I’ve been reading birth stories like crazy lately, so I thought I’d jot down an overview of each of my four kids’ births in case anyone was curious!
Jake was born a week past his due date but he tried to come early at 32 weeks. I was transferred by ambulance over to a hospital better suited for preemies. I stayed there for a week and they halted my labour with medication. I stayed 50% effaced and 2cm dilated until the night I had him! It was the morning of September 20th and when I went to the bathroom, I had some show. I had it when I was in labour with Jake at 32 weeks so I knew this was probably going to be the day! All through the day I had Braxton Hicks contractions but this was normal for me so I didn’t really freak out about it. Jason and I watched Sports Page at 11pm every night, but on this night while Jason was watching it, I rocked in the rocking chair in Jake’s nursery and timed my contractions. They were every 5 minutes, but although they didn’t hurt, I was so frustrated with being pregnant that I marched downstairs and told Jason to drive me to the hospital and that I was not going to leave without a baby in my arms.
We got there at around midnight and when they checked me, I was 4cm dilated. I walked around the labour and delivery floor (our families all showed up so it was quite entertaining) and slowly progressed to about 6cm (probably at around 3am).
The contractions started to feel uncomfortable and I found myself rolling my head around and vocalizing (moaning or “mooing” sounds) to get through them. The pain never really got that bad at all. I didn’t experience transition and I never had the urge to push. The nurse had simply checked me and told me that I was 10cm dilated and that it was pushing time.
The nurses assumed because it was my first baby that I would be pushing for 1-2 hours, but Jake’s head crowned on my first push. The OBGYN on call didn’t make it, and the nurse and a resident delivered Jake on the second or third push. I didn’t know I was supposed to go slow; I treated it like a 100m sprint! So I had some stitches, but nothing too bad. Jake was quickly taken over to the other side of the room because he was struggling a bit. He came out so fast that he had a hard time re-grouping. Once they saw that he was stable, they put him in my arms and I held him while he looked up at me and just blinked. We stared at each other, and I fell in love. Jake weighed 7 lb 1 oz and he was born at just before 7am on September 21st, 2000.
We had just moved into our brand new house and had yet to get blinds installed in the windows. I was 2 weeks away from my due date and my pregnancy had gone by super easily without a hitch. No preterm labour, no annoying Braxton Hicks contractions, nothing. Jason was at his friend’s house playing poker with a bunch of guys, and I had spent the evening putting Jake to bed (he was 20 months old) and visiting with my mom. My mom left, I had a warm bath and then climbed into bed at around 11pm. As soon as I lay down, I heard and felt a pop. I stood up and my water broke all over the floor! I completely freaked out! I was naked, and all the lights in the house were on and we had no blinds on our windows, so I tore around the house looking for the cordless phone all while leaking water all over the carpet and laminate floors. I called Jason and he sped home, picked me up and we drove to the hospital. On the way there I felt Braxton Hicks contractions that got stronger as we got closer and once I was checked, they told me I was 4cm dilated.
It went fast after that. I was ready to push by about 2:30, and Freddy was born at just before 3am on May 22nd, 2 weeks before my due date weighing 8lb 7oz. He came out quietly, but healthy. I was terrified that there was something wrong with him because he didn’t cry! But he was just quiet and content which fits his personality perfectly. I definitely worked harder at pushing Freddy out and felt the size difference between him and Jake. YOWCH.
Katie’s birth was totally different. I went for my 37 week OBGYN appointment and my doctor checked my cervix and told me I was already 4cm dilated with my water bag bulging. Her head was still up high, and he was worried about my water breaking and then having the umbilical cord prolapsed (dropping out before the head and then her head would be pinching off the cord). So he sent me next door to the hospital where he controlled my labour and delivery. It was busy on the unit and so they didn’t have a chance to break my water until 11:45 pm. I laboured in bed on my left side, silently, not moving, until all of a sudden I flipped onto my back and started to make pushing sounds. The urge to push was UNCONTROLLABLE. I hadn’t felt that with Jake or Freddy’s births. The nurse ran over and frantically ordered me to stop pushing, as she had to check me first (she was incredulous to find that I was already fully dilated and Katie’s head was crowning). They paged the OBGYN, who never made it, and Katie slid out into the nurses’ hands at around 12:30am. She was born on July 26th, 2005 and weighed 6 lb 3 oz. She was so tiny! At first I was scared that she was too tiny but the nurse assured me that she was great!
THIS birth was BRUTAL. I had such a complicated pregnancy with the subchorionic bleed and hematoma. The placenta was close to my cervix (it finally moved over by the third trimester) and I bled ALL THE TIME. Every time we had sex, every time I sneezed, every time I did anything, I bled. It was terrifying. I had so many Braxton Hicks contractions. Triage was so sick of me and by 36 weeks and 6 days, when I went in with more bleeding complaints, the doctor there decided to just induce me as I was one day away from being term.
I went in at 1-2cm dilated. They figured that because it worked with Katie, all they’d have to do is break my water and my body would go into labour. It didn’t. They also didn’t fully break my water–there was a bunch of water stuck behind Callum’s head and so there was still a bit of a cushion keeping him from pressing directly on my cervix. I didn’t dilate at all overnight and then the next morning, because my water was broken and I wasn’t contracting, they had to start Pitocin.
IT WAS AWFUL.
They started out at the lowest dose thinking that because this was my fourth baby that my body would just take over and know what to do. Nope. So they upped the dose. No dice. They upped it some more. And more. And more. And MORE until they reached the maximum. My body was just not ready to do this and my baby was just not ready to come out. Each time they cranked the dial on the Pitocin, the nurses had to get a signature from the OBGYN. I can’t count how many times they had to get the signature to crank the dial.
Let me just say this: that Pitocin contractions are a completely different animal than regular, natural contractions. THEY ARE INSANE. I never had a single drug/pain medication with any of my deliveries and I didn’t want to start now. But holy shit, it hurt.
It took HOURS for me to go from 2cm to fully dilated. Maybe about 16 hours? Something like that. I felt every crazy god-forsaken second of transition (when the cervix goes from 8-10 cm) and really struggled to maintain control over the pain. I started to yell “I need something! Give me something! I can’t take this! Please help me!” Tammy my nurse correctly assumed that I was fully dilated and ready to push.
The doctor came in the room and they got set up while I writhed around on the delivery table. Because I was being induced, Callum had to be monitored the whole time so I could hear his heartbeat on the machine next to me. All of a sudden, I heard his heart rate drop. The doctor called out a bunch of orders and then told me that I needed to push with all of my might, to not hold back, and get that baby out as fast as I could. I pushed once, with all of my strength (breaking all the blood vessels in my face and chest), and Callum was born at just after midnight on March 3rd, 2014 weighing 7lb 12 oz. He came out with his head turned to the side, the side of his face and neck all bruised, his eye swollen shut (it took a few days for his eye to open!). He wasn’t ready to be born, and we forced his entry, and it sucked. But the important thing is that he was healthy and that it all worked out okay. My friend Tammy was the best nurse I ever could have asked for, and I don’t know how I could have done it without her.