I’ve always wondered what labor would feel like. People have described it as intense or something similar to painful menstrual cramps. During my 39th week of pregnancy, I remained in a state of anticipation for the arrival of our baby boy. I didn’t know if my water breaking would be the signal that labor started or if contractions would be the sign. I wasn’t expecting a light flow of bleeding, that began around 8:30pm, to be the start of what would become a night of contractions. At around 11pm on Sunday, August 20th, I began experiencing a light feeling of pain, similar to light menstrual cramps. I wasn’t sure if the pain was a contraction as it didn’t feel intense. However, I knew I wanted to be prepared for when the real contractions began, so I began to practice deep breathing with every contraction. Every time I’d exhale, I’d picture my breath blowing the contraction away. I kept this focused mentality with every contraction.
Once my contractions transitioned into 5 minutes apart, I still wasn’t sure if they were contractions, because the pain was bearable. But by 4:45am, my husband thought it would be good to go to the birth center. We arrived at the birth center at 5:15am and I was dilated at 5cm, with contractions that were 2-4 minutes apart. Knowing I had made it half way with low intensity pain gave me the motivation and inspiration to keep my composure and focus.
At this point, I only struggled with hunger pains, which caused me to throw up quite a bit. But because I was given a liquid only diet, I couldn’t do much to mitigate the situation.
Around 6 or 7am, my doctor called me to let me know he had a meeting at 10:30am, but had another doctor on call. My only thought at that point was disbelief that it might take hours before I was fully dilated. But time really felt like it was going by quickly.
At one point, I began to feel a few contractions that were much more intense. In addition, my lower back also began to hurt. Thankfully, my delivery nurse offered me the option of taking a 30 minute hot shower. I sat in the shower with the water constantly streaming down my abdomen and lower back. This provided so much relief. It made the low intensity contractions feel almost non-existent and provided a lot of support when the stronger contractions arrived. If it would have been permitted, I would probably have stayed in there the whole time.
After taking a shower, I was dilated at 7cm. At this point, my contractions were much more intense, and it became much more difficult to maintain focus. I also began making loud noises as I worked through the really intense contractions. To help, my husband would massage my lower back and the nurse also provided heating pads for me to place on my lower back.
Although I was determined to have a natural birth, I was reaching a point where I wasn’t sure I’d be able to maintain my focus and energy. I also began to notice a need to push, and because I couldn’t stop myself, I remember pushing on two different occasions. Both times, I called the nurse back into the room so she could check if my water broke or if it was just a rush of blood, since I hadn’t stopped bleeding. On the second call, it turned out that my water had broke and I was 9cm along. Knowing I was so close to being fully dilated gave me the energy and motivation to say no to the epidural, even though the contractions really began to feel unbearable.
In what felt like a few minutes, I was fully dilated with strong urges to push. The nurses called my doctor and began the process of having me bear down and push.
When my doctor arrived, he exclaimed, “You’re going to have a baby!” So within a few minutes, I was on a rhythm of taking in a deep breath and pushing three times in a row, 10 seconds at a time. It was during this process that I verbally expressed how I didn’t think I could do this anymore. The contractions were so strong and I didn’t feel the baby coming out, despite the pushing. But the nurses and doctor kept telling me he was coming, which was just what I needed to hear to keep pushing. I’m not sure how many cycles of pushing I went through, but it wasn’t too long, at 1:36pm, that my baby boy, a 9lb 3oz and 21.5 inches long baby, was out and placed on to my chest, his limbs flailing around. It was completely unreal to me to finally have him in my arms.
While I stared at him, the doctor stitched me up due to a second degree tear that occurred as a result of my baby’s arm wanting to come out with his head. Even though I was aware of the sting from being stitched up, I couldn’t take my eyes off my sweet baby boy. It was unbelievable to meet the little one that had been growing inside of me for the past 9 months.