Working up to my delivery date, I asked as many women as I could about their labor and birth experiences. I wanted to be prepared for all possible outcomes—from an emergency C-section to a drop of the baby’s heart rate to meconium. I found out about different pain relievers available to laboring women and the possible times to take those medications. The women closest to me who’d had children recently (my sister and sister-in-law) both had C-sections, so I had to look elsewhere for information about natural child birth. I read more books and online articles than you can imagine, and I took both free and paid child-birthing classes. I just wanted to be as prepared as possible.
When it came to packing my hospital bag, let’s just say that I packed for a week. Soft toilet paper, three changes of pj’s, calming lotion, books, a scarf for my hubby to hold my belly up, snacks—you name it. I was equipped to be in labor for 10-plus hours and ready to be in the hospital for a long time with it being my first baby.
On Monday, April 18, I woke my husband up at 4 a.m. worried that my water broke. I was 39 weeks pregnant. I’d felt some liquid, so we rushed to the hospital. Lucky for us, our hospital is less than half a mile away from our home, so we got there in minutes—but we stayed for six hours for them to tell me I was 1 centimeter dilated and my water had not broken.
Later that day, I coincidentally had my weekly OB checkup, and he relayed that what I experienced was the relief of my mucus plug. Not what I had expected my plug to feel or look like, but it all began to make sense. He also said that I would start to feel contractions, and he didn’t think I would last the week with my due date being that Saturday, April 23.
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Just as my OB said, later on that day I began to feel contractions. I was always worried that I would not know what they felt like, but there was no question—I was having contractions. Around 8 p.m. on Monday, I started to clock the frequency and the length.
The next day, Tuesday, April 19, I knew I was in early labor. My contractions were coming close together, but the pain was bearable. Around 11 a.m. I said to my husband, “Honey, I called my doctor, and he said we have to go to the hospital now that my contractions are around five to eight minutes apart.” So again we left to go to the hospital.
I was on a fetal monitor for hours. Even though my contractions were indeed five to eight minutes apart, the nurses said to me, “The doctor, no doubt, will be sending you home. You are smiling and talking to us while you’re contracting. If you were in serious labor, you would not be this happy.”
As she suspected, the doctor discharged us around 4 p.m., and I was 2 centimeters dilated. On our way out, the nurses instructed me to come back to the hospital when my contraction pain was unbearable. Because they knew I was only two minutes from the hospital, they told me I did not have to clock them anymore because it was clear that I was in early labor. They said to just go with my gut and wait until I could not deal with the pain. So with that, we headed home.
I was not clocking my contractions as they advised, but around 11 p.m., I began to breathe the pain out. Every few minutes, this rush of cramping would take over, but I was able to simply breathe out the pain while in bed next to my husband. I wondered how I would get any sleep …
At 1 a.m. on Wednesday, April 20, I decided to go into the spare room to deal with my contractions. My husband and I’d had a few tiring days in the hospital (were also there Thursday and Friday the week before), and I knew that he would need his sleep, despite the fact that I could not sleep myself. Once I laid down in the spare room, I was no longer breathing out my contractions, but instead I was talking them out. With each contraction, I would moan or say, “Oooohhhh.” This went on for some time.
Around 2:30 a.m., talking out my contractions ended, and I was singing or even yelling them out. I sounded like an opera singer. I thought, Let me take a bath and see if the pain subsides. This was something I obviously read in one of the 6 zillion articles I saved. So, as I began to run my bath water, I woke my husband and said, “Don’t let the sounds coming out of me scare you … but I am going to take a bath. I will give myself three contractions in the bath and then we will see what we should do from there.” As I was finishing up my speech, one of my singing contractions took over me, and my husband jumped out of bed and insisted we leave. But, stubborn me decided to get in the bath because I could still bear the pain.
The first contraction in the bathtub was horrible, but the two subsequent contractions seemed OK. My husband still running around the house demanded I get out of the tub because he did not want to see me give birth in our guest bathroom. As I got out of the tub, not only was I again singing the pain away, but I was also on my tippy toes and felt the urge to push. I dillydallied between my master bathroom and guest bathroom because I started to feel scared and nervous. That was the point when I agreed to go.
At 3:47 a.m. I texted my family: “We are on our way to the hospital.” My husband already had the car running with 1940’s music playing because he knew that would soothe me. At the hospital, my feet slowly shuffling, my head dangling to the side with my bra strap showing from my shirt hanging off of my shoulder—I was a mess, and the gentleman who saw me knew it. “I can get her a wheelchair!” he shouted. I yelled, more grunted, “NO!” I waddled to the elevator. Arriving on the second floor, my husband ran to ring the bell for access. I said, “Tell them your wife is in labor” … and that was the last sentence I cried out with any sense behind it.
We found ourselves being escorted to the triage rooms to have the nurses check if I indeed was in labor or not. The next few minutes seemed to fly by in seconds. I began to sing out a strong contraction as they tried to assist me onto the bed. Out of character, I was not so pleasant to the ladies because I could not get comfortable while lying down for them to put the monitors on me.
Soon they gave up on trying to put the monitors on and checked my dilation. All I heard was: “She is 9 centimeters dilated. Lauren … you are about to have a baby.” I looked up at my husband and repeated, “We are going to have a baby.” It was at that moment that my adrenaline drained completely out of me, and I became limp.
I vaguely remember being rushed into the labor and delivery room—but I do remember about 13 nurses in the room scrambling to get everything prepared. My husband stood on the left of me while they asked me to get myself from the stretcher onto the labor bed. With the little strength that I had, I made my way over to the bed, and I just remember resting my head on the arm rest. I felt lifeless. That is the best way to describe it. I could not pick up my head, I could not adjust myself, so I was lying flat on my back. I was on my side, head on the hard armrest, eyes closed.
Every few minutes, a strong contraction would come over me, and I would push not knowing if the baby would just fly out. It was then that the nurses started to scold me, “Don’t push—breathe it out.” But I had no control to breathe anything out.
During my preparation for labor, I read and learned to find a focal point in the room. Well … the poor nurse who was putting the IVs in my hand (who by the way was the main person who was reminding me not to push) became my focal point. I can just imagine what I looked like, a lifeless body with a hard blank stare. Poor lady, I just remember staring at her nose ring. She again declared, “Don’t push! You will hurt yourself—the doctor is not here.” I looked her straight in the eyes, and I pushed with all of my might.
There was no Lamaze or breathing techniques that could help me at this point. I then remember yelling, “I don’t want to sh*t on the bed!” The nurses—bless them all—said, “You won’t … just don’t push.”
My eyes closed, again just lying there lifeless. A woman expected me to give my name and birth date; I ignored her. I later mumbled it not knowing if she was around to hear me, but nothing mattered at that point.
My eyes were not even on the prize yet. It was all happening so fast. As my husband explains, he pictured it like in the movies. Time slowly passing, him holding my hand, guiding my breathing … but our daughter wanted to come out. There was nothing Hollywood about this birth. We were nowhere near prepared for how any of this went down, but in the end it was a blessing. I wouldn’t have preferred it any other way. I basically went through all of my active labor at home, which was an insane risk I took.
Before I knew it, I heard, “OK, Lauren, you are going to push now. Put your chin into your chest, and hold your legs up.” Without my knowing, the doctor had arrived, which is why I had the approval to push. My drunken-like response was, “Oh, it is on like Donkey Kong.” And I pushed!
But nothing happened. I heard, “PUSH!” I guess that is when I felt the ring of fire. I felt stinging, and I envisioned my daughter’s head crowning. On the third push, I felt my daughter exit my body, which I felt for a few seconds. The best way I could describe it was like feeling a bag of potatoes or navel oranges leaving my body.
The next thing I knew, I felt the warmth of my daughter on my stomach. Then I heard, “Here is your baby!” I looked right at my husband and then at the beautiful life that had just become. It was then that all of my sense started to come back to me. Seeing my baby for the first time will forever be tattooed in my mind. I later I heard my husband say, “Wow, you did it without an epidural,” and I then felt like superwoman because an epidural was certainly in my birth plan!
Destiny Jeanne was born at 4:22 a.m. on Wednesday April 20. She was perfect. A few minutes later, the doctor on call from my practice arrived and said that this was the first birth he had missed in his 20-or-so years of practice. All of the staff throughout the day congratulated me on such a perfect birth—but also reminded me that had I waited just a bit more, we would have had her in the car or in the bathtub!
Lesson learned for me … no matter how many books, classes or examples of birth plans you research, only God and your child control how and when she will arrive. From the time I texted my family to let them know we were leaving to go to the hospital at 3:47 a.m. to when my daughter was born at 4:22 a.m., it was the foggiest but most vivid and beautiful memory I will ever have.
Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!