So, I’m writing it all down, just in case it’s as people say and I ‘forget’ the whole thing. Now I’ll be able to trot the ordeal out anytime I need leverage.
Like all good tales, this one involves knitting and pretty, pretty yarn…
Every year in September, the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Guild puts on a Knitter’s Fair. Vendors from all across Ontario (the entire country?) get together to showcase their wares and psychotic knitters such as myself and friends from Pick Up Sticks, scurry from one booth to another perusing patterns, fondling yarn and spending hard earned money on the perfect skein (or six).
Now, my due date was September 17th and the fair the 14th, but I decided that I’d go regardless, justifying my decision by figuring if nothing else, all the walking and drooling might set me into labour.
Husband and I worked out A Plan, so that should anything happen, we’d still be able to get me to the hospital in good time. It involved cell phones, large, fold-able maps and threats of death to my fellow knitters.
The yarn show was lovely (I didn’t buy much, but the Koigu I did get was 40% off.) and the lot of us (Lisa, Carol, Sarah, Claire, Mary, Sheila and Jo Anne) had a great time staying at the Hilton for the night.
The morning brought me late to breakfast as I couldn’t stop staring at the bloody, snotty mucus plug floating in the toilet.
Now, this doesn’t always mean that labour is imminent, but I does generally mean it’ll happen in a couple of days.
The Midwife and The Husband were called, but that’s about all that happened in that regard.
Lisa dropped me off at home around 1pm and as I was exhausted from all the walking from the day before and the sleepless night that came from Lisa’s god-awful snoring (seriously, I’ve never heard anything like it) I tried to get a nap.
Sunday, September 14th – 5 pm
Now, they don’t actually tell you this, but you can both feel and HEAR your waters breaking. I was trying to get some sleep, unsuccessfully, I might add, when I felt something snap inside me. Not an I’m-so-angry-I-could-spit-kind of snap, but a who-the-heck-is-having-a-water-balloon-fight-in-my-uterus-kind of snap.
It sounded like a thwacking (that’s a technical term) rubber band or a water balloon breaking.
Several seconds later…
Me – Well, that was weird. Oh. OH!
Thankfully, I had put a towel down.
Something else I’d not known: while ‘waters broke‘ sounds like a single instance in time, it’s not. It’s a rather continuous ordeal that kept towels, pads and a random bit of Toronto Maple Leaf’s flannelet jammed betwixt my thighs. Stand up and you gush. Sit down and you gush. Sneeze and you gush. Lovely, let me tell you.
Phone calls were made once again to The Midwife, The Husband and The Mother and it was decided that I should get my leaking self to the hospital as soon as Husband got home to drive me.
It took Husband FOREVER to get home. Turns out he was picking me up something sparkly for all my hard work (read: Push Gift) but more on that later. The man also stopped at Zellers AFTER I called to tell him about The Breakage (apparently, we couldn’t go to the hospital with Behbeh’s stuff in those reusable grocery bags, we ‘needed’ a good sturdy duffel bag) and insisted we stop off at Subway so as to get him dinner.
IN LABOUR HERE.
We got to the hospital at around 6:30pm and Natalie (one of the midwives) and Mel (midwifery student) were there to check me over. Apparently, they they needed to confirm that the leakage was amniotic fluid and not, say, urine or the protein drink I’d been storing Up There.
Water’s had indeed broken, but I was only 1-2 cm dilated with no contractions, so I was sent home until either I fit the criteria laid out in The List or 10am, which ever came first.
Now, if I’d been smart, I would have gone immediately to sleep as soon as we got home. But no, I had Things To Do. Emails to send. Calls to make. Laundry to finish. Blogs to read. Stupid, stupid Angela.
10pm had contractions start. Not so horrible, but enough that while I could rest in between them quite comfortably, I couldn’t really get any sleep. I flatter myself as quite considerate, though, as I let Husband get a good night’s rest. What I really wanted to do was pinch him every time I had a contraction.
Note on contractions: I’ve never been one to have menstrual cramps (don’t hate me) so I can’t really say that that’s what they felt like. They did, however, feel like someone was kicking my tailbone from the inside. Yowch. I was able to breathe through them though, and had the ridiculous thought that maybe I was one of those lucky bitches women whose contractions would be totally easy to live with and that I’d sail through labour without wrecking my make-up. Stupid, stupid Angela.
By 3:30am my contractions were regular and painful and there was yet another call to the midwife. I was to come in to the hospital for 6am. We mildly late, so it wasn’t until 6:30am that I was checked over and pronounced In Active Labour at 4 cm dilation.
The next several hours were spent walking and leaning up against walls and breathing. Husband was really great at applying counter pressure to my back, but eventually, the repeated massaging pressure started to hurt more than it helped.
Note in regards to Pain: To those women who told me that giving birth wasn’t ‘so bad’, that women have been giving birth for a millenia and since the whole of mankind is still thriving, it must be ‘no big deal’: Screw you. Yeah, that’s right. Screw you, you bunch of lying bitches. I honestly think we do women a disservice by glossing over the *cough* finer points of giving birth. If I’d known how fierce the pain was going to be, I’d have been a little more mentally prepared. Instead, I was picking out my Birth Outfit, my knitting and a borrowed copy of The Gilmore Girls, thinking that all I needed were a few distractions. Instead, I was ripping the offensive garment from my sweating body, trying to stab my midwife with my beautiful set of ebony knitting needles and threatening to jam said box set up my husband’s arse. (Okay, so I’m exaggerating. Those needles cost me $40. I did look cute though. You know, at the beginning.) I don’t necessarily think we should terrify women into sewing their vaginas shut, I just think something along the lines of “This is going to suck, but it’s worth it.” wouldn’t be remiss.
I had wanted to try lots of different pain coping positions (standing, squatting, birthing ball, on my side, etc.) but I found with the back labour that everything but standing put more pressure on my tailbone and therefore made the whole contraction business more painful.
A few things that did work: I had a few really nice hot showers where I leaned up with my front against the cool wall and let the water beat down on my back. It didn’t take the pain away, naturally, but I did seem to take the edge off. I also tried the Parker Bath, which was great as long as I wasn’t having a contractions. See, you have to sit in the bath. The seat is moulded, so you can’t really lie down or on your side or whatever. I sort of crabbed (getting my butt off the ground by pushing my weight up onto my hands and feet) my way through the pain, while Husband poured hot water over my belly with one of those kidney-shaped dishes.
The whole Parker Bath came to a rather horrible end, however, when I became quite nauseated.
Me – Get Natalie, I think I’m going to be sick.
Husband – Whaah?
Me – Give me that dish, I’m going to be…..huuuuuuwaaaaaaaaaaah.
Let’s just say that the dish was too small, I shouldn’t have had that granola bar and I managed to plug up the bath so that maintenance needed to be called.
After that it went rather downhill.
I don’t recover from vomiting particularly well (the first 16 weeks of this pregnancy can attest to that) and I felt shaky and sweaty and cold from then on out.
The upside was that I got to take another hot shower. I loves me a good, hot shower.
Checked again at 10:30am and was 6-7cm.
Soon after that, the contractions started coming really close together. So close that I couldn’t really tell where one finished and one began.
Agnes, my primary midwife, tried to talk me into lying down (which usually helps slow down contractions) but all I could think of was how horrible the pains were when I was on my back or side. I was stubborn and stayed standing until I started having this overwhelming need to push. After ignoring Agnes’ instruction to ignore said need (a ridiculous notion for someone who has no control over their body) I managed to pee all over myself (if anyone ever tells me how beautiful the experience of labour is again, I’m going to bite them).
At 11:30am, she finally managed to talk me into laying down by saying she needed to see how dilated I was (9cm) and promising to help me through the next contraction. Now, I thought this help would come in the form of pain relief, but it actually just had her jamming her hand up inside my cervix, sweeping and stretching and totally violating my personal space.
Again, she tried to talk me into Not Pushing. I felt both horribly guilty and rather annoyed at her suggestion at the time, but neither feeling could stop me from giving in to my body’s demands. In the end, she had me lay on my side, so that even if I pushed, not much happened. I had such a death grip on the rungs of my hospital bed that I ended up with a bruise on my forehead.
Note in regards to Pain Relief: I went into this whole thing wanting to use neither narcotics, nor an epidural, and I actually got what I wanted. A surprising thing in this world of epidurals, episiotomies and c-sections. Having said that, however, I think I should mention that it had more to do, at the point of active labour, with the fact that I was so out of it, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you my own name, let alone form a request for pain relief. For instance, I HAD wanted to try the laughing gas to take the edge off, but I spent every contraction trying to survive and every moment BETWEEN contractions trying to rest up for the next one. I can’t say that I would have asked for something, but I also can’t say I wouldn’t have taken my midwife up on an offer. Anyhow, I just wanted people to know that while I managed to go totally natural, it wasn’t because I was particularly brave. I whimpered my way through.
At 12:20pm, I was pronounced both Fully Dilated and Ready to Push (finally). I found pushing to be the easiest bit, oddly enough. Not easy, just -er. The space between contractions lengthened and was just enough to allow me to catch my breath and the pushing itself, while excruciatingly painful, gave me something to DO – something to focus on besides the pain.
My midwife, while encouraging, fed me a pack of lies the entire way through.
Agnes – Push hard! One more time.
Funny how there were about FOUR ‘one more times’.
Regardless of number of pushes per contraction, Behbeh (and more than a little feces…I know, eew) was born after 1/2 an hour and 10 contractions.
I was the happy recipient of The Ring of Fire contraction #8 or so.
Holy burning sensations, Batman. And while I didn’t feel myself tear, I did, just slightly (I’d rather Rip than Snip).
Note regarding tearing: I tore very little. Agnes said that I didn’t even really need stitches, but that she was going to give me two or three for ‘aesthetic purposes’. Now her first language is Polish, so perhaps something was lost in translation, or perhaps she was mistaken in regards to my former employment, but I wonder when one starts to consider the aesthetics of one’s own vagina.
Now, generally, (as in, when I’ve seen them on television) babies come out head first, then stop, then shoulders, then stop, then the rest of them. Mine came out all at once. Contraction #9 had him crowning, and #10 had the whole mess shooting out of my vagina onto the bed. Agnes said she had trouble catching him he came out so fast. It was the strangest feeling. It felt like I gave birth to a watermelon, then a pile of intestines.
The oddest thing happened then: I got this total rush of energy. I went from feeling like death could be a logical choice to feeling like I could leap tall buildings. It was freakish, really. Does every woman feel that?
Behbeh was put on my chest immediately. He was covered head to toe in cream cheese and strawberry jam but was remarkably unsquished. A tiny (and quite ugly) knitted toque was placed on his perfectly round head and all I could do was stare at him. I was rather oblivious to everything else, including Agnes who had to ask me three or four times to push to get rid of the placenta.
Note regarding the placenta: No, I don’t want to see it. Or touch it. Or take it home with me. Do people SERIOUSLY want to have their placenta as a souvenir?
I was able to get up and move around (veeeeeeery slowly) a bit after about an hour. My first order of business was a shower. Not only do I not like the feel of dried sweat on my skin, but Darling Husband had leaned over to kiss my forehead and tenderly whisper, “You kind of smell” in my ear.
Thanks hon. Love you. What’s in my hand? you ask. Why your testicles, darling.
The shower was wonderful. Not only did I wash away all the grossness but I briefly saw what my life as a porn star might have looked like, (seriously, you could have driven a truck up there). I also took care of the lone hemmerhoid that dared venture forth. Took me two seconds to jam it back up where the sun don’t shine. Haven’t heard from him (I named him Phil) since.
Note on Text Books: According to all involved, I had a picture perfect labour and delivery. Personally, I think it sucked, but they are right about one thing: Everything that was supposed to happen, did happen. So many women seem to need medical intervention, (whether for breaking of waters, or getting contractions started or ripening the cervix) that I count myself very *cough* lucky *cough* that my body worked like it was supposed to. Thanks, bod.
We stayed in the hospital just under 24 hours. Long enough to give Behbeh his first bath, meet with Dr. Jack Newman (breast feeding guru) about my unique issues (I had a breast reduction 12 years ago) and to find out urination was going to be a problem.
Behbeh barely fit in his car seat, he was so small.
So now we’re home and coping. Breast feeding is a challenge (read: not working) that we’re trying to overcome, but that’s the stuff of another post.
I’ll end off now before I get all weepy and sentimental about being a mom and ‘not knowing what I was missing until I held him’.
It’s totally true, but y’all don’t need to hear that. 🙂