Early in my pregnancy, Rachael gave me some great advice: Let go of your expectations. She went on to elaborate that it’s easy to build up an idea of what the perfect pregnancy/labor/birth will be like, that it’s easy to get REALLY attached to that ideal...so much so, that making changes to your plan can seem like a huge disappointment.
So, with that in mind, I planned on a natural birth in a hospital. But I stayed flexible.
I was all sorts of in tune with the idea that birth is a natural part of life and that my body could do what it was meant to, but I’m not going to lie, I spent a lot of time being fairly overwhelmed by the idea that a whole human was going to come out of my body. Not to mention the fact that I (6’) and my husband (6’ 7”) were warned by my doctor that our baby could easily be 10 or 11 pounds.
When I was in my first trimester, I read an article in Outside Magazine that discussed the fact that people react to pain based on the severity of pain they have previously experienced. The article mentioned (I’m paraphrasing) that, you’re more likely to be able to handle a broken back if you’ve given birth without the aid of pain relief.
As someone who had never had so much as a cut that required stitches, let alone a broken bone, I felt like there was a good chance that I’m a total pansy and I just didn’t know it. Yet.
Fast forward to the day before my daughter’s birth.
It’s Sunday and I’ve be having contractions since Thursday afternoon. Every 7-9 minutes. Annoyingly, the contractions stop when I go to bed. But when I get up on Sunday, my contractions don’t seem to release...you know, your belly tightens and then releases when the contraction ends. I’m enjoying a day of perpetual tight belly. I call my doctor. He tells me to head the hospital to “get checked”. Damn him.
We arrive at 2:30 P.M. and the nurse does her thing and tells us that I’m dilated to a 3 and that we should walk the halls for an hour. In retrospect I wish I would have said, “Hey, no thanks.” and returned home, but like a rookie...I walked. For an hour.
I was certain that I must be on the verge of giving birth. Nope. No progress. The nurse told us to go home and not to come back until my contractions were 2 minutes apart for two hours.
We drove home, incredibly disappointed.
At 2:30 A.M. Monday, I woke up with contractions that were two minutes apart. So I headed out to the couch to start timing them. (Sidenote: in your 3rd trimester, start setting the DVR to record old episodes of Friends, or whatever strikes your fancy, I spent TWO HOURS watching stupid infomercials while I timed my contractions. Lame.)
After two fabulous hours, I woke up my husband. (Sidenote: give your husband a bit more notice so he can take a shower, or have a snack or enjoy the benefit of advanced notice so he doesn’t feel compelled to flail about as you rush out of the house.)
We arrived at the hospital around 5:00 A.M. I had to pause several times in the parking lot while I waited for the blinding pain from the contraction to pass. When I arrived and the nursed checked me again, I prayed to high heaven that I had at least progressed to a 4. Her answer, “you’re a 7, on your way to an 8”. Yahoo!
As the nursed checked us in and handed us off to our Labor and Delivery nurse, I was asked to confirm several times that I would like to have a natural birth. Yes, that was the goal, but I’d see how everything went.
As I’m powering through my increasingly intense contractions, I’m given a clipboard full of admittance papers to sign. I’m also asked if it would be okay to break my water. I agree to having my water broken and I begin to scan the paperwork.
The first sheet is the epidural waiver, our wonderful L&D nurse lets me know that it’s just in case I decide at the last minute I want one. No problem. I make some glib comment to my husband about signing it for no reason. I mean, HELLO, I’m already to an 8. There’s no stopping me now.
A few sheets of paperwork later, my water is broken. By the time I get to the very last sheet, I experience my first post-broken-water contraction. I inform everyone in the room that there is no way in hell I’m going to experience that again and could you pretty please with sugar on top get me an epidural in the next 90 seconds.
I get my epidural.
I’m told to try and rest at which point I enjoy the most restful 2-hours of sleep I’ve had since I got pregnant. I wake up, my nurse gets the lay of the land, let’s me know that I’m ready to give birth.
I pushed through 3 contractions and our girl arrived. All 9 pounds and 14 ounces of her.
I got the best birth I could have hoped for - a healthy babe and a happy mom.
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