When it came to going into labor, Roslyn was such a little tease. It all started when I was 36 weeks. I kept having consistent contractions that would last for several hours and then as soon as it was time to go to bed they’d stop. At my 37-week appointment my midwife checked me and I was already 2 centimeters dilated and 30% effaced. The midwife prefaced that some people can be at a standstill for weeks but she guessed I’d be going early (especially since I had Madelyn 11 days early) and encouraged us to finish getting everything ready for baby.
At this point my mom wasn’t planning on coming until October 7th when I was 39 weeks (the day I actually had her), so she bumped her flight up because I was planning to go natural and I felt my mom’s presence was crucial for that to happen. Love you Josh, but when I was birthing Madelyn the moment I demanded he got an epidural he caved (although during labor this time I very much wished for that again!).
We finished getting ready for the baby, stocked up our freezer from Costco and then all signs of labor just stopped. At my 37-week appointment I was still only 2 centimeters dilated and was 60% effaced. I had given up on going into labor early and I felt really bad that my mom had already changed her flight and was coming in a couple days.
My next appointment was when I was 38 weeks 7 days and I had the midwife strip my membranes since the day before I had mild contractions all day and I thought I might be going into labor. At this appointment I was 3 centimeters and still 60% effaced. I was terrified to get my membranes swept, so many people told me it was so painful but honestly it really wasn’t bad at all. The midwife told me it was a really good sweep and that’s when it all started. By the time I got home I was having these awful period cramps, I could barely walk or get off the couch. Those continued for the rest of the night and into the next day.
I tried staying active all day and then at 5 PM I got what I knew was my first real contraction. I kept having these Braxton hicks for weeks, not knowing if it was the real deal or not. But that contraction brought back a flood of memories and I knew this was it. I didn’t want to get everyone all excited again (I felt a bit like the girl who cried wolf at this point) so I secretly timed them on my phone. At this point they were about every 5-7 minutes apart and lasting around 30 seconds.
Around 6:30 PM we had dinner (spicy Thai food) and I told my mom and Josh that this might be it. At 7:00 PM Josh called his parents to come get Madelyn and Molly, and as soon as he called them the contractions stopped. I was so disappointed thinking I once again got everyone’s hopes up and I felt so dumb for so adamantly thinking this was it to have my body trick me again. You’d think I was a first time mom again!
We called Josh’s parents and told them never mind, thinking tonight wasn’t the night. At 9:00 PM Josh and I went for a walk and BOOM the contractions immediately started again. We came home and I bounced on my birthing ball while we watched “Parks and Recreation.” They were now coming every 4-5 minutes and lasting about 45 seconds on average. I couldn’t really talk through them anymore so we called the hospital and told them we’d be coming in tonight. Around 11 PM we called Josh’s parents again and they picked up Madelyn and Molly around midnight. I continued to labor at home for a couple more hours until I decided it was time to go to the hospital. By that point I really wanted to get in the birthing tub and get checked for dilation.
We got to the hospital around 2:00 AM. The contractions weren’t unbearable yet and I was still able to really breathe through them and relax into them. Once I was in my room my midwife checked me and I was 5 centimeters - and that’s when my labor really picked up. I got into the tub and holy hell the contractions went up a notch and then another and then another. I went from moaning through the contractions to sobbing and screaming. I kept saying “I can’t do this anymore” and when everyone left Josh and I alone I kept begging him to make it stop *hint hint epidural but I still wasn't ready to flake out and ask for it yet*. At one point I finally looked up at him after a contraction and I saw Josh sitting next to me on the floor crying while he held my hand. I realized at that point how pitiful I must look and how I probably sounded like a dying animal with my screams and pleading. And also, just how much I loved that Josh of mine.
After an hour and a half I said my code phrase that meant I was at my breaking point, which was “I’m feeling salty.” That meant it was time to change it up and I wanted to get checked again. I got out of the tub and headed to the bed, I tried sitting on the edge of the bed but it made the contractions even more intense so I got on all fours. The midwife checked me again and I was 7 centimeters and 90% effaced. This was it, this was transition, the hardest part. At that point all of my practicing and meditation didn’t work anymore, the contractions and pain were ripping through my entire body every few minutes. It got so bad that I was hyperventilating and wasn’t able to breathe during the contractions. All I could do was tense up, scream, cry, and wait for it to pass. With Josh holding my hand and the midwife rubbing my back and my mom telling me “I can do this” I rocked and screamed and cried for another half hour or so. At that point it was around 4:00 AM and I was so exhausted. The thought of one more contraction made me want to die. I kept asking for an epidural but everyone was ignoring my request until I finally screamed “why is everyone ignoring me?! I am DONE. I want the epidural PLEASE!”
At that point the midwife told me I needed a bag of IV fluids before I could get one, so they hooked me up to a bag and after every contraction I’d look at the bag that was taking forever to drain. It was another 45 minutes until it was empty. Finally the nurse went to get the anesthesiologist at which point I said, “he better be SPRINTING here!”.
When he got there around 5:00 AM the midwife wanted to check me again but I was afraid I’d be too far that they’d refuse and the thought of getting pain relief so soon is the only thing that kept me going. Those awful crippling contractions were only bearable because I kept telling myself “only 30 more minutes,” “only 15 more minutes” “only 5 more minutes until relief.”
I sat on the edge of the bed and held onto the nurse while he inserted the epidural and then I waited and waited and waited for relief that wasn’t coming. After 30 minutes of no pain relief and soul crushing contractions that made me start to consider asking for a c-section the midwife checked me and Roslyn was in the birth canal and I was fully dilated, in fact my bag of waters was bulging out. The anesthesiologist apologized and told me I was too far along for the epidural to work, that the baby was in the canal and pushing against the nerves that the medicine needs to go through to offer me any relief. The epidural wasn’t going to work and I was going to have to do this without any pain medication. As soon as he said that I knew I needed to get my sh*t together and get this baby out ASAP because that was the only way this would stop. I had to stop clenching and fighting every contraction, it was time to embrace what was happening and to work WITH my body instead of against it. I let the midwife break my water and then I sat up higher in bed and squeezed the railing and screamed through each contraction for another few minutes until I said I needed to push.
Pushing felt so great, and it made the contractions much less painful to be focusing on something other than the pain. After 25 minutes of pushing she finally came out at 6:04 AM. Josh caught her and placed her on my chest. As soon as she came out all that pain medication went rushing down my torso and legs. The only thing the epidural did was numb me for my stitches and then made my legs numb for 5 hours afterwards so I was unable to move on my own. I really regretted not letting my midwife check me because I know she wouldn’t have let me get the epidural and I would have avoided the unnecessary discomfort of sitting still during contractions while getting the epidural placed and then having to lay still waiting for it to kick in. At that point in labor being forced to one position is the worst hellish thing in the world. It’s like being tied to a bed and tortured and you’re unable to move or squirm around. You’re stuck and the only thing you can do is focus on the pain.
Giving birth naturally (I still consider it natural since the epidural didn’t work until after the birth) was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t know pain like that existed. You hit 5 or 6 centimeters and you think, “how could this get any worse.” And then you hit 7 centimeters; transition, and you think “how could pain worse than this exist.” And then every contraction after that keeps getting more and more painful and intense. I wanted to die, I waned a cesarian, I wanted any way for the pain to stop. I felt panicky and stuck in this agony unable to make it go away. IF we ever have another baby (which we probably won't because hyperemesis gravidarum) I will never ever do it natural again, no reason to go through that suffering if you don’t have to.
The recovery has been much more rough this time. Besides having a sore throat that lasted for two days from all my screaming, I also got a hematoma right next to my stitches (a blood vessel burst and instead of bleeding out it bled internally) and I developed a blood clot the size of a walnut right next to my stitches that were pulling on the stitches. Cue more crying. Any movement: standing, walking, sitting up pumped more blood into the area and caused the clot to pull even more on my stitches. I’m just now starting to feel better from that.
For those who are wanting to give birth naturally and would like some tips I’m working on a post right now talking about everything I did to prepare for a natural delivery and what actually helped!