It was January, 5 days before my due date, when it all started, and I was not really sure
what was going on. Remembering the midwife’s message of “it can take a long time”
we thought we would head out and go shopping… let nature take its course… that
way I could keep moving and distract myself from the cramps. It was a great idea
and the afternoon progressed with some fun, laughs and the occasional need to stop
and sit down!
When we got home, I cooked dinner, sitting down on a chair for each contraction,
because it felt best for me to sit on a hard surface with my legs at a 90-degree angle.
Strange how these things work! I finally called the midwife, and said, “I’m feeling
these contractions but I don’t know for sure if it’s early labour.” She reassured me
that I was likely in very early labour and to just keep going and call her later.
It was a bittersweet evening. The day I had been waiting for was here, but I was
annoyed. I’d planned to go for the best cheesecake in town that week with three of
the women from my pre-natal class. Food, fun friends, what could be better. Now I
was the first one to go into labour, and it didn’t look like I’d be able to keep that date
– even though REALLY wanted to. Looking back… I should have gone.
The midwife said to take a warm bath, along with some pain relief, and go to bed.
The pain went away partially, although all night I was waking up every half-hour or
so with a strong contraction.
The next day, I was pretty sure the baby was coming soon. My husband stayed home
with me. I went about my day, having contractions about 5 minutes apart, for about
30 seconds each. It was uncomfortable but bearable and didn’t seem to really be
so bad. Of course I kept asking myself when it was going to progress… let’s get this
show on the road!
By about noon, I figured I was in full, active labour. The midwife came over and
checked me, and told me I was only in early labour, about 4 cm dilated, doing fine. I
was so mad at her – I’d been doing this for 24 hours already, up and down all night
long, and I was in “early labour”, only 4 cm dilated?? You’ve got to be kidding.
I was in labour all day at the same pace – contractions every 5-10 minutes, with
pain definitely getting worse… and just for so long, such a long time to be thinking
about it, and, let’s be honest, for it to be significantly hindering my life. Patience is
not my strong suit so this was the first of many tests I would have as a new mother! I
had bloody show at some point during the day, and my husband said, “Let’s get this bloody
show on the road!” At least we had some comic relief.
When we talked to the midwife, she said to have a glass of wine (advice I can
follow), and then we went out to eat.
We went to Swiss Chalet for dinner. I remember I went to the bathroom and had a
contraction on the way, so I stopped and breathed through at the server’s station.
It was amusing to see people’s faces, wondering if I was going to pop, but I knew I
wasn’t going to deliver soon, because my water hadn’t broken.
We went home, and the midwife came at 11 pm to check on me, and went home
again. I was still only at 5 cm. At this point I started to panic. If, after all that work
and all those contractions, I was only 5 cm… I felt like, I can’t do this!
We laboured all night. The dog slept through it in our bed. I sat on a little box stool
– again, I needed a 90-degree angle and a hard surface. The contractions were
relentless, on top of each other. It had now been 36 hours since they’d begun.
My husband suggested, in the middle of the night, that we try some other positions
– moving around, leaning on the bed, squatting next to the bed – just like they
recommended in the prenatal class. I know he meant well. Unfortunately, these
other positions were intense. They just didn’t work for me – I growled through
clenched teeth, “I’m not doing this again!” I did, at one point, tell him he should go to
sleep; he slept for about 40 minutes and then I woke him up, furious that he’d been
asleep. I probably called him names and was pretty mean to him. That is not a proud
moment for me, but it is what it is.
We called the midwife and she came back at about 5 in the morning. I was moaning
like a bull moose, trying to keep my diaphragm open and relaxed. She checked me
… and I was STILL 5 CM. I had basically stalled out, my water had not broken – there
was no progression. This was not good. The midwife stayed with us, knowing things
needed to start happening.
We were planning a hospital birth and so at 7 a.m. it was time to go and get this party
Getting to the hospital was a nice break from walking around my house, but as anyone
who has had to travel while in labour will tell you, it is not fun. I had to get dressed
(very fetching muumuu-style outfit). My husband ran a red light in an effort to deliver
the moaning moose to the hospital and get me out of the car as quickly as possible.
At about 8 a.m. we arrived at the hospital, and they said they had to break my water.
They pulled out the giant crochet hook and did the deed… and I thought I had bad
labour before! It was suddenly so strong that I literally thought I was being torn
apart inside. I turned to the midwife and said, “I think something’s wrong”.
My husband said, as he was supposed to, “I think you’re doing fine, can you make
it for 10 more minutes?” Because if you can, you have the strength – you don’t need
the epidural. I thank my lucky stars that he did that… neither of us wanted to have to
resort to pain management.
The hospital has a beautiful, deep bath to labour in, so I got in. What a difference:
the pain was reduced, I felt more in control, and there was a modicum of relief!
Then, when I said I had to pee, they just said “Go ahead.”
I said, “I can’t get out of the tub!”
They said again, “Just go ahead.”
Eventually I peed in the tub, but it took me about 20 minutes to relax enough to do
so. It was so contrary to habit. Then they said I needed to get out of the tub. I think
they may have rolled me down the hall naked, but by that point you really don’t
care. I’d gone from 5 cm to 8 cm in an hour.
I got back into the room at 11 a.m. I turned to the midwife and said, “How much
longer?” She said she suspected the baby would be born before noon. I had already
been told things like this and it was never true, so I was skeptical.
Then, at about 11:10, I got the urge to push, the real thing – not that you want to
push, or that someone tells you to: you just have to. I didn’t have an epidural, so I
could feel the baby move forward and back, and suddenly, it didn’t hurt anymore.
It was great. Finally, real progress. I could feel him crowning, and I felt the burning
pain of the “ring of fire” – they got me to breathe through a couple contractions so
that I didn’t push, to allow the perineum to stretch rather than rip.
Honestly, I loved the pushing stage! If I could skip labour and just do pushing, I’d
My first son was born at 11:38 a.m. The birth was 48 hours long, all told, from first
moment to his blessed arrival. I had no stitches, so although there were minor
fissures all over, I was generally fine. The healing was easy.
The midwives put our baby on my stomach. We asked what it was, but they didn’t
tell us – just let us discover the gender ourselves. Then they helped him latch, and he
nursed for a whole hour, only 10 minutes after being born. (It was a sign of things to
We were home by 2:30 p.m., and all had a beautiful long sleep as a family.
Shared by Tova from Ontario, Canada