*Disclaimer: This is a rather long account of Eden’s labor and delivery. If you’re not into that kind of thing, feel free to skip this post.
Every time I think about Eden’s labor and delivery, I get emotional.
In describing what I thought giving birth naturally would be like, I would tell people it would be like a marathon, which I’ve done before – difficult, but definitely possible with enough physical and mental preparation.
Sadly, I was wrong.
It was like running 4 or 5 marathons.
In a row.
I started to experience contractions that were difficult early last Tuesday morning. Eden was born at 9:08pm the following day… some 40 hours later.
Immediately, I started having back labor which I’m sure is why the contractions were already difficult so early in the game. I really needed Jason to massage my back at each contraction, so that I could focus on relaxing the rest of my body during them.
*If you don’t know, “back labor” happens when a woman feels labor contractions mostly in the form of a backache. This is thought to happen more frequently when the baby is facing the wrong direction, thus putting more pressure on the tailbone. Eden was in this non-ideal position.
During this early part of labor, I did my best to rest on the couch, since the contractions were still spaced out. Jason played video games and would quickly jump up when I moaned “help” signaling it was time for the massage! We did this all day Tuesday.
Tuesday evening, they were closer together and I was finding them more difficult to manage. It was time to call my doula Sara.
* The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period. (From www.dona.org)
Sara came over and, for the next few hours, she and Jason massaged and coached me through more back labor. We continued to try different labor positions to help Eden rotate and also to try to bring me relief. At about 1am, we decided it was time to go to the birthing center. My contractions were ranging from 3-5min apart and were quite intense. We expected birth to happen in the next 12 hrs, at least. (Or, that’s what I expected.)
We got to the birthing center and I was dilated to about a 5. At this point, my hope and energy levels were still high and I was still convinced we’d have a baby relatively soon. More hours went by, and the hope and energy started to dwindle a bit.
At 8am, I was checked again and I’d dilated to an 8. Sara reminded me that the rest of the process would be the most difficult, but shortest, part. Knowing this, I went in with renewed vigor and intensity. Many times I thought to myself that I couldn’t do it even for another hour, but then another hour went by and the Lord was sustaining me still.
During this time, I literally went to a different place mentally. The contractions were, for the most part, so close together that they were almost indistinguishable. I was in constant pain. I can’t describe it but, later, when Jason and I were debriefing the birthing process, he talked about some things that were happening during this time. I told him that I could remember those things happening, but that I’d experienced it in a totally different, detached way. It was like I wasn’t there.
Weird… and awesome.
Jason and Sara were with me the entire time. I hadn’t slept. They hadn’t slept. Their arms were about to fall off from massaging me every few minutes. (My back was bruised after, but it felt so good at the time!)
Sara can recount watching my sweet husband hold a shower head to my back as I was dealing with contractions. He was falling asleep while trying to hold it up and Sara said it was really sweet and sad all at the same time.
They were both troopers. I know I could not have done it without them. Sara, especially, kept reminding us of what we knew to be true about God and about labor. We were able to pray and ask God for strength for me and for help in getting the baby to descend.
Around 5pm (over 9 hours after I found out I was dilated to an 8!!!), I had another check. The baby had not descended and I was only at a 9. Now, the midwife is not doling out hope. She has already been talking about transferring to the hospital, and it starts to seem like that could be the best option.
There is fear that the baby’s head is too big and could get stuck. There is concern that, after over so many hours of intense labor, I may not have any energy left to push when it is time. We knew that our options were running out and that there would be more options at the hospital, so we made the disappointing decision to transfer.
At that point, I had to acknowledge that my planned “natural” birth may not be an option. I knew that transferring meant that the likelihood of me ending up with an epidural or caesarean was much higher.
While that was disappointing and hard, I’d prepared myself to accept my labor as from the Lord’s hand. I knew that, in the end, what mattered was that Eden was safe and healthy. But I was still determined to do everything in my power to deliver her in the way I’d originally planned.
Getting to the hospital was comical. The midwife drove me (naked, in a hospital gown) and Jason rode with us. On the way, it was raining and she (the midwife) is talking about the weather. Talking about the traffic. Trying to make conversation with Jason.
Meanwhile, I’m making my low grunting noises, just trying to stay somewhat in control during my now-continuous contractions.
I seriously wish I had that on tape.
Then, upon arriving at the hospital, they put me in a wheelchair which was the size of a chair-and-a-half. It was big and, under normal circumstances, probably pretty comfy for pregnant women.
Unfortunately, it didn’t fit well through the hospital interior doors. Which means that, trying to get to the elevator, I was being slammed into both sides of the door frame alternately, trying to get the chair to fit through.
Still doing my grunting thing and enduring the awkward stares of everyone there.
We finally got up to the delivery room and, at this point, the contractions felt different to me. They felt urgent.
I get checked and was finally completely dilated, but the baby had not descended enough for the doctor’s liking. He was skeptical about if I really would have the energy to push, and was offering an epidural. I asked for another hour, and said we could re-evaluate after that.
After an hour and a half of oh-my-freaking-gosh-I’m-going-to-die contractions, the baby had still not descended, but I knew I had to push. I knew I could push.
I got the ok, and began the process. When the nurse told me that I was doing it… that the baby was moving… I was so relieved I almost did not believe her.
I’m almost crying as I’m typing, reliving this.
It has been over 40 hours. I am exhausted. So many times, I have thought that I couldn’t do it for even a few minutes more. I have passed the absolute brink and kept going. And going. And going.
And then, it seemed the end was finally coming. She was finally in sight.
I looked at my doula, the midwife, the nurse. I asked how much longer the pushing would take. I told them, “I think I can do 2 more hours. I don’t know if I can do any more than that.” They laugh and say that it will definitely not take longer than 2 hours.
Just a few contractions later, the doctor is called as Eden’s birth is imminent. They can see her. I am delirious, and ecstatic.
So much that the birth itself is absolutely painless.
I would only say that it was “uncomfortable”. This can only be possible because of the Lord’s goodness and frickin’ huge amounts of adrenaline.
When she was put on my chest, it was the most amazing feeling. I was so relieved. I honestly was still totally shocked that she had come without intervention, and she was totally fine.
Beautiful, in fact.
Born 9:08pm, 8lbs 11oz
20.5 in long