It was a cold winter day in Oklahoma. I was 11 days overdue with our first child. I wanted a natural birth if at all possible and a positive birthing experience for our first child. Delivering in our local hospital would make me have to work harder on both of those points so we chose to use a hospital 1 1/2 hours away that had midwives on staff.
We were having an unusually snowy winter for this part of the country. An Oklahoma style blizzard had come through earlier in the week and more snow was in the forecast. We were praying that when this child decided to make it’s appearance the roads would be safe.
I started the morning off with a check-up at the doctor’s office. My midwife said everything looked good and the non-stress test and ultrasound confirmed it. I was 2 centimeters dilated (only my second time to get checked this pregnancy) and let the midwife strip my membranes to see if anything would get started while we had a few days of no snow. Most things I’ve read talked about how painful and uncomfortable it is to have your membranes stripped but I didn’t experience that at all – it didn’t feel like anything. Maybe it was a sign my body was getting ready.
We drove the hour and a half back home knowing it was a very real possibility we’d be having a baby that weekend even though I was feeling no different than I’d been feeling every other week and every other day. Shaun went back to work for the afternoon and I went home and did the usual stuff around the house. Some friends came by with their two boys and strawberry ice cream and we visited until they left a little after 8. Shaun and I ate a late supper (yep, we sure did have dessert first) and watched some TV.
A little before 10 I decided bed was calling my name. I stood up off of the couch and all of a sudden I noticed I was very wet. Yes, my water broke while I was sitting and I had no idea. Shaun had to ask, “are you sure?” when I told him.
Since we live so far from the hospital, and with my mother’s advice, we decided to pack our things and head that way. (Yes, I was 11 days past due and the hospital bags still weren’t completely packed.) If labored progressed slowly we could get a hotel near the hospital to stay at.
During the 1 1/2 trip the contractions started. Nothing too bad but definitely uncomfortable. I didn’t even bother timing them. We got to the hospital a little before midnight, things were still the same. By the time I got checked into triage I was at 6 1/2 centimeters. It was then things started getting a little more uncomfortable.
I walked over to my (amazing) birthing room and met the labor and delivery nurse. A bit later LeAnn, the midwife on call, came. Such a sweet person. She gave Shaun a talk about what to expect and what I might say (I can’t do this anymore) as we got closer to the end. I sat on the birthing ball a while and the contractions were hurting like crazy. We were going to see if being in the bathtub would help any, so as the nurse helped fill it up I sat on the toilet. It’s hard to describe labor pains, but it was something like your entire abdomen being tied up in the most painful knots ever. In my head, I wondered how much more I could take.
The nurse asked if I wanted to be checked again. I was at 8 centimeters and she went off to tell the midwife. More painful contractions and I thought “I can’t do this anymore!”
Guess what that meant? It was time to push. I can’t say this was fun, but I was a step closer to being done with the process. It felt like I was pushing forever. I hated that the nurse and midwife would say “you are so close” and “just a little more” and I had no idea if they were telling the truth. Was I really doing a good job? Was the end actually here” Finally, the head was crowning! I was happy because I knew it was close and it was honestly the least painful part of the pain.
3:36am on February 5th, 2011 (12 days late) the baby was born! The midwife let Shaun be the first to find out the gender of the baby – we had a girl! She was 7 pounds 3 ounces and 19 inches. One of the first thoughts that crossed my mind was “I don’t think I can ever do that again.”
After our daughter was born I was shaking from the experience but happy. I had a second degree tear that was stitched up. My midwife complimented me on how great I did and specifically how well I did pushing, especially for my first baby. She couldn’t believe I was only pushing for 15 minutes. I later told Shaun that those were the longest 15 of my life.
I was happy with how my labor and delivery went and how supportive everyone was. My decisions were respected for what I chose to do and not to do during and after delivery. Doctors didn’t second guess me, and the hospital was supportive of breastfeeding and listening to what the family wanted. Recovery went well, I was just sore for a while from the tearing. Something I was thankful to not experience with birth number two.
(Read about the birth of our second child here!)