I woke up with contractions coming every 3 minutes at 3 am on Thursday morning. I was so excited I woke up my husband and told him “I’m in labor!” And we packed our bags and headed to the hospital. My husband called a few hours later to his boss informing her that labor had begun, her response: “What are your plans for work then?” and his response was: “I’m not coming.”
I had not be instructed by any of my care providers anything about the normal progression of labor aside from “If you can’t talk, walk, or sleep through a contraction, come in.” But according to my research it was possible to have a labor without pain, so I knew that advice was seeded in toxic labor practices. What no one told me is that even in pain free labors there is still an intensity that makes it difficult to focus on anything but the process. But that didn’t help me understand what to do in those early stages of labor. What positions were best to strengthen labor? Should I rest or walk? All of the research I had done focused on what to do to cope through active labor…. I had neglected to work through what to do in early labor.
I thought heading to the hospital with all the knowledgable nurses and midwives would be the best strategy. I got to the hospital and the contractions spaced out to 10 minutes apart. No on on the staff told me that was common, checked me and I was 1 cm, and the OB on call that day wanted to schedule me for an induction on Sunday. I was determined that this baby would not still be inside me on Sunday!
I went home and sat on my birth ball, watched a funny tv show, drank water, walked, the updated facebook fam on our progress, and rested. No one empowered me with things I could do to make sure baby was in a good position or techniques I could do at home to help bring on active labor, so I did the best I could. I focused on breathing and relaxing my body during contractions just like I had studied.
My husband got home from work about 5 and went to take a nap after dinner in case we needed to be up all night. Not long after he went to bed I had my first contraction that was a high intensity level. I fell to my knees with the pain and found myself writhing on the floor. I instantly entered into a panicked state. I didn’t realize that the intensity of the contraction might make me forget instantly all that I had learned. And I instantly became regretful that I didn’t coach my husband on the techniques as well. I needed someone to remind me but my team wasn’t prepared. I was scared. I woke up my husband and we went back to the hospital.
I got there Thursday night at 1 cm still… still… I hate that wording. As if I was expected to be further along after only a few hours of hard contractions. I was admitted and instructed to walk the halls. And so I did with my mother and husband, we walked and walked. At this point I had been up since 3 am, the resting hadn’t included a nap. And I was starting to get tired but eager to hold my baby.
The only instruction I really received from any nurse or midwife was to walk or sit on the birth ball. But when Friday came and I had been awake for 24 hours with no sleep I struggled to keep moving and being active. That’s when the care from my midwife became even more difficult. I was told I was not making enough progress to justify keeping me in the hospital, so according to hospital policy they needed to administer medication to me or send me home. My contractions had been hard and 2 minutes or less apart all night and into Friday. The thought of walking anywhere, much less to the car and into the home to have to judge when to come back again shook my to my core. So I agreed to Demerol, but only because I was not given informed consent. No one told me if it was still in my system when my baby was born it could negatively impact our journey and no one told me it wouldn’t take the pain away just slow down my labor. My contractions slowed to 10 minutes apart for 3-4 hours. This did allow me to nap for short bursts.
It’s around this time that I started talking negatively to myself. “Why am I not progressing? What am I doing wrong?” I didn’t know how to express these thoughts to my team. They continued to be steadfast and faithful as I worked through the path I was on. I crawled inside myself, as the exhaustion and discouragement settled in, I didn’t think about my baby on the way, I didn’t think about my hopes for a natural birth, I even stopped thinking of the labor, I was numb.
If you missed part one find it here! part 3 coming soon!