On May 7, 2012, Dylan Thomas Craft made his entrance into our lives, and I was quickly reminded of the struggles and joys associated with having a newborn. This is the story of our through labor.
On May 6, I went to Labor and Delivery that morning because I had passed a rather large blood clot and was worried something may be wrong. We had just left Urgent Care for my husband, who was displaying flu symptoms that were diagnosed as Tick Fever. He had pulled a tick off of his leg earlier in the week. I was not a very happy person, considering I was nearing the 40 week mark and my husband was laid up in bed sick!
I dragged him to L&D, only to discover what I experienced was not all that uncommon, that I was still at 2 cm dilated and a little more effaced than I had been, and that I was having no contractions, which I knew. So I was sent home, which was fine by me. Luckily, we had called my MIL to go ahead and come down that morning because, well, we didn't know what was going to happen and we needed someone for Ethan.
Around 3:00 p.m., my husband was sleeping, my MIL was outside with Ethan, and I was cleaning the house instead of resting after an awful night of sleep. About every 25 minutes, I would have a painful contraction, but Braxton Hicks (BH) can get a little painful toward the end, so I just assumed they'd go away. As the day progressed, they got to be around 15 minutes apart. I drank a large glass of water and laid down. They did not go away.
Through dinner, I had to breath through them. They were averaging every 9 to 14 minutes. Not what I would call regular. At around 9:00 p.m., I decided to take a hot shower to see if that would ease them, as they were staying around the 10 minute range and causing me some pain. That did not help.
So I called L&D and asked when I should come in, as I live 30 minutes away from the hospital. She said that while they normally wait until they're 5 minutes apart, that I should go ahead and come in because it's my second pregnancy and I'm so far away. I gave it another 30 minutes. They were now 6 to 8 minutes apart. So I called it and said, let's go.
We arrived at the hospital a little after 11:00 p.m. Contractions were still 6 to 8 minutes apart and I was breathing through them. I could no longer talk through them. I was dilated a 4 to a 5. They said to walk, so we walked. Within 45 minutes, they were 3 to 4 minutes apart, and I had to stop with each one. I began to moan with them. They hurt! I finally said I could no longer walk, so we went back to our room. I was 7 cm dilated and it was time to get me a delivery room. And that's when all hell broke loose.
My doctor was not on-call, so I got one of her partners. If you'll recall, I was shooting for an all-natural, no drug birth. I had called my Doula throughout, but she waited until they were moving me to delivery before getting in the shower and coming up. It's a good thing she really helped through transition because she left me to fend for myself against the all-for-drugs doctor.
The first thing? She wanted to continuously monitor me. I was not high risk. Baby was not in distress. There was no reason. So I refused. I plainly said to her, "I refuse to be confined to this bed. I'm doing this naturally, and I can't do that if I'm stuck in this damn bed. There is no reason to monitor me." She proceeded to tell me it's hospital policy and all physicians have to monitor. She's an outright liar. I know better. I had many discussions with my doctor about it. My doula had just attended a birth that very day in which the person was not monitored. LIAR! However, she gave me a portable monitor device, so I compromised.
Next up? I said I would not deliver laying flat on my back. She said that's how they deliver babies. I said, "Why would I do that? It works completely against gravity to have a baby that way. There are several ways to deliver. Squatting. On all fours. On your side." She proceeded to tell me that she could not deliver if I was squatting or on all fours, but she'd be willing to do on my side. And then she told me that laying flat on my back with my feet in stirrups opens my pelvis more than any other position. BULLSHIT!
I told the woman that I had considered home birth for just these reasons. There was no reason for me to be monitored. There was no reason to birth on my back. There was no reason it should be hard to choose natural child birth. I was PISSED and in LABOR. Not a good combo.
Needless to say, the doctor and I did not get along, and my husband was actually terrified because I was not backing down and I was very direct. And you know what? I'm glad I didn't back down. I'm glad I did all the research I did. I am the person giving birth and what I want matters.
By this time, my Doula decides to show up. I'm sitting on a birthing ball and the contractions around 2 minutes apart. I'm dilated an 8/9. Things are getting rough. Through each contraction, I'm breathing loudly and moaning and saying, "It's okay, it's okay, it's okay. I can do this, I can do this. I'm okay now." Seriously. And then it happened. They broke my water. And hell came with all it's fine fury.
The contraction that followed my waters breaking is something I will never forget. I was back on the ball when it hit. Suddenly, a wave of cold sweat overcame me and I felt as though I'd pass out. That feeling was instantly followed by the intense need to throw up. And I screamed. Not an all out scream. More of a deep inside my body scream; not high pitched...low. Big. I climbed into bed and laid on my side. And there I stayed. As each contraction waned, I kept my eyes closed. I could hear people talking, but I couldn't participate. All I could think was how tired I was. How exhausted I felt. How much I wanted it to be over.
As each wave began, I told myself to breath through it. I was breathing and moaning low, but as it intensified, I lost control of my breath. All I could do was cry out in pain. Excruciating pain. But here's the thing. That peak of each contraction, where it really hurts? Well, it doesn't last a horribly long time. 10 or 15 or 20 seconds maybe. Count it out. It's not that long. As as they receded, I would begin to breath again.
There were times when I heard myself yell, "What was I thinking? Why in God's name did I want to do this. Who in their right mind would do this!" And I only looked at my husband twice. Once when I went to the bathroom before things got super bad. And he smiled at me. My response, "What the fuck are you smiling about?"He stupidly said, "I'm happy." I was NOT happy. "I want to kill you right now," I said.
The next time I looked at him was when I was laying on my side. I looked up at him briefly and heard my Doula say, "I think you're in trouble." He wasn't. With each contraction, I could feel him next to me, and I think I even grabbed his hand a few times, but for the most part, I was consumed with myself and getting through this part of labor. As each contraction grew in intensity, I would grab the side rail of the bed and half my body would come up off the bed. I was just trying to make it through.
And then it happened. The thing you're waiting for when you're experiencing this stage of labor. The need to push. The nurse checked me, and I heard her say there was a lip. I knew what that meant. I had the same thing with Ethan. So the doctor came in and checked me, and that conversation went something like this:
"You're cervix isn't ready yet. You can't push."
"What do you mean I can't push. I can't stop it."
"You have three choices. You can push and rip your cervix. I'll have to take you into surgery to repair it. And since you chose not to have pain relief, you'll have to go under general anesthesia. Or you could breath through the contractions until your cervix is ready. Or you could get an epidural. Would you like an epidural?"
"Then I suggest you breath through them."
Now here's the thing about that conversation. Had I said yes to that stupid epi, I would've had Dylan before it took effect. I have no doubt she knew that. And my birth plan clearly stated not to even offer it. She was condescending in her tone as well. I did not like her at all.
Now you may be thinking based on the description of pain above that I thought about an epi. That's the thing. I truly didn't. No matter how horrific that pain was, I never even considered an epidural. Not once. Even while I was saying how crazy I was for choosing to do this naturally, I never wavered in my resolve to have a natural birth. And I'm so thankful for that. And so proud of myself for it.
I didn't do this so that I could say, "I am woman. Hear me roar!" I didn't do this for bragging rights. I did this because I did not want myself or my child exposed to unnecessary drugs. Every drug has potential side effects. I saw a few of those with Ethan. And providing myself with a couple of hours of relief during the hard part of labor (the beginning stuff is a piece a cake) was not worth exposing my unborn child to chemicals or drugs that his tiny little did not need to process.
That doesn't mean I judge those that go for the pitocin or epi or the stadol. It's your choice, and most often things turn out just fine. Hell, my best friend that gave birth six weeks prior was induced before she needed to be and got an epi. Her choice; not mine. And everything turned out just fine. But that's not the path I wanted to take.
I'll finish this up by sharing the most amazing part of the experience. As I was trying to breath through the need to push, my Doula finally convinced me to get up on that birth ball, so I got my knees and leaned over it. And I screamed through my contraction, "I'm pushing! My body is pushing. I can't stop it!" At this point I was afraid I was going to destroy my cervix. Stupid doctor! My doula said, "It's okay. Let your body do what it needs to do. Just don't help it." What? Again, I screamed, "But my body is pushing. It's doing it anyway!" And then it happened.
"The head is coming out! It's coming. I can feel it. He's coming out!" I screamed. The nurse looked down, "Yes it is. Get the doctor."
I flipped over on my back, which was inclined due to the bed just as the doctor came in. She asked if I wanted to lay on my side. At that point, I just knew he was coming out. "No. This is fine. Let's just do it." I pulled my legs back. Not in stirrups; just back. I breathed through the next contraction as I pushed (no holding my breath and counting to ten), and I felt fire followed by his head. I breathed through another. And on the third, I felt and saw the rest of my baby's tiny body enter the world. And the first words out of my mouth?
"Oh. My. God. That was the most amazing experience of my entire life." My husband cut the cord, and Dylan was immediately placed on my chest. And it was amazing. I cannot begin to describe the high that comes with natural childbirth. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it's hard work because you're present 100% of the time. No naps. No relief. You're 100% there. It's exhausting. But the second I felt him enter the world, the pain was gone. I was ecstatic. All those natural hormones and chemicals are such a rush. I can't describe it.
And so at 5 lbs 10oz. and 18 inches, my little baby entered the world.