Sophie's Birth Story
March 29, 2011
Total Labor Time: 14 hours
Monday, March 28 was Sophie’s expected due date. I had an OB appointment that morning, and when he checked me, he said I was 3cm dilated, 80% effaced, and our baby’s head was fully engaged. I was encouraged to know that it wouldn’t be much longer, although I still felt pretty good so I expected that it could be at least another week.
Ben and I decided to take a walk together in the afternoon to help our baby out some. We took quite a long walk with our friend Jessica to a coffee shop, and I remember I even felt a little sore. When we got back, I was exhausted, so Ben and I took a nap together. We had some homework to do that night, so we did that. Our friends Jason, Laken, and Jessica all came over later in the night and were hanging out, and I decided to do the dishes. I always had this fear that I would have a ton of dirty dishes on my counter when I came home from the hospital, and the dishes were starting to pile up that night. As I was doing the dishes at 11:00pm, I noticed that I was feeling crampy. I realized the feeling was coming and going, and eventually I felt like I wanted to sit down when they came because they felt somewhat strong. They felt just like strong period cramps and were coming around 7-8 minutes apart. I remember saying something to my husband and our friends about how I was feeling and how I wondered if it was early labor. I told them that it wasn’t what I imagined labor would feel like though, so I was not too certain.
They all left around 12, and I began thinking this might really be it, and went into a nesting mode. I cleaned up things and made sure I had everything in my hospital bag ready to go. Then I decided to take a shower and continued to have a few contractions every 5-7 minutes. I blow-dried my hair, thinking that if this was it, I wasn’t going to go to the hospital with wet hair. Finally around 1:40, Ben and I decided to go to bed. I figured if this wasn’t real, the contractions would fizzle out, and if it was, I would try to catch some rest. After my first contraction in bed, I changed my mind. I knew I wouldn’t be able to lie down and sleep through them. I told Ben that I was going to get up and that he should still sleep, and I would let him know if I thought we needed to go to the hospital. I went and bounced on my yoga ball for a little while. Ben couldn’t sleep so he got up. I decided after a while that I didn’t want to sit through my contractions. We live in an apartment/dorm type setting, so I walked the halls, stopping to sway against the wall during contractions. I did this until 4:00, trying to time the contractions. Sometime during this period I realized that the feeling of the contractions wasn’t going to change… I was having back labor! The contractions were fairly consistent in their length and space, but some hurt more than others. Some I had to breathe through and some seemed like nothing. I was really focused this entire time, listening to my iPod. Very surreal.
Finally, at 4:00 I decided I would go to the hospital. We live next door to the hospital, so Ben, Jessica (my friend who was with me through the labor and delivery), and I walked over at 4:30 in the morning. I was talking and laughing on the way over and thought that for sure they were going to send me home. I was going to feel so silly too because I promised I wouldn’t go to the hospital until things got intense. I had already been in labor for 5 hours though, and most of that had been consistent. My contractions had been 4-6 minutes apart and about a minute in length for a while at this point. When we got to the hospital, the nurse who checked me for dilation was pretty snippy. She said, “I’m only here until 7, and then I’m going home, so if you take any longer than that, I won’t be here.” Then she checked me and said, “Wow, you’re a 5. I guess you’re staying. Let me make sure we have a room.” And then she left. I was upset because I had prayed for a good nurse, and this was the nurse I was getting. She told me later that she thought she would be sending me home because I didn’t seem like I was in any pain. After she got us a room (the last one!), she was a lot nicer, and she and my husband joked around some. She hooked me up to the monitors, and I got up and swayed and breathed through contractions. They didn’t feel good, but they were definitely bearable.
I started getting cold and threw up around 6:30, from contractions and from shaking I think. When the nurse changed at 7, I was so thankful. My new nurse Linda was amazing. She checked me and I was at 7 cm (everytime the nurse checked, Ben, Jessica, and I would make guesses as to how dilated I was). I asked her if I could get in the Jacuzzi tub because contractions were feeling stronger and I was cold. She filled it up, and it was wonderful because I felt warm and stopped shaking. I could tell contractions were getting stronger. I stayed in the tub for an hour, and then decided I needed to go to the bathroom. At this point I wanted a change of pace, so I went back into the room. I swayed through contractions, and the nurse checked me at 8:30, and I was 8-9cm. I was thankful. Linda told me the baby’s heart rate was getting low and to lie on my side. I did this, and I felt a pop and water gush. My water had broken! At this point, contractions started getting stronger. I threw up again, and for the next hour, I was on all fours on the hospital bed, pressing my head into the pillow and moaning through contractions. Ben says the contractions here were about a minute apart. All the pain was in my back, and Jessica rubbed my back through them. I remember toward the end of this transition time, I was chanting things like, “I can do this,” and “She’s almost here.” I also thought, “This is why people get an epidural.” But this transition time is the only time I thought that. I also remember thinking after each one that I was one step closer to pushing, and I thought once pushing started that I was almost there.
At 9:30, the nurse asked me about how I wanted to push. She asked if I wanted to try a squat bar. I was thrilled because I had wanted to try one. I was still waiting for the desire to push, but the nurse told me to stand up and use the squat bar before I felt the need. In fact, though, I only ever felt like I needed to push once through the entire next 3 and a half hours of pushing. Every other time, I just pushed when a contraction came. Pushing was frustrating. I went from having intense contractions during transition to almost no contractions. My contractions during pushing were 5-8 minutes apart and were not very intense. I tried several different pushing positions. I used the squat bar, but my legs were too long so I sat on the baby’s head. I did side lying, pulled on ropes that were attached to the squat bar, and just laid on my back. I was certain I would hate lying on my back, but it actually was the position that made the best progress. I think it was because I was able to focus best on where to push when I was lying down. The nurse would put her fingers where I needed to push which helped me immensely.
Around 11, the nurse got Pitocin for me because my contractions were getting further apart and we weren’t making any progress. I was afraid at first because I hadn’t wanted any medication and I thought Pitocin might make my contractions too strong and affect the baby. It turns out that the Pitocin barely even helped. It wasn’t until the end, when they had upped the Pitocin level to 7, that it even began to do anything. I was thankful for a nurse I trusted at this point. I think I must have heard the nurse say, “That’s it, bring her around the bend” 50 times before I actually brought my baby “around the bend.” I also knew she had lots of dark hair after about the first half hour of pushing. My contractions at this point were so weak that in between them I literally could have fallen asleep, and I thought about it. I never felt as happy as when I heard my nurse leave the room and call for Dr. Vendola, my doctor. I knew that meant I was finally getting close! This was around 12:30. I finally felt her crowning, but my contractions were still far apart (maybe 3 minutes), so I was left with her part way out for quite a while! The doctor had a nurse grab a vacuum, just incase, because my baby’s heart rate was getting low because of how long it was taking me to get her out. I was sad, but just wanted to get her out, and thankfully they never had to use it. I was also very tired at this point. Ben was holding my one leg and head up, Jessica was holding the other leg, and I still was shaking and felt exhausted. The last set of pushing was intense. I just remember that I was pushing with all my might to get her out and that I felt a sharp pain (maybe my tearing?), and then finally I saw her squiggle out! I was so thankful and relieved, and the doctor put her on my tummy until the blood from the cord went back into our little girl, and then Ben cut the cord. Sophie was finally here! She was born at 12:57pm on Tuesday, March 29,2011. She weighed 7 lbs, 5 oz, was 21 inches long and had a beautiful set of dark brown hair. One of the first things I remember hearing when the nurses took her is, “Aw, she has dimples.” We’re so thankful for Sophie.
· My hospital birth experience was wonderful. I was scared and worried about having a hospital birth because of my plan to go without pain medication, and everything went so well. I got my natural birth that I wanted, my nurse was wonderful, and I really appreciated my OB.
· I totally underestimated the way your body feels in postpartum the first few days after giving birth. I knew you had a lot of bleeding, but wow was I sore and numb! I stayed in bed most of the time and walked very slowly. Thankfully, 3 days postpartum, I’m already feeling much better!
· My baby was fully engaged the day before I gave birth. I wrongly assumed this meant it would take her less time to come down the birth canal! Also, sitting on a yoga ball and walking lots will not ensure that your baby is anterior in head position. Sophie decided she wanted to be posterior. This equaled back labor and a larger part of her head to push out!
· I’ve already forgotten most of the pain. The moment after she was born I remember thinking that maybe having just one baby wasn’t such a bad idea (haha!). Honestly, today I already feel certain that I would give birth unmedicated again.