It all started on Friday, May 25, which coincidentally, was my due date …
I had woken up early to make it to my favorite 5:30 a.m. strength workout. I sure hoped my water would break during the workout and things would get started.
Right before the workout began, I hit up the bathroom, where I found a little blood that resembled the end of your period. I was totally freaked out, but still did the workout. Turns out I had some bloody show, a good sign labor will be happening soon (ish).
Later that afternoon, I had a midwife appointment. I got checked for the first time and was 90 percent effaced, 1-2 cm. dilated. I had my midwife strip my membranes a bit in hopes of getting things going. Jacob and I really wanted Hunter to show up that weekend.
On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I did tons (TONS – at least 1.5 hours each day) of walking and also had a few more contractions.
On Sunday afternoon, I decided to take some castor oil. Castor oil only works to bring on labor if your body is ready to go into it. If it’s not, you just give yourself the runs and feel horrible for 12 hours or so. I was willing to take that risk. We both had this feeling it was time, especially with my bloody show and the contractions I’d been having.
A cup of OJ, fresh strawberries and a shot of castor oil all blended together went into my belly around 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Jacob and I went to Fred Meyers that afternoon, and did something we never do — bought 3 movies. Then we did something else we never do — watched two in a row. We just knew something was going to happen.
At 8 p.m., about halfway through the second movie, I began to feel a warm liquid start to flow out of me. I dashed to the toilet, excited and hoping this was it. I couldn’t tell if it was my water breaking, me peeing myself, or just lots of discharge. I called my midwife, she said it probably was my water breaking, and to see how the night goes and come into the hospital in the morning unless labor progresses faster.
So we went for a walk, and one hour later, the contractions started. Jacob got the biggest grin on his face during those early contractions. It was time!
I always wondered what contractions would really feel like, and to me it felt like really, really bad menstrual cramps. Before being pregnant, mine were pretty bad, so being worse means they were really uncomfortable.
Fast forward a couple hours, and the contractions were about 1-2 minutes apart and about 30 – 45 seconds long. I was feeling kind of freaked out—how could it be happening so fast? I spent a good amount of time in the shower, letting the warm water run down my low back (which was a big part of where I felt my contractions) for a little relief. Nothing really made them change. Jacob was on the phone with our midwife a few times. We both didn’t know why they were so close so soon. Was my labor really happening this fast?
Around 11 p.m. we tried to get some sleep, knowing we had a long night ahead. I couldn’t nap, they were so close together. I made it to 12:30 a.m. Monday morning and told myself at 1 a.m. we would leave the house and head to the hospital. I could make it just 30 more minutes, right?
At 12:45 a.m. we got the bags, and were in the Jeep on our way to the hospital.
At 1 a.m., we arrived at the family birth center. I got hooked up to two monitors—one for my contractions, one for Hunter’s heart rate.
A nurse checked and indeed my water had broken — we were there to stay. When my midwife arrived, she checked to see how much I’d progressed — 3 cm., almost 100 percent effaced and he was at zero station, meaning very low, locked and ready to go!
After 30 minutes on the monitors, I was free to move as I pleased. I walked around the room a lot, spent some time in the tub, and did some hands and knees rocking. I was feeling pretty drained from the lack of sleep and began to drift off to sleep between contractions.
Typically things start to progress along in labor — longer and stronger contractions that get closer and closer together. Well the opposite began happening for me. They kept getting further apart, leaving me with 5-6 minutes of rest in between each (before they had been 1-2 minutes apart). I was even able to get an hour-long nap in, and apparently I had a 24-minute break from contractions at that time.
Although the relief was nice, I knew it wasn’t a good sign.
By noon on Monday, my midwife decided to check me again, only because my labor didn’t seem to be going the right way. At that time I was 5-6 cm. dilated. I had made progress, just slowly. We decided to give it a couple more hours to see if things picked up before talking about other options.
The nurse did some acupressure on my feet/ankles and we tried hot wash cloth nipple stimulation—both things that can help pick up contractions. I moved around the room, did lunges, got on my hands and knees. I wanted my body to do this on its own without help.
Four p.m. rolled around and I was checked again — only 6 cm. dilated. Barely a change. Since my water had broken at 8 p.m. the night before, the 24-hour time clock was counting down. Note: If a woman’s water breaks, after 24 hours, doctors often recommend interventions.
I knew what my options were going to be, and I knew I didn’t really have a choice with them, but when my midwife suggested a little pitocin, I broke down and cried. It’s not what we wanted or planned for. The lack of sleep was making me pretty emotional, and at the time I felt like a failure. Why couldn’t my body do this? Did I do something wrong? This is not what we had planned.
We said OK to the pitocin. Our midwife knew what we wanted, but sometimes things change with unexpected situations. I started off with the smallest dose of pitocin, which we hoped would kick start my body back to where it needed to be. For the next hour I got two tiny increments.
Things were starting to pick up. By 6 p.m. the contractions were much, much stronger. I could no longer walk them off. I’d instantly have to get on my knees, arms on tub, with Jacob putting hot compression on my back. It was the only way I could deal with them. There wasn’t talking, just walking then onto my knees during the pain.
I wanted to be checked again, hoping I’d be at the point of pushing. Pushing meant the contractions would soon end and Hunter would be here.
Only at 9 cm. Keep moving as much as I can. Keep things moving and get to that 10 cm.
Just about every 20-30 minutes, I asked to be checked again and I was stuck at 9-9.5 cm. It seemed like I was stuck there forever.
Contractions were back to back and I could barely deal with them. I kept saying that I wanted to push, but they knew I wasn’t ready. I wishfully wanted to push. That would mean it was over.
Stuck at that 9.5, I began to feel defeated. I kept telling them I couldn’t doing it any more. Jacob and my midwife would encourage me and get me through that contraction, one at a time. My breathing would start to get out of hand, then Jacob would start doing the slow deep breathing and I’d begin to mimic him.
In my head, each time I said I couldn’t do it anymore, to me that meant I needed drugs. That’s the thing about transition, you begin to say things you don’t really mean.
Since I kept having my midwife check me, she was skeptical about when I’d really need to push. She said there were behaviors she would see and she’d know it was time.
It felt like I was in transition f.o.r.e.v.e.r. Every check left me disappointed since each time I had not reached 10 cm. There was this tiny little lip that just wouldn’t budge.
When I switched from ‘I feel like I need to push,’ or ‘I want to push,’ to ‘I need to take a poop!’ that was the sign!
My midwife checked me once again and although I wasn’t at a 10 still, she told me to push with the next contraction and she’d see what my cervix did. During that next contraction, I pushed, she pressed that tiny part of my cervix over (holy ouch!) so he could begin to pass and it begun.
I was so glad to start pushing. Finally the end is near! My midwife saw I still had part of my bag of water in tact, so she broke it. Surprisingly there was meconium (baby’s first poop) in the bag. That meant the neonatal staff had to be there just in case he swallowed any of it, which would be bad.
The team was intact. Me on the slightly inclined bed, my midwife there to catch Hunter, the nurse holding my left leg and Jacob on my right. It took me a few pushes to really get the feeling of what pushing was like. Honestly, it’s the same feeling as pushing out a poop. Just gotta give in to the feeling.
I’d get two good pushes out of each contraction, try to catch my breath and push for a third. Everyone was cheering me on and telling me what they could see with each push. The feeling of his head making its way past my cervix was crazy. I thought he was already out but that was just step one. Once he passed the cervix, I was in a rhythm. A contraction would come, I’d take a breath in, let it out, take another deep breath in, hold it, pull my legs back and push like crazy. Pushing was amazing. I was doing something! I couldn’t believe the lack of pain I felt during the pushes. Contractions didn’t hurt anymore.
When his head started to crown I could feel the burn begin, but my midwife used oil and helped stretch me and he began to emerge, quickly. Once his head was out, I just wanted to keep pushing, especially since it felt sooooo weird just having his head hanging out! A couple more pushes and boom he was out, face up, fist under chin and screaming like crazy.
Just 28 minutes. That’s all it took to push out our 7-lb., 12-oz. baby boy Hunter.
They put him on my chest right away since he looked and sounded good (the neonatal nurses left). All I remember saying was ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh’ and that he was so big! Jacob thought he was big, too, but apparently he wasn’t to the nurses. To us he was!
Our baby was in my arms. He was perfect. After the cord was cut and placenta delivered, my midwife was going to stitch me up a bit. I had tiny little tear, and since it was so little I was given the option to not have stitches, which I decided against.
About 30 minutes after he was born he’d already started nursing — for 30 minutes! He was a champ from the beginning.
We let them weigh him, give him his vitamin K shot, then he was back in our arms.
I could not believe how quickly he came out, especially being a posterior baby. All that working out I did during my pregnancy definitely had me ready for the big pushing event, which much like working out, I loved.
Jacob was amazing the entire time. He was my rock and kept me from freaking out when my contractions would get intense. I felt so much support for our choice for a drug-free childbirth, not only from our midwives (we started with one, ended with another), but the two nurses we had at the hospital as well. There were definitely some moments I didn’t think I’d make it, but once it was over I couldn’t imagine having done it any other way.
Written by Heather Englund