My Unmedicated 4 Hour Birth Story
I wake up around 5am to a small gush of water. “Did I just pee?” I wonder. It certainly wouldn’t be beyond the realm of possibilities at this point in my pregnancy. I was three days overdue and my bladder had long since become unpredictable. So I lay there, waiting – for what, I don’t really know – but it was maybe two minutes later that I feel another small gush of water and I’m certain this is it.
It’s still early, so I figure I can lay for a while, maybe I can even fall back asleep. After all, this could be the LAST good sleep I have for years, right?! I lay still so I don’t leak any more water, and close my eyes.
“Mom!!” …It was my daughter, calling from her bedroom. I wait, hoping it’s a fluke.
“Moooommmm!!”. Ugh, perfect timing. So I roll out of bed and waddle toward her room. More water leaks from me, confirming what I already know. I swipe a washcloth from the pile of unfolded clothes on the sofa and stuff it in my underwear as I enter her room.
“Lay with me?” She asks.
“Sure,” I say. And as I sit down next to her, I feel my first contraction. Just a slight tightening in my gut. 1…2…3…4… I count in my head, noting the length, which was about 10 seconds. Fifteen minutes later there is another, then another, and another – each a little longer and a little more painful than the previous.
Time to get up. My daughter has since fallen back asleep, so I sneak out of her room and wake my husband. I’m only about an hour into labor, but my firstborn came out after only 4 and a half hours — and with the hospital a 40 minute drive away, it was time to move!
I text my in-laws so they can come watch our daughter, and I start packing my hospital bag.
Yes, that’s right. I don’t have a hospital bag ready. That’s just what it’s like to be me. Portable speaker, extra underwear, a nightgown, phone and charger, toothbrush, shampoo, makeup, and a loose dress. 20 minutes later my in-laws arrive and we are out the door. Contractions are now coming every 5-7 minutes, lasting about 30-40 seconds and quite painful.
Somehow my husband manages to brew a cup of coffee during the mad rush to get out the door, which I am jealous of, but at the same time can’t imagine drinking!
I didn’t think things would get exciting until we got to the hospital, but boy am I wrong. We’re about 3 miles down the road doing 40mpg on a curve when my husband slams on his breaks. I’m mid-contraction. BANG!
“What was that?!” I look up just in time to see that we’d slammed into a deer with our front bumper, clipping her hindquarters. No time to stop… so we keep driving. This gives me something to talk about to keep my mind off the pain, which continues to grow in intensity and move into my back.
We finally make it to the hospital and I’m wheeled into the labor and delivery room. For whatever reason, this is the point in my labor where it feels like everyone else is going 1 mile an hour, while my body is going 100mph! No one is moving fast enough for me.
“I need to get to a room. My water broke and I have very fast labors!” I’m saying to anyone who will listen.
“Are you sure your water broke?” A nurse casually asks.
“Yes. Positive,” I say.
“Well let’s take a look just to be sure,” she says half to me, half to another nurse.
“It’s broken!” I shout. “There’s a washcloth still in there to catch the water, it’s for sure broken!”
“Oh, okay – Whoa, are you having a contraction right now??” She asks, looking concerned.
“Yes…” I manage to say. I’d had at least three contractions since arriving…
They finally bring me to a room and Dan asks to get the tub running for me. He turns on our speaker to set the mood and rubs my back. Things really start to speed up at this point (with the exception of a small lecture on the socioeconomic conditions of those who tear vs those who don’t…more on this topic in my video here). They check my progress and tell me I’m 7cm dilated. Everyone seems surprised except Dan and I. I hop into the tub and I’m in there for all of 10 minutes when I pull the lever for the nurse.
I have to push. They say it’s still too early, so I go to the bathroom instead. Hah. Apparently I had to do that too! Since I’m out of the tub, I begin laboring on my hands and knees. Dan leans in to encourage me, but all I smell is coffee breath! I promptly puke from the smell.
The next hour is a complete blur, but I can feel and hear Dan by my side. He shows me photos of happy family moments on this phone, and of my daughter running toward me at the beach. The images and music take me to a happy place. I breathe through contraction after contraction, until I can hardly stand it.
“I have to push,” I say.
“It’s still too early,” They tell me.
I beg them to check my dilatation and they fetch my midwife. Without checking, she agrees it’s too early. This is when I ask for the epidural.
“If I’m not ready to push, then I need something. I don’t want to feel what I’m feeling right now!” They order it up and start a saline drip while we wait for the anesthesiologist. Too much time passes while we wait and I’m moaning through contractions. I feel like death. My body is pushing. Pushing. I can feel the pressure of 1000lbs on my pelvic floor.
“Where is the epidural???!” I ask. Apparently I’m still “in line” for it, so my midwife finally checks my progress again.
I’m a 10 +1. She looks at Dan, eyes wide.
“Looks like it’s time to push!” She says. This is music to my ears and I’m filled with a new wave of energy and determination. The epidural is cancelled and the room fills with extra hospital bodies to assist. Three pushes and my baby is born.
Welcome to the world, Nova Jane.