I didn’t really have concrete expectations before I gave birth. My idea of what a birth would be like was glorified. As a nurse, I had seen two births that were not at all scary: one was a smooth birth with epidural, and it looked all beautiful and happy, just like you would hope it would be; the other was a C-section, so the mother was completely numb and I didn’t see any of the labour process. I had heard one bad story involving post-traumatic stress due to the level of pain… I saw the aftermath, and that scared me.
My due date was January 19th. On January 9th, a Saturday, I was woken up at 2 a.m. with what felt like period cramping. I wasn’t sure if it was labour or not, but it stopped after I put a warm pack on my stomach.
The cramping started again on Wednesday morning around 7 a.m., suddenly enough to wake me up. I had felt totally normal on Tuesday night, and my husband and I had even gone out of town for dinner with his parents – no sign that I would be going into labour the next day. It was basically the same thing, like period cramping but more widespread, back and front and even in the hips. We got up, called our parents to let them know what was happening, and I managed a breakfast of eggs and orange juice to keep my strength up.
Contractions were progressing: they would come every 10 minutes, then every 7, every 5, then back to 7 minutes. I was breathing through them, leaning on the kitchen counter, rocking back and forth – I tried using the birthing ball but it didn’t help as much.
We called the midwife around 11:30 a.m., and she said to take a shower, take a walk. I took shower, but I didn’t get out the door for the walk, because the labour seemed to be progressing too quickly to manage that. The midwife arrived around 12 or 12:30, and contractions were every 3 minutes by then. I felt pretty good, a bit nervous; the pain was bearable, I was still dealing with it when she got there, but it was definitely getting more intense. The midwife checked me and I was 3 cm. dilated.
What I didn’t know at that point was that Greg had called his mom, and said I was dealing pretty well, she had said, “Don’t tell her this, but it will get much worse.” Good thing he didn’t tell me that until after.
My midwife was helping me upstairs in the bedroom. I would lie on my side, and she would put pressure on my hips with each contraction, or sometimes I would stand and she would press to open up the hip bones; this helped a lot with the pain. She taught Greg to do it, which was even better since he was stronger.
Around 1 o’clock, contractions were lasting 45 seconds to a minute – though I was not really paying attention, thinking “Just get me through” for each one). I said “Are you going to check me?” and the midwife said “No, first-time moms take a while. We don’t check every 15 minutes because that would be silly. We check every 2 hours.”
She was helping me breathe, but the contractions were getting a lot more painful, to the point that I vomited once. I could only manage sips of water. Greg came up often to check if things were okay and get things for me, but he couldn’t stay the whole time – it was too intense. He talked to his mom on the phone downstairs a few times. He did pretty good, better than I expected. He said one thing that was extremely helpful, each time I would get through a contraction: “That’s one less contraction to worry about, one less to go through.”
Around 2:30 p.m., the midwife checked me, and said, “Um, you’re nine centimetres!” She wasn’t ready for that – it was kind of a surprise for her. I thought “So much for the epidural!” Not that I had assumed I would have one, but still. At that point, I wasn’t totally with it. The pain was so bad that I kind of separated from myself a little.
Greg said, “Nine centimetres?” And he just looked at me. “Shouldn’t we be going to the hospital?”
She said, “Yeah, we should get going.” We headed to the bathroom to check again, and there was bloody show coming, she could feel the sac, but my water wasn’t broken.
Everyone was getting stuff ready, so I walked out to car and stood there waiting for someone to open it. I have no idea what kind of weather it was that day. “Just get me to the hospital!” was all I could think. I was so afraid I was gonna burst in Greg’s car and mess it up. That was probably the biggest thing on my mind at that point. We put towels underneath me just in case.
I had already been sort of starting to push in the bathroom, trying not to push, but I felt like I had to by the time we were in the car. Every minute to two minutes at that point, pushing was coming. Greg was helpful again, telling me exactly how far we had gotten, telling me the landmarks we were passing so I’d know we were getting closer and closer to the hospital.
He pulled up to the birthing area and a member of the medical staff came out, to meet us. Greg said “My wife’s having a baby, we need a wheelchair!” I was doubled over, trying to hold myself up, just thinking “Get me the wheelchair.” They got the wheelchair, and the volunteers took me from there – I don’t remember how I got to the birthing floor. Greg went to park the car. Just remember coming through the doors at the nurse’s station, and three nurses smiling at me, and with the way I felt right then, I didn’t want them smiling.
I remember getting into the room, and someone asking me to get into a gown, and I was like “How am I supposed to do that?” Greg came in as the two midwives were helping me into my gown. He asked the midwives if I could have an epidural, even I though I knew I couldn’t, and they said I couldn’t, and Greg got really angry (I don’t remember this, but he told me later). He was angry when I went into the bathroom and the midwives were being nonchalant about it.
Greg came to help me in the bathroom and I, sitting on the toilet, yelled “Get out!!” just as my water broke. It was like a water balloon dropped from a 10-storey building – it exploded all over everything, including Greg. He just said, “Oh my God.” And the midwives came running.
One of the midwives checked me while I was on the toilet, and she said “We should probably get you back into the bed.” She got the other one to double-check. She said to the other midwife, “Yeah, you’re right, that’s not the head.” I was too fuzzy to even think about it. When I got into the bed, then they said to me, “It’s not the head, we need to get the obstetrician to check you.”
The OB said, “You’re breech. I haven’t even had time to go through the pros and cons of C-section.”
I said “Doesn’t matter, just do the C-section, do what you have to do – and hurry.” I was pushing with every contraction.
They told me to “slow it down” (What??! How??) and coached me how to breathe through it. It’s overwhelming, the urge to push, you have barely any control over it. At that point I was wishing I had had an epidural. I’m told that even if you’re in a coma, your body can give birth and push out a baby if necessary. You don’t even have to be conscious. That could be helpful, since you could just shut off and let your body take over.
At that point, the midwife had an IV in my right arm and they were prepping me for the O.R. That’s when Greg didn’t know what to do. They took him into a little room for 15 minutes where he had time to ponder alone what was going on, which he said was very scary.
They wheeled me down and I had one contraction, but I don’t remember it. I remember two contractions in the O.R., grabbing onto a nurse’s shirt and not letting go, trying to breathe through two contractions without pushing. She detached her sweater from my grip and I just grabbed it again. It’s crazy, trying not to push.
I remember the anesthetist saying “Turn on your side, and don’t flinch”, but I flinched. They put the needle in, and it felt like a little flick in comparison to the real pain. When the medication went through, I felt tingling in my feet, tingling in my legs, and then nothing. The pain went away, totally.
Then Greg walked in, and I said “Hi, honey!” Greg smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. Then he came over and sat with me and said “Hi! How are you doing? Feeling better?” I was. What an incredible relief. The weirdest sensation is when you’re watching them move your legs and you can’t even feel it, it feels like they’re still on the table.
Greg was beside me, at my face, on my side of the drape. The OB and staff were doing their thing, going ahead with the C-section. I was getting anxious to hear the cry of my baby. It wasn’t very long, it seemed like not even 10 or 15 minutes for him to be born.
As soon as I heard our baby cry, it was a relief to hear it, even though, looking back, it was hard not being able to see our child right away. The anesthetist was like, “It’s a… it’s a…” (“A what!?”) “It’s a boy!” Greg smiled at me, and we had our little moment. Both of us were crying, totally overjoyed. They took him directly over to check him out (when the baby doesn’t go through the birth canal, they have to do the APGAR test right away to make sure there’s no fluid left in its lungs), and I was craning my neck, looking over my shoulder to try to see him.
Greg forgot where he was and looked over the sheet at one point, when they were starting to sew me up, and sat back down quickly. “Oh yeah. Right.”
I asked if I could breastfeed, but the drape was still up so we couldn’t yet, but one of the midwives opened up the neck of my gown so they could place my baby on my bare chest, and we got a good look at him. That was the best moment. We wished him happy birthday, and told him, “You’re perfect, buddy!” It was amazing.
They wheeled us into another room to check out both me and the baby again, clean him up a little better. Both midwives were there. Everything was a first for our son – first time seeing your parents, your grandparents… My parents came in, but they wouldn’t let in our niece and nephew yet.
Recovering from a C-section is tough. You definitely have to get going right after and start moving around – slowly but surely. It hurts to stand up, but you can get past the pain. It wears off. Definitely take the pain medication regularly. And don’t have them take the catheter out too soon. I couldn’t pee, but my bladder was putting pressure on my incision – so they put it back in and I drained 1400 mils!
The main thing is, it’s worth it. Our son has changed us, changed our lives, and we love him more than we could have imagined.
Shared by Tracy from Ontario, Canada.