(I haven't finished my labour story for a couple of reasons. One, I have a three week old. Life is busy. Two, it just didn't feel appropriate during Holy Week)
Whilst some women may know instinctively the day and hour when baby would arrive, our son was a shocker to me. I like to plan things and had many back up plans for this and that and the other thing regarding our child's birth. There was one small problem with these plans. All of these plans took place AFTER week 38. I assumed, as most first time mothers go late, that we'd have no problems before full-full term.
That's another confusing bit that they never tell you til you have a baby in your belly. 9 months of pregnancy is 40 weeks. Which is 10 months. But really it's only 38 weeks because the first couple don't count. And anytime after 37 weeks is term. Except you're not at term until 38 weeks.
Once my water broke, I sat there in shock. I was having a baby. I'd thought about it. Worried about it. Dreamed about it. And now it was happening. Called the hospital. They told us to come by before an hour was up. Dinner was almost done so we sat down to eat. Eating was oddly mechanical for me. The tarts truly were fantastic though. I wanted to wash my hair, so we had a shower and I noodled about attempting to finish packing my bag which had sat open in the closet for a few weeks, gaining a shirt one day and something else a few days later. We didn't even have a "coming home" outfit purchased for the child. Thought we had time...
So by 7:20 pm we were at the hospital. The midwife on the phone had asked me if I was having contractions. I tried to determine if I was. I thought there was a tightening ever few minutes, but it was slight. At the hospital, they checked me out to see how we were doing. At 8 pm, I was already 2 cm dilated. The machine claimed my contractions were 6 minutes apart, and I could mildly feel a tightening, but it wasn't painful. The midwife assumed we had a long way ahead of us and told me that if I hadn't gone further by the next day, I'd be induced.
Adrian and I settled in for a long night. By 9 pm I was feeling some pain. We'd wander around the hospital, stop for a contraction and I'd wiggle my hips the way they taught us in antenatal class and sing songs to help the baby come out.
By 10:30, I was making pained sounds with contractions. They kind of feel like bad cramps, the worst gas pains ever and like fire has ripped through nerves.
The lady checked me again. 3-4 cm dilated. By midnight I was in hard labour. I tried to walk around. Adrian talked me through contractions and kept me sane. I showed my love by biting him and hurting his hand. Hard labour is not a misnomer. My contractions soon came right on top of each other and my birth plan flew out the window. As transition came, I tried to suck in nitrous oxide, but often screamed instead, writhed around in agony. Seriously.
Then my body needed to push. I tried to not. The midwife said to go with it. She said I was fully dilated. Transition was the part I had feared the most, and I was shocked to hear I was through it. It's not something that just appears on a screen "now entering transition" or that you know how it's going to progress. Apparently I perked up quite a bit when I heard transition was done. Almost got cheerful. They took away the gas, and the midwife told me I couldn't scream anymore.
Fine. Then I pushed for half an hour. This was hard and bad and then Adrian looked at me and said "the head's out". And then it was done. His body came out fine; the placenta took a few minutes more to come out, but I barely felt it, with my son on my chest.
I did feel the stitches though. You'd figure they wouldn't flash it in front of your eyes like that. Adrian and I cried and held our son. We smiled and beamed and worked out his middle name.
Previous to labour, I have wondered what labour would feel like, how much it really would hurt. I'd had an ailment some years previous that was quite hard to bear. Would it be like that? Would the pain be the same? Could I cope?
That's the interesting thing about pain. It's hard to describe and once gone, difficult to quantify. I can say without any doubt, that childbirth was the worst pain of my life. But it was worth it. And honestly, the pain doesn't matter. This little man beside me does.
The pain doesn't stop with childbirth. We'll get to more of that in later posts. But right now I'm going to cuddle my bundle of joy whose dramatic entrance will forever be etched in my heart and mind. The man who cut my agony with a perfect slice of happiness.