It doesn’t matter what you chose to do for your baby’s birth–cesarean section, epidural, pain killers, or all natural–giving birth is hard. For Kari and myself, however, I chose to go all natural. There are too many risks and potential consequences of intervention, and humans have been capable of birthing for thousands of years without drugs on standby. There was never even a question about it.
On September 15 I had a prenatal appointment. My obstetrician seemed to always be at odds with me, though this could have simply been in my head, and as usual seemed extremely pushy. I was 39 weeks pregnant, but I had refused a vaginal exam the week prior out of fear she would induce me early. “I like to sweep the membranes at 38 weeks,” she said once I told her that I didn’t want an exam, “so my patients deliver on time.” Whew, dodged that bullet. So now, at this 39 week visit, she tells me that I have to be ready to schedule an induction at the next visit. I went home irate and appalled. Running past 40 weeks is common with first time pregnancies and I was not going to be induced just because my doctor said I had to. I spoke with my extremely knowledgeable aunt and Bradley method instructor most of the day. My husband and I agreed that, if it came to it, we could schedule the induction and just not go. “They can’t force you,” he said. “What are they going to do, come drag you out of the house?”
That night, as I was sending my Bradley instructor a final e-mail around 11:30, my water broke. In the middle of typing a sentence I felt a sudden gush, stood up, and looked at the floor below me. I quickly typed something to the effect of “oh, my water just broke so I’m gonna go now.” We checked the fluid, still leaking, for any smell or color but it seemed fine. “Well, this isn’t how I wanted labor to start.” Labor beginning with your water breaking isn’t terribly common. Talking it over, my husband and I agreed that we were fine, there was no meconium, so we could wait for 24 hours for contractions to start before we needed to go to the hospital.
We were excited and sat up for an hour or so. Then my husband suggested that we both try to sleep (smart man). Unfortunately, it was too late for me. As we laid down contractions started. He fell sound asleep, but just as I would start to doze off an excruciating pain would shoot through my back. After about an hour of trying I gave up and got in the shower. Hot water on my back is the only thing that helped–I think I took about ten showers throughout labor. I got out slightly pissed off that my husband was asleep when I was in so much pain and tried to lie down again and sleep. No success. I think I started to whine so much that he finally got up to try and help, not that there was much to be done.
He made us sausage and eggs with cheese, and I ate between contractions (gotta keep up your strength). We called my aunt around 7 AM, or 9 AM Texas time, to get last minute timing tips and motivation. I was well into the very painful contractions by now. I struggled through the back labor, complaining the whole way. Towards the end I recall sitting on the toilet backwards, being miserable and exhausted, and telling myself, “You can do this, it can’t be stronger than you because it is you.” We stayed home for a long time. When we finally headed to the hospital they stuck me in an observation room, but I was totally out of it and in transition. They hooked me up to a monitor and I immediately said “ugh they don’t need this,” And took it off. I was falling asleep between contractions out of exhaustion. I finally got a room, went straight to the bathroom and sat on the toilet. A nurse came and scolded me–didn’t want my baby landing in the toilet, she said. We went back out and she checked my dilation and I began to push. When she was almost out her heart rate dropped and I had to force her out quickly. I was bleeding badly, so a shot of pitocin went right into my thigh and my newborn went onto my chest.
In the end Kari was healthy and wailing like the most beautiful and terrifying banshee that I’d ever seen in my life (you know that feeling–the sudden sight of your first kid and the overwhelming realization that you’re responsible for taking care of this amazing, tiny little thing). We’d spent all this time preparing for relaxing through labor, but nothing could have prepared me mentally for the 14 hours of straight back pain I encountered. I couldn’t get myself to focus on breathing properly–laying there and trying to visualize my peaceful place or enjoying a massage was totally out of the question. I felt like a failure as a Bradley method student, but we got through it without intervention or medication so I guess we were successful after all.