Remember this is my experience. We all experience labour and birth in our own unique way.
22 hours in during the birth of my first child, the midwife decides that my contractions are not doing their job properly, to open up for the baby to come out. She explains to me, that by this rate I will be too tired when the push phase comes, so we need to help nature a bit by breaking the water. Well, righty ho’ I think and climb out of the bathtub where I had been soaking the last 4-5 hours. The slightly overwhelming feeling of suddenly being an elephant hits as I stand up and the water no longer makes me weightless, but my trusty husband is there to support me, and I manage the steps down to safe ground. The midwife wants me to lie down on my back as she breaks the water, and it hurt like nothing else to lie there, but it was over quickly. I get to stand up a bit, but leaning on my husband was hard on my already tired body.
I had a difficult time eating enough, and my husband had only managed to have me eat half a Ritter Sport with mint the entire time (I could taste that chocolate mint for days afterwards, eek!). Not exactly enough to fuel a body giving birth. The huge gym ball was brought out, and I found myself bumping up and down trying to be a bit cheerful (this was going to be a “good fun birth”, even if I had to convince myself as well!), but after a short while the contractions started to intensify and really bite. “This is a good sign”, the midwife promised. And then they intensified a bit more, and a bit more and soon they started to last longer than the average 60 seconds. Some of my contractions lasted 3 minutes with only 20 seconds in between. My husband was counting for me to let me know when the contraction was likely to be over, but they did not care. They came and went as they pleased.
I think the midwife got a little concerned, and she wanted to check me again after an hour of those horrific contractions, to my deep dismay. It really hurt like nothing I have ever experienced to lie on my back. And the verdict was even worse. Nothing had happened. I did not expand despite the extremely painful and long contractions. I was expecting a “you are 10 cm and ready for birthing you baby now” exclamation, but instead she went out to talk to a doctor, and they decided to do a labor induction to help things along. Before they could do that however, they needed to make sure the baby was fine by measuring the oxygenation of his blood. The problem was, that lying on my back I was so hard pressed with pain that I was in tears and fighting just to stay on the table. Now they wanted to go in and mess about, which was even more painful. It was impossible to lie still. I tried my very hardest, but this was torture. Two different doctors tried and failed. Again they went outside to discuss (I truly hate being a Chiropractor at that time, as I knew what was coming and felt it rude of them to go talk without me involved. I wanted to know straight away and not just lie there). They came back and suggested an epidural to be able to do the test so I could get induced.
Then came the eyes! Those dark chocolate colored, kind eyes like deep holes you just want to get lost in. I floated away on a mix of adrenaline being washed from my body and being replaced by endorphins to make you nice and happy. The contractions didn’t even seem that bad, and he hadn’t even injected me yet. I don’t remember what he looked like otherwise or what he said, I just agreed. Then I turned around and looked into my husbands blue eyes (not as calm as the anesthesia guy with the brown eyes, but slightly worried and very strong), and I stayed in my strange dreamland. I felt the first needle as my husband had explained to me would come, parroting the anesthesia guy, but then I didn’t feel the rest. What a relief. I came from wanting a natural birth, even being a little cocky about being able to handle pain until it seemed the escalation of the pain would never end. And went to embracing the epidural, even looking forward to not being able to feel the strong crushing contractions anymore. Only a slight guilt crossed my mind, that I was drugging my baby, but that slid away immediately, as I knew the baby would not be affected that much if the anesthesia guy did his job correctly. And with those eyes! How could he not?
Ah the relief. The test on my baby was done in a breeze and the injection was done. I was even allowed 2 hours of sleep as the drug did its work. A slight raise in my baby’s heart rhythm put an end to the induction after those hours, and yet again the doctors went out to discuss. My husband and I looked at each other and shook our heads. There was only one option left. C-section.
Wow I hated that idea. Even felt a twang of failure, but we had reached the end of the road, and its not like there is a U-turn there to go back and try again. Two doctors and a midwife came in to relay the suggestion. Told me pro’s and con’s. At this point my husband got a little sharp and exclaimed a bit impatiently “maybe we should just do it instead of standing here talking about it”. All eyes turned to me, and I just nodded.
Again I thought about failure, but had to wash that away, because what awaited me was yet another battle. I was given pain relief intravenously by the brown eyes even though his shift was very close to end. While the doctors cut my belly open, searing pain in the right side hit. “Ouch it hurts in the right side”, I said. “Go left”, said brown eyes, and the pain almost went away. Then came the tugging! And pain again!
If I thought an epidural, and by that time 3 shots of pain medication, would make this a walk in the park, I was completely delusional. True, it was not the same intense pain as when I was having contractions on the gym ball, but now I was out of control, even more than when the contractions hit. The doctors and nurses pulled and yanked to get my baby out, and I couldn’t move a muscle even though the pain was quite intense. The tears just rolled out of my eyes and all I could do was turn my head to both sides and express my pain. I was completely immobilized. I felt weak, powerless and completely at the mercy of strangers. My husband held one of my hands that were strapped on to the operation table and a nurse sat at the other side and empathically wiped my tears away and tried to calm me by talking to me. I had completely gone into my own world where the pain filled up every bit of me and the voices of my husband and the nurse were just distant sounds that didn’t quite meet my consciousness. I guess I was trying to embrace the pain so as not to scream it out to the world.
I didn’t hear anything until my body was lying still and the nurse exclaimed that the baby was out. My husband left me to follow our son and to get him onto his chest. The nurse told me “listen, that is your baby’s first cry”. The tears just poured out, but this time it was happy tears and I willingly gave in to the pain medication and complete exhaustion and dosed off a bit. I felt like my eyes were swiveling around in my head and I couldn’t focus on anything.
I dropped in and out of sleep. I remember waking enough to see my husband following the bed I somehow had ended up in with a tiny little head showing on his chest, and smiling I went back to sleep. After an hour in the wake up section, I got to hold my son for the first time. I melted completely and fell in love.