Today’s post is such an exciting one because I’m going to be sharing all about my labour and delivery story, so it’s going to be a LONG one! Let me start by saying that it was NOTHING like what I had planned for or expected, but that didn’t take away from it being one of the most special moments in my life. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t naive enough to think that the whole process would go perfectly according to my birth plan, but I was definitely hoping for it to be pretty similar.
When my husband and I first sat down to talk about my birth plan, I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like. In a nutshell, I wanted to have an unmedicated, vaginal birth with my husband and sister present in the room as my support team. If you’re wondering why I chose to go unmedicated, it was because I had read a lot about the pros, cons, and risks of getting an epidural and I had read testimonies from hundreds of women who had gone through labour with it and I came to the decision that it just wasn’t for me. Although throughout my pregnancy many people tried to tell me that I was crazy for wanting to have an unmedicated birth, I stuck by what I wanted because it’s MY body and I was the only one whose opinion mattered. At the same time, I was also aware of the fact that labour can bring with it many unexpected events and that I would need to honour my body if the time came where I needed to get an epidural.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I’d say around week 36 or so, I started to get really nervous. It wasn’t the typical set of nerves – I wasn’t nervous of actually becoming a mom and having to take care of a newborn. I had experience taking care of newborn babies since I was 10 years old and throughout the last 20 years so I was pretty confident in my skills even though I knew there was still a lot to learn. What I most nervous about and what really hit me in those last few weeks was the labour process itself – where would I be when I went into labour, how intense would the pain be, how long would it last, what if my husband was at work and couldn’t get to me in time, what if something went wrong? I worked up until 39 weeks and I travel by train an hour and a half each way to work, so I was constantly on edge that I would go into labour while stuck on a train. Luckily that did NOT happen!
At my 38 week check-up with my OB I was sent to get an ultrasound done because I had felt a decrease in fetal movement. When I met with my OB a week later, she told me that the results showed that our baby’s growth had slowed down quite a bit and she had dropped from the 50th percentile to the 20th in a matter of weeks. It also showed that my placenta was quite mature and not functioning optimally which could be a reason for the slowed growth and decreased movement. I was sent to the hospital to be induced that night (Tuesday) in order to minimize any risks of the baby staying in the womb. That was the first thing that didn’t go as planned, since I obviously thought I would go into labour naturally and have the moment where I yelled at my husband saying “IT’S TIMEEE!!”.
We got to the hospital around 9pm that night, but they were crazy busy and so we had to wait until 2:30am to get into a temporary room for the baby to be monitored. At around 11am the next morning we finally got into an actual labour and delivery room but unfortunately, we still had to wait until about 2:30pm for a doctor to be available to actually induce me! By this time we were already exhausted because it was now Wednesday and we hadn’t slept since Monday night other than 20 minute naps here and there. I got induced by means of a foley catheter and oxytocin, and my body responded really well to it. I started to get manageable contractions that were about 10 minutes apart right away, but within the hour they became super intense and were less than 2 minutes apart. I honestly did NOT expect just how much more intense the contractions would be because of the oxytocin they used for induction. They only got more intense and closer together to the point that it felt like I was in a constant state of pain without ANY breaks in between. I felt like I was being cheated since we had learned during our labour prep class that there are short breaks between each contraction which helps with pain management.
Despite the pain, I was still determined to do an unmedicated birth. I was able to use the tub to soak in to help alleviate some of the pain, which honestly really helped. My husband was in there with me as well sitting behind me as a support and it allowed him to massage my back through contractions. If you are contemplating whether to use soaking as a pain relief method, I totally recommend it! We stayed in the water for about 3 hours which was the best 3 hours of the entire labour process. At around 10pm they checked me and I had dilated to 5cm, and let me tell you at this point the pain was getting the better of me because my contractions were SOO intense due to the oxytocin. At around 2:30am they checked me again and I hadn’t dilated any further so they had to increase the dosage of drugs to keep things pushing along. By this time my body was literally SHAKING to the point that I couldn’t control it, I was in so much intense pain and it felt like my body was giving out on me from all the pain and exhaustion from lack of sleep (it was now Thursday morning), so I gave in and got the epidural even though I had been so determined to do an unmedicated birth. Honestly I was so proud of myself for even making it 12 whole hours without an epidural given how intense my contractions were from the drugs, and I knew it was the best choice I could have made in that moment so that I could be strong enough to get through the rest of the delivery and make sure that I was okay for my baby.
At about 6:00am (Thursday) they checked me again and I hadn’t dilated any further, I had been stuck at 5cm for about 8 hours! They tried to increase the dosage of oxytocin to help induce me further but when they tried to increase it, baby girl did NOT like it and her heart rate started to fluctuate. They came back and told me that I needed to have a C-section. To say I started to panic is an UNDERSTATEMENT! You guys, honestly I was not mentally prepared for a C-section. I always knew that it was a possibility, but I had planned and prepped myself for a vaginal birth and I just wasn’t ready for it. The nurses started prepping to take me to the OR right away and everything seemed so rushed that I remember turning to my sister and saying “I just need 2 minutes to myself right now to deal with my emotions”. I didn’t get those 2 minutes unfortunately and I was a hot mess of emotions the entire way down the hallway to the operating room.
By the time I was on the operating table about to be cut open, I had a ton of drugs pumping through me and hadn’t slept in about 48 hours. Exhaustion was taking over me and I was fighting SO. FREAKING. HARD. to be awake when my baby girl was born. I couldn’t miss that moment. I WOULDN’T miss that moment, even if it killed me to stay awake. Here’s where shit got real. As I laid there with my husband next to me holding my hand, staring up at the lights while they cut into my uterus, I heard the surgeon say to the fellow helping him in a worried voice that the umbilical cord was wrapped tightly around my baby’s neck not once, but twice. The tears started FLOWING. I thought I had lost her because I didn’t hear her cry. I couldn’t even bring myself to say anything, I just laid there silently crying and imagining the worst. But then there she was crying and they placed her next to my face so we could have some cheek-to-cheek contact. I could barely turn my face to look at her because they had put her so close to my face, but I just remember thinking how beautiful she was and that I couldn’t believe Shawn and I had made this precious little girl. She was such a tiny little thing, 6lbs 2 oz, but she was healthy and absolutely perfect in every single way.
If you’ve made it to the end, thank you so much for reading and sharing in my labour and delivery experience. It wasn’t what I had expected but in the end all that mattered was that my baby girl was born safely and healthy. I’d LOVE to hear all about your own labour and delivery stories, so please share them with me in the comments below!