Updated: Apr 20
My first birth experience was like most other birth experiences — not at all what I thought it would be! My husband and I had prepared for our birth for the previous 10 weeks by going to our weekly Birth Boot Camp class. We knew our goals and desires for birth. I expected a long, slow labor (like many first labors can be), and we were well-prepared with comfort measures and relaxation techniques to utilize during the many hours of labor ahead.
Well, six days past our due date, at 12:30 AM, I got up from bed to use the bathroom. As I sat down on the toilet, my whole abdomen tightened in a painful contraction. I had been experiencing a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions for the past few nights, but this was very different. I finished up in the bathroom and walked back to bed. Another contraction, even more painful. I was on my knees with my head in the pillow, moaning through it. Luke woke up from the noise I was making. As he watched me take on another contraction, totally focused, unable to talk to him, he knew I had “skipped” early labor and was already in active labor (thank you Birth Boot Camp for teaching us about stages of labor). He kicked into Super Husband mode. As I was telling him to slow down, don’t worry, we probably don’t need to go to the hospital yet, he was quickly getting the final things into our hospital bags and helping me get ready.
We arrived at the hospital and went up to the Mom and Baby Unit. They were expecting us, so we were quickly taken to triage. The nurse strapped a fetal monitor onto my tummy, then examined me and found me to be four centimeters dilated. “I’m afraid we can’t admit you quite yet. We will wait for baby to give us a good reading, and then you two can go walk around the lobby for an hour.” She said this kindly, but I was not happy. I just wanted to have this baby and be done! I didn’t want to go walk around the lobby for an hour. The nurse left, telling us she would be back in fifteen minutes to remove the fetal monitor and let us go downstairs.
Luke and I sat in the triage room for a few minutes, moping a little bit about not being admitted, when all of a sudden my body jerked with a pop as my water broke and amniotic fluid gushed onto the bed. Luke hit the button for the nurse to come back in. When she did, and we told her that my water broke, she said we had just gotten our ticket to be admitted. Thank goodness we didn’t have to go back down to the lobby!
I changed into my gown, and we were taken to the room where we would have our baby and also recover afterwards. I was glad we wouldn’t have to change rooms. When I settled into the bed, I had a heparin lock placed in my hand (it took then four attempts to get it in. Ouch!). Then the OB, whom I had never met, came in to talk to me about my birth plan. He did a great job at listening and explained that a lot of my desires were already standard procedure. Then he left us to labor, probably thinking he wouldn’t be needed for many more hours.
After that point, time just flew by. I’m not sure of the exact amount of time, but pretty soon after the doctor left, I asked Luke to help me get to the bathroom. I was slow in getting there because of the frequency and intensity of the contractions. As I sat on the toilet, another contraction came, and with this one came an intense urge to push. The urge was so overpowering. I had no choice but to follow my body…I couldn’t stop myself from pushing. Luke tried so hard to get me up and back to the bed, but I was not moving. He got the help of a nurse, and together they were able to slowly move me back to the bed. The doctor came to examine me and said I was 8 cm dilated. He told me not to push yet and gave the nurse directions to call him back when she thought I was ready to push.
This was when I hit transition, absolutely the most painful part of my labor. I sat on my knees facing the head of the bed, arms hanging over the top of the bed and head resting on my arms. Resisting the urge to push was misery. I fought hard against what my body wanted to do, but sometimes I couldn’t help myself but push. Luke was wonderful through this whole transition stage. He figured out that a cold cloth on my head really helped me, so that’s what he did the whole time. He didn’t say much, but his words were encouraging when he did talk. Pretty soon, I couldn’t resist the urge any longer. It felt like her head was coming down, so I told the nurse. She called the doctor in to check me, and sure enough, I was fully dilated, and our baby was ready to come. I don’t really know how long I pushed, but it felt like a very short time, maybe 10-15 minutes. Pushing actually felt wonderful compared to fighting the extreme urge to push. As her head started crowning, the doctor offered to have a nurse bring a mirror so that I could see it happening. I readily agreed, and I’m so glad I did. Being able to see my baby there gave me all the motivation I needed to finish bringing her into the world. She was born quickly after that, healthy and crying, exactly four hours from the time contractions had started that night. All the pain immediately went away, and I was just filled with such love for this little baby that I’d carried for the last nine months but never seen face-to-face.
Giving birth to my daughter was the best experience of my life up to that point. We had plenty of struggles after that first day, but I’ll talk about all of that another time. Even though we didn’t even have time to utilize all the wonderful things we learned in our Birth Boot Camp class, the class absolutely made a difference. We were given all the information we needed to feel empowered to make our own decisions about our birth and what would be done to our baby. Luke felt confident in supporting and comforting me. Even though I had some fear of the pain of labor, I was confident that my body knew how to birth my baby…and it did! It was an amazing experience that I will forever look back at in complete awe and wonder.
What was your birth experience like? Was it anything like you imagined it would be? Was it fast or slow, painful or painless, C-section or vaginal birth? I would love to hear your story!