My birth experiences with my two older children were almost identical. I had consistent, 4 minute apart contractions for a few hours, went into the hospital, labored, then had my labor stop and not start back up. I ended up with Pitocin then an epidural because I couldn't tolerate the pain. Several hours later I delivered my children. I was expecting the same thing to occur the third time around, although I really wanted a natural childbirth experience. My friends who had natural births had told me how empowering it was, and they also described the postpartum recovery to be much easier.
I had been having contractions for two straight days at 10 minutes apart. The contractions were painful but never moved any closer together. There would be two hour gaps here and there where no contractions would come. Each time I thought "This is it!" those periods of nothing would begin again. After about the 4th time where I thought my baby was coming, and being wrong, I crumbled. I climbed into bed around 10pm and cried. I was followed by my sister, then my brother and husband, then my mom. Everyone climbed into bed and tried their hardest to cheer me up. My mom kept reassuring me that I was on the brink, and more than likely dilated close to the end already. She suggested going to the hospital to be checked just in case. I refused, nervous that I would just end up getting checked, getting pitocin, and needing an epidural again. We all went to bed.
Earlier that day I had been texting my college room mates, all of whom had natural childbirth experiences. They were also supporting me, trying to comfort me through thinking my uterus was a lazy bum, not wanting to finish the job. At the end of the conversation one of them says "Just remember, if you feel like you gotta poop, don't push!" I laughed because I think poop jokes are funny and we said good bye. Little did I know, her poop joke was my blessing from God.
At 11:30 pm an intense contraction hit. I hopped out of bed and ran into the bathroom thinking... well, that I needed to use the bathroom. Then my dear friends poop joke replayed. Less than a minute later another contraction hit hard and while bracing on the wall I woke my husband. Before that contraction ended he was fully dressed, which was good because I felt like I needed to start pushing.
Everyone in the house was waking up. I was in so much pain I needed help getting dressed. My mom put on my shoes and pushed us out the door assuring she was getting our bags and right behind us. She warned as we went to the car, "Don't push! Whatever you do, don't push!"
Amazingly we hit every green light. My husband was driving a little (truthfully a lot) fast. We made it to the hospital by midnight. All the normal entrances were closed so we had a long walk to labor and delivery from the ER. My husband was practically carrying me at this point. As we exited the elevator I could barely stand. A nurse commented "That one means business," as we went by. My contractions were only giving me 30 seconds of rest in between. At 12:10 I stepped on the scale and was taken to a bed. The nurse changed me into a gown while my husband signed my papers. Then my mom and sister arrived. My mom gave my cord blood donation kit to two other nurses who began prepping it, while a third nurse checked me. "You are at 5cm." There was no doctor there yet.
5 centimeters! I just kept screaming that in my head. There was no way I could last another 5. The contractions were lasting two full minutes with 15 to 30 seconds in between. It was the most intense pain I had ever felt. I begged the nurse for an epidural but was told I couldn't have one until I had labs drawn. I was in so much pain I couldn't even hold my husbands hand. I rolled on my side and grabbed the bed railing. The nurse drew my blood and started setting up my IV.
At this point everything was a blur. I could only scream. After a couple minutes I looked at my mom and screamed that I needed to push. My mom pulls of the blanket and lifts my leg while I was still on my side. I hear her say "Nurse, the heads out." The nurses preparing the cord blood kit sprint over. "Don't move Brittney, don't push, don't move!" My husband was holding my leg to keep me from crushing the baby. The nurse had ceased attempting to start the IV and was standing with my mother delivering the baby.
Nothing was ready in the room. No syringe to suction babies nose. Nothing. They laid my baby on my chest while she screamed. I was amazed how the pain stopped instantly when she was delivered. She was born 33 minutes after getting to the hospital.
After the delivery I became very aware of how blessed I really was. Everything, from my friends poop advice to the green lights. Because I had a cord blood donation kit there were three nurses in the room with me. My mom, having been a nurse, was keen enough to know I was probably dilated further than a 5. Had she not checked I may have smothered my daughter the way I was laying. Had my husband not been attentive and at my side, I may not have had her delivered fully so fast. The nurses remarked that my daughter was the loudest newborn they had ever heard. This was also a blessing because nothing was prepared to clear her lungs. She did it herself. The on call doctor arrived shortly there after. She walks in the room and goes "Oh my goodness! I was only 5 minutes away! You went so fast!"
It was true what my friends said. My postpartum recovery has been much easier without having medical intervention. I do feel empowered and strong. Additionally I did notice a difference between the alertness of this baby, having had no epidural, and my first two. My first two struggled to nurse where as this baby nursed 20 minutes every hour from the time of delivery. My husband told me how frightened he was through my delivery. "You screamed the loudest I could even imagine a person screaming, then you surpassed that."
I felt a little guilty about my 13 year old sister being in the room. When I originally invited her I was thinking this experience would be as calm as the first two deliveries. When I talked to my dad the next morning he thanked me for petrifying my sister. "You provided her with 12 years of birth control!"
The lead nurse at my delivery thanked my mother for her quick help. Both myself and my husband have always felt a level of calm during these situations because of my mom. With her nursing experience and New York attitude we have always known we would be taken care of.
It was a really special experience for this nurse to get to deliver my daughter. She came to visit me in postpartum to reflect on that mornings events. It was exciting for me to hear her perspective and her genuine happiness. She was also so intrigued by the cord blood donation. She hadn't had a patient donate cord blood to this point. My husband and I went through a program at UAMS in Little Rock. For us, donating the cord blood was a way to honor the memory of our friends son who had passed away from cancer. Cord blood is usually discarded at birth, but it can be used to treat a number of illnesses and cancers. What an amazing gift that the birth of a precious baby could save another child's life.
Now we get to enjoy the completion of our family and reflect on the blessings of our daughters birth. I feel like I still have a euphoric high from the whirlwind delivery. I truly thank God for every moment.
Brittney Owens Photography
Fort Smith, AR Photographer