It’s finally done, 12 months later that is! I took the time to finish it today. The last time I edited this was in July! Trust me, there was many a time I decided that I wouldn’t write this story, but I knew in the end I wanted my experience documented for my sake, and for Dhara’s. Finishing this story a couple days before her birth day makes it even more real. I can relive the whole experience again just by closing my eyes and thinking back to this exact time last year. So here it is — our birth story.
When I think about my birthing experience, I have to take a deep, deep breath.
My due date was Christmas Eve. And it was the day before Christmas Eve when it all began. I was 39 weeks and 6 days pregnant. The contractions began that morning, I’d say around 6:30 AM. I didn’t know what to expect — gradual menstrual cramps leading up to contractions or was it going to be an all out pain fest? I had no idea. But that morning, I felt slight cramps come and go every 30 to 40 minutes. Nothing big or painful – just crampy.
I called my midwife, and she said that this kind of contraction could possibly go on for a couple days. She said to call her when they became 5 minutes apart. That day was filled with excitement because I knew I’d be heading to the hospital in the next day or so to have our baby — so weird. That day I folded clothes, talked to my own personal midwife/doula/cousin, Ohio Becky, packed the baby’s bag of little things and the rest of my suitcase which was fully equipped with Bradley food like honey sticks, apple juice, granola, fage greek yogurt, orange juice for after the birth, etc.
It just so happened that my contractions got heavier and closer together that very night. By 3 AM, I was gripping the bathroom counter top in order to get through a contraction. I didn’t go to sleep at all that night. I walked back and forth from the bed, to pelvic rocking, to the bathroom, and back.
We called the midwife, Bayla, at 4 AM, Christmas Eve morning. She said to slowly make our way to the hospital, and lastly added, “you want a water birth, correct?” I responded with, “yes, that’s what we would like.” So with my suitcase, which was mostly packed a week before, birth plan in hand, car seat installed, and my weepy-eyed parents saying goodbye to us, Greg and I got into our Suburu Outback and made our way to downtown Baltimore. As we pulled away from my parent’s home, it felt so weird to think I’d be coming home a different gal in a huge way.
The drive to the hospital was painful. I just wanted to get there. I remember falling in and out of sleep. Thank God the roads were pretty much empty. I remember seeing snow flurries make their way down from the sky during our quiet drive. We got to the hospital at 6 AM just as the sun was barely peaking out over the horizon. Because we were with the midwives, we could bypass triage, and totally be in the care of the midwives, which was nice. So Bayla checked us in, and took us to our spacious and quiet room, fully equipped with a birthing tub. The room was tucked away in the corner of the L+D floor, and it had a great view of downtown Baltimore before us.
I got into my hospital gown, and Bayla checked my vitals. At around 7 AM I was 5 cm dilated (good sign) and the baby was in posterior position (not so good sign). Bayla said to give it time and the baby should turn. So for the next nine hours I paced, got numerous back rubs from Greg, used my rice sock to loosen the muscles in my back and shoulders, listened to some Misty Edwards, drank lots of ice water, peed (alot), got my bag of waters broken by midwife extraordinaire, the Kathy Sloane, and then paced some more. The contractions got stronger and stronger and the minutes between got closer and closer. After almost twelve hours of all this, I was in ALOT of pain, the baby was still posterior, and I was still only 5 cm dilated. Sad, but true. I was told that the intense pain I was having was “back labor” — this is when the posterior position of the baby pushes the baby’s head directly onto the mom’s tailbone, causing intense pressure and pain.
6:30 PM, Christmas Eve. The midwife then suggested that we induce. After she left the room, I began to cry on Greg’s shoulder. You see, I needed a minute or two to get used to the idea of not having the natural birth I so wanted. Of giving up everything I had been taught. I was ultra prepared with all the Bradley class knowledge buzzing around in my head that it was hard for me to give it up and just get induced. I realized then that this was not about what I wanted, but rather what was best for the baby, and plus, I don’t know if I could have handled hours and hours or days of such pain. What came to mind was a beautiful healthy baby girl. I had to remind myself that at the end of all this I get a baby — a real life baby. It wasn’t a race to see if I could pull off birthing naturally — even though this was preferable and more safe than being induced.
So I pulled myself together and prepared for the anesthesiologist to come in. And let me tell you, once I accepted the idea of getting induced and receiving an epidural, the anesthesiologist couldn’t come fast enough! It was a constant pain that gave no breaks — these back to back contractions felt like I was forcefully being jabbed in the back and in the same spot over and over again.
The anesthesiologist, once he finally arrived, told me I would love him for what he was about to do. And let me tell you something else, once I got that shot, the pain subsided so calmly that I could lay down and finally get some rest after almost two days of this all starting.
But that’s not where the story ends. It had only just begun.
[End of Part I.]