Saturday morning, the 9th, I woke up with what I thought were Braxton-Hicks. Though they were different the all the one's I had previously felt, in that the pain wrapped around my back. This, one of my midwives had told me was a sign of real labor. My husband started timing the contractions, and we found that they were all over the place. I'd go from 3 in a row of 12 to 15 minutes apart, to the next being 30 minutes apart. This lasted all day.
In the evening we went up to visit my in-laws as Zack's grandparents were visiting, hoping the baby would be born while they were here. My mom had arrived the week before to be on hand as well. The contractions continued in their sporadic form the entire evening, Zack keeping track of every one. Because of they had lasted all day, we made plans for the trip to the hospital that we expected to be making the next day.
About 3 o'clock the morning of the 10th, the contractions woke me up with their intensity, especially in my lower back. My groaning also woke up Zack who started timing them again. This time, they were between 4 and 7 minutes apart. We decided it was time to call the midwife. Deborah was on call that night. And she told us it was time come to the hospital. Zack woke up my mom, then called his mom so they could get ready too. Funny things we do in times like this. When I was getting dressed I felt my finger nails and found that 2 of them were rough so I cut them and smoothed them out not wanting to scratch Baby.
Now it was time to leave. The only problem was that a spring snow storm had come in and left the road icy. So my poor husband, wanting to get me to the hospital as quickly as possible was forced to keep our truck in 4-wheel and drive slowly most of the way. He was really happy that it was 3:30am and didn’t need to worry about any extra traffic on top of that. Even though my contractions were stronger and closer together, they still didn't come with any regularity. It was the longest hour and a half trip to the city ever.
We finally arrived at the hospital and I was taken up to the family center, (they don't call it a maternity ward anymore). The nurse checked me and found that I was between 4 and 5 cm. dilated. So I was admitted, and we expected to be holding a new baby in the next few hours.
I tried taking a shower as the nurse said the warm water would feel really good on my back, but every time a contraction came I had to lean on the wall. After having labored the entire day before and not slept very well, my body was already extremely tired, and my arms didn't want to hold me up. So I didn't stay in the shower very long. I also found out at this time that I was having back labor.
Zack had started coaching a little while we were still at home, reminding me to breathe through each contraction. But now I was beginning to need him more and more. I must admit now that I was a bad girl and didn’t practice and of the breathing techniques we had learned at the labor class, so all I could do throughout the labor, with Zack’s help, was to remember to breathe, and not hold my breath during contractions.
The morning shift change came, and I got a new nurse, Carol. Without her, I don’t know what I would have done.
My midwife arrived to see how I was doing, and a little later another woman arrived to deliver her 6th child in the room next to mine. We could hear her baby's heart monitor for the longest time. My contractions continued in their irregularity, but would pick up their pace if I took a walk. I tried sitting on a birthing ball, but found it was too hard to balance when my back would tighten up and hurt like crazy.
Sometime in the morning I was out in the hallway walking with my mom, (Zack was exhausted and trying to nap) when the lady next door started pushing. Hearing her yell suddenly made me afraid. I was feeling really tired again and just wanted to lie down. After getting back to my room and laying down my mom and mom-in-law talked about how neat it was that the lady next door only had to push 4 times before her baby was born.
Now that Zack was refreshed a bit he was able take up his position again as my coach and help me breathe through my contractions. They were really getting painful now and I wasn't doing a very good job breathing through them. His constant presence was more soothing than anything else could have been.
I had gone into labor hoping to make it through without pain medication, but unsure if I would be able too. About mid, to late morning the pain reached an all time high and I couldn't stand it anymore. Both moms kept telling me that it was okay to ask for pain relief. So next time Carol came in to check on me I asked for some pain meds. She gave me a very low dose to start, and the next contraction felt so much better!
I was so tried that all I wanted to do was sleep. I should have been walking around more, and the Jacuzzi would have been really good for me as well, but all I wanted was rest between each irregular contraction. It wasn't long before I was asking for the other half of my pain medication, as it didn't stay in my system very long. But after that I had to wait much longer as it was making the baby sleepy.
I don't remember exactly when it was, but sometime late morning, my nurse checked inside me again and found that I was up to 7 cm. It had taken a long time to get there, and my contractions still weren't coming fast enough for being so far along, and my water still hadn't broken yet. So Deborah decided that it was time to break the water. What a strange feeling it was! Unfortunately, I was now stuck in bed for the most part since after the initial gush, there was a constant drain of fluid.
By early afternoon my contractions still weren't coming fast enough, in fact they hadn’t really picked up at all. So the midwife decided to give me some Oxytocin to help move things along. Zack really had to talk me through each of my contractions at this point. I was feeling beyond exhausted by now because everything was taking so long, and I needed his support more than ever.
I suppose I should pause right now to explain that I've always carried a ton of tension on my body, and have the hardest time relaxing. That is the main reason I believe why my labor lasted so long. I just wouldn’t let that poor baby descend through the birth canal.
Finally, Carol asked me if I felt like pushing. I didn’t. But she said it was time to start pushing anyway. I’ve read so many stories of women knowing they had to push, and wanting to push so bad. And they just seemed to know how to do it. I knew what it was supposed to feel like, but not having any kind of internal urge made pushing really hard. Being completely exhausted by this point didn’t make it any easier either. But push I must!
After trying to push while lying on my back for a while and not getting anywhere, Carol asked if I wanted to try getting on my knees and leaning against the back of the bed. I figured gravity might be helpful now, so I did. Zack came around to the head of the bed and each time a contraction begin and I was told to push, I would hang onto his arm for dear life. At this time I also discovered that I am capable of not only screaming, but screaming very loudly.
At some point during all of this I told Zack that I didn’t want any more, (children), and I heard Carol say, “She’s in labor now!” Zack told me later that when I said that, he was thinking that he didn’t know if he could put me through that again either. I’m sure by this point that all the pain relief meds had worn off, so I was going “natural.” The pain was more intense than anything I have ever felt in my life, and all I wanted to do was get away from it. Carol kept telling that I need to put all the energy of screaming into my pushing, to “scream out my butt.” I remember looking at Zack and seeing the anguish in his face. He told me that I seemed to look straight through him, as if I couldn’t see anything.
Carol decided that it was time to turn me back over, and she and Zack helped my legs in position. After several more pushes the baby finally began to crown and Carol asked if I wanted to feel her head. But I didn’t. I still don’t know exactly why, maybe it was taking all the concentration I had to continue to push, and I couldn’t take any kind of distraction; or maybe it was something else, I don’t know.
I don’t know when Deborah finally came in, but she was there when little Zana slipped out at last. But somebody put her on my stomach. Her cord was short, so they couldn’t put her up very high, and all I could really do was feel her, I couldn’t see much being able to only look under my glasses. The moment she was out Zack started crying more emotionally then I’ve ever seen. Somebody told me that the baby was a little blue so they needed to give her some oxygen. As soon as Zack had cut the cord they took her to the other end of the room to clean her up and give her the oxygen.
It was almost 12 hours after we had first arrived at the hospital, and nearly 33 hours after I had woken up the morning before feeling the first contractions. So much for hoping to have a short natural labor like my mom had with my brother and then with me.
Unfortunately, I had also torn pretty bad, a 3 out of 4, so Deborah needed to stitch me up. But first she gave the cord a little tug and pulled the placenta out. That at least was pain free. But the stitching wasn’t. I’ve always heard that a woman sort of forgets all her pain as soon as the baby is born, but because they had to take her away, and finish stitching me up before bringing her back, the pain came back full force. Because the tear was deep it needed to be stitched up in 3 layers. Each time Deborah would take a stitch I screamed again. Only this time when I screamed I would scream for my baby. “Where’s my baby!” “I want my baby!” I was crying so hard. Once Zack was able to stand up again, he came back and held my hand until it was over.
Carol finally brought Zana back to me all clean and wrapped up. I can’t remember if she helped me nurse her first, or if I just held her for a while. I was so physically and emotionally drained that I couldn’t feel much of anything, but apparently I was crying. All I could really do was hold onto her for dear life.
In closing, giving birth was not what I had expected it to be. Is it ever? All the child birthing books in the world can’t prepare you for it. Back labor is not something I ever want to go through again. I sincerely pray that the next baby will be much easier, but if it is back labor again, I want to have an epidural. That’s something I never thought I’d say before! My pain tolerance is a lot lower than I thought it was, and at this point I don’t know if I’d be able to give birth at home.
I love my daughter so much! She continually makes me cry when she looks into my eyes with those adorably beautiful eyes of hers, or when she makes facial expressions too cute for words. Thank you Lord so much for this precious gift, and thank you for carrying me through her birth!Princess Zana's first Easter Sunday. 2 weeks old exactly.