Well, the best way I can sum up the labor/birth was, in a word, WAR. It was the most intense experience of my life. And I don’t say that like, “oh, it was this wonderful, intense experience.” It really was hell.
The labor lasted for 72 hours. I started early Monday morning at 1:30 am. Labor progressed gradually that day and I kept hydrated but didn’t have much of an appetite. By evening I was contracted to about 5 or 6 cm and fully effaced but the baby was still high and my water bag was intact which gave him a lot of space to move around in. His constant changing position made it too risky to break my water. At this point I was vomiting a lot and was totally drained. The midwife put me on an IV and gave me a narcotic to make me sleep.
I slept until 5 am and when I woke up the labor started to pick up pace again but the baby was still high and when she checked me his heart rate dropped which caused an alarm. She gave me something to slow the contractions down and put me on oxygen.
By the afternoon the other midwife arrived to take over and also to asses the situation. She gave us some time alone which was a real blessing. I had a few bites to eat, although I wasn’t hungry and didn’t really fuel up. When she checked me the next time my water broke. We thought that things would likely pick up as I was almost fully dilated.
As things progressed we did a few things to intensify the contractions and soon I was in advanced labor. It was now Tuesday evening. I was exhausted and in so much pain but I worked hard to push him out. I pushed for 4 hours in every position possible both in and out of the water. I was a mess. There was some progress but I was barely hanging on and because of our efforts to intensify the contractions I wasn’t getting any break. The pain was unbearable.
The day before I couldn’t imagine the birth. I didn’t really think much of it at the time. Even during the pushing phase I couldn’t visualize seeing him coming out of me. After the birth I told this to the midwife who said that she had tried to visualize the birth also and had the same experience. I guess we had the intuition but didn’t realize it.
At this point I said I needed to go to the hospital. I just knew it wasn’t happening and I could feel myself slipping into panic. The trip to the hospital was just unbelievable, the contractions were so strong and I was in so much pain and fear. When we got there they gave me an epidural. The baby was now under stress and his heart rate dropped a few times. Everyone agreed that it was time for a c-section.
I was so judgmental of [hospital] birthing beforehand, so sure that my way was better, and although I tried not to judge other peoples choices … I knew I did.
By this point I was so relieved for that kind of assistance. They took me in and delivered the baby at 4:38 am. I have never in my life been so grateful and appreciative of hospitals and doctors and western medicine. My experience at the hospital was so overwhelmingly wonderful it just changed me. I was so judgmental of that whole way of birthing beforehand, so sure that my way was better, and although I tried not to judge other peoples choices … I knew I did. But my experience has taught me about my thinking and I can honestly say that I’m far less judgmental because of it. Not just about birth, but about everything. My heart just feels more open and free.
I knew labor would be transformative and powerful. I thought that I’d come out of it with an “I can do anything” feeling but what I actually got was an understanding that I CAN’T do everything and sometimes help is a wonderful gift. I guess we just get what we need from these life changing experiences.
Now I have this amazing child and everything since the birth has been almost frighteningly easy. We wake up once in the night to feed so I’ve been getting tons of sleep, he’s nursing like a champ, loves his independence and is generally really happy. I am relaxed and have given up control about lots of things that normally I would have over-thought. I’ve also come to really accept the things I do want control over and feel very at peace about them. Motherhood feels so right to me and I’m just loving my new purpose.