I had always wanted to deliver naturally, so when I got pregnant in the fall of 2002, I set my mind that I would deliver without drugs. Unfortunately, we had to move out of state when I was 33 weeks pregnant, and people had recommended that I take “birthing classes” at the hospital where I was going to deliver. There didn’t really seem to be time to do that. My husband and I had already begun reading Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCutcheon and by the time we finished reading we felt pretty confident that we had made a good choice. We decided not to take a class but to use the information we had learned from our reading. I felt that I was ready for the challenge, understanding much better the emotional signposts of labor, things to look for to let us know that I was progressing on to each new stage of delivery.
I went to bed Friday evening, July 18 feeling “normal” other than the fact that I'd had to use the restroom literally every ten minutes or so that night! (I guess the baby was really low and I didn’t know it!) I had always expected that I would have a dramatic event where my water would break, the way it always happens to my sister, to let me know that labor had begun, but that is not what happened to me. I woke up at 2:00 a.m. and my back was pretty achy. I suspected that I might be in labor when the aching didn’t go away but seemed to become more persistent. I’m not a “bath person” but a bath sounded good, so I drew the water and soaked for a while. I didn’t wake up my husband, because I didn’t want to rush into things (another way the book had prepared me quite well).
After my bath, I tried to go back to sleep, but the aching continued, so I went downstairs on the couch and read for an hour or so. I never went back to sleep that night.
At first I couldn’t time any contractions, but around 6 a.m., I had been able to see that I was actually having contractions that were coming between five and ten minutes apart. I finally woke up my husband and told him I thought I was in labor. Of course, he was nervous and got in the shower to get ready to go. However, after he showered, we decided to labor at home a bit longer, and I am sooo glad we did!
I was able to sprawl out on my bed in whatever position made me the most comfortable, walk around my house a little, stopping in the hallway or wherever I needed to during a contraction. We tried to play some cards to pass the time, but quite quickly my contractions became regularly spaced at three to five minutes apart, and lasted 60-90 seconds. The game had to be postponed!
During the contractions, I was very uncomfortable, but the relaxing techniques were a wonderful help.
My husband called the doctor and she asked to speak to me. Of course, I was in-between contractions so I sounded like I was just fine! She asked me to come to the hospital so they could “take a look” at me. It takes 30 minutes for us to get to our hospital. We left at 9:30 a.m. and arrived a few minutes after 10 a.m. I was in quite a bit of discomfort during contractions, but I still wanted to walk from the parking garage to the hospital, which is quite a walk. They got me in a wheelchair in the admitting department, and the girl behind the desk said, “They have a note here for me to put you in a room for ‘observation’, but it looks like you’re staying!”
I got wheeled slowly up to my room by an 80-year-old woman (my husband says later that he thought we were never going to get there!), and they immediately checked me. I was dilated to 5 cm. I was going to go without drugs, but I tested positive for group B strep, so I needed to get an IV of antibiotics in as soon as possible. They got that started, and as soon as it was in, I had them fill the Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom in the room. They kept the needle in my arm for any emergency medicine, but they unstrapped me from the contraptions and I got in the tub. I was doing fine for a little while and felt like I was really “getting the hang of this natural delivery stuff” when suddenly there seemed to be a transition.
The pain became almost unbearable. Up until that point, with a lot of concentration I had been able to relax through each contraction. Suddenly, no matter what I did, I couldn’t relax. I started basically clawing at my husband’s arm and saying, “Get me out of here!” He, of course, was horrified and didn’t know what to do, and I felt about the same way. Evidently, I was in the “I can’t do this” stage, but I had under-estimated just how intense that stage would be for me. They got me on the table and checked me. I was already at a 9.
Quite quickly after that, I started pushing. They hadn’t told me to push, and I didn’t realize I was actually having the “urge”, but suddenly that is what I was doing. The nurse said, “Well, I guess it’s okay!” The doctor got in there, and was wonderful. I had gone from being very confident and relaxed, even in my pain, to suddenly being very afraid. I kept feeling like I was going to tear to pieces. I remember yelling that I was going to tear and they assured me I was doing great. I ended up needing some stitches, but it wasn’t as bad as I felt like it was going to be. I was so embarrassed that I had yelled, and after my son was born I remember apologizing, and they laughed and said it was “nothing!”
My water never even broke until the doctor broke it, right before my son’s head crowned. There was one tiny moment of intense relief when the water broke…it had relieved some pressure...but then the scary last part was upon me again. I’m not sure how long I pushed; I completely lost track of time, but at 12:17 noon, only about two hours after getting to the hospital, my beautiful son was born.
It was the most exhilarating moment of my life! For a moment before he was born, there was intense pain, as I experienced the “ring of fire” sensation around my vagina, but that passed as soon as he was born. We hadn’t found out ahead of time what we were having. Being one of five girls and having six nieces, I couldn’t imagine having a boy, but I wanted one really badly. When my son’s face appeared, my husband knew right away he was a little boy, and it only took a moment to confirm it. We were ELATED! It was an incredibly intense moment of pain and pleasure all mixed together. There’s nothing like it in the whole world.
I was in quite a bit of pain for the next two days. I remember being in the hospital saying, “I am NEVER doing that again!” But it is true what your mother always tells you; you really do forget the pain! Three months later, I was pregnant again! I am now four months pregnant with a six-and-a-half-month-old, and not only will I do it again, but I’m due to do it again a couple days BEFORE my son’s first birthday! Lord willing that I don’t have complications, I will always do it naturally. Each person’s experience is different, with differing levels of pain. For me, it was painful but bearable until the last bit of time. Then, it was the worst pain I had ever felt and I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it…but I did! And I will do it again in less than six months, because it is the most empowering, exciting, exhilarating thing a woman can do! God has made such a miracle when He made our bodies to be able to both make and deliver babies. What a blessing to be able to experience that! I highly recommend going drug-free!