Mason’s Birth Story: Part I

by Kim on March 27, 2012

Life has changed so much in one short week, since this little dude arrived:

It’s funny because, a little over a week ago, I couldn’t even imagine this actually happening. I felt like I’d been pregnant for so long, and anticipating this big event for so long, that it was suddenly impossible to picture labor actually starting. I was so sure I’d be pregnant forever.

And then, one random Wednesday morning (2 days before my due date), this happened:

I woke up around 7 to get ready for work. I remember feeling a little cramping pain, but assumed it was because I just really needed to relieve my bladder. So I went to the bathroom, and as I was standing up, I felt a sudden gush of fluid soak through my pants. Woah. I immediately sat back down, and when I looked in the toilet, it was full of blood.

It wasn’t immediately obvious to me what had happened. Yes, there had been a gush of fluid, but not enough to make me think my water had broken (especially since I was so convinced I would never go into labor–I think I was almost talking myself out of it). The blood made me think it might have been my “bloody show,” which some women get up to a week before they actually go into labor.

Perplexed, I came out of the bathroom to report to my husband: (*super dramatic voice*) “Something happened. I’m not sure what…but it was definitely something.” Then I grabbed my phone to consult Google, typing in things like “water breaking vs. bloody show.” Results were confusing and mixed. Bah. So I took a shower and got ready for work, still thinking I would probably end up going.

At this point, I was starting to feel some pretty serious cramping that came and went. Having no idea what an actual labor contraction felt like, I didn’t recognize the feeling.  Although I’d read that early labor could feel like menstrual cramps, I was still too busy trying not to get my hopes up to actually digest what was happening.

Eventually, I was uncomfortable enough to get in touch with my boss and nix work for the day. My email went something like this: “I’m not sure if this is IT or not, but I’ll be out of the office for at least the morning while I find out.” Then, I called my mom for advice. After I explained what had happened, she confirmed (in a very squealy, teenage-girl-at-a-Bieber-concert voice) that it was definitely my water breaking (her rationale was that the bloody show would never be a gush–and I know I didn’t just pee my pants).

Finally, I was able to believe what was happening–I was ACTUALLY IN LABOR!

I knew I was supposed to get to the hospital as soon as my water broke, and to deliver the baby within 24 hours (!!) to avoid infection. And so, the clock was ticking. I texted the hubby, who had already left for work, sending the message I’d been dying to write for weeks (“water broke–come home!”). Then I focused on tossing final items into my hospital bag, which had been sitting semi-packed in our room for two weeks. When a contraction hit, I’d curl up on the bed to wait out the pain, which was still pretty tolerable.

We arrived at the hospital around 10 AM. The closest parking spot we could find was on the seventh floor of the ramp–what a drag! I awkwardly fought through contractions in the elevator and hall all the way to triage, trying not to draw too much attention to myself. In triage, our nurse performed some kind of swab test to check whether my water had actually broken and was elated to report that it had. So we were admitted and moved into our birthing room…where the fun really began.

Going into labor, I didn’t have a strict “birth plan” per se, but I did have a few ideas about how I wanted to approach things. My number one goal, of course, was to get the baby out safely, doing whatever was necessary to make that happen. But my secondary goals, in an ideal world, were to avoid a C-section or induction, and to get the baby out as quickly as possible. I thought I’d probably get an epidural, but wanted to delay that as much as possible (ideally, until I’d dilated maybe 7-8 cm) in hopes of expediting labor. This was due to the fact that I’d heard sooo many stories about how epidurals slowed labor, which in turn led to C-sections. (The C-section connection is a controversial point, but I was actually more focused on the potential for labor-slowing than the whole C-section thing.)

So I was excited that I’d been lucky enough to go into labor naturally, and the contractions had started coming very regularly immediately after my water broke–no induction, check! Per my “plan,” I continued to labor naturally for the entire afternoon. I spent a few hours sitting in a warm bath, joking around with Brent and the nurse and pausing every few minutes to breathe through contractions. The pain was still pretty tolerable–all I had to do was close my eyes, focus, and breathe to get through it.

Around 2 PM, the doctor swung by to check me. When I was admitted that morning, I’d been 3 cm dilated…now, 4 hours later, I was SO disappointed to find that I was STILL only 3 cm! The contractions, though not completely debilitating, were definitely painful–painful enough, I thought, that they had to be helping me progress. But no. So when the doctor offered to start a low dose of Pitocin to strengthen the contractions, I (sadly) agreed. (Pitocin had also been on my avoid-if-possible list.)

And let me tell you: contractions vs. contractions on Pitocin are two very, VERY different things. Within an hour, the pain went from intense to excruciating. I have a pretty high pain tolerance (or so I kept telling myself!!) and still felt mostly in control of the situation, but I could feel things ramping up a little more with each contraction. I tried a million positions–kneeling over the birthing ball, bouncing on the ball, leaning over the bed, walking around, doing the “slow dance” with Brent, etc. (I was pretty impressed with how much we actually remembered from our birthing classes! Woohoo!) I was too self-conscious about how I acted during contractions to walk the halls–how do people actually do that??–but the birthing room was spacious enough to give me some good walking space (given the limitation that I had to semi-circle around the stupid IV cart the whole time). Every few minutes (2-4 at that point), I’d see the dreaded line on the screen that monitored my contractions start to inch upward. Bracing myself for what was coming, I’d get into whatever position I wanted for that round as the horrible “here we go again” feeling washed over me. (I knew I was supposed to be thinking positively and picturing my baby, but it was getting harder and harder as I got more exhausted and frustrated.)

By 6 PM, we were living in a full-on natural childbirth DVD. I’d thrown any remaining inhibitions to the wind and was letting my body react how it wanted to. The result was tons of loud moaning and groaning, panting, and gasping. (But no swearing or husband-directed accusations, as the nurse pointed out–small victories, haha.)

I’ll never forget the moment I cracked. I was kneeling over the birthing ball when one particularly horrible contraction hit, very unreasonably soon after the last horrible contraction had hit, and I suddenly felt the first tears fill my eyes. As soon as the tears hit, I knew I was losing control. Despite how hard I was trying to relax (using the nurse’s helpful advice to relax one part of my body at a time), for the first time I started feeling panicky when a contraction started. Instead of accepting the pain and working with it, I felt my body trying to push it away.

To be continued…

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