I was 39 weeks pregnant. We didn’t know if it would be a boy or a girl. I was praying for a quick labour/delivery. I was hoping the baby would come just a little bit before the due date and not go over.
About a week before I was due, I was at my midwife appointment, and she asked me if I wanted an optional membrane sweep. I was really looking forward to having the baby soon so I said I wanted one. When she did that, she informed me that I was already 4cm dilated, that she could feel the baby sitting very low and that basically, I would probably be in a labour soon. That was Thursday, May 3rd. Our baby was due May 9th.
I was surprised and happy to find out I had already dilated. The fact is, I hadn’t felt a single contraction of any kind yet, no Braxton-Hicks or anything like that. I actually wanted to experience Braxton hicks contractions because this was my first pregnancy and I was curious what contractions actually felt like. It would be like getting a “preview” of labour.
I came home feeling excited at the thought of getting to meet our baby soon. The next day was Friday and I lost my mucous plug. I called my midwife to let her know, and I also told my mom. I was so excited! That night we had company for supper and then my husband and I went to bed.
At night, I woke up and felt for the first time a contraction. It was like a wave of pressure going over my uterus and then declining. I woke my husband up and whispered “I feel a contraction”. I felt a second one. They were both very mild, but it definitely got me even more excited about the big day. That was it. Just 2 little contractions at night.
The next morning was Shabbat and we were going to meet in the afternoon with our home fellowship. As the morning progressed, I felt a few more contractions, just here and there, spaced apart quite a bit. I didn’t know if this would directly lead into labour, or if it would be just practice contractions that didn’t mean much. But, just in case it meant labour, we decided to stay home that day.
It was a good decision because in the afternoon they were getting a bit closer together, about half an hour apart, and then 15 minutes apart. We were so happy, and I took out my homemade “labour-aid” drink that I prepared a couple days ago to sip on.
We decided to sit on the couch and read the Torah portion together. We took turns reading out loud. When it came my turn to read, I had to pause during the contractions as they were getting a bit more intense. Then we decided that we might as well eat supper. I sat down to eat, but by then the contractions were so intense and getting really close together, just a few minutes apart, that I couldn’t eat.
Very quickly they got even more close together and more intense so that I was lying on the floor loudly moaning through them. Ben was a really good labour coach. He was timing the contractions and encouraging me to breathe the way our doula friend had taught us. He also massaged me and held me. I suggested to him that he should play and sing a nice song on the guitar. (Because you know, that’s how some of the “romantic” births happen, right? With the husband singing?) But pretty soon I wanted it to be all quiet. By then it was getting so painful that I thought I couldn’t take it anymore. Ben looked in the book that we had about labour and figured that since I’ve only been having contractions for less than 2 hours and they were just now getting to be 5 minutes apart or so, that we were still probably in “early labour”. I thought if this was “early labour”, then I wouldn’t make it through the rest and told him to forget our plan for a natural birth. I wanted to go to the hospital right away and get an epidural. I also wanted to call my midwife but we weren’t sure if we were far enough in labour to call her. Finally, there were a few contractions that were very close together and we decided we could try calling her. We called the midwife and it turned out that she was nearby in our area. She came right away.
When the midwife arrived she wanted to check how much I had dilated and found that I was 8cm already. Our plan was to have a natural birth at the hospital, but when she saw how quickly labour was progressing, she said we don’t have time to go to the hospital and started setting up towels for a home birth. At that point, I felt the urge to push, but I thought it was an urge to go to the bathroom. I told Ben and the midwife that I needed to have a BM. (At that point I didn’t really care about being discreet about what my body wanted to do) The midwife said “you’re feeling the urge to have a baby.”
Now, in our province there is a rule that in order to have a home birth, you need 2 midwives present. Our midwife started calling the second midwife to come over, but found out that the second midwife was in the hospital with another birth. So, legally, she could not attend this home birth by herself. And so, she said, we must go to the hospital.
This is where it went worse for me. Moving location while in transition is not fun. Before that it was still extremely painful and I was moaning loudly (and yes, begging for an epidural), but it got even worse when we had to leave. We were on the 3rd floor of an apartment building with no elevator. So I was in transition, ready to push, and had to walk down those stairs, get in the car and be driven to the hospital, confined in a sitting position with the seatbelt. Let’s just say….that ride to the hospital was not pleasant for me, or for my poor husband. The drive was probably 10-15 minutes, but it felt a lot longer. At this point I was kind of “losing it”, too and wasn’t being very nice, sadly. I like to think that this was because I was disrupted from my “zone” of labouring at home
We got to the hospital and had to go in through emergency. When we got in I was put on a wheel chair and my husband had to deal with some stuff, I don’t even remember what, something about registering us at the hospital. It felt like everything was taking so long and by that time I felt like it was one major painful contraction immediately followed by another. I was moaning loudly in the waiting room and didn’t care who saw me or heard me. You know how when you go to emergency and see that one person moaning loudly in pain? That was me then. And normally I’m really self-conscious but when I was in that stage of labour I felt like I didn’t care about any of that.
Eventually, some one whisked me into a delivery room. It was nice that since I was a midwifery patient, the only people in the delivery room with me were my husband, our midwife, and one female nurse. No one else came in, there were no unwanted interventions or IVs or other things like that that I’ve heard of in other birth stories. So I’m really thankful for that.
Once in the delivery room, the midwife suggested I try a bath. I got into the bathtub, and the warm water felt so good. It was the only thing that soothed me. From this experience, I’m hoping to have a water-birth next time.
Since I was also begging loudly for an epidural (and it was way too late for that), they did give me the “laughing gas”. That was kind of weird. It didn’t make the pain go away, but made me feel like I didn’t care about the pain as much.
Again I needed to push so I got out (not allowed to deliver in a standard bathtub). And then the horrible 2 hours of pushing started. It was horrible because I pushed and pushed as hard as I could and that baby just wasn’t coming out. I was told to push harder and I was pushing with all my strength but that baby still wasn’t coming out. I felt so helpless because I was trying my best and it wasn’t working. It felt like it went on forever and wondered if I would ever get that baby out. I was starting to feel weak. Originally I wanted to birth squatting or on my hands and knees, because I read that it was a better position for birthing. But from so much pushing I was so exhausted, that I just lay on my back and pushed. My husband even had to hold my one leg up for me as it was too hard to do that. The midwife noticed the baby’s heart rate was slowing down and told me I really needed to push harder. Again, I was pushing as hard as I could and felt that awful helpless feeling. But then finally, I heard the baby’s head was crowning. From previous reading, I knew I would soon feel the “ring of fire”. The thought of this made my head play the song “ring of fire” by Johnny Cash. I pushed again, and out came the baby. I actually didn’t feel any kind of “ring of fire”.
And then that wonderful, blessed, glorious moment. The pain immediately stopped. I was surprised at how immediate that was. And the midwife placed that 7 lb 9 oz baby on my chest. I was on an emotional high right away and couldn’t believe that this baby came out of my body. This baby had dark hair, like me, and we made eye contact. I was in love. I was so elated, “wow, this is my baby”. My husband was standing beside me and we were looking at this baby, admiring our baby, when after a little while my husband said “It’s a boy”. We didn’t even think about the gender those first moments, such was the feeling of love that we were experiencing. Amazingly, our little boy latched on right away and started suckling. It was one of the most wonderful feelings in the world.
A few days later, I told my husband, that I have never before felt more like a woman than after giving birth and nursing our little baby.
At the hospital after giving birth.
So that was our birth story. From around supper time when the contractions started getting more intense, until our son was born took about 6 hours total. And 2 of those hours was pushing. Our son was born on May 5th, which was 4 days before his due date. Next time, I hope to do a home birth. If my next birth goes quickly like my first one, (hopefully!), then I think a home birth would be best for me, as I really didn’t like transitioning to the hospital when I was so far along in labour already, it kind of took me out of my mental “zone” that I was in and made coping with the labour a lot worse. Also, we had to stay in the hospital for 2 nights and couldn’t get much sleep as people kept coming into our room to check on me, or check on the baby, or take a blood test, or show us how to bathe the baby, or different things, so it was really hard to get enough sleep and we came home feeling exhausted. Those are my reasons for wanting a home birth next time.
Every birth is different, and I really enjoy reading other people’s birth stories, so I thought I’d write out my own.