People have been asking me about my birth story, and Claire was born before this blog existed, so I haven’t had a chance to share. Part of me wanted to wait until November to post this, but the other part of me thinks there’s no time like the present!
So, here it is. If you’re not into birth stories, feel free to skip this post. If you are, here it is!
Claire was due Friday, December 2nd, 2005. On Tuesday, November 29th, at 1am, my labor started. The contractions were pretty strong and varied between 10 minutes, 7 minutes and 5 minutes apart and back. I timed them all night and tried to get as much rest between them as I could.
I wasn’t really shocked that I was going into labor, since toward the end of my pregnancy Claire had started measuring “big.” In fact, at my most recent appointment, the doctor said that I could go into labor at any time. My doctor had been saying this for two weeks, so it was about time!
At 8am, I told my hubby that I was pretty sure I was in labor. I didn’t tell him sooner, because I didn’t want him to freak out and not be able to sleep. We decided that he shouldn’t go in to work. I didn’t know if I’d really have her or how long this would be, but he worked from home, just to be safe.
At 9am, I called the doula to tell her what was going on. A doula is a labor coach that we’d hired. (She’d worked with me throughout my pregnancy on relaxation techniques and she also did personalized one-on-one classes in breastfeeding, etc. We also took the hospital classes, but that was more for my hubby’s benefit than mine, since I’d practically done enough research to get a degree in Birthin’ Babies…) I wanted to do my labor and delivery completely drug-free, and I didn’t want my hubby to have the responsibility of being my only labor coach. I wanted him there, but I knew that he would be concerned about me, and I wanted a professional there. (A doula doesn’t replace the father.) The OB nurses are great, but they change with the shifts, and they aren’t with you constantly. I wanted constant attention, especially if I was going to do this without drugs. Anyway, I told the doula what was happening, and she said I was definitely on my way. She told me to continue using the birth ball and try to get as much rest as possible, and to call her if anything changed.
I also called my doctor’s office to tell them I was in labor. They said that she actually had the day off and another doctor was on-call that day. The receptionist jokingly said I could wait until tomorrow if I really wanted to. Uh, no thanks! Little did I know…
I labored all day and at 3pm, the contractions became really strong. I was able to focus through them, and the birthing ball really helped. They were consistently 5 minutes apart, so I called to update the doula. (Our hospital doesn’t even want to see you until the contractions are 3 minutes apart…)
At 5pm, the contractions suddenly jumped to 3 minutes apart and I panicked. Panicking made me lose focus and the contractions seemed a lot worse (I’m sure they were the same; it was my focus that had changed). I called the doula and she got me back on track. While on the phone with her, they went back to 5 minutes apart. Still, she decided to come over, and she got to our house at 5:45. (She lived a few minutes away, but she had to get her little girl situated, etc…)
At 7pm, the contractions were consistently 3 minutes apart, so we decided to go to the hospital. I remember being really annoyed that I had to put clothes on. My hubby wanted me to wear a coat, but I was boiling. I refused to wear a coat and I remember walking up to the hospital wondering how it could be so hot. (It wasn’t. It was actually close to freezing outside.) They checked me into triage, and I was 4cm dilated, 100% effaced and I had a bulging bag of waters.
We got settled into the birthing room (you give birth and recover in the same room, and the hospital is newly remodeled and very nice). My doula suggested we go to the spa room and I got to use the huge birthing tub for over an hour. That felt so good!
They didn’t require continuous monitoring there (which I didn’t want anyway), but they did require that I lay on the bed for so many minutes every hour or so to be monitored that way. That was excruciating. (We’d tried using the monitors while I was on the birthing ball, but they kept slipping, and the nurse on duty was getting snippy with me. Luckily, we found a compromise that made her happy and let me labor – for the most part – how I wanted to.) How women labor in beds is beyond me!! I could totally handle the contractions while on the birthing ball with the doula rubbing my back. Lying in the bed was pretty unbearable.
Close to midnight, they checked and I was 6cm and the doctor could feel Claire’s head through my bag of waters. I gave them permission to break my water, and they said she’d be born within a few hours.
2:30am November 30th – I’d reached 10 cm! Without drugs! There was a slight lip on my cervix, so the doctor wouldn’t let me push yet. For some reason, not only did it not go away, but because Claire kept turning her head and the contractions were so violent, my cervix had started swelling! So, I went from 10 cm to 9 and back to 8!!
At 4:30am, the doctor came to tell us that we should consider an epidural. We wanted to wait a bit longer to see if the swelling would go down. It didn’t. The doctor said that if I didn’t get an epidural to slow things down, I’d need a c-section. I remember the doctor being very calm, and she had a copy of my Birth Plan in her hand. She was so respectful of our wishes, but very concerned about what needed to happen. Part of me was really proud of myself for making it to 10cm without drugs, but another part of me was devastated. But, we trusted the medical professionals. We reluctantly agreed to an epidural, so that was administered at 5:30am.
I got instant relief, and Claire and I tolerated it well. I was able to rest, and sure enough, just like the doctor said, the labor slowed down and my cervix was allowed to stop swelling.
During this time, the shift change happened in the hospital staff, and my own doctor was the one on-call. I joked with her that it was her fault this had happened, because Claire was so intent on meeting her. I also asked one of the nurses if “Kim” was on duty. She was the little labor and delivery nurse that had taught our hospital birthing class. Sure enough, she was on duty, and she signed on to be our nurse! She was excited, because she rarely gets to see her students in action. Gee…no pressure!
At 11am, I’d gone through transition again and was close to 10cm. They gave me pitocin and at 12:15, I had the overwhelming urge to start pushing. Even through the epidural, I could feel the contractions, but didn’t feel the pain. (After having gotten to 10cm without any meds, I was fine with that this time!!) But, even with the epidural, that ‘ring of fire’ when the baby is crowning is the most intense pain I think I’ve ever felt. How women can say they’ve forgotten that pain is beyond me! It’s been almost two years, and I’m still waiting to forget!
At 1:49pm, on Wednesday, November 30, 2005, after having pushed for an hour and a half, out came Claire! She came out SIDEWAYS!! What we all (including the doctor) thought was her nose, was actually her ear! No wonder this had taken forever! My doctor later told me that first time moms in this situation usually push for THREE HOURS. I couldn’t believe it! I can’t imagine pushing more than I did!
Anyway, she was perfect, and we were so happy. I actually got to cut the cord! I’d put that in my Birth Plan, since my hubby really wasn’t sure if he wanted to, and I really wanted to, the doctor agreed! That was really cool. My hubby was a trooper throughout the whole thing. He was by my side the whole time and handled all the blood really well. I’m really glad he was able to relax and not panic, and that was all possible because of the doula.
I only had a second degree tear, which was unfortunate, but better than it could have been. I was up on my feet that day and recovered really quickly. Claire breastfed right away, and we were able to leave the hospital on her original due date, December 2nd.
Claire was 8 lbs. 6 oz., 20 3/4 inches long with a head at 13 3/4!! After 37 hours of labor, we finally met our baby girl! (Well, it was 36 hours and 49 minutes…but who’s counting?)