A is only a month away from being an entire year old, and I am feeling rather sentimental about it all and have decided that a birth story seems appropriate. Now just a fair warning, this is my absolute favorite day to think and talk about. I could talk about it for hours, I could tell the story then immediately tell it again if anyone were willing to listen; you’ve been warned. After almost a year I have still never taken the time to actually write my birth story so my fingertips are itching to finally type it out. Anyways without further ado…
I suppose I will start with my due date, July 18th, 2016 although she was not born then. It was a Monday and since I hadn’t had many contractions the evening before (and I was convinced that it would help speed things along) I decided to go to work. When I pulled into the parking lot I had one small shooting pain that began at my navel and wrapped all the way around my body to my spine. I shrugged it off and began my trek across the parking lot, in the short span I had a couple more “pains.” Of course when I got in the building I notified my boss but told her not to worry, these pains had been coming and going for a week. She would have none of it and quickly (and I think secretly excitedly) instructed me to sit in her office and time the pains. I did so willingly, after all I was a first time mom and could be overestimating (ha-ha) the intensity of contractions. Somewhere deep down I knew that this wasn’t the day but felt hopeful especially after realizing that they were coming every five minutes for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes they nearly disappeared and I insisted that I could work. My boss agreed with two exceptions, I was only working until noon and I was to stay in a big, comfy rolling chair that she had taken to my classroom. It was difficult to sit still in that big chair as 14 two-year-old kids surrounded me questioning the chair and why I wasn’t playing catch with them, but I managed although I do have to admit that I did get up and sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” with the kids one last time.
After that day I was told, both to my dismay and relief, that I was not to return to work unless I was dropping by to show off my precious gem. The next week came and went uneventfully. I was truly beginning to feel that I would forever carry this child within my body. I walked every night, I bounced on a ball, ate pineapple, took evening primrose oil, briefly considered nipple stimulation, I even danced, but to no avail. Well not entirely to no avail, I did have contractions every night from 10 until about midnight. I was miserable; eating was nearly impossible as I could only manage a few bites before becoming full, and sleep was entirely impossible since I could only lay still for a couple minutes before getting a cramp either in my legs or back not to mention I had Restless Leg Syndrome during that time. Also added to my list of discomforts was a rather irritated rash that ran across my tightly stretched belly, which I self diagnosed as PUPPS. If you know anything about RLS or PUPPS, you can imagine that I was a mess. I cried from exhaustion and pure anticipation at least once a day. Finally on July 27th, a total of nine days past my due date, I was told that I would be induced the following day at 7:30 pm. I spent the rest of the the 27th packing excitedly, then spent the 28th worrying and basking in an odd bittersweet feeling.
As instructed I called the hospital at 6:45 pm on the dot to assure that I could go to the hospital to be induced. I understood why it was asked that I do this, if there was suddenly a great influx of women in labor there would be no room at the inn so to speak, but I remember finding it strange and somewhat comical. After being given the green light my mom, sister, and I all piled into the car and headed towards the hospital. We were all so excited, we had all painted our fingernails pink, but a nervous energy flowed between us. I’m sure I looked like a dear in headlights upon entering the hospital with my overnight bags and a stack of crossword puzzles. I walked straight up to the desk, trying not to show my hesitance. I asked the lady where labor and delivery was to which she replied with a few general admittance questions before asking, “Are you in labor Hun?” I stifled a giggle and shook my head no. She sighed, perhaps realizing that she should have began with that, and pointed me in the correct direction.
After being weighed, poked, questioned, and hooked up to various machines the midwife entered my room. She explained my options for beginning the induction, most of which I have to admit I can’t remember. After inquiring about various methods I decided to move forward with the Foley Bulb, basically a balloon that is inserted inside the birth canal and gradually filled with liquid causing the cervix to open. This balloon has a “string,” I suppose you could call it, that was taped to my leg (were they afraid it would be suctioned into me and be lost forever?) and I was told to give the string a tug every now and then. Having this device inserted was a unique type of pain that I will never forget, I remember my hands being in fists and staring at a light bulb hoping that the strain on my eyes would distract me from the discomfort. It felt as though my stomach was being pushed into my throat. After the initial pain I was surprised to find that I only was experiencing mild cramps and contractions.
It didn’t take long though for some more powerful contractions to come. I don’t remember exactly what I was thinking or feeling during this period but I do know that I spent a great deal of time in the tub. I know that I groaned, moaned, and rocked a bunch and that I found great comfort in breathing in deeply through my nose and forcefully exhaling through pursed lips. This style of breathing is known as “J breathing” and was one of the only things that I found truly helped me during labor. Along with taking specific breaths you are supposed to envision pushing your baby through the birth canal with your forceful exhales but I don’t believe I was thinking clearly enough to picture this.
It was either late evening, July 28th or very early on the 29th, when my midwife entered the room again and revealed to me that she was going to have to check my progress. I felt somewhat discouraged as she snapped gloves on, I had been told that the balloon would fall out once I had reached 3-4 centimeters dilated but it hadn’t and therefore I assumed that my hard work had been in vain. I laid back, spread eagle and tried to think positive thoughts as she began her work. After a little tug and some prodding I heard a surprised “Oops!” Naively I didn’t realize what had happened and lifted my head to meet her eyes. She apologized for startling me and explained that she had accidentally broken my water.