WARNING: This is very detailed and gory. For all my family & friends who have no intentions of knowing the ins and outs of my bodily functions...I'd suggest you skip this one. Really.
This is also long. But, when I was pregnant and my due date was approaching, I really enjoyed reading detailed birth stories, especially of natural births, which mine was. So, if just one pregnant woman reads this and finds it helpful, then great!
Just to sum this up: although a bit gross and painful, I had an awesome labor and birth. My body pretty much decided to skip early labor, so it all hit hard and fast and lasted eight hours from first contraction to baby, the day before my due date. And so, here's Ruby's birth story...
My beautiful little girl, Ruby Florene, was born May 1st, 2010 at 7:54am. She weighed 8lbs 11.2oz and was 19 1/2” long.
Earlier in the day on April 30th I had some back pains, and was constantly looking for signs of impending labor. My biggest concern was that my water would break but I wouldn’t realize it (I’d heard it could be a gush, as it was when my mother went into labor with me, OR it could be a trickle… or it wouldn’t break at all!).
I stay up late, so I was still up in the night (around 2am), on the computer and watching TV. I went to the bathroom and suddenly felt bowel pressure. Nothing happened, but I had sudden cramps, and then peed, got up and then felt like I was peeing again. I remember wondering if that was my water breaking, and looking back, I guess it was!
I went back to my chair, got on the computer again and then had what I thought was a contraction. It was painful, but I think I thought I was overreacting or overanalyzing, and it was probably just gas or a cramp of some kind. I continued hanging out, waiting to see what would happen. I attempted to time the contractions, but couldn’t tell what was discomfort and what was a contraction until I had a second one – which was clearly a contraction, at about 2:35am.
I called my husband, Andy, at work. At this point I was sitting on the toilet, since that’s what a friend had told me was most comfortable for her when she was in labor, and when he got on I told him I wasn’t sure but I thought I was having contractions. But couldn’t tell how far apart they were or anything concrete. Of course, I didn’t want him to leave work unless it was for real… but who knew!? So, Andy said let’s see how I feel and call back in 20 minutes. That would make the time 3:10am. I agreed and hung up.
I was on the computer again when I was about due to call Andy at 3:10. At that moment I had a very intense, very clear contraction. I was in the middle of it right when Andy called me (since I hadn’t called him). I answered the phone huffing and puffing, saying I was having a contraction. He waited on the phone till it was over (I couldn’t talk) and we agreed he should come home.
I walked around and when I had a contraction (I was too antsy and in pain and a little out of my mind to be able to measure them on the computer, or on the stop watch on my cell phone) I’d double over and get on the toilet to relieve the pain. I tried to lie on the couch – I’d heard women say that when (early) labor started the best thing to do was lay down and get some rest. I couldn’t. I was in too much pain, pretty consistently (but not as bad as when the contractions hit).
I went upstairs to try to lay in bed till Andy got home. Nope! Still too painful! I went to our master bathroom and felt really nauseous. I ended up on my knees, heaving and vomiting into the toilet. Every time I heaved I peed on myself and the rug a little. Not a proud moment for me! I also noticed as I wiped myself with toilet paper that I was bleeding… what I assumed was the “bloody show”! Finally! A real sign of labor that you read about! (Um, aside from the very real contractions I was experiencing!!
Now that I had vomited and peed all over myself, I decided to take a shower. Everyone talks about how water is great and relieves the pain so much.
I got into the shower and it felt good. It helped, a lot. I got myself into a mental state, saying things like “the water is washing away the pain” and things like that. For a while I’ve been reading about the mind-body connection, and one reason I’d wanted to have a natural birth was to see how I could hold up to the challenge of the pain, as well as control the pain with my mind, and control my body. I’d read in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth such ideas as using a mantra similar to “open up wide so this baby can come out” could truly dictate how your body would react during labor… so I was intrigued, and wanted to try all that out. Whether my mind’s control worked or not, the water made the labor feel much better.
I was having an intense contraction in the shower when Andy got home and walked in. I turned the shower off and made him look in the toilet at the blood and even what might have been the mucous plug (lovely!).
I got out of the shower and, while not doubled over in pain with contractions, I found something comfortable and okay to bleed on to wear to the hospital.
As Andy helped me down the stairs I had another contraction on the landing between the first and second floors, so I lay down on the landing and held on to a spindle on the railing, and decided to lay there for a few minutes. Andy brought me a pillow, and then that’s when the vomiting started up again. Andy brought me a bag and I threw up a couple times, then decided to go to the bathroom again. I know at some point I kneeled in front of the couch and put my head in my arms on the cushion, and our puppy jumped up (she clearly knew something crazy was going on!) and lay down next to my head. Sweet puppy.
I ended up in the bathroom again, this time with Andy there, who had been trying to time my contractions through all this, and had not found any rhyme nor reason to them - about every 1-5 minutes, lasting 30 seconds or so… usually they say don’t call unless you have contractions last 1 minute long, 4 minutes apart for an hour. I told him it didn’t matter, he should call the midwives to let them know. When the midwife called back, he told her what was going on and she said it sounded like we had a while to go, but did I want to go to the hospital now? I said yes, tell her yes!, because I couldn’t get comfortable at home. Maybe I could at the hospital.
He got off the phone, I had another contraction. We started to get ready to leave. I threw up a few more times, he put our bags into the car.
Then he put a towel on my seat and we finally were able to go! I was still out of my mind, with pain and just almost in a dreamstate. It wasn’t unpleasant, and it was kind of like being on drugs or something. It was surreal!
The roads were bumpy and looking back it doesn’t seem like the pain was as bad as it was in the house (though Andy says it seemed like it was, so I trust him more than my own memory!). As soon as we got about 5 minutes from the hospital, I started saying I felt like I wanted to push. The urge was really overwhelming, and looking at it now, I think I was pushing a bit. Thank goodness I didn’t push more!
We got to the hospital. We got up to the birthing center and the nurse took us to our room. I explained the only comfortable place for me during a contraction (and otherwise, it seemed) was the toilet. She said, okay, and let me get on the one in the room. I had a contraction and then moved to the bed. I got into the gown, got in bed and waited for the midwife to come check me out.
As soon as she checked my cervix her jaw just about dropped and she said, “ Okay, well, you’re there! This baby’s coming!” And I said, “Wait, the baby’s coming? So I can start pushing?” and she said, “You’re fully dilated and can start pushing anytime now! Wow! You must have had a dozen kids in another life to be ready so fast!”
And so I started pushing. This was at about 6:30 or 6:45am.
Now. I always thought I’d want to move around a lot and get in a bath during labor… I figured the most comfortable way I’d find to give birth would be on all fours…nope! I couldn’t imagine NOT just being on my back!
At first I was just flat on my back, with a nurse on one side, Andy on the other, and one leg in a stirrup while Andy held my other leg up, bent, which I was also holding onto when I had a contraction and was pushing. But then our midwife brought this bar over and attached it to the bed, and tied a sheet onto it in the middle, so that every time I needed to push I kind of “climbed” the sheet like a rope, bearing down. Both my feet were on either side of the bar.
It was awesome.
Also awesome was a big mirror that they brought over and placed next to my midwife, so that I could see everything happening, including the baby’s head starting to peek out! When her head peeked out the midwife said she had a lot of hair, and urged Andy and I to reach down and touch her head. We did – and it was amazing. Her head was so soft! I focused on that head, pushing through with every push, with every contraction… watching the mirror, watching my baby come into the world, I was completely fixed on that and just pushed and pushed and did what I was told, and really felt so very little pain, just some burning, but was so excited to push that baby out! Finally our midwife said, okay, this is the last push, both of you reach down and help bring this baby out! And we did! We reached down, and I pushed, and I watched that baby come right out of me! And it was amazing! My sweet Ruby was born then, at 7:54am on Saturday May 1st.
Ruby was placed on my chest right as she came out. I just held her – that’s all I remember.
I had a second degree tear that got stitched up at this point, but I barely noticed anything, just the baby. We were skin to skin and I held that beautiful new little baby and although it’s all a blur, I’ll remember that amazing morning and that amazing baby, every minute of it, so clearly, forever.