How can you truly imagine something you’ve never experienced? The answer is simply that you can’t. Though I could never have known what to expect, my birth experience was nothing like I expected, but in the most beautiful ways,
My mom was pregnant with her first baby at exactly my same age and was pregnant with a boy. Both 27, pregnant with our first babies, and having boys, I anticipated a similar birth experience, too. She was in labor with my brother for something like 18 hours. Plus, much of what I’d read prior to giving birth prepared me for an intense, long labor with my first baby. I was starting to imagine long hours in the hospital, painfully contracting as my time in labor crept further up in the double digits.
On my visits to the doctor’s office in my final weeks of pregnancy, the midwife seemed to be preparing me mentally to be pregnant into March despite my due date falling in the final days of February. I was starting to imagine the days dragging past my due date, inching towards 41 or 42 weeks of pregnancy.
But on Monday February 13th, almost exactly two weeks from his due date, and in just an hour and a half of pushing, our baby boy made his hasty appearance into the world.
Sunday February 12th I bailed on a super bowl party because I was “feeling uncomfortable, nothing major though” (at least that’s how I’d put it in my cancellation text). My lower back was aching and I was having mild cramps. If anything I was having false contractions, or Braxton hicks.
I labored through Rihanna’s half time show and waited through contractions for Stephen to get home from work. He drew me a bath, put on medication music, and lit candles like we had done before and did what we thought was a practice run of laboring at home.
At 7:30pm I let my doula, Cynthya, know I’m having sporadic contractions.
By 10:30 pm, a contraction timer app is telling me they’re only four minutes apart and it’s time to get out of my bath and to the hospital.
I’m still convinced this isn’t true labor. I tell myself I don’t trust the app and my timing hasn’t been that accurate anyway. I trust that I know my body well enough, too. I’d know if I was really in labor. So I decide to lay down and try to sleep through the night.
It’s the middle of the night and I’ve moved from the bed to the couch. Stephen has work again in the morning and I don’t want my tossing and turning to keep him up.
My contractions are coming in waves, I can sleep a small amount in between, but when the contractions come, wow, they are intense. I’m bearing down through it, inhaling and exhaling loudly, but intentionally. In just a few breaths the pain subsides.
These contractions still feel sporadic, there seems to be no pattern or consistency. Plus the fact I can sleep in between are all reasons to believe I’m not in true labor and don’t need to head to the hospital yet. But the contractions are definitely intensifying.
A little before 6am, as I’m bearing down through a contraction, I’m feeling an instinct to push slightly against the pain. A small amount of thick blood appears.
I text Cynthya an update: Still having contractions, not super consistent, Maybe 1-3x hourly but I can sleep in between, There is some blood, is this normal?
Normal as the cervix ripens to see a small amount of blood, Cynthya assures me. I put on one of the adult diapers I bought for postpartum. It’s a bit much for just a little blood, but since tampons aren’t exactly an option it’s all I have on hand for now.
Another hour passes, and as I sit on the couch bearing down through another contraction, pushing against the pain, I feel a sudden sense of shortly lived relief as something drops out of me.
My water just broke.
I have two thoughts: this baby is really coming, and thank god I put that diaper on or our couch would be ruined.
It’s 7:15am and Stephen is minutes away from going to work. I rush into the bedroom to tell him.
He follows me into the bathroom as I attempt to clean myself up a bit. Stephen gets Cynthya on the phone as we inspect the intact sack of fluid that’s currently hanging out of me. My amniotic sac didn’t fully break.
The fluid we see is a grayish brown color, a sign there’s been a bowel movement by the baby. With this information, Cynthya instructs us to get to the hospital ASAP.
I’m not exactly able to move quickly, though. My contractions have intensified ten-fold since my water broke. I’m unable to talk and am struggling to breath through them, let alone walk around the house to gather our things.
It’s two weeks before his due date, and although sure, I could have been a little more prepared, our hospital bags aren’t fully packed. I’m instructing Stephen to gather things off my list: the diaper bag (the one thing that has been pre-packed), essential oils, my robe, the birthing ball, my adult diapers and perineal squeeze bottle.
When all is said and done at home, we get in the car and make the ten minute trip to the hospital. Cynthya greets us outside of labor & delivery (only after we drove to the wrong door of the hospital first).
My contractions are consistent now. I’m remembering to breath through them, but my breaths are loud and heavy. As I’m getting out of the car, another one comes. Cynthya watches this one contraction and it causes her to kick into high gear.
Checking in at reception is a blur as I’m focusing only on my pain. It’s around 9:30 am, it’s been more than two hours since my water broke. Cynthya can tell I’m “feeling pushy,” and emphasizes to the receptionist that my water has broke and there’s meconium (the baby’s bowel movement) present in the amniotic fluid.
There’s no time spent in the waiting room, Cynthya and I are taken to a triage-like room while Stephen is still unpacking the car and bringing in our bags.
In the triage room I’m asked to pee into a cup. I say I’ll try, knowing my amniotic sac is dangling in the way. As I attempt to complete this task, Cynthya again informs the nurse that there was meconium present when my water broke and suggests they check how dilated I am opposed to focusing on the urine sample.
The nurse is checking my cervix and I feel a sharp pain. His head is right there. He’s crowning.
Things start to move much quicker now. An IV port is put in wrist, the sides of the hospital bed pop up while a nurse disengages the break on the bed’s wheels, and just like that I’m being taken down the hall to a delivery room.
At this point I am fully feeling overwhelmed, tears are gathering in the corners of my eyes as I’m overcome with the fact that this is really happening. A few hours ago I still thought I was in false labor, and now I’m really about to meet my baby, and very soon at that.
[See how the story ends! Continue to part 2 here]