I wanted to record an account of my birthing experience. There may be many more details than some wish to read, but being a medical student and to aid my memory years down the road, I’ve decided to include it all.
As I had written previously, on Wednesday, the 9th, my cervix had remained unchanged at 1 cm of dilation. While we tried to induce labor through the most popular “natural” methods, it seemed as though nothing was happening. I continued to feel the Braxton-Hicks abdominal tightenings, but it wasn’t until Friday when I was helping my younger sister pack her clothes in preparation for moving that I began to feel twinges of pain with the tightenings.
On Saturday morning I woke up at 5 am with uncomfortable contractions ten minutes apart. These continued for two and a half hours. I lay silently in bed, deeply breathing with each contraction. I told William when he woke up at 7:30, but within 30 more minutes the contractions had petered out. I was quite disappointed. Hoping to get them going again, I took the dog on an hour long walk. No luck. That evening, as the August sun descended, I took the dog on another hour long walk. We ate dinner and watched TV and played chinese checkers, I began to feel contractions again. 10 minutes. 8 min. 15 min. 10 min. 45 min. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason. I went to bed, realizing that I would probably need as much energy stored up as possible. I also decided to give up on timing the contractions. They were too irregular and I needed sleep.
By 5 am the next morning, however, my back was beginning to ache with each contraction. William woke up and rubbed my lower back as I tried to relax and breathe deeply through each one. In the beginning stages, the contractions were spaced enough that we both were able to snooze in between the deep breathing and back rubbing. As the day progressed, we kept all window shades pulled, lights off, the dog quiet, the Buddha machine softly playing, my thirst quenched with water and juice, and my energy up with light snacks of fruit and crackers. It was quite a boring day, I must admit, but it was a relaxing environment in which to labor. We moved from the bedroom to the family room and back several times throughout the day, and I may have created a rut in the living room tile as I walked circles through many of the contractions. They gradually grew closer together…8 minutes, 6 minutes, 5 minutes back to 6 then down to 4. By dinner, they were consistently at 4 or 5 minutes apart. I lay on the couch as we ate our soup. Eating soup in reclined position was a bit tricky, but I could no longer sit up. We watched Northern Exposure and paused for each contraction. It got to the point where we could hardly watch more than 2 minutes of the show at a time, but it gave me something else to think about.
Around 8:30 pm, I told William that I thought we should go to the hospital. He gently disagreed, and said “No, I think we should wait another hour or two. Just relax.” At that point, I think that I was just hoping for some change and relief, but William was wise, knowing that we would be much more comfortable remaining at home for as long as possible. Nearly every hour, I got up to relieve my bladder. Each time, the contractions were more difficult to handle while sitting on the toilet. It’s amazing how during the process of labor and delivery, all modesty seems to be thrown out the window. William would help me in the bathroom, and be a brace on which to lean and take pressure off my back. At about 10 pm, I went back to the bedroom for the last time. William brought me kiwi, applesauce and water. I ate while he gathered our things and packed the car. Buster, who had been surprisingly quiet throughout the day, followed William around with excitement, hoping to go wherever we were traveling. Sorry, Buster. By 10:30 pm, we finally left for the hospital.
Continued in Part 2