Baby boy must have read my disheartened blog post from January 15th because I woke up the next day in labor. Except that I didn’t know it was labor for about 12 hours.
We last saw the doctor on January 13th, a week before my due date. I wasn’t dilated at all and the baby hadn’t dropped yet. My doctor said he was 99% sure he would see me the next week on my due date, and scheduled me for a sonogram to check on Baby Hegz’ growth and start discussing how far past my due date he would let me go before scheduling an induction.
I decided early on in my pregnancy that I wanted a natural labor. Or at least wanted to try as hard as I could to avoid medication. I decided this after a good amount of research and conversations with other new moms. I wanted as few interventions as possible because I believed that was what was best for me and my baby. I also wanted to be fully in touch with my body and have more of a spiritual experience than a medical one. So, naturally, even thinking about an induction bummed me out. I was pretty grumpy, but knew I had time….and literally no control over when the baby would come. So I tried my best to relax.
The following Saturday, January 16th I woke up at 7 a.m. with what felt like menstrual cramps. I couldn’t really tell if they were actual cramps, or just gas or even Braxton Hicks, which I hadn’t experienced much of during the pregnancy. I told Steven I felt kind of icky. We sat there for a while and I chugged some water. Steven texted our doula (labor coach) just to let her know, and I took a shower. The thought that this could be actual (very early) labor didn’t really cross my mind, especially after the doctor’s confidence earlier in the week that I would hit my due date.
We went about our day like any other Saturday. We did the laundry, took Dixie to the dog park, and went to the grocery store. It suddenly became very important to me to have the fridge stocked with food, so I planned out a week of meals. I think I was also trying not to get too excited about the cramps and convinced myself the baby wasn’t coming and we would be cooking all week.
We watched a KU basketball game, and I napped. God, if I had known, I would have slept all day. I wish I had slept all day!!
It was probably around 5 p.m. when we headed out for our last errand to Bed, Bath and Beyond. The cramps started to become more painful while we were at the store, and I would pause every now and then to get through them. I started to think that maybe they were contractions after all and told Steven to time a few. They were not consistent — coming eight minutes apart, then 15 minutes apart, then 10 minutes apart, and varying in length, so again, for some reason, I thought they would just go away. We picked up some epsom salt at the store so I could take a bath when I got home to ease the discomfort.
We started cooking dinner when we got home, and again I had to stop what I was doing with each contraction and breathe through the pain. I started leaning over the counter in the kitchen and we continued to time the contractions, which were now coming every eight to ten minutes and lasting about 30 seconds.
Shortly after we finished eating — around 7 or 8 p.m. I remember dropping to my knees during a contraction and breathing through it on all fours. Still, for some reason, I didn’t think this was it. Steven continued to communicate with our doula who suggested taking a bath and trying to go to bed. So that’s what I did.
We tried. But things were not slowing down. I’m not sure how far apart the contractions were at this point, but I do remember around 10 p.m. they were bringing tears to my eyes, and I started freaking out. At that point, I finally realized this was the real deal. It took Steven breathing with me and rubbing my back to get me back in the mental state where I felt like I could handle it. I rocked on all fours in bed, and during one contraction I yelled out that I needed our doula here NOW….so Steven called her.
Our fabulous doula, Jessica, arrived around 11 p.m., and I instantly felt much more relaxed. I was going back and forth from rocking on all fours in bed to standing near our dresser and hanging onto Steven. At this point the contractions were coming every five to six minutes and lasting about 45 seconds. Around midnight, Steven called the doctor, and at 12:22 a.m. my water broke.
After that, things seemed to happen very fast. I tried to eat some food, knowing I wouldn’t be able to at the hospital, but I wasn’t able to eat much. We worked through a few more contractions at home and then headed to the hospital. Thankfully, we live about a mile away, and I only had to suffer through a couple contractions in the car.
I was definitely “in the zone” (because I don’t know what else to call it) when we got to the hospital around 1 a.m.. I was breathing and moaning through the contractions, swaying and holding onto Steven or Jessica with each one. It was painful, but not so unbearable that I felt like I couldn’t do it.
They hooked me up to monitors in triage and checked my cervix. I was dilated about 4-5 cm! I was happy to hear I had made such good progress at home. Hanging out in triage was tough though because I had to lay in bed while they monitored me and got me hooked up to an IV. I wasn’t able to stand and rock or be on all fours, which had been the positions that were helping me the most. Getting through a contraction while laying down with a needle in my arm was pretty hard.
When we got to labor and delivery, there was more monitoring to be done. I was pretty tuned out to just about everything at that point, so I’m not really quite sure what they were trying to monitor, but I remember I had to wait until they got a certain reading before I could change positions. Things were getting prettttty painful and I desperately wanted to get in the tub. Finally, they got what they needed and checked me again before I got in the water. It had been an hour since we arrived at the hospital and I was now 7-8 cm dilated……right on the cusp of transition, although that realization didn’t occur to me in the moment.
The rest is very blurry. All I really remember is Steven was there, holding me through each contraction, and hearing Jessica’s soothing voice. I don’t know what I was expecting from the water, but I was disappointed it wasn’t helping more with the pain. I would say the tub made things slightly better, but only slightly…..and I needed more. I lasted about 20 minutes before I started asking for the epidural. Steven talked me down a couple times, but I kept asking. Jessica talked me down a couple times, but I kept asking. The nurse told me I had to get a full bag of fluids in me before they could give me the medication, which would take about half an hour, and then another half hour before the medicine would take effect. I remember looking at the bag of fluids, still pretty full, and realizing it would be a while. Still, I kept asking.
I’m not really sure how to describe the next 40ish minutes I spent in the tub. It’s like I wasn’t even there. It’s like I blacked out. The contractions were coming about every minute and lasting 60-90 seconds. As soon as I laid back down, another one would come and I would sit up and hold onto Steven. It’s pain I can’t even describe. It’s mind-numbing, excruciating, indescribable pain. Any other pain I have experienced in my life, I have been able to have thoughts such as, “Motherfucker that hurts,” and “I’m gonna die….I’m gonna die!” With this, I could not even think. I don’t even remember what the room looked like. I don’t remember anything but holding onto Steven and begging repeatedly for something to make it stop.
The urge to push came on strong, and fighting that urge was the hardest part. After fighting it for a while, I got out of the tub and insisted on being checked. I was 9 1/2 cm, and they let me start pushing.
I didn’t ask for the epidural again. Everything in my body was bearing down and pushing and I couldn’t do much to stop it. I was on all fours in the bed. The baby was moving down fast, and they were having trouble continuing to monitor him. I turned around, they put my feet in the stirrups, the doctor walked into the room, I pushed twice and there he was.
Born at 3:20 a.m., three hours after my water broke and about two hours from the time we arrived at the hospital. I pushed for about 20 minutes, and the doctor got there just in time — he walked in around 3:15.
“I did it,” I said, and started crying. Steven held my head and told me it’s a boy. I looked down and saw him and it was like looking at a familiar stranger. I had a feeling the entire pregnancy that I was carrying my son. Seeing him confirmed what I already knew…..that it had been Camden all along.
They put him on my chest. He was covered in goo and looked a little purple, and he bobbed around and started nursing.
I want to say I cried because he was beautiful and perfect and a miracle and I was in love and blah blah blah….and while those things are true, it’s not why I was crying. I cried because it was over. I cried because I was exhausted. Because everything hurt and I had just been through the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. I felt joy, but mostly I felt relief.
By the time we got to recovery, it was close to 7 a.m. We had been up for 24 hours. We napped for a couple hours, but were constantly interrupted. I was in a great deal of pain, and utterly exhausted. The high of just having a baby carried me through the day as our families came to meet him, but the next 48 hours were really really hard. I couldn’t walk or hardly sit up, and baby boy didn’t let us sleep as he nursed all night long.
Steven was amazing. He changed all the diapers and helped me to and from the bathroom. He stayed up with me while Camden nursed. He helped me find positions that worked and we watched a couple movies. I caught him staring at the baby a couple times, leaning down and murmuring in his ear. My love grew first for Steven, bigger than it has ever been. Gradually, the love for Camden came too. I expected to be overwhelmed with love for the baby, but the bond with my partner grew stronger first.
I am very glad I didn’t take the medication. Not only would it have hardly had time to take any effect, but I would have been very upset that I was so close. Had I been able to think straight…or think at all….I would have told myself in the tub that I was in transition, I was close, I had been moving fast and laboring for several hours and I could push through. I was blinded by the pain and unable to focus my mind on anything positive.
I am glad I did it the way I did, and I couldn’t have done it without Steven and Jessica. I had the exact experience I wanted. My partner was an active participant in the labor, and we connected on a deeper level than we ever have before. I was completely in sync with my body and the process felt very instinctual. I was both blessed and cursed with a fast moving labor. It was over quickly, but was also incredibly intense. I had no complications. It went as well as it really could have.
But for a week or so after, the pain was very fresh. I vowed never again. I told Steven IF we were to ever have another baby, I was getting a million epidurals. I felt broken when I wanted to feel powerful.
Now, three more weeks later, I’m not sure. If we have another baby, I’m really not sure if I would do it the same. I had the natural experience…but if I could avoid the pain…..maybe I should. But at the same time, I have no idea how a medicated labor would be. I could stall with medication or maybe not feel the same urge to push. Would Steven feel as involved and important? I don’t know.
For anyone wondering, I delivered at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, and I felt very supported there. Now, that may be because I had an incredible doula advocating for me and making sure I was heard, but honestly every staff member I interacted with was great and I had a positive experience at SMMC. I know not everyone does have a good experience at a hospital, especially when trying to deliver naturally, but I have nothing negative to say about SMMC. If anyone is also interested in learning more about my doula, whom I would highly recommend, I’d be happy to chat.
I had the exact labor experience I wanted. For all mamas everywhere, however your babes came into the world, you are powerful warrior goddesses and I now feel a part of your club.
Camden came into our lives in a whirlwind and turned everything upside down. Of all the emotions I’ve been through since I woke up at 7 a.m. on January 16th, the most resounding has been the depth and magnitude of love.