I was due on October 11th, and while I knew that baby would come when he/she was ready, I was growing tired of working and waiting and having Braxton Hicks contractions. Plus, my doctor had scheduled an induction at 41 weeks and I desperately wanted to avoid it. So on Friday, October 12th, I looked up several videos for exercises to help activate labor. Most of my afternoon was taking breaks from work to do these exercises (lots of squats were involved). I didn't fully expect anything to come of it, but didn't see the harm in at least encouraging baby to move down. Little did I know...
Around 3am on October 13th I woke up to contractions, the pain was manageable and I knew that I might be awake for a long time once labor started in earnest, so I did my best to sleep through and between contractions, and didn't wake up Tom so he'd be well rested when I needed him (I was also a little worried that it wasn't real labor, so didn't want to alarm him unnecessarily). Around 4am the contractions started to come 10 minutes apart, I managed to rest between them for the next two hours when I finally woke Tom and decided I needed to get up and eat and drink more water to prepare for the day ahead. It seemed to be for real! I was able to eat most of a breakfast before I started to feel nauseous, so I switched to drinking just water and V8. Most of my contractions I got through by pacing around our apartment or using the bed/table for support and swaying through them. Tom and I showered together so that I could lean on him for support when contractions came, the hot water really helped!
Somewhere around 10:30, my water broke. By this time, the contractions were about five minutes apart and getting more intense so we decided to get ready to head out to the hospital. We hadn't been able to pre-register, so checking in and giving them our information while my contractions got closer together was unexpectedly awful and I may have vomited while we stood in the registration area, much to the dismay of myself and the woman at the front desk.
When we finally got back to triage for me to get checked, I was already at 7 cm and fully effaced, they took us right back to labor and delivery. They asked if I wanted a wheelchair or to walk, I couldn't imagine trying to sit in a chair, plus I knew that walking would keep me progressing, so I chose to walk. The nurse that walked us from triage to L&D was lovely, she was encouraging me through contractions and announced my presence into L&D calling me super woman. The nurses waiting for me responded with surprise that I had chosen to walk and when I told them I didn't want an epidural and to labor out of bed they rolled with it, though I could tell that it wasn't the norm. I found it really encouraging to be beating their expectations. I was able to labor out of the bed despite being hooked up to monitors and an IV of fluids (couldn't avoid the IV unfortunately). I squatted and swayed through each contraction leaning over the bed, Tom did a wonderful job with reminding me to not tense up and breathe through my contractions, the nurse rubbed my back and let me do my thing despite me moving the monitor out of place every time a contraction hit. They were going to let me labor out of bed until it was time to push, I got pretty close before I needed to sit down and give my legs a break. I wish I'd done more squats in preparation, contractions in the bed were much worse!
Soon after I got into the bed, the OB showed up to check on me and get set up. And I was ready to go! Pushing was an experience - the act, the pain, the nurse and OB giving me direction through each contraction, it seemed like a lot of yelling, but it was actually really helpful. It kept me focused on each individual push. Tom was on one side of me, holding my leg up and helping me to move my head at each push. I did end up getting a small incision because the OB felt I needed more room and was likely to tear without it, it wasn't my original plan, but it seemed like the best course of action in the moment if he could see that I was about to tear anyway.
I can't be sure, but I think the time I spent pushing was somewhere between half an hour to an hour. Baby was born at 1:16pm, less than two hours after we arrived at the hospital. Everything I had been feeling up until that moment was completely eclipsed by the relief and joy I felt finally pushing him out and when I was able to hold him for a few minutes, he was so warm and beautiful, before they needed to take him away to help his breathing by suctioning out his lungs and nose. My whole body was shaking and I needed to stay in the same position while the doctor stitched up my incision before I delivered the placenta (what a weird feeling that was! Also I feel like it took him FOREVER to stitch me up). Finally I got to hold my baby again, he was breathing easier and his eyes were open and relaxed. It was unreal.
All in all, it was not how I thought my first labor would go. It was unexpectedly fast, a lot of the preparations we had made weren't needed (distractions, playlists, laboring assistance (yoga mat, exercise ball)). I was convinced that at some point I would hit a wall and need Tom to talk me out of requesting an epidural, but I never hit it, and I'm not sure if it's because it happened quickly, or because I had mentally prepared well enough. I am incredibly grateful that I was able to deliver my baby without medication of any kind, the intense feelings following birth were unlike anything I've felt before.