Even though my labor was over a year ago, I still remember those hours clearly. And I’m happy to say that the whole experience was not as bad as I thought. That may be due to the fact that I was vastly afraid of giving birth, so I guess anything was better than what I had imagined! The contractions and labor were also not what I expected, and definitely not what you see in the movies.
I was 39 weeks pregnant and we had just visited the doctor that day, Friday. She offered to strip my membranes to perhaps help instigate contractions, but I declined. I figured I wasn’t even due yet, and would be more open to it if I were overdue at 41 weeks. That Friday was also my last day at work before maternity leave. I thought I would give myself a week before my due date to relax.
Later that evening at 11pm, I started to feel gassy, then from gassy to crampy. I don’t normally get cramps, but I figured this is what this must be like. It was mild, but because the tightness was happening in intervals, I told my husband, “Is this labor?” We started timing the cramps, and they got tighter and tighter. Everything was still manageable, just annoying, something you had to just breathe through.
My husband made me some soup and crackers, and I just relaxed and tried to sleep (of course I couldn’t). We just prepped our apartment and made sure we had our bags packed. Finally at 5am, the contractions were happening five minutes apart, and were lasting for a minute each. “It’s time,” we realized.
We drove to the hospital thankfully in the early hours of the morning so we avoided the normal traffic. We parked in the emergency parking lot, and they brought out a wheelchair for me to sit in. I was holding my Care Bear tight as they wheeled me into triage. The contractions were still occurring, and I was already at three centimeters by the time we got there, meaning they could administer the epidural. Yay!
There were two anesthesiologists who gave me the epidural. The first step is to numb the area so that you actually don’t feel the epidural needle going in. Once they numb the area, they tape all sorts of tubes on your back so that the tube that the liquid will pass through will stay in place. Then they insert the needle, take it out, and it’s just a catheter that stays in place.
The second needle they gave me was the IV, which I felt was even worse than the catheter. I’ve never been a fan of IVs, and this one was located on the top of my hand! I couldn’t even look at it, so I asked them to tape over it to take my mind off of it.
Once the epidural was in, the nurses advised me to rest as much as I can, which I finally did! I actually slept through all my contractions, even when they were off the charts and I was already fully dilated. I didn’t feel a single thing.
The baby still wasn’t making his way down. The first thing the doctor recommended was to add some picotin, which induces labor by adding even more contractions. That didn’t do the trick, so the nurses broke my water bag by sticking a huge stick and literally poking the sack, which finally sent the baby in motion.
Once I finally hit ten centimeters, it was time to push. This meant that they had to reduce the epidural a little bit so that I would feel some sort of sensation to help me push. Pushing was the most difficult part (maybe because I actually felt something?). It just felt like having to poop out a seven pound blob and being extremely constipated. Luckily for me, total pushing time was only 30 minutes. The baby was facing down too, so they said if he were facing up the whole pushing process probably would’ve taken 15 minutes. That’s definitely rare for first time moms, since pushing normally takes hours.
So at 3:20, my little boy came out! The whole experience lasted from 11pm the previous night to the next afternoon. We spent the next few minutes resting, getting him to latch on, and me getting stitched up. I was pretty happy with the way the whole process went, considering how scared I was of the pain.