Warning: this post contains birth.
I spent the night of my due date waddling around the city for Celebrate Lancaster!, an annual event that shuts down a few streets for food, music, and fireworks. We go every year. There are french fries.
Afterward we came home and watched a movie and ended up going to bed around 1am, unaware that I should have been in bed hours ago to rest up for the road ahead. I was about to fall asleep when I felt my first contraction around 1:30. I waited 2 hours to make sure it wasn’t false labor (again) before I woke up Austin. He jumped out of bed faster than you can say “cheesy-sitcom” and started pacing, eager to finally have a baby.
My contractions started at 10 minutes apart and quickly became 5 minutes apart within the first few hours. Eventually we called our midwife as instructed and met her at the birthing center around 6am. After a quick check, I was sent home because I was only 2 centimeters dilated. This was disappointing as we’d followed instructions and had waited until contractions had become intense and close together. I labored at home and in the bathtub for several more hours until my contractions were around 3 minutes apart. I kept thinking–oh my gosh, I’m going to have this baby right here on the carpet.
We checked back into the center around 10am with no progress. It had been over 8 hours since labor started and many, many more since I’d had any sleep. We were instructed to walk around the outside of the building to help get things moving.
I did not want to do this.
I said, “I am not doing this.”
But then we did because I was desperate and the nurse was giving me the stink eye. I felt ridiculous walking around outside with my giant ugly gown on, clutching Austin and trying not to swear. At one point I scream-moaned “I can’t do this” next to a 16 year old boy who was probably coming to work in the cafeteria. He looked alarmed.
More hours passed and finally I was admitted to a labor and delivery room in the early afternoon. At this point I still felt pretty positive about the situation. I was tired and in a lot of pain, but I felt like things were going to start happening soon.
My sister arrived around this time. She watched as I got into the jacuzzi tub and labored loudly.
More hours passed.
I was very confused why things weren’t progressing and why I was having such intense labor for so long. This was not what the book said would happen.
Finally our (wonderful) midwife Barb checked me again. We waited with baited breath thinking I must be close. Gently she broke the news that there was little progress. Three centimeters after 17 hours of labor. I was very worn out.
After some discussion it was decided that she would break my water in hopes that it would stimulate some dilation. At this point I was still confident I was going to have a natural birth. Even though it was really, really painful and awful and I hadn’t slept in over 40 hours–I was doing it and surviving.
Once Barb broke my water (a painless procedure), I had one terrible contraction and then a minute later, three terrible, terrible, terrible contractions in a row without pause for breath. I can’t really remember the details of it because I started to lose control of myself. Essentially my body was giving up. I started to hyperventilate and my eyes began to roll back in my head. It was…weird. Austin freaked out a little (a lot). He said — get an epidural now.
Our (wonderful) midwife agreed that it was necessary and called for an emergency epidural. I heard them talking but did not respond. At this point I was still having intense contractions less than 30 seconds apart and could hardly breathe.
A word on epidurals: They are wonderful once the medicine is pumping through your veins, but my experience of actually getting the needle was pretty awful. I almost blew out Austin’s eardrum with all the noise I made. The drugs also made me nauseated and I ralphed over and over until they gave me some meds to feel better. The upside is that after twenty minutes, I could finally relax.
Once my body began to go numb and I started to talk in coherent sentences, I invited my family into the room. They looked concerned as they’d heard my screams down the hall. No other women were screaming. It was embarrassing.
Eventually I received a small dose of pitocin, a drug to stimulate dilation, and at 11:40pm, after 23 hours of labor, I announced I was ready to push.
Everyone was ushered out of the room except Austin, a nurse, and (wonderful) Barb. With a lot of encouragement, love, and hard work, I pushed for 40 minutes and at 12:23am, Waylon Tiger Baer made his way into this world with great gusto.
It was an unforgettable moment, seeing his face for the first time. We cried. Those feelings will stay with me forever; hearing his first cry, realizing he was perfect and healthy, finally holding my son skin to skin.
There were some very, very minor and common complications right at the end. He pooped on the way out (meconium) and needed to be checked by a neonatal doctor right away (he was fine, no infection). The cord was also wrapped twice around his neck, but our (wonderful) midwife was able to unwrap it quickly and he let out a healthy cry soon after. I also tore really badly and lost a lot of blood. Fortunately the drugs prevented me from feeling any of that and I was able to focus on our brand new baby while being stitched back up. I did glance down once to see what was going on in that region, but when I saw our (wonderful) midwife with blood up to her elbows, I quickly looked away. Third degree tears are no joke.
Everyone says you forget the pain of labor once it’s over and you have your baby. I disagree. I remember. It was not pleasant. Actually, it was awful. Really, really, really awful. We later found out that Waylon was positioned in a way that caused hard labor for a long time without dilation. In short, God bless modern medicine.
Welcome to the world little one, you rock.