This was my first child and everyone kept telling me to expect a bit of a long labor. I was mentally preparing myself for things to take some time, and with the impending induction, maybe even a couple days. Then on Saturday morning, January 19th, I woke up having contractions. They were mostly irregular but this is the first time that I have been able to time them specifically. It wasn’t just the stomach tightening. It felt more like menstrual cramping. We were waiting for our bed to arrive around 10am. About 9:30 I realized that the contractions had been 3-4 minutes apart and lasting a minute or longer for an hour. I could still walk and talk through them for the most part, but a few made me stop in my tracks. Then I suddenly lost my mucous plug.
We decided to call the hospital. They were surprised that I wasn’t in a lot of pain and weren’t sure they even wanted me to go to the hospital. My fiance re-told them their 5-1-1 rule and they decided to check with the doctor. After a few minutes, they said I should come in to be checked just in case, but they may have to send me home because it could be false labor. I was fine with that. My mom needed to go to the ER anyway because she had come down with bronchitis really bad. We threw the bags into the car just in case and made our way to the maternity ward arriving a bit before 11.
As I got up to the maternity ward I did notice the pain increased, but I could still move and breathe–though it was uncomfortable. It took a while to “get dressed” and hooked up to the monitors. They needed to check on my little one before they could check me and she kept moving so they couldn’t get a good reading until an hour in. This also prolonged the questions because the nurse kept having to stop to fix the monitor. Thank goodness they had called me in a doula named Emilie. She was very surprised at my pain tolerance because she pointed out that I was in fact having consistent contractions and they were hitting between 40-70%, but I wasn’t too phased. Since I had not taken classes, she went over breathing techniques with me and helping me focus. The pain continued to increase.
Finally, they had me get up on the bed and a nurse check me. She had trouble reaching my cervix and had to push on my stomach which was when the pain kicked up. She said I was about 4-5 centimeters and almost completely effaced. The nurse assured me that labor can take quite a while and I could end up having my baby the next day. I sat back into the rocking chair and suddenly felt like I was leaking. They had me stand up to check and confirmed my water had broke. About an hour later, the doctor came in to confirm the same thing and mentioned that I could be there for a while. At this point the contractions were becoming painful, but I just kept following what Emilie was saying. Sometimes it felt like everything disappeared around me. I could hear and see what was going on, but it was like I wasn’t even there. I asked for an epidural and they said they had to run labs and a bleeding time first due to my blood disorder.
My bleeding time ran 10 minutes to clot. It took another hour before the doctor came back to explain what the anesthesiologist had decided. I was not allowed to have an epidural because my bleeding time ran too long. If they stuck a needle in my back, I ran the risk of bleeding into my spine and becoming paralyzed. He also recommended that if I needed a c-section, I would need to be completely under since it would be safer. The other reasoning was that he had nothing to compare it to. I have not had major surgeries before with significant blood loss that could compare to labor. They offered me sartol(sp?) instead, but warned it would wear off quickly and make my head feel funny. They said they could give me a few dosages to help with the pain since it could take a while. I agreed to try it. “Labor taking a while” seemed to be something they kept telling me throughout the questions. Which was beginning to annoy me more than scare me.
It took another hour to get the sartol and then they injected it into my IV. The nurse then said, “Bet that feels a lot better!” I will admit that my head started to feel funny, but the pain did not subside at that point. “I’m sorry, but no it doesn’t.” I replied. They were surprised that it didn’t take effect, but a conversation about going to the dentist and not bothering with numbing my gums made me realize why it didn’t work. I wish I had known that earlier because it does make your head feel like you have had a couple drinks–I would have said no. I should also mention, my conversations all seemed to contain polite words like please, thank you, you’re welcome. They kept telling me how nice and polite I was despite how high the contractions were peaking and lasting.
Finally when I was back in the bed, I told the nurse “Please, I needed to push”. She laughed and said “Oh, I don’t think so hunny.” I looked at Emilie who looked confused and then told the nurse to check me again. She did and said I was nine and a half centimeters, but she felt a small lip still. They called the doctor who took some time to come check. When she did, she looked confused at the nurses and said that she just pushed the small lip back and it was okay for me to start pushing. She then told me that this can take a couple hours and to keep doing what I have been doing. She explained bearing down and how to push and then let me get to it. I got up and sat in the chair to push for about 20 minutes. Then I got back into the bed because when the nurse checked me she said the head was coming.
The doctor came running in trying to get dressed and get everything set up quickly. She was surprised and said I was doing a good job. My fiance and her discussed zombies while I continued to push. They told me when I was going to feel the head crowning I would experience the “ring of fire”. I decided to use it as a focus point to continue pushing through, but when the doctor said “here we go” I did not experience an intense burning. The contractions were much more painful. Some allowed me to push 8-10 times because it would peak, drop a bit, then peak again before dropping down. They were also so close I didn’t get that “break” in between. I may have been able to catch my breath once or twice when I was lucky. There was also an argument between Emilie and another doula who came in just before the doctor. Apparently because of the time shifts, the new doula said this was her delivery. Emilie stayed a few moments to make the transition easier for me.
Now the doctor explained once the head was out, because I was over my due date and there was a risk the baby swallowed muconium, she wanted me to try to stop pushing so they could quickly suction her out. Then we could work on the rest of the body. I said, “I understand, thank you.” So I keep pushing and open my eyes to hear “Okay, here’s the head!—Okay! okay! OKAY!” Then the doctor shrieked and her eyes almost bugged out of her head as she caught my baby and she almost went into the bag. As she collected herself she then commented, “Now that’s a big baby!” They took her directly over to the pediatrician so she could be examined immediately–everything turned out fine. Rhaewyn was placed on top of my chest and within five minutes the placenta followed. The doctor mentioned something about the blood clotting like a zombie which made my fiance giggle. Rhaewyn shot out at 4:37pm. My total active labor was roughly 40 minutes.
The worst things I said during this all are as follows:
Fuck – only once when they had to readjust the monitor to find her heart beat. Emilie made me laugh making a comment about “no swearing”, but it quite hurt during the contraction.
Please kill me – said a total of four times with slight variations but all while being polite.
Please stop rubbing – asking my fiance to stop rubbing my leg. I didn’t swear or yell at him or anything of the sort. He was a trooper and did stop rubbing my leg.
Please, I can’t do this – said once, but Emilie quickly snapped me out of it and got me to say that I can do it a few times out loud in the midst of a horrid contraction.
I also have to note that Emilie was absolutely amazing when I had terrible pain. She was such a rock and inspired me with such confidence during the labor. The other doula got to lift my leg up and hold it so that the baby could pass under my pelvic bone. She was nice, but very distant. If I had not had Emilie, I really would have been lost. The support, comfort, and love she provided was amazing. I also made sure to request a survey for her when the other doula asked me to fill out hers. She didn’t seem pleased about it, but gave me both surverys. Of course, I highly praised Emilie.
I could have gone into more detail about what transpired, but I don’t want to go overboard. I tried to get the most essential and prominent memories out of my head.