Disclaimer: There’s so much judgement in the mom-blog world these days. Just like with my Birth Plan post, I ask that you practice understanding and grace for my decisions during my labour an birth.
If you missed Part 1 of Lil’ Ziggy’s birth story, go on and catch up. I’ll wait here!
Now where was I? Oh yes. Where we left off, I had been admitted to the hospital. I had hoped to labour at home, but nothing seemed to be happening. Because my water had broken at 6 a.m. that morning, I had to start antibiotics at the 18-hr mark to prevent infection.
When I was started on antibiotics, I still wasn’t feeling contractions. It was just this crampy feeling that wouldn’t go away but it wasn’t really getting worse. I remember starting to worry that my labour wouldn’t pick up at all, and that we’d have to start oxytocin to kickstart contractions. I had lots of support from Chris and Brittany, my doula, though. Since it was very early in the morning and I had been going since 6 a.m., we decided to try to get a bit of sleep.
I was dozing for maybe only half an hour when I felt my first contraction. WHOA. That was different! The crampy feeling I had been feeling all day long grew stronger, stayed at a peak for a few seconds, then melted away. I had one of those moments when your heart flutters up into your throat when you realize that whatever you’ve been eagerly anticipating happening is actually happening.
I tried sleeping for a little while longer, but it soon became clear that the contractions were only getting stronger, so I let Chris and Brittany know what was happening. It was, in my mind, the REAL start of my journey towards birth, not my water breaking.
Coping with the pain (or trying to)
Over the next 13 hours, Brittany, Chris and I used many different labouring positions and pain management techniques. Brittany and I paced the hallways, stopping when contractions came on so I could lean over a counter or squat at a handrail. We basically explored every square inch of the maternity ward.
I think the best method we tried was the shower. Unfortunately, our maternity ward does not have birthing pools or bathtubs, but the bathroom in each delivery room was equipped with a shower and removable shower head. I spent a long time in that shower, rocking from side to side while Brittany held the shower head on my lower back during each contraction. I thankfully didn’t have any back labour at all, but the water pressure on my lower back was enough to relax me for a good long time.
Eventually, though, it got to the point where pain management wasn’t really working anymore. We did everything we could think of but whenever a contraction came on, all I could do was yell through it. I’m proud of my entire birth experience, but especially proud of the fact that I made it through my entire labour without swearing. In fact, I kept apologizing to the nursing staff for yelling so loud. Everyone found that quite funny, a woman in that much pain but still remaining extremely polite!
The breaking point
I can’t really explain the pain now, even to myself. I remember getting to the point where I couldn’t lean over anymore, couldn’t sway or rock, and could barely stand. I hoped that it meant I was at least in active labour, that things were moving along and that I was close to the end of it.
Then, the OB checked me to see how far I’d dilated.
Twenty-four hours since my water broke, 13 hours since real contractions began. I was only dilated four centimetres. I felt…. ugh like I was defeated. I was really hoping to be 6 or 7 at that point. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t imagine it getting worse. And I was only at 4?
At that point, the OB strongly recommended that I start oxytocin to augment labour, as too much time had passed and she worried about infection or baby distress. She gave us time to think about it, but I pretty much had enough. I was tired, stressed out and tense. I didn’t want to get an infection or run the risk of my baby going into distress. I was in such pain that I pretty much begged for pain relief.
The timing is a bit of a blur to me now, but we did initially try fentanyl, which is a painkiller administered by IV. And it didn’t work at all, even after two doses. Fed up with the pain, I told everyone that I needed the epidural. I didn’t want it. I was still afraid of the risks it held. But my labour hadn’t progressed, and I was now starting oxytocin, which can make contractions even more painful.
Brittany was still trying to help me through the contractions in the hopes of having the pain-med-free labour I had hoped for. Chris, on the other hand, couldn’t stand seeing me in so much pain, and was glad that I was ready for the epidural. He out into the hallway to speak with the anesthesiologist, and I had a final decision to make.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my Birth Story, where I finally get to meet Lil’ Ziggy!
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