As my due date drew nearer, I found myself visiting a lot of mom blogs to see birth stories for an idea of what to expect. It was my first time and I was clueless. I had taken a birthing class but it seemed too textbook: there are three stages, labor, birth and afterbirth. Don’t go to the hospital too soon, or you’ll be sent home. Don’t go too late or else…
I did pay attention, I really did, but it was months ago and I just couldn’t get a good idea of the general timeline or how I would know how everything is proceeding, well or not.
My Birth Story
So here is my birth story. The shortish version is that my water broke, sorta, and so I was admitted into the hospital before my contractions started. Turned out I had a double amniotic sac and only the outer layer had broken. I ended up getting an amniotomy (AROM) because my unborn daughter and I both developed a temperature. I also ended up getting an epidural with mixed feelings as it wasn’t originally a part of my birth plan, but having it resulted in such an easy, enjoyable, painless (except for the burning sensation from the Pitocin) and most importantly quick delivery that with 20/20 hindsight I wish I had gotten it as soon as it was offered. Another benefit was I didn’t feel the episiotomy or the stitches afterwards, although a part of me still feels like I missed the full experience of giving birth to my daughter. And in the future, when she is being an insufferable teenager, I can’t say I had a rough time bringing her into this world.
Just kidding. But not really. Anyways, now the loooooooong version.
3 AM – Water Breaks
According to Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, a pregnancy and childbirth expert, only 13% of water breaks before labor. Well, two days after my due date, I think my water broke. At 3 AM in the morning, a warm wet feeling in my nether region, like a heavy period or a (female) wet dream, woke me from my sleep. I had started wearing a pad and was sleeping on a few towels just in case (yeah, I am prepared like that!) so I wasn’t worried about cleaning up, instead I was staring at a damp pad. So did my water break? I didn’t have any contradictions yet so from what I can google, I shouldn’t be going to the hospital either case.
I wasn’t sure if my water broke but I was too excited to fall back asleep so I just wandered around the house organizing this and that until around 6 AM when the mister woke up for work.
He called the 24 hr answering service for the obgyn office and left a message. The obgyn who was on call returned his call around 7 AM and after asking about my COAT (color, odor, amount and time) told me to go to the hospital for a check up, given the fact I had no check ups the 3 recent weeks, and that I was already past my due date.
8 AM – Arrive at Hospital
Since we only lived 10 minutes from the hospital, I took a shower first and ate breakfast and still arrived before 8 AM. However, the receptionists, reasonably, admitted the moms arriving in active labor first so I wait until almost 10 AM before seeing the room where the magic will happen.
My newborn awaiting testing in the hospital delivery room
I still had no contractions and not sure if the water broke so a nurse examined me and confirmed with litmus paper, and reconfirmed under the microscope that the water had broken. But by noon (8 to 9 hours since my water broke) I was still only a few centimeters dilated and didn’t have contractions yet.
3 PM – Started Temperature (Fever)
Over the next few hours, I started getting contractions. They were fairly regular, intense and lasted 45 to 60 seconds and were 3 to 5 minutes apart. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this is the active labor phase and when I should have headed to the hospital. With my contractions, I also felt chills and started to shake uncontrollably. I had a fever/ temperature and was given antibiotics through IV.
4 PM – Amniotomy
The obstetrician examined me and said my amniotic sac was still intact and after conferring with the nurses and reviewing the test results, determined that I had a double sac and only the outer layer had ruptured. I don’t recall making a decision but the obstetrician performed an amniotomy, otherwise known as an artificial rupture of membranes (AROM). I didn’t remember reading or learning anything about this before but apparently it’s common although not always necessary.
5 PM – Epidural
The obstetrician and nurses who came to check on me, and there were many had all highly recommended I get an epidural. I was originally noting down people’s names so I can send thank you cards, but there were approximately 5 new faces every 4 hours. By now I had been introduced to at least 20 different people. I declined the epidural repeatedly, partly because I am scared of needles, and even more scared of urinary catheters, and partly because I had wanted to feel the whole birthing experience.
I persisted until my daughter’s heart rate stayed high even when I wasn’t having contractions and I started having a temperature. The obstetrician said if things don’t progress really really quickly, it’s highly likely I would need a cesarean section and then I would have to get an epidural or anesthesia anyway. I didn’t want to risk my daughter’s health so I readily agreed to an epidural at this point.
She also wondered if I might be suppressing the contractions to limit the pain (only normal right?) and so it might progress faster if I wasn’t feeling the contractions.
An hour later, I met with the anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist was very nice and addressed my concerns and tried to calm my fears. The local anesthesia felt like a small cold pinch – like a typical flu shot or blood draw. It worked quickly because I didn’t feel any pain when the epidural needle or the tube that replaced it were inserted. I had sat and leaned forward for the procedure.
In less than half an hour, I suddenly felt no more pain. Wow! I can feel the tightening and the pressure of the contractions but there was no discomfort. Did I say wow? The epidural tube was connected to an automatic pump so the dosage could be dialed up or down easily. I had requested the lowest dose possible to start, knowing that I can always increase the dosage if required.
With the epidural at the lowest dosage, I could still move my legs if I tried to, but I didn’t feel any discomfort from the contractions. I also didn’t feel the episiotomy, a surgical cut in the perineum to facilitate delivery and reduce the likelihood of tearing. I also didn’t feel the urinary catheter insertion which was one of my biggest fears for getting an epidural. My grandmother, before she passed away, had told me several times she mostly dreaded her hospital stays because of how uncomfortable it was to have a urinary catheter inserted so I had not wanted to ever experience it for myself.
In fact, the Pitocin, a hormone to cause uterus contractions, which made my hand and most of my arm feel like it was burning, was the most painful part of the whole delivery.
9 PM – Delivery
Just 3 hours later, maybe because of the epidural, or the amniotomy, or the Pitocin, or some combination of those three, I was ready. The nurse called the obstetrician because I was crowning. I of course couldn’t feel it. So I pushed when they said push and 4 pushes later, 3.5 pushes if I want to be exact, my baby was out. It could have been only 3 pushes, but I ran out of breath on that third push it was totally weak sauce.
My newborn came into the room and said “eh” once. And that was the end of my birth story and the start of a completely new one where we are both still writing together everyday.
The nurse made a foot print of our newborn for us upon request after her bath. But they no longer did hand prints.
Looking for more birth stories? Check out Melissa’s amazing home birth story! They are more rare than my birthing class led me to believe.