My First Birth

When I found out I was expecting my first child the day before my husband’s birthday I was ecstatic!  This is what I had wanted, and amazingly it happened the first time that we threw caution to the wind.  I was utterly amazed, dumbfounded, and excited.  I called a friend, was determined not to tell my husband until the next day at his birthday dinner (that didn’t happen.. I couldn’t keep it hidden).

Pregnancy went well, I had morning sickness but had expected it to be exactly as it ended up… When I talked to other new mom’s their experiences seemed more or less the same as mine and I didn’t think much about the fact that I puked at least 1 time a day.  It is in fact pretty normal for that to happen.

Second trimester was pretty dull.. I took forever to show, I was dying for someone at the grocery store to ask when I was due, or for a stranger to be completely out of line and touch my stomach so I could smack their hand and secretly smile about it.

The third trimester was pretty awesome, I felt great, even if my child was sitting rather high in my abdomen and making it very difficult to breathe or walk long distances.  I dreamed of the disgusting moment when my mucus plug would fall out.  I jumped with each and every braxton hicks contraction and wondered ‘is this it?’  I also checked to see if my water broke a few times when it had not, and felt stupid after leaving L&D twice for no reason.

I volunteered with my husband for a special ministry for the homeless in our home city, and ended up walking miles one afternoon… I felt great but started to contract, and even to feel as if I needed to stop walking during these contractions.  My husband was concerned but I was convinced that they were only strong braxton hicks contractions and continued to walk and rest as needed.  It was still early, I was nearly 36 weeks pregnant at that point.  After the event we went home, and I called the midwife call-line to ask if I should be concerned, she told me to rest, I tried.  The next day I called again, still contracting regularly and was told that I was on being put on  bed rest to try to stop them.  They got lighter but didn’t stop.  My next appointment was coming up soon so I waited things out until then and found out I was dilated to 4cm.

A few days later I was contracting regularly again and called my husband home from work.  We ended up at L&D, they put me in triage, I was told my water was still intact and that I was dilated to 5 cm, and that at that they wanted to admit me, because they didn’t want my labor to progress.  I was ALMOST 37 weeks pregnant at this point, and thinking that if my baby came he’d be ok most likely and that I wasn’t going to worry.  I asked about what we would be doing, they said strict bed rest and monitoring and they didn’t want me to progress.  Later that day a nurse who checked me said that I was 6cm and that she wasn’t worried about baby being early (at the time I didn’t know what she was doing, but later found out that she had swiped my membranes, even though the midwife had said she didn’t want things to progress).

The next day my midwife checked me and said there had been no progress, asked about contractions and I told her that they had stopped.  She was very concerned, asked me how far I was from the hospital and said that if ANYTHING changed I should RUN back to L&D because it looked as if my baby was just going to fall out one day.  I took her seriously, I left, took it easy at home and watched myself carefully waiting for something to happen, nothing happened.  And then at 38 weeks 5 days as I laid in bed, things changed.

It was 7am and I was sleeping pretty soundly and suddenly something popped in my belly.  I literally jumped out of bed, the furthest I got in thought OR action was the side of the bed.  I was stunned, I thought if my water had just broken as I was sure it had then I really didn’t want to get the fluid on the bed… how would you get that out?  Physically I couldn’t have moved much further anyway, my body suddenly remembered it was pregnant and couldn’t really move that fast.

After convincing my husband that my water had indeed broken I called my midwife and she informed me I should come in and get things checked out.  I gladly did as I was asked but noticed that I still was not contracting, and considering how much I had been two weeks earlier I was baffled by this.

Triage told me what I already knew, my water was broken, I was checked into this beautiful HUGE delivery room and for the first time started wondering why I hadn’t wanted anyone to visit while I was in labor.  I currently was not in labor, I was just leaking fluid, a lot of fluid, every time I moved I felt like I was peeing on myself.  It was VERY uncomfortable. and about 9am at this point.

Midwife came to see me, suggested nipple stimulation, ankle massage, and walking to get things moving… they offered to bring me a pump to help with the stimulation, and told my husband to be ‘sweet’ with me.  He couldn’t imagine touching me in that state, I was embarrassed to think of being in a hospital  and having someone walk in on us.  They even went so far as to tell me that we couldn’t have intercourse… I was aghast at that thought, WHY WOULD WE?

We walked the halls, I eventually tried the breast pump (feeling VERY self-conscious), I tried to get my husband to rub my ankles, he watched TV while doing it, and didn’t know about the pressure point that needed to be pressed either, so it didn’t work.  The midwife came in to inform me that time was ticking and that we needed to try manual nipple stimulation and being ‘sweet’ to each other.  I was still really embarrassed to try this and getting tired of walking around and not seeing anything change.  We tried the stimulation, but two things were keeping that from working, first, my husband was still watching T.V. and second, I was way to nervous to let him touching me help release any hormones into my system to get that labor moving.

At 11pm the midwife came back in and we began to talk about induction.  She told me that introducing pitocin in the evening could help my body to accept it better (I could go into this but wont, I believe she is right).  She told me that it was my choice but that things didn’t look to be starting on their own and she was bound by hospital policy to start some kind of induction by morning, and would rather see my body work with it than to fight it in the morning.  We decided I was incredibly board and getting irritated that my body wasn’t doing its job, my husband was uncomfortable and we were worried about how things would go, I didn’t want to be induced but the idea of working with the moon sounded better than against the sun… I decided to get the pitocin, and asked that it be turned down once labor got going, she said we would have to see how things were going.  Pitocin was started sometime after that and we were advised to rest.  I tried to sleep on my hard hospital bed, while my husband rested across the huge room on a couch that didn’t look very comfortable.  I did sleep, but not long.  At 2am I woke up to my first strong contraction.  I didn’t feel it was too bad and decided to watch tv.  There was a special about Jesus, I watched as Mary gave birth to Jesus in a barn, then grew up and did lots of other things… but the birth was the only part I really watched.  It was early morning Dec 21st, I was amazed at the thought that even though I was not in a barn, I was giving birth so close to the time when Jesus’ birth was celebrated, I felt connected to Mary, to Jesus, to God.

Right as the show was ending I was no longer able to handle my contractions alone and tried to wake my husband… he wasn’t rousing, I threw my pillow at him and got him in the back, he rouse looking like he was ready to attack, I apologized and told him I needed him.

The next few hours are a bit of a blur to me.  I remember being told to stand up and lean on my husband through contractions, I tried it, but every contraction that struck my belly struck the whole of me and I fought like mad to get on the floor… my poor husband didn’t understand I didn’t want him to hold me any more, and couldn’t stand any one touching me.

I sat on a birth ball and leaned on the bed while they tried to get a good recording of my son’s heart rate, but the position made it impossible, the nurse urged me to get back in the bed.  I did what anyone asked of me, I thought maybe they had the answers that I couldn’t think of any more.  I was loosing all my senses in these contractions and wondering why I couldn’t concentrate anymore.  I hit transition, and my midwife came in to inform me that perhaps I would like to get on my knees facing the head of the bed and lean on it for support, that this may help baby to drop down into a better position and if I wanted to I could deliver in this position.  I could only think as far as to say I didn’t want to have my butt sticking out in that stupid hospital gown, and then did exactly what she told me to do.  I was miserable, I kept thinking ‘one more contraction and I’m asking for an epidural’ but I didn’t want to let anyone down.  I started puking, my husband handed me a bag to catch it in, offered me ice chips, rubbed my back and wiped my forehead with a cloth. I suddenly was only aware of his light finger tip touch on my lower back, and how it was driving me out of my skin.

I screamed “stop” he didn’t understand I screamed it again “stop!” I’m afraid my words were rather less like a scream than a whimper, he still didn’t understand except to say that he stopped doing everything.

I don’t recall anything after that except that time must have passed and the midwife came in, checked my cervix and informed me that when I felt ready I could push and then left the room.  I was confused.  Who was going to catch my baby?  What did she tell me?  I’m ready, but if I was why did she leave?  I called the nurse, she took my confusion to mean I was ready and suddenly the room filled with activity and they began to direct me to push.  I didn’t get the urge they talk about until a few contraction in…

At one point the midwife started to laugh at the way I had positioned myself.  I had both my feet in my hands and was pulling them toward my face and spreading my knees as if I was doing the butterfly stretch with my legs in the air, and still in a sitting position.  When my son’s head crowned my midwife grabbed my hand and put it on my babies head and thought I’d be excited to feel him right there, I FREAKED out!  and told her to NEVER do that again!

I began to talk about a burning sensation and the midwife told us ‘that is the ring of fire’, and my husband began to sing the Johnny Cash song… “it burns burns burns, the ring of fire” and the room laughed.  I thought about yelling at him, but then I thought ‘this could be a funny story later’.

My midwife informed me that I should push out my son’s head with the next contraction and then stop so she could suction out his mouth.  I did what she told me to and she yelped “Woah! this kid has no shoulders!”  I momentarily freaked out, but there he was, perfect and blinking at me, calmly laying on my chest with a blanket over him. I was in awe, I was amazed, I was dumbfounded, grossed out and in love all at once.  The placenta was born, my midwife gave my husband a tour of it and I pretended they were not behaving so grossly.

Then they stitched my tear, a small but significant one, the midwife says it was because his shoulders came so quickly after his head, my body didnt’ have time to adjust to him emerging.  She had to give me two shots of numbing pain meds to stitch me back up and I focused hard on the baby in my arms so that I wouldn’t think about the thread I could feel pulling through my skin.

Probably before the stitching and placental delivery my husband got to cut the cord, I remember it but not the timing.. I remember it still held blood in it, I remember the moment, but I couldn’t believe what was happening… it was amazing and simple and didn’t seem significant enough to me.

When they took my son across the room to clean him, to weigh him and measure him he cried, for the first time since birth and my heart burst out of my chest and ripped me open in a way I’ve never felt before, a way that both tore me up, made me want to cry and which completed me, I was a mother!  He was my baby!  We, my husband and I had become a family!

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