Lots and lots of labor
As my dear friend Judi labors on this evening, trying to push out the miracle of life for the second time, I am reminded of my own right of passage into the club of motherhood. I recall the early labor contractions that woke me up at 4 AM or so (I’m not 100% sure what time it was, but it was definitely still dark out). It would not be until 10 PM that Saturday night that we headed to the hospital. At around 7 PM it started to get uncomfortable. We called the Doula.
A bit of advice here. If you want a natural/vaginal birth in a hospital environment, hire a Doula! It was the best decision we could have ever made. It gave us the confidence to labor in a hospital knowing I would not get pressured into any unnecessary drugs or pain medication without being fully informed. If you live in the NYC area you can find Bethany (my awesome Doula) here at momskneads.com. She was amazing!
Bethany showed up at our home around 8ish. I was having back to back contractions. Yes, that means exactly what it sounds like. Two contractions right after the other without a break. They suck! Bethany said she had seen this happen when the baby’s head was not straight down, but kinked a little bit. We did a few exercises to try and correct the baby’s position and it seemed to do the trick. As is usual, things started to progress and we headed to the hospital around 10 PM. The on-call doctor checked me out and said I was only 2 cm dilated. Since I did not want an epidural (at that point, anyways) they sent me to… the lobby.
19 hours of early labor pains so far
In the lobby we ordered take out. I don’t think we were supposed to, but I’m so so glad we did because it was my last meal for a while and that meal helped me get through a rough 12 hours. We started walking! Back and forth, back and forth, those belly dance classes came in real handy. Yes, undulations! they get things moving during the birthing process. Who knew? Well, Bethany did. That’s why you hire a Doula.
22 hours, getting difficult to stand during a contraction
Back to back contractions started up again so we repeated the same exercises again. If I thought it was hard the first time, ha! This shit just got real. I started to get the shakes. It’s like you are freezing only you are not. This is what is called transition. 2:30 AM the nurse comes looking for us. We should have been back an hour ago… oops! Back for a 2nd check up, now I’m 8 cm dilated. In about three hours I progressed 6 cm. Even my doctor wanted to know how we did that. Seriously, she really wanted know what we had been doing. Undulations, baby!
We get checked in and into a delivery room we go. They ask me again if I wanted an epidural. Here, I must admit, I seriously considered it. I looked at Bethany and she said I had made it so far, what’s two more centimeters? ha, ha! jokes on me. Go figure, those are the hardest centimeters. Things get a little blurry after this point. I know the next 3 or 4 hours were difficult, but I felt like I was in a trance. Being able to move around was a huge plus. For this reason alone, I would not recommend an epidural. But mainly, because my contractions started to spread apart a bit. Not what you want when you are laboring. I am confident an epidural would have slowed things down even more. This has not been confirmed by a medical professional, it’s just my gut feeling.
This is me and my hubby going through a contraction
26 hours of labor, not much fun
In an effort to get them back on track, Bethany suggested we should make out. oh! did I not mention my husband was next to me the whole time? He was, and what an amazing job he did. Really, he did not leave my side for a second. Another reason to hire a Doula. They can go or stay with you if you need them to. At this point we were alone (me and the hubby) and the make-out sessions started to work. Boy, did I want to push. I believe at this point I was already 10 CM dilated, completely effaced (Cervix gets shorter) and my water was broken, but when you are in a hospital you are not supposed to push if the doctor and/or nurse are not in the room. So…what do you do? You bare down. Whatever that means, it sucks! I don’t clearly remember how the contraction felt, but I do recall the stabbing pain in my lower back. ugh! That was by far the worst part of a contraction.
This is us during a make-out session. Notice he is also rubbing my breast. Also, another tool to get things moving
Now, at this point, I would have gladly accepted an epidural. I was not opposed to it completely from the beginning. I just didn’t want it too early on. I never brought it up because honestly, I don’t think I could have stayed still and curled up while they inserted a needle in my back. I persevered without it.
It is now about 8 AM and finally everyone is back in the room. Only thing is, my contractions start to spread apart again and I’m not getting the momentum I need to push and actually make some progress. He moved down, but kept slipping back up. It’s time for a little Pitocin! I was terrified because I had heard that pitocin can make the contractions more intense. Again, I asked Bethany and she agreed with the doctor. This was the right time to use this drug and get things going. I needed the help. It’s not that I didn’t believe my doctor when she recommended we use pitocin, it’s just that sometime doctors want to get things moving for reasons other than for you and the baby’s well being. They can be… a little impatient. This, however, was not the case. Both the doctor and nurse were very supportive of my birthing plan and were really trying to do the best thing for us.
The pitocin is starting to kick in. Time to get to work. Yikes! First with the rope, it’s not working. I’m not pushing right. I’m using my arms to pull up and not pushing through my core. Whomever tells you it’s just like pushing out a poop, is full of it! I know how to poop. I’ve been doing it my whole life. This is a whole other ball game. They take the rope away and tell me to hold my legs. I resist. I’m not sure I can do it. This is the most bizarre part of it all. Everyone is telling me I’m doing great. I have my doubts. I think, they are lying to me so I don’t give up. Meanwhile, they are all standing around chatting waiting for me to have another contraction. When I feel a contraction start, they help me get my legs up and start directing me on how to push. Don’t push up with your arms, hold your breath, relax your butt. Push! Push! Push!… annnnnd, i’m done. Oh…the looks of disappointment when he didn’t come out are so sad (at least that was my perception of it). I’m thinking, is this normal? I ask Bethany. She confirmed, yes, this is totally normal. I hear a woman screaming from another delivery room. Dammmm! is she going through the same thing? Somehow, yelling did not seem like a useful tactic for me.
30 hours of labor, this really sucks!
After an hour of this, I start to make some progress. They can see his head. They want ME to see his head. I kindly decline. They insist, thinking it will help motivate me to push harder. They set up the mirror. I can see his head. I touch it. They were right. Bethany tells me to get angry during the next contraction and yell something. I think I said something like “get the f@*# out of me!”. It was kind of pathetic. It did not work. Doubt starts to creep in. I’m not sure I can do it. They might need to cut him out. I wait for the doctor, the nurse, anybody to tell me they are taking me to the OR for a C-section. They don’t. They just keep cheering me on for another hour. Poor Monks, he has been in the birth canal for 2+ hours just waiting for me to push him out. No wonder the little guy came out looking like a little boxer who lost the match.
Only a few more contractions to go, so they tell me. The doctor and nurse start to get ready. The doctor puts on something that looks like a hazmat suit. What is she expecting to come out, an alien?
11 AM, 31 hours later, Monks is finally out!
He kind of did look like an alien. They set him directly on my chest (It’s the best place for him to be). The nurse does everything she needs to do while he is on my chest. We refused to weigh him for several hours to keep him on me as long as possible and help establish the lactation process.
I wish I could say that I fell in love with him instantly. What I can say is that I felt relief, exhaustion, an a protective instinct. I also was a little terrified at what this little alien had just done to my nether regions. Remember the mirror that they set up to encourage me to push him out? Well…it was still in place, and I could see EVERYTHING that was going on down there. It looked like a murder scene. I quickly asked Bethany to move the mirror. Though, you really can’t unsee such things. I looked at my husband. He was teary eyed and so overjoyed with happiness. I thought… good, at least one person here loves him.
It did not take long for me to fall completely in love with him. Come to think of it, I think it was love all along, just not the mushy kind.
This is me and Monks, the alien, resting blissfully in our room
Congratulations, Judi, my dear. You are my hero once again. Welcome to the world, Tea. I can’t wait to meet you.
(Bethany, Thank you for your support and the wonderful photography. If you happen to notice some part of this story that is grossly mistaken, please do let me know so I can correct it. Trying to recall this almost a year later has been challenging, to say the least. Got to love those pregnancy hormones!)