Before I got pregnant, I never cared about reading people’s birth stories. Sorry! Once I got pregnant, I went back to every blogger I knew who had a baby and obsessively read their birth stories multiple times. So maybe this will be of interest to you, maybe it won’t, or maybe one day it will.
I went into labor feeling very prepared. Nick and I had taken a 12-week birth class together called The Bradley Method. The class focuses on how to have an unmedicated birth. It also teaches your partner how to be your birth coach.
Labor and delivery were both empowering and traumatizing. It was really, really hard. I panicked, thought I couldn’t do it, and was in more pain than I could imagine. Giving birth is the biggest, hardest thing I’ve ever done. It has taken me a long time to process it. I still find myself piecing bits together, asking Nick about certain parts.
On Friday night, Nick and I went to an outdoor concert in DC. We laid on the grass and talked about M’s name, which we still hadn’t fully agreed on.
I decided to take a bath before going to bed. In the bath, I started to feel contractions.
Everyone told me that I would know the difference between Braxton Hicks and contractions, and they were right. I pulled out the app I had already downloaded to time contractions. I had two contractions that were 6 minutes apart and then they started coming at three minutes apart. I think they were about 30 seconds long.
Nick had already gone to bed by the time I got out. I woke him up and told him what was happening. He was so groggy and confused! Looking back, it’s kinda funny. At first he was in denial, but he quickly started timing contractions and calling the doula and midwife.
In our birth class, our instructor told us that our contractions would start around 10 minutes apart. She said that we should go to the movies, out to eat, on a walk, or bake a cake to pass the time.
As soon as my contractions started, all I could do was lay in bed or the bathtub or stand in the shower. I just cycled through those three things for the next 11 hours at home.
Part of our doula’s service was that she would come labor at home with you, but I saw no reason for her to be there at first. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or have anyone but Nick around. My parents texted me to tell me that my brother passed his nursing boards, which is a huge deal. I just wrote back, “awesome.” I didn’t want them to know I was in labor yet. They both told me it struck them as odd that that’s all I said but they didn’t think I was in labor at the time.
On the phone, our doula said I should try to nap. I didn’t think I would be able to sleep through contractions. But I knew I had a long road ahead of me so I decided to try. I put an eye mask on and slept for about two hours while Nick got things ready for the hospital. I am SO thankful for that nap and I think it helped get me through to the end. Nick didn’t sleep a wink until after M was born.
Around 11:00 am on Saturday, we decided to go to the hospital. In hindsight, we could have waited a little longer, but I was getting anxious because I tested positive for GBS. GBS is a bacteria that many women have. It can pass along to the baby during delivery. It’s harmless to adults but can make babies sick. So to prevent the babies from getting sick, they give you antibiotics during labor. You need to get the antibiotic every 4 hours, and you need two doses to protect the baby. I needed to be at the hospital at in time for all of that, which made me a bit overly cautious.
Our doula met us at our apartment complex and we went straight to the hospital. There were no labor and delivery rooms available, so I had to wait in the triage room for a while. That room was so uncomfortable that I started talking about getting an epidural – which was not part of my birth plan at all.
As they wheeled me into the labor and delivery room, I passed a woman who had just given birth. She was holding her newborn baby and was being wheeled to her postpartum unit. We smiled at each other. I don’t remember what she looked like but I’ll always remember that moment, seeing her holding her baby and thinking that would be me soon.
As soon as I got to my labor room, I felt a lot better. I didn’t want an epidural for a lot of reasons. Part of it was that I don’t like not feeling in control of my body. I wanted to be able to get up, walk around, and move into different positions. I love taking hot showers when I don’t feel well so I knew I would want to spend a lot of time in the shower.
As soon as I got to the labor room, I went into the shower. Nick came into the bathroom with me and helped me through my contractions while I was in the shower.
When I came out, our doula had already started to play calm music and put up fairy lights in the room. The rest of the room was dim and all of that combined made me feel a lot better. They asked us what the baby’s name was going to be. They wrote, “Welcome, M” on the board directly across from my bed. Illuminated by fairy lights, I kept staring at that word, “M,” through my contractions. It was my motivation.
Nick was the perfect birth coach. He knew exactly what to do and what to say. A lot of that is from the birth class we took, but a bigger part of that is just who Nick is. He is so calming, nurturing, and supportive. I panicked a lot, was in a lot of pain, and kept saying I couldn’t do it. He kept rubbing my back and telling me I was doing great.
My doula was absolutely perfect too. She pulled me back to reality when I panicked and said I couldn’t do it and kept moving me into different positions to help labor move along.
One thing I hadn’t thought about when I decided to get a doula was that the nurses leave you alone for much of your labor. I was my midwife’s only patient and she still left the room for long periods of time. I think that if it was just Nick and me I would have been panicking. Our doula also helped me make a few minor decisions. Immensely luckily, I never needed to make any big decisions during labor because everything went how I had planned.
I cycled through different positions in the bed and the shower. Every hour or so I’d hop into the shower for about 20 minutes. It helped pass the time, and it made me feel a lot better. I really loved being able to get into the shower whenever I wanted and for however long I wanted.
At one point, I asked Nick what the baby’s middle name was going to be. It was a hot topic because we could not agree. Nick didn’t like the name I was dead set on, but he didn’t have any alternatives, either. As I was working through contractions, Nick said, “you pick.” And in that moment, I knew he was agreeing to let me use the middle name I had desperately wanted for her. I didn’t hesitate to say it. It was such a special moment.
I didn’t get a lot of cervical checks, but things seemed to be stalling, so the midwife asked if she could check me and possibly help move things along. I was getting desperate, thinking that I still had all of the pushing to do, so I said okay. She told me I was at 7 cm and helped me break my water. After my water broke, things started to progress quickly.
Next blog post will be Part 2!
If you have a birth story, I’d love to hear it or read it… send me links or comment below!