While my 8 day old newborn son is sleeping away in his crib, I thought I’d take just a few minutes to share his story.
Many people told me that as a first time mom, I’d probably deliver every close to if not later than my due date. However, I’d politely nod and tried to believe that I’d need to be ever so patient for the little one to arrive. My body had been telling me otherwise. I can’t entirely explain it, but I had a feeling that he’d arrive sooner, and it’d be the perfect time.
Sure enough, at 37 weeks, the Braxton Hicks contractions that I’d been feeling for months had changed. They felt more like period cramps…yeah, I forgot about those guys. Anyway, when I went to my doctor appointment a couple of days later, she confirmed what I had been wondering: my son was 80% effaced, and I was 2-3 cm dilated. My husband and I looked at each other, surprised and happy to hear the news. I was also relieved that there was an explanation to the changes I felt in my body.
My husband and I were in constant communication with one another over the next few days because my doctor said that active labor could start at any time. But, after the weekend had passed, I began to wonder (and heavily Google search) how long one could be at the early labor stage. I had my 38 week appointment on Tuesday (the 11th) and I couldn’t wait. I had started timing contractions but they remained irregular, and I could not stop obsessing over when everything would officially start.
As I made my way into her office, countless people passed by me saying that I looked ready to have him, and they were right. During my exam, my doctor said that my son was now 100% effaced, still 2-3 cm dilated and to get ready. He was coming, and it would not be more than a few days. We were thrilled. We went home and counted contractions until I fell asleep. I tossed and turned a bit, and couldn’t get comfortable. Just when I thought I had hit the golden rule: 60 second contractions 5 minutes apart for an hour, they’d almost stop completely.
Wednesday began the same way. By the afternoon, I had been going crazy. I think I cried too because I was so uncomfortable and quite impatient . . . especially since my husband had been scheduled to work and I didn’t want him to stay home if he didn’t have to. By the time he had to leave, the contractions stopped again. So, we figured that we had more time. Then, about 5 hours later, I suddenly had pain that ran from my lower back up to my bra line on both sides. Now, as someone who’s had back pain before, I considered dismissing it but I knew that it was probably labor. I knew my mom had back labor with my brother, so I called her to describe my symptoms. She also thought it could mean labor was starting, and to be alert for the next hour to see if anything changed.
I took a quick shower because I figured if labor was starting, I wanted to feel clean going into it. Well, the back pain completely disappeared. I was relieved, but I didn’t know what to do. I grabbed a snack and got into bed. I tried to sleep but the contractions woke me up. I started counting all over again. The back pain returned slightly and I thought: “Okay, this is probably it, and I’m going to call the doctor in an hour.” To kill some time, and relieve some of the pressure, I got on all fours (on my bed) to do some pelvic stretches . . . when I heard a pop! I knew my water had broken and I ran to the bathroom. I called the doctor and while on the phone with the office, a REAL contraction hit. I could not think or speak, and I thought, “Oh, that’s what everyone is talking about.” As soon as I hung up, I called my husband and told him to come home. Then the doctor called back and she gave us the green light to head to the hospital (well, even if she didn’t, we were going). That was at 12:45 a.m.
I called my parents to tell them, and I’m glad I did. I had no idea how fast the contractions were coming, but I could barely tolerate them. My parents talked me through it and reminded me to breathe, tried to get me to focus on something else, and literally kept me sane until my husband got home. I hung up with them and the screaming began. My husband grabbed our stuff and helped me to the car. I couldn’t believe how much it hurt, and all I could tell myself was to breathe so that I wouldn’t pass out or throw up, and that as soon as we got to the hospital, I’d get the drugs.
Worst car ride of my life. My husband tried to avoid every bump in the road and went as carefully as he could around every turn. We finally pulled up to the Emergency Room and he grabbed me a wheelchair. The ER nurse paged the maternity ward, and almost panicked as I couldn’t help but scream with each contraction that seemed to hit every 2 minutes. Finally, someone came to bring me up to maternity, and brought me to an exam room. The nurse wanted me to get on the bed, and I almost yelled at her. I couldn’t move, so she and my husband helped me change and get on the bed. I started begging for drugs and she had to wait in between contractions to check me . . . I was already at 10 cm, and that was at 1:30 a.m. It was too late for drugs, and I couldn’t believe I was going to have to endure natural childbirth. She rushed me to my room and other nurses came in to lift me over to my bed (that I would deliver in and then recover in).
They were waiting on my doctor to come in, who happened to be delayed by random construction. Everyone was telling me to breathe and not push, but I’d never felt such a stronger urge, and I just could not help it. The pain was unbearable and I couldn’t do anything other than scream profanities and push. The nurses were gloved up watching and waiting to catch him. For what felt like an eternity, she arrived and they put me in the stir-ups. Surprisingly, the urge to push decreased but the contractions were coming so fast, and I couldn’t stop yelling. I was begging God to let it be over soon. It felt like my body was going to rip in half.
My doctor told me to push. Everyone in the room coaxed me through it, encouraged me when they saw his (hairy) head, and when it was time to push the rest of his body out, she helped pull his shoulders out . . . which was good for me because everything started to burn and I didn’t think I could actually push anymore. It was like my body was done moving but I had to. Then I heard the cries of my son and they put him on my chest. I couldn’t grasp what had happened, and I was happy to see he was okay, but delirious from the experience. They asked if my husband wanted to cut the cord, and he did. Then they took him to check on him and get him ready for me to nurse him. I tore some, and while the doctor stitched me up, I thought it was never going to end. It hurt badly, even with the numbing medicine, but I couldn’t believe how much better my abdomen area felt, and that made a difference.
My son was born at 3:05 a.m. at 6 lbs 9 oz and 20 inches long, and according to the doctors and nurses, it was super fast and I did a great job . . . which was nice to hear because I didn’t know what to think or how to feel. I had said throughout my pregnancy that I wanted to do it naturally, but oh my, I had no idea what I was in for. And, I will never do that again! If and when we have another baby, you can be sure that I will not be waiting for drugs or the magic rule for contractions (within reason, of course). Everyone says that the next one comes faster, so I’ll need to remember this story so I don’t have to endure natural labor again.
The past 8 days have been such a wonderful roller coaster of fatigue, joy, not knowing what to do, bonding, crying over his cuteness, crying over how I worried I am about everything, and crying over how beautiful and sweet he is and how much we love him. My husband and I are also very grateful that our son arrived early, and healthy! I know that every parent says that this is the hardest, but most rewarding job there is . . . and I can see what they’re talking about. That’s exactly how we feel.
I also have to take time to acknowledge God, again. He got me through it. I know He allowed things to progress quickly and smoothly. If you know my past, or read my book, I have to praise Him for victory! He miraculously healed my body and my heart . . . I had a perfectly normal pregnancy, I labored and delivered well, and I’m healing just fine. No thought of my past was even close to entering my mind, I haven’t had nightmares or flashbacks or triggers. Only God could orchestrate something so incredible . . . that I could experience normal life without holding back. As much as giving birth hurt, I DID it!!! To be honest, I feel like a champion ;). I am not bound to my past, my chains were broken, I have been set free. If that’s not proof that God exists, or that He didn’t send His son Jesus to die for us so that we may have freedom, redemption, healing, and everlasting life with Him, then I don’t know what is. Thank you, Jesus!