Empowering & Exhausting

­­On Monday, March 27th I had my last appointment with Dr. Dickerson at 41w2d.  I was 3 cm dilated and about 70% effaced. With still no signs of labor, we scheduled an induction for Friday March 31st, when I would be 41+6 days, but hoped for labor to come on its own before then. 

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 29th, I began having menstrual-like cramping/contractions but they were only coming every 10 minutes or so and after trying to sleep for a while and getting up around7am, the contractions tapered off.  Around noon, they started back up, again coming about every 10 minutes.

I had my husband stay home from work this day because I had a feeling it was the day! We were able to enjoy a fun last full day with our 2.5 year old as an only child. Later that evening around 7 pm or so, my contractions started to pick up and were coming more frequently (about every 5 minutes). I called my mom and had her head over to our house around 1 am to stay with my son so we could head to the hospital. 

Contractions started to become more intense and were coming about every 3-4 minutes at this point. We arrived to Woman’s hospital around 2:20 am, where René was already there waiting for us. After checking into the assessment center, my cervix was checked, and I was already about 5-6 cm dilated and 80% effaced with a bulging bag of waters. Contractions were still about every 3-4 minutes and lasting about 90 seconds.

We were admitted to the hospital, and the nurses immediately started setting up the AquaDoula tub for me to labor in. By about 3:20 am, contractions were becoming more intense and were coming closer together. Sitting on the toilet seemed to be the most comfortable position for laboring initially. Around 4:30 am contractions were even more intense. I decided to get in the shower and had my husband spray my lower abdomen during each contraction. This seemed to help the pain tremendously. 

Around 5:00 am I decided to try the AquaDoula tub and it felt amazing sitting in the warm water. It really helped to calm me and let me rest a bit, as I was so exhausted having been awake for close to 24 hours by this point.  Around 6 am my cervix was examined again, and I was 7 cm dilated. We decided to have my bag of waters broken when the new on-call doctor, Dr. Bader, arrived at 7:30 am.

After having my water bag broken, my contractions immediately became very intense, and I was starting to doubt myself attempting a natural birth. The pain was becoming unbearable. Within minutes I started feeling the urge to push around 7:50 am. At this point, I got out of the water and onto the bed to deliver the baby.

It was truly an out-of-this-world experience. My body completely took over. I'm sure that everyone in the hospital could hear me screaming while pushing my baby out, but that didn't matter in that moment.  After a few short pushes, our baby boy, Graham Charles was born at 8:02 am.

After the initial shock of delivering my baby completely unmedicated, we did immediate skin-to-skin and waited for my placenta to deliver.  I was completely and utterly awestruck. About 10 minutes later, my husband cut the umbilical cord. Baby was very alert and latched on like a champ. Though both of my births were amazing, this birth was completely different from my first epidural birth. It truly was the most beautiful, exhausting, empowering thing I've ever accomplished.

Megan McArdle