I was in labor for three days (Thursday around noon until Sunday around noon) from the time I started having regular contractions about half an hour apart to the time our son was born. My contractions were 10-15 minutes apart for all but the first few hours. I had back labor. A regular dose of Tylenol helped take a little of the back pain away. (I almost never take any sort of pain killers, so that little bit made a big difference for me.) My stability/yoga/workout ball was my best friend because it made my back feel much better during contractions. I barely slept since the contractions in my back were excruciating when I was lying down or reclining, and the pain woke me up with every contraction. However, it was bearable. I’d drop my chin to my chest, close my eyes, rock side to side, and just breathe slowly and deeply when a contraction came, and I’d get through it. There was a brief period, about two days in, when I got really tense and stressed out because I was exhausted and was beginning to wonder just low long I was going to be in labor. That tension in my body made the contractions a lot more painful and harder to get through. My husband rubbed my back and talked me down, and I was set keep on plugging along.
Finally, at about 5AM on Sunday, my contractions got to the point where they were five minutes apart for half an hour (the guideline our OB and the instructor for the hospital natural birth class had given us for when to go to the hospital). We got dressed and headed to the hospital, where they checked us into triage and informed me that I was not yet five cm dilated and couldn’t be checked into a delivery room. I wanted to cry. They had us walk around the maternity ward for an hour, with me drinking lots of water, and checked me again. Hallelujah, I was dilated enough to be admitted!
Once I was checked into the delivery room, I finally felt like I could relax a little and tried to get some rest before delivery. As a result of just chilling in the bed and trying to doze, instead of being up and moving around to help things along, I didn’t really progress in the first hour we were there, so the nurse gave me the very minimum dose of Pitocin. I asked for a birthing ball at that point. I was not on the birthing ball long before I kicked into transition, puked a little, and broke my water simultaneously.
We were in the hospital for a total of six hours (including the time spent in triage) before our son was born. All in all, it was a positive experience. The nurses were really nice and followed our written birth plan we’d given them as closely as possible. They came in and told me they were bragging me up to all the other nurses in the nurses’ station because I stayed so calm and collected during contractions and they were all marveling over the monitor readings in their station that showed the intensity of my contractions along side my barely-changing heart rate. One of them even asked me if I could feel the contractions because I wasn’t showing signs of distress or pain, and I was like, “Umm… Yeah!” Haha
Our doctor wasn’t on call that day, so we had a different one from the practice. He asked me if I wanted an epidural, and I jokingly said, “Someone didn’t read the birth plan.” (Which stated I did not want to be offered pain intervention and would request it if I felt I needed it.) After he left the room, I told the nurses he was very lucky I didn’t have any desire at all for pain medication because he could get himself into trouble if he offered when a woman had expressed a desire not to be offered and gave in in a weak moment, to regret it later.
I never made it to 10 cm, like they said I should. The nurse said this was because I had a very flexible cervix. At first, they told me to try to resist the urge to push because they were afraid my cervix would swell since I wasn’t dilated far enough. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, and the only part of labor that was horrible, because I had to go against what every instinct was telling my body to do. By 8.5 cm, it was stretching enough with the pressure of contractions that the baby was starting to come through. It was funny because they were training a new nurse who had transferred from the maternity ward of a hospital in another town, and when she’d asked earlier about taking the end of the bed off to prep for delivery, the nurse training her said they never did that until the doctor was in the room and ready to deliver. Well, they did it! Haha She called the doctor, told the other nurse to get everything ready, and said, “This baby is coming now. We’ll deliver it ourselves if we have to.” Fortunately, the doctor came back to the room right away, so they didn’t have to deliver him. I barely had to push at all, and the first thing I did when my son came out was to give the nurses and doctor a big grin, a thumbs-up, and a proclamation of “Piece of cake!”
I did end up getting an episiotomy, which I hadn’t planned on. The skin around my vagina was super stretchy thanks to perineal massage in the month before I was due, but the muscle along the bottom was very tight and hard and wasn’t stretching. There was no concern about me tearing down because that muscle was so firm, but the doctor said he was very worried about the possibility of me tearing up, which could cause damage to the clitoris and urethra. He snipped the muscle inside after a little local anesthetic. It was sewn up after, but I was never able to see or feel any stitches on the outside and have no visible scarring since it was not the skin outside my vagina that was cut.
While I was delivering the placenta and getting sewn up, they weighed our son, cleaned him off, etc. (all under the very close supervision of my husband). Then, I nursed him right away, and he latched like a pro from the get-go. Most women get put in a wheelchair and pushed to their recovery room after delivery. Not me! The nurse said, “You don’t want a wheelchair, do you?” in a tone saying she knew I didn’t, based on how I was during labor, not an actual question, which I confirmed. She asked if I wanted to wheel the bassinet to the new room, so, instead of being pushed in a wheelchair, I hopped up and walked, pushing my baby in his bassinet, to our recovery room. As we walked by the nurses’ station, I was showered with praise from all the nurses who had been watching my monitors during the delivery. It was pretty awesome.
I never really had any pain or discomfort after the birth. Didn’t take any sort of pain killers at any point. It was hard being in the hospital for two days, though. I insisted my son be kept in the room with me at all times, so I was woken up a lot by nurses coming to check on him and me. I didn’t sleep much at all the first day and night we were there because of excitement about our new baby and nurses, the pediatrician, the OB, people from the lactation clinic, the few visitors we had, etc. being in and out of the room all hours of the day and night, so adding that to three days of labor made for four days with virtually no sleep. My husband is a heavy sleeper, so he slept away on his little bench by the wall and didn’t even notice everyone coming and going or me getting the baby out of the bassinet thing to feed him. I am not gifted with such talents. On our second day there, my husband and his dad went to go get some supper, and my lovely husband stopped by the nurses’ station to ask them to leave me the heck alone for a couple hours so I could get some much-needed sleep. I was definitely ready to go home when we did!