I can’t believe my baby boy is almost six months old! Not so long ago I was walking like an elephant, looking like one and couldn’t wait to meet my baby. I think it’s time to write about my experience with first childbirth. It wasn’t easy peasy lemon squeeze. More like difficult difficult big baby pushing… Brace yourself, because this is going to be a long post.
I gave birth on Monday, 18 November last year, in the afternoon, but the whole story starts 9 months earlier, in the kitchen…wait, that’s another story 😉
So the first contractions started on Thursday, and they felt like some sort of light discomfort in my abdomen. I didn’t even know if they were real or just pre-labor or fake at all. But they kept coming, they lasted around 30 seconds each so I quickly downloaded some contractions counting app and started to record them. I was really hoping it would go fast, because I couldn’t sleep the previous night so I was kinda tired. If only I knew…
Next day I got out of bed after half sleepless night, because those contractions kept coming, waking me up, but not so often anymore, like every 20-30 minutes. Very annoying, because they were painful enough to not really let me fall asleep, and yet not strong enough in my opinion to call them the real deal. The whole Friday the contractions would come and go, more often or less often, some stronger, other lighter, completely irregular. So it wasn’t the time yet. But my husband wouldn’t go to work anymore, I was packed and ready for the hospital, and I really wanted it to already happen. But I still wasn’t 100% sure if those were the real contractions. I never gave birth before, so…
Saturday morning my contractions got more frequent, I had them every 6 minutes or so, plus they got a tiny bit stronger. At that point I was just annoyed, tired after sleepless night and unsure what was happening. We called the hospital and they allowed us to come and check what’s happening. And so we did. When we reached the hospital and I was lied in bed under the whole machinery, my belly decided to stop with contractions… Obviously. The midwife checked my cervix and it was 3 centimeters dilated, so I was glad that something started. My last check up was on previous Tuesday and it was 1 cm only, so the labor had started. It was just going at really slow pace. They send us home and told us to come back, if the contractions come every 5 minutes for at least one hour, and they are strong and last at least 1 minute. That evening we watched a movie, I kept bouncing on the labor ball and trying to speed things up, but without good effect. So another sleepless night happened, and I really had enough of it.
Sunday morning I decided to walk this baby out of me. First thing in the morning, we went for a walk, ate breakfast at one of our favorite places in town, we went to church and then back home. Contractions were getting stronger and more often, about every 5-6 minutes, but they still didn’t hurt all that much. I could still walk… In the afternoon we went to visit our friends, again a long walk, with contractions every 3-5-7 minutes. If I sat down to rest, the frequency would slow down, so I tried to keep walking or at least standing. This irregularity was annoying, because I knew it meant it wasn’t the time yet. And let me tell you, I was sooo tired. I had three almost sleepless nights behind me and couple of days in pain. I went to bed that evening hoping that the next day I would hold my baby in my arms. So pretty much just like the previous nights. Only that night everything changed.
At around 1 am I was stroke with huge pain. And I thought “this is it, it’s finally happening, and it hurts like shit”. I left bed and let my husband sleep, so that he at least could get some rest. I moved to sofa in the living room and tried dozens different positions to sooth this pain, but Gosh it was impossible. No matter what I would do, it hurt like hell, so I just gave in to it, breathing nicely, recording the contractions on the app. The were coming every 7-8 minutes, lasted one minute or longer and kept coming faster and faster. My husband woke up around 5:30 and joined me in the living room. My contractions were then every 5 minutes, so we knew that if it lasts for one hour, we’re good to go to the hospital. I ate some dry muesli, and drank tea, took a shower, dressed myself and was dying of pain. My waters still didn’t break, but around 7:30 in the morning we decided to go to the hospital.
Driving was a nightmare. I felt every bump on the way, and whenever contraction stroke me I thought I was gonna break something in the car. Luckily enough there was no traffic jam and we reached the hospital quite fast. I was admitted immediately, put into delivery room and checked, to find out I am 5 cm dilated and this is the real deal.
I had no birth plan, no doula, no personal midwife. I just decided to go with the flow and it was good for me. I was taken good care of, everyone was nice, friendly and helpful. I was happy my husband was there with me, comforting me, supporting and just there, it meant the world to me. I don’t know how would I have done it without him being next to me.
I was asked at the beginning, if I want en epidural. I read on the internet that it may slow down the process, so I asked for it a bit later, when I would be more dilated. STUPID ME! I will never make that mistake again. Next time just gimme epidural at the entrance! I was in so much pain, I don’t even know why I wanted to postpone it. Anyway, as preparation for epidural I got some laxatives and went to the toilet pretty fast. And I thought I was going to die there. Afterwards, the midwife also broke my waters, because it just wouldn’t happen by itself.
When the midwife checked my cervix that time, I was 8 cm dilated and I asked for epidural right away. At that point I was afraid I would be exhausted to death and wouldn’t be able to push my baby out, during the last part of delivery. The doctor didn’t come very fast, which I honestly don’t even remember. Apparently he was busy with someone else at that time and I was already very dilated. My husband told me just now, that they were considering the option of me giving birth without epidural, but he calmed me down on the spot telling me they just joked. I think I erased this from my memory somehow :)) So, the doctor came eventually with an assistant, epidural happened in between contractions and very soon I felt a relief.
Soon after I was fully dilated, but they told me not to push just yet, and let instead my body do the work and help the baby descend as low as possible. I spent around 2 hours like that, just talking with my husband, turning from one side to another and waiting for the final part of delivery. When at some point the midwife checked my progress, she must have touched the head of the baby, because she immediately called the doctor and they rearranged the bed, preparing it for the pushing time.
The pushing was hard, I didn’t have power enough to do it effectively from the start. They kept telling me to push stronger and stronger, but I was already doing my best. My husband was supporting my back, the nurses were holding my legs and the doctor was making his way to the baby, but I was so exhausted after too many sleepless nights and days with constant contractions, that I just felt like I wanna give up. Only I couldn’t. Hearing doctors saying that the head is visible and it had dark hair gave me some extra motivation, I mean my husband couldn’t stop himself from sneaking a peak, and I also wanted to see it. So I pushed couple more times and the baby was out! It was the longest 7-10 minutes of my life…
They showed me the baby and I immediately wanted to get him into my arms. My little bundle of happiness!!! We were in awe… We even forgot to ask if it’s a boy or a girl, we were just so happy to have him with us finally. The doctor asked us “don’t you wanna know if it’s a boy or a girl?” and we nodded to find out, that we got a 4 kilos big boy.
The little baby lying on my chest and crying silently from time to time, made me forget about the pain and exhaustion for that moment. He was so cute, so beautiful, we couldn’t believe he was ours. While we enjoyed first moments with our boy, I gave birth to my placenta, got couple of stitches on my episiotomy, and then I was ready to try and breastfeed. It wasn’t easy I must say, but maybe I will write about breastfeeding some other time. After about 40 minutes of little Rafael trying to suck anything from my breasts, he was given to my husband for skin to skin experience. I love it here in Belgium, that they let fathers have this important moment with their newborns as well. The baby learns the smell of the father, the bond is building from the very first hours after birth. The very important bond.
Meanwhile I was being washed and getting ready to leave the delivery room.
We entered that room as a couple expecting a child at 8 in the morning and at 4 in the afternoon we left the room as a family of three. I went into real labor around 1 at night, gave birth at 14:47. Around 14 hours in total, which is an average I assume. The nurses, the midwifes, doctors, all of them were extremely nice and friendly, my hospital room felt like a hotel room, I had bathroom only for me, fridge, microwave, tv. Oh and a beautiful view from the window. My husband stayed with me the first night even, which was very much sleepless night.
So, that would be all in this topic. Giving birth was challenging, painful, but rewarding at the end. Post partum was a hormonal and emotional roller coaster, but that’s a topic for another post.
Share with me your labor and delivery experience if you please:)