This is the first of many birth stories, I hope…This is how my first born came into the world.
Murphy’s law, of course; the night I stay up late because we have company my water breaks at 3:40am. It woke me from my sleep and I actually jumped out of bed in fear of ruining my mattress. When I went to the bathroom to clean myself up I was happy to notice the fluid was clear. I didn’t panic (this is where being an L&D nurse came in handy). I actually smiled and whispered to myself “Well here we go. I guess we’re going to have a baby today!”
My husband, was asleep – I have diagnosed him with insomnia – and so I didn’t want to wake him since I know he doesn’t get much sleep normally. I knew that only about 10% of births start with their water breaking so I had it in my mind that I had time to crawl back into bed and get some rest before the biggest workout of my life. At around 4am I started having some minor cramps and by 4:30 I had been in and out of bed so many times to change my pad (yes there is A LOT of fluid!!!) that my husband woke up. I leaned over and whispered into his ear “Don’t freak out… but my water broke!” He smiled and we hugged knowing we were going to meet our baby today!
The cramps became weird, uncomfortable, gas-like pains and by 5:30-6 I was having what I would describe as contractions. So we decided to get up and finish packing the bag for the hospital (that’s right we weren’t packed yet – I thought it would be a great distractionary tool for early labour, so I just made my packing list and had only packed the baby stuff). With regular contractions starting around 7:00 my plan was to shower, do my hair and then call my midwife, except while I was in the shower my contractions got stronger. I asked my husband to start timing them and they were 1-1.5 minutes apart and lasting 60sec. The first-time-mom in me was thinking “Wow, these are pretty strong! I’m probably only 1-2cm. Amanda, you have to get it together. You have a long haul ahead of you”. Actually, I was starting to think I was pretty wimpy; I had only been really contracting for about an hour or so and I was already huffing and puffing. The L&D nurse in me was thinking “This looks like active labour (4-8cm)! Things are going pretty fast! You should probably call the midwife!”.
I got out of the shower at about 8:15 and asked my husband to make some breakfast (pancakes) except I kept calling him back to our room every 1.5-2 minutes to be with me and help me through the contractions. At about 8:45 we called our midwife and she agreed to come to our house and assess me and give my first dose of antibiotics (I was GBS positive). Our midwife arrived around 9:45 and by this point I was in hard labour. My contractions were super intense and close together and as my midwife arrived I was starting to feel shaky, hot and nauseated. The new-mom in me was thinking “Oh my goodness, I hope this is active labour because I am not sure how many more hours of this I can do!” but the nurse in me was thinking “Wow! This looks like transitions (8-10cm). I have all the signs.”.
When my midwife checked me I was 9.5cm so she looked at me and said, “What do you think about a home birth?”. I said, “Sounds good!” right away and looked at my husband who said, very apprehensively, “If you think that would be safe…ok.”. He was really nervous about the idea. I couldn’t have imagined getting in the car at that point in my labour, so here we were settling in for a home birth.
By 11-11:30 I was pushing hard. I had already been pushing since about 10:45 but apparently not with enough gusto. I think I pushed for about 3 hours in total. I had always imagined that I would be very active in my labour and not want to lie down, but I was so tired from not getting much sleep that by this time all I wanted to do was lie down. Around 2-2.5 hours into the pushing, my other midwife (there are always 2 midwives present at home births) asked if I had any hard candies. She got me a Werthers candy from our secret stash and I attribute being able to go on and push my hardest to that little boost of sugar!
For the last hour, the nurse in me was thinking, “What’s wrong? Why is this taking so long? Am I going to have to be transferred into the hospital and get an epidural and forceps after all this?”. Usually if someone has a fast first stage (0-10cm) their seciond stage (pushing) is also relatively fast. And here I was 2.5 hours in!!!! So we tried squatting on the toilet, on hands and knees, squatting using the bathroom sink, standing. You name it and we tried it!
Finally I could see the midwives getting set up for delivery and at 1:42pm my beautiful baby was delivered onto my belly, screaming his little heart out. I saw him come out of me, I felt him come out of me, and yet I couldn’t believe I was finally holding him. I was a mom. I was in such awe that it took me 5 minutes to finally ask, “What did we have?” My husband answered “A boy!”. Within 2 hours I had nursed my son, had a shower, eaten, all the delivery stuff had been cleaned up, the midwives were gone and the three of us were cuddled up on our bed as a family. What an amazing time!!
It wasn’t until late that night that my husband noticed that the oven light was on; the pancakes he had made for us were still there. I didn’t realize he hadn’t eaten either. How sweet!
And so there you have it, how I entered the wonderful world of Motherhood. I will be honest, I was worried about wether I had it in me; would I be able to handle the pain? Would I hit the wall that everyone talks about in transition and lose control? Would my husband really know what to do? And in the end, looking back I can honestly say it never occurred to me at any point in my labour to have medication to ease the pain. The pain was intense but I knew that I could do it. I had seen enough women give birth to know that it was possible. I was also fortunate enough to have a great support team that encouraged me, held me up and cheered me on along the way. Often, having an open mind and being willing to go with the flow (like having an un-planned home birth) along with a great support team is all you need!
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