This is NOT a fish tale. I repeat: This is NOT a fish tale.
Everything said here is to-the-minute truth. I have witnesses who will be happy to verify the facts contained herein because it’s not really verified by Snopes. Although that would be cool.
I decided to share this because over the course of the past week, the realization that I will be going into labor again VERY soon has finally sunk in. And call me crazy, but I’m excited. I’ve had 2 great pain-medication-free labor experiences and am looking forward to another (final) one.
Disclaimer: Madilyn’s birth was not a 100% “natural” one. By that, I mean that I was induced with Pitocin. She was, however; born without the use of pain meds. To me, natural birth means one where you went into labor on your own (naturally) and then delivered your baby vaginally without the use of pain medication. Being that I was artificially induced, she was not born “naturally”. And when you tell me that you had a “natural” birth, I assume that you had one without pain medication. Vaginal does NOT equal “natural”.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way… I was war-torn and weary by the time Madilyn was due. Her due date was 9.11.09 and I had been on strict bed rest for very near 3 months of my pregnancy due to incompetent cervix. I was in and out of the hospital for bleeding, falling down the stairs (after being put on modified bed rest), and a few other issues. I did NOT want to be induced. I cried my eyes out when my doctor told me that she scheduled an induction on 9.9.09. I hadn’t advocated for my health thusfar, why on earth did I think I could argue with her about an induction? I didn’t so I went along with it. Her reasoning for inducing me was that I was 6cm dilated and 50% effaced. She knew my plans for a natural child birth and that I intended to labor at home until I felt myself moving into transition. Because I was only in labor with my first child for 3 hours, 6 minutes from 1st contraction to his birth, she was concerned that I would have this baby on the side of the highway. Because I was so beaten down, I went along with it despite the fact that when I called Kyle to tell him the news, he asked me if I could schedule a different day. Because apparently MOST babies don’t just decide to come on their own. Madilyn was TOTALLY sensitive to her daddy’s schedule. Way to make a crying pregnant woman feel better, honey!
So the day came. I woke up, applied waterproof mascara, ate an english muffin and an egg (against my physician’s orders – hahahaha!), gathered my stuff and went to the hospital at a very early 5am. I didn’t really know what to expect other than the fact that this hospital was AH-MAZING and very progressive. They provide birth balls for each and every room, a soaking tub to labor in, a safe shower, music, dim lights, and a “birth center” vibe. (Someday I’ll write about why I had her in a hospital instead of a birth center). They admitted me into my room after an hour wait. Apparently there were a lot of women giving birth on 9.9.09. I wonder how many were “planned” like mine but only because of the “cool birthdate” *insert eye roll here*. The nurse came in to set my IV and blew 3 veins. I have PHENOMENAL veins. It has never, ever happened before. She got another nurse (thank GOD) who did a fine job but because the “usable” veins in both arms were blown they had to set my IV in my hand which was NOT ideal. Once my doctor came in to check me (still at 6cm, 50%), they started my Pitocin. We had told our families to not bother coming to the hospital because we knew that we wanted to have a calm, quiet birth and we didn’t know how long it would take for the Pitocin to kick in so we didn’t want people sitting up there all day long waiting for absolutely nothing to happen. Kyle’s parents did end up coming but they were being super-cautious because of my major fast labor with Styles. They came up to the room to say hello and still nothing had happened. I wanted to get up and walk around so I took my IV cart with me and we did a few laps around the halls of the labor floor. I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. There were no women screaming in pain, no heavy breathing through contractions, no lamaze-type heaving, just silence. It occurred to me that I was the ONLY woman in the entire (FULL) labor ward who was having a pain-med-free birth. Weird. We were “out and about” for about 30 minutes but I got bored and wasn’t feeling a darn thing happening so we went back to my room. My doctor came in to check my contractions. They had me hooked up to this crazy wireless contraction monitor so that I could walk around and still be monitored. It didn’t check for strength of contraction, just their presence. NUTTIN’. She told me to get in the bed because they were going to break my water.
I felt the hot gush of water. I saw the disgusted yet awed look on Kyle’s face. I heard whispers. I felt suddenly nervous. The nurses and my doctor began rushing around then I heard the count, 1…2…3… and they flipped me over on my right side. After what seemed like an hour of silence where visions of an emergency C-section filled my thoughts, my doctor explained that sometimes when they break the bag of waters, the baby’s heart rate drops because the baby’s freaked out by its change of environment. Luckily her heartbeat came back but that will be the LAST time a doctor breaks MY water. I would have been devastated if I had wound up on an operating table. They made me lay there for a half an hour without getting up so that they could monitor Madilyn’s heart rate. After 30 minutes, she was steady and they allowed me to get back up. By this time, they had turned off the Pitocin to allow Madilyn some time to get used to her new surroundings. I was STILL not feeling anything other than the urge to poop.
Being that this was my second birth, I knew that the urge to poop could signal baby coming down the birth canal but I also knew that I hadn’t yet gone that day and since I hadn’t felt one single, solitary contraction, that this was definitely poop. I told my nurse and she allowed me to get up and go to the potty but told me to “put a hand down there just to make sure”. I did what she said (I’d been doing that for weeks at that point), and it was definitely NOT a baby. At least not the kind you want to cuddle and nurse after its birth.
After doing my bizness, I went back to the room and announced that I wanted to start walking again. They hooked me back up to the Pitocin and turned it up a bit higher than it had been before. I was back to the track, off and running. I remember having ONE contraction about 5 minutes into my walk and then literally not another pain for the 30 minutes I was walking. We went back to the room to chill out and see what would happen. I was hoping and praying that things would pick up, or even BEGIN for that matter. I could just see 20 hours into the future and my doctor telling me grimly that the induction didn’t work and that they’d have to do a C-Section. *sigh*
One of my very best friends, Nicole was attending my birth. She is a phenomenal massage therapist in the Orlando, FL area and had given birth to her second son in a birth center. Because she had endured a truly natural birth, because she is one of the closest people in the world to me, and because she has magic hands, Kyle and I invited her to be part of our experience. Not only to help me through labor, but to allow Kyle to take a step back to breathe. (We were certain he was going to be running around like a chicken with his head cut off while I was in labor and I swore that if he asked me ONE TIME how I was feeling, I was going to go for his Jugular.) Plus, I knew that she would respect my need for absolute quiet, as I was using the Hypnobirthing Method which requires deep thought and visualization. Something that, for me, requires silence from everyone else in the room. Nicole was there telling me everything would be fine and offered to go get Kyle some food. It was obvious that this birth was going to take all freaking day.
Kyle’s parents were getting antzy – hey, we ALL were – and decided to go check on their pup, Farley. They didn’t live too far away from the hospital and since nothing was happening and no contractions were registering on the monitor, they felt like a break was safe. We let Kyle’s sister know that if she wanted to come visit, she could come visit during her lunch break because we were certain that I’d still be chillin’. When his parents, left I sent a mass text message out to let everyone know that I wasn’t even in labor yet. Time stamp on text:
11:38am: I felt my first contraction. I wanted to jump for joy. I hopped out of bed and started walking around the room, willing another contraction to come on.
11:41am: Second contraction. Sweet! They were pretty close together! About this time, a nurse came in because she had seen that I was having contractions. They pulled the birth ball out of the closet and outfitted it with a towel. I went to the restroom to pee and came back to sit on the ball.
11:44am: Third contraction. It started on the way back from the bathroom but they weren’t very painful and I was breathing deeply into my abdomen, relaxing all of the muscles in my body, imagining my uterus as a ribbon, loosening with each contraction.
At this time I quit tracking the time. I had resigned myself to a long labor and didn’t want to be preoccupied with the seconds on the clock. Kyle put soft music on and Nicole took her place behind me, massaging my back with each tightening phase. After a while the contractions were coming in steady waves and after each one I was able to breathe a long sigh and smile. They felt so good. At some point I asked Nicole for a hair-tie because during each contraction, I was sweating as though I had just ran a mile in the hot Florida summer heat. I remember feeling the beading of sweat on my neck, brow, and upper lip. As each contraction waned, the sweat cooled on my temples and felt wonderful. The deep breathing and relaxation of Hypnobirthing was fantastic. I can’t say that it wasn’t at all painful; it was. But it was not nearly as painful as my labor with Styles where I tried using Lamaze. I was moaning through each deep breath and Kyle said he was going to have to leave the room because it sounded so erotic. (Only my husband). I enjoyed using the visualization techniques that I had used in high school during dance season. As each contraction ebbed and flowed, I found myself in new, relaxing places.
12:15pm: My doctor came in to check my progress. I had been laboring for just over 1/2 hour at that point. I crawled up in the bed during a contraction and when she checked me I was still 6cm, 50% and Madilyn was still high in my pelvis. I was devastated. My contractions were coming regularly at that point and they were definitely increasing in severity. I realized that I could have hours and hours of labor ahead of me so I took a deep breath, regained my composure and jumped back on the ball. I began swaying my hips from side to side in a figure-8 position. It seemed that almost immediately I felt the urge to throw up. A few minutes later the contractions were coming harder and harder, one right on top of the other and I felt that tell-tale pressure. I needed a new position. The ball felt like it was going to come out from under me and my legs just couldn’t handle being at a 90 degree angle anymore. For some reason, I just wanted to be on my back. I know that it’s not the ideal position for a baby coming down the birth canal but it’s what felt right to me at the moment. I was lying on my back slightly reclined, moaning through each wave.
12:35pm: I told Kyle and Nicole that I felt the urge to poop but it scared me because a mere 15 minutes prior, I had only been 6cm, 50% and I knew that there was NO way that I was ready. Kyle went to tell the nurse and as he walked by my open legs, his eyes grew wide. (I later found out that he saw Madilyn’s head at that point but didn’t tell me because he was so freaked out that he saw HAIR). The nurse was apparently very flip about the whole thing, knowing that someone can’t progress from 6cm, 50% to the pushing phase in 15ish minutes. She told him that she was going to finish her paperwork and that she’d be in to check me after a few minutes. While he was gone, I knew that the baby was coming. I could feel her head between my legs and I told Nicole to go get Kyle because “what could possibly be taking him SO LONG?” Nicole was apparently able to light a fire under the nurse’s butt because she did come strolling into the room a few seconds later. (This was after I heard Nicole yelling down the hallway).
I’ll never forget the next few minutes, no matter how hard I try. The nurse sauntered in just KNOWING that I was insane and had no clue what was happening to my body. I could see the word, “epidural” forming on her lips when suddenly her face changed and she began YELLING out of the room for help. She screamed, “CALL DR. MERRITT NOW, THIS PATIENT IS READY TO GO!”
Right about that time, I felt a “POP” down below and looked down to see Madilyn’s little head sticking out, staring me right in the face. I screamed at the nurse, “I’M PUSHING!!!” while she was screaming at me “STOOOOOOOOOP PUSHING!” I then screamed back, “I’M NOT PUSHING!” Then I screamed again, “I’M PUSHING, I’M PUSHING!” and about that time 3 or 4 nurses were screaming back, “STOOOOOOOOOOP PUSHING!” so I screamed back, “I’M NOT PUSHING! HOW DO I NOT PUSH?!?!?!” What I was trying to get across to all of these nitwits was that I wasn’t actively pushing. I apparently have “The Little Uterus That Could” because IT was pushing and there was absolutely nothing that I could do to stop it. I was on my left side at this point, clinging to the bedrails trying to heave my way through each contraction so that I didn’t push my baby out before the doctor got there. After ONE contraction of that, I said, “Screw this” and resumed my former position, reclined on my back, so that my uterus could do its job without my interfering. I honestly remember feeling no contraction pain at this point and just an intense pushing down that felt SO satisfying each time it happened. Everyone around me was frantic as my baby came further and further out of the birth canal without one, single push. My doctor ran into the room as Madilyn’s shoulder’s were born (they hadn’t even dropped the end of the bed yet). The nurses aided her in putting her gloves on and she arrived between my legs just in time to pull Madilyn’s feet out. Madilyn had been born all by herself, no assistance, and not one single (voluntary) push involved. The time was:
I was laughing inside. I may have been laughing on the outside too (Nicole, was I laughing?) Kyle called his folks to tell them that during their hour away from the hospital their granddaughter had been born. I’m not sure they believed him at first but they did rush back to meet her, in absolute disbelief that it had happened so quickly after not happening at ALL for hours.
We got skin-to-skin contact and Madilyn latched on like a PRO the very first time she nursed. It was such a crazy whirlwind labor and birth that I still can’t believe it. Nicole told me that she tells everyone who will listen and nobody believes her. Nobody believes Kyle when he talks about it either. And I’m CERTAIN nobody believes me. But that’s how it happened. I went from 6cm dilated, 50% effaced, with my daughter riding high, to holding her within 30 minutes. The nurses didn’t believe it and Dr. Merritt didn’t believe it. I can’t deny I didn’t love the attention as all of the L&D nurses came in to meet me after hearing my story. Madilyn was a star on the recovery floor because word spread up there too. I just smiled when nurses and doctors said they couldn’t believe I did it all without pain meds. Really? Do THAT many people use pain meds during labor? I can honestly say that it really isn’t THAT bad.
I’m not going to pretend that I think my next labor will be that fast but with it being right around the corner, I can only hope!