thing that helped was to sway, grip the wall and moan. For those that don’t know, these techniques can be learned by watching an X rated film. You are supposed to do deep low moans because your body needs to remain in a relaxed state or the contraction is worse. It is the most sexual sound ever. Isn’t that ironic considering you want to murder your partner at that point? But I digress.
Around 7PM I was finally in a bed and was given the depressing news that I was still only 3CM! However, my contractions were so intense that they couldn’t send me home. Many people have asked me what a contraction feels like. For me, a contraction could only be described as a slow twisting/stabbing pain that starts in your lower back and then disperses over to the front of your abdomen. It is a paralyzing tightening that makes it hard to breathe. Sounds fun, right? Once I was admitted I spent the next 5 hours trying to manage contractions that were coming every 3-6 minutes. I tried everything to cope with the pain, music, hot shower, birthing ball, massage. You name it. By midnight I had only progressed to 5CM. I wanted to die. The midwife offered to break my bag of waters to speed up the labor but by doing that contractions become even more intense.
Uhhh what? There was NO way I could handle more pain. So I made the decision to get the epidural. Even though I wanted all natural I told myself that if I got to a point where I could no longer relax between contractions then I would use the epidural. Let me tell you this was a GAME CHANGER. That needle is your best freaking friend. Who cares that it is the circumference of a pen and as long as a small toddler – STICK IT IN. And so they did – and the last stretch (another 5 hours) I could relax. After my epidural was in my water was broken. Then I got a little rest and wondered how soon I would get to meet my little baby.
The final stage of labor…where to start. There is a lot going on. There is fluid and pressure and people sticking their hands, er, up there. Even with the epidural it still hurt like a bitch. You basically feel like you are taking the largest most intense poop of your life. As the staff was prepping for baby they roll this HUGE mirror toward us. “Um, what is that for?” I asked the nurse. She explained that they use the mirror during pushing so that Mom and Dad can watch the baby come out.
Hold the phone. Say wha!? Do you really think I want to watch my lady bits torn apart? No thank you. I would also like to be intimate with my husband again. Or wait a second…did I? In the end, I had them get rid of the mirror and then began the two hours of non. stop. pushing. One positive, I couldn’t tie my shoes the last two months of pregnancy but when I was pushing I magically had the flexibility of Nastia Liukin and my ankles were up by my ears.
The two hours did go by pretty quickly due to all the adrenaline and positive energy in the room. I had amazing support from my husband, my Mom, and the medical staff. Right before my last push, the midwife instructed my husband to shout out the sex of the baby as soon as it was born(we waited to find out sex). The last push came, and before he could muster the announcement I scream “ITS A BOY!” Ooops. Typical me, taking control. I had my hands between my legs so I was able to hold him the second he was born. Our son came out screaming covered in meconium and he had managed to get it all over the midwife. But he was healthy. He had pooped after his head was out so we didn’t have to worry about meconium aspiration. They laid him on my chest while we waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing (I recommend doing delayed cord clamping! check it out). It was the best moment of my life, poop and all. He continued to cry for the first hour. Then the most amazing thing happened once everyone left the room. It was finally quiet, he looked up at me and his crying stopped. I laid there letting everything soak in. All my dreams of meeting this little person was here and he was all mine. It was a long process but I would not change a single thing. It is a high like no other.
And just like that, we were a family of three.