On the evening of November 27th David and I planned to have an “induction date.” This involved an evening of us trying every wives tale about natural induction methods. We bought memberships to the local community center and went walking, had hot wings for dinner, I sat on my exercise ball, etc. It was very fun and we laughed a lot, but I didn’t expect anything to happen. In fact, I was not having many contractions at all when I went to sleep that evening. However, around midnight I woke up with strong contractions and felt terrible. I waited about an hour before I woke David up to tell him that I thought I was actually in labor.
I had planned to spend early labor relaxing in a warm bubble bath with candles, sitting on my exercise ball, and getting back rubs. However, all of that went completely out of the window because I was already very uncomfortable. In fact, the contractions were so strong they made me throw up all of the hot wings that I had for dinner (bad idea). David tried to stick to my original plan to labor at home as long as possible. He drug his feet and made the bed, got a shower, took the dog out etc, while I tried to get him to head to the hospital.
When we did make it to the hospital (around 5am) I felt like I was emotionally in transition. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to focus on trying to relax my body during the contractions. We went to the MEU (maternal evaluation unit) where the resident checked my cervix and informed me that I was only 4cm dilated. I honestly came close to crying because I was in so much pain that I thought I would be 6 or 7cm dilated. I started doubting my ability to have a natural childbirth and told David “I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this.” We moved upstairs to Labor & Delivery where the nurse gave me a peanut ball and kept the lights very dim which I appreciated. David held my hand and did a great job answering all of the questions that were directed at me since, I didn’t want any distractions. They offered an epidural and IV fentanyl several times, but I kept saying “not right now” and telling myself that I just had to make it through the next contraction.
Seemingly a short while later, a new doctor came in and checked me. This time I was 9cm dilated and 100% effaced. She and the nurse were both impressed with how strong and effective my contractions were for someone who did not have Pitocin. Although I was disappointed with being told I was 4cm the first time, I was even more relieved to hear that I was almost completely dilated. Furthermore they expected me to begin pushing in about an hour. The last hurdle for that part of my labor was for my water to break. The doctor said that she would come back in about an hour and break my water if it did not break spontaneously. However, after some very intense contractions my water did break on its own in a pretty large gush.
I had heard that pushing comes as a relief to many women because they finally get to “do something” and that natural urges kick in. However, pushing was by far the hardest part of my labor. I was nervous about my ability to push because the muscles in my lower abdomen never fully healed from our car accident. I pushed for about two hours and I was so physically exhausted that several times I felt like I couldn’t push any longer. David told me afterwards that he could see how exhausted and unsure I was during this part of the birth. However, my nurse was amazing and kept coaching and encouraging me throughout the process. There was a light in the ceiling where I could see the reflection of Noah’s head and it gave me the strength to keep pushing. Unfortunately, I did tear at the very end of the pushing stage and needed stitches after he was born. The nurse paged the doctor to come in as she kept coaching me to push when I felt like I needed to.
The doctor arrived just in time to catch Noah as he came into this world at 10:23 am. All of the pain, fear, tiredness and negative emotions were immediately gone when they placed him on my chest. I started sobbing because it was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I felt more relief, love, and joy in that moment that I had ever felt before. I think all I managed to say was “Awh…he’s so cute.” This part of my labor experience was almost surreal. I was able to keep him skin to skin for an hour and breastfeed him for the first time. I was so overwhelmed by how completely perfect and alert Noah was. For weeks, I had anxiously waited to check him over for myself and make sure that he was not damaged from the accident. I was so thankful to hear him cry for the first time and a little proud that his APGAR scores were both 9s.
David was also very involved and cut the cord and held Noah skin to skin next. There is something so wonderful about seeing your spouse holding your baby. I thought my heart might burst from love. Even though I didn’t talk to him during the process or want him rubbing my back, David sitting quietly beside me holding my hand gave me the confidence that I needed during labor. Although giving birth naturally was extremely painful, I did find it rewarding and beautiful. While I am so thankful that I was able to experience natural childbirth, I truly believe that giving birth under any circumstance requires physical and mental strength. I have a new appreciation for what a Mother goes through to bring life into the world and a deeper understanding of the unconditional love they feel for their children.