Tag Archives: labour & delivery

Mythical? Pain-free Labour (Birth Story)

I’ve read many birth stories of women who have wonderful pain-free births. I have to say I was a bit skeptical, and a bit jealous. I’d had two fast labours with easy to manage levels of pain, but there was still pain.

But this time was different.

 

photography by Ella

I’d have to say I actually went into labour at about 10PM on February 13th. Not active, but as in first contraction. These contractions were well spaced, much farther than the braxton hicks I tended to get. But they made me take notice. I couldn’t sleep through them, but I could sleep between them. So I did.

When Ryan got up with the girls I told him to make some muffins, and guacamole for the girls. Pack snacks for them, and get everything ready to go. I tried to get some more sleep. But I was too excited. I was probably, possibly, maybe? in labour. I got out of bed. The contractions pretty much stopped. Ryan and I still continued to get everything ready to go, but I took my time.

I got down on my hands and knees to sweep the floor under the table. I had a contraction. We talked again about comfort levels of being at home vs hospital. We talked about what would happen if we showed up at the hospital and I wasn’t in labour, or  in ‘enough’ labour. We decided we’d go to the hospital anyway.

I had 3 more contractions while in the van on the hour long drive. Though they weren’t very strong. I felt silly for packing everybody up to go to the hospital, especially since our basement flooded the day before and we had a lot of work to do.

We debated whether to go to the mall to walk, or to go to the hospital.

In the end we decided on the hospital. I figured we could just walk around there and wait to see if I really was in labour or not. I thought I’d have the opportunity to leave if the contractions didn’t pick up.  I was still only have a few contractions. They were about twenty minutes apart, but not regular, and they weren’t painful.

When we arrived at the hospital we discovered that unless I actually registered I couldn’t get past the ER waiting room. So no turning back, I registered and we were off to the obstetrical assessment unit.  No walking after all.

When we arrived, 1120, the unit was overflowing. The nurses asked if I was there for a Non-Stress test. I said, no I’m here to have a baby. An induction? Nope, I think I’m in labour. The nurse rolled her eyes, but they have to check everyone. We had to wait in the hall for a few minutes. I burst into tears. No pain, no contractions. Just tears.

We were brought to a chair a few minutes later and the assessment started. I was hooked up to monitors and I sipped my Red Raspberry Leaf tea. The woman beside us kept screaming out in pain. The nurses told her she wasn’t in labour yet and she’d have to go home. I looked at my strip, the one contraction I had didn’t register.

I was moved to a bed so I could be checked. The nurse asked about me previous deliveries. I told her I was fast.

She looked at my strip and asked if I knew I’d had a couple contractions. I said sure I had a couple small ones. She smiled and checked me. She suddenly looked worried. She couldn’t find both sides of my cervix. She guessed I was about a 5. She called to get me a room upstairs.

When we arrived at the next unit, the room we’d be checked into was being cleaned. So we went to the family lounge. A couple families sat waiting for their loved ones to give birth. We waited for Ryan’s sister to arrive to help with the girls. I walked up and down the hallway, and Ryan turned on a movie for the girls.

While I walked I had a couple contractions. Enough that I noticed them. Enough that I sometimes stopped walking, but I still wasn’t sure I was in labour. Part of me was afraid they’d still try to send me home, or induce me.

The room was finally ready so we went in and the nurse went over a few things with us. Around 1PM Ryan’s sister arrived. Once the girls were comfortable with her and the nurse was finished giving orientation and asking about birth plans, Ryan and I walked. Up and down the hallway.

Fresh from the shower, 8 cm and smiling

I suddenly realized I was in labour. I felt the pressure. I knew I wasn’t ready to push, but I didn’t think it would be long. My Dr. came to the room to check me. Sometime around 2 I was about a 9.

I couldn’t stand to be in the room. I’d tried a shower earlier, but it annoyed me. I went back out into the hall. The nurse insisted I at least bring a wheelchair with me. She didn’t leave my side.  I walked passed the charge nurse. Apparently it isn’t very common for a woman in transition to be walking so much, and certainly not common to be laughing and talking so much. I was ‘encouraged’ to stay in front of my room.

A few moments later I needed to pee so I went back to the room, unfortunately just as I attempted to sit our little darling decided it was time to arrive. I was stuck. I needed a fair amount of help to get out of the bathroom. Our nurse asked what position I wanted to push in. She did mention that a mother earlier that day squatted at the side of the bed. I opted for side-lying. I was too nervous to try squatting. In hindsight I think I might have preferred it though.

My Dr arrived and gowned up before checking me. When she did check, she told the surprised nurse that babies head was ‘right there’. With roughly 10 min of pushing, Cordelia Rose joined us.

The only part of my entire labour that I would consider painful was the pushing. And I do believe that wouldn’t have been painful if I’d trusted myself, stayed upright, and had less ‘help’ from the Dr. and nurse.

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Wave Over Wave

I posted something similar to this a few weeks ago on a pregnancy site I frequent.

Many women are afraid of giving birth. They’ve been lead to believe it will be the most painful experience of their life (It isn’t). Many women believe that if you don’t have an epidural, the pain is impossible to bear (it isn’t). Many women think I’m nuts (I’m not) because there is no way on earth I’d get an epidural and that I don’t find labour and delivery to be that bad. In fact I kind of enjoy it. At least the first two were pretty amazing experiences.

One woman posted about needing to give birth without an epidural. She was looking for ways to cope with the pain.I had two analogies for her – both of which I use when in labour.

First, I am a runner (or at least I was once upon a non-pregnant time). I love to run. But it’s one of the most painful things I’ve done. I’d say the most painful I’ve done willingly. In many ways running hurts more than giving birth. When running, I focus on the next step. It’s a lot easier to keep running the race when there’s only one step to think about. If things are difficult and you focus on how far away the finish line is, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. It’s easy to stop and walk. But if you say just one more step, that’s easy. After that step, one more is easy as well. All you need is just one more step – eventually the finish line is there and all you took is one more step. Ultimately that thought pattern helped me finish races, and place in races that I might otherwise have given up on. A contraction is just one more step.

I am a runner. Being a runner means I will cross the finish line. But the analogy that I use to enjoy the race, the one I can visualize in my mind, the one that brings peace, is the sea.

A dark stormy sea crashing upon the shore, chaotic and bent on destroying all in it’s path. That’s what labour could be like. But if you step back and watch the waves crash on the shore you’ll see it isn’t really as chaotic as you think. There’s a pattern.  The waves roll in from the left, from the right, in ‘V’ formation. One after another tumbles in from the East, making their way down the length of the beach. The clouds overhead swirl, but the waves maintain their pattern. Rising out of the depths of the sea, small white caps form only to rise up, 3ft, 6ft, higher and higher. Swelling, churning, tumbling toward shore. But they don’t maintain that height. The waves crash and disappear as the water rolls back out to sea. That small piece of beach has a reprieve while the waves move down the beach. Another wave will come, but in that moment the sand settles. The sea might try to batter the land, but it only reaches so far before it recedes again.

Labour is the storm. Each contraction is a wave. It starts out small, it gets bigger and bigger, it swells, but it doesn’t stay at peak for long. It tapers off. The grip loosens and the contraction ends. There is a space between the contractions. Depending on the storm the space might be long or short, but there is a space to take a breath before the next wave rolls in. Use the space to admire the storm – to see the beauty in the clouds, to hear the music of the waves.

The storm won’t last long and you don’t want to miss it.

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The Biggest Race of Your Life

My baby is due days before my grandfather’s birthday. I barely knew him. I know he was very athletic, well past his prime he still lifted weights, danced, ran, biked I’m sure he did whatever he wanted. He passed away on the cusp of the new millennium. I wasn’t married when he passed, I didn’t even know my one day husband at the time. We wouldn’t meet for another two years.

So it might seem strange, in so many ways, that the best advice I ever received, as far as labour and delivery is concerned, came from him.

It was August 2006, I was pregnant and sick, and really not up for much. I was also at a family reunion. As happens when families get together, everyone talks. And boy can my family talk. : ) I received wonderful bags full of blankets and wall decorations  handed down from person to person. I also received advice. Surprisingly not a lot of advice, but what I did receive proved very valuable.

My one cousin told me that when she was pregnant with her first, our grandfather told her that giving birth was like running the biggest race of your life. After the race is done if you lie down and take a break, your body will seize up and it’ll take longer to recover. But after running a race, if you slow down, keep walking, you’ll recover faster.

I don’t know if I was thinking about birth yet, but the words stuck with me.

When I had my first, the adrenalin poured through me. I was on top of the world! First prize was mine, I’d won the race.

The nurses promptly told me to lie down and sleep. Every time I tried to get out of bed, they panicked. To be fair they did seem to be more familiar with medicated moms, and a non-medicated mom surprised them. Being who I am, from the family I come from, I didn’t let a couple nurses tie me to the bed. I got up. I walked around. The next day I went home and felt amazing.

My second was born in a hospital that seemed to have more experience with natural births. No one tried to make me lie down. I walked. I showered. I got dressed and a few hours after my sweet Little One entered the world, we went home.

As I approach the final weeks (days?) of this pregnancy that advice comes back to me. This is the biggest race of my life. As with any race, preparation needs to take place. I need to train and prepare for recovery.

Just how does one train for delivery?

Personally, I have faced each of my fears. Some fears are more concrete, the answers can be found online, in books, by asking others. Other fears require me to look deeper. Fears of having a hospital birth, fears of having a road side birth. Despite being told each labour is shorter than previous ones, despite being told a lot of different things from texts, Drs, more experienced mamas, I worry that this labour will take longer. How will I cope if it takes more than a couple hours?

You might laugh.” A couple hours?” you say. “Ha, I was in Labour for 36 hours, while standing on my head. Anyone who needs pain meds is a wimp.”

That might be the case, I do believe everyone (mom and babe) is better off without them, but I have to admit that 3 hours of contractions is easy. I worry about having five, six, or more hours of contractions.

Now I have a better idea of what might hinder my labour. Fear will pause labour, fear makes the pain worse, fear cripples.

I certainly wouldn’t run a race in anything less than top form, shedding my fear prepares me.

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