After 36 (or so) hours of labor and one dose of antibiotics I sat in the hospital and cried when I heard my midwife say that I was only dilated to 5.5 cm. Everything so far had been to plan. I labored most of my early stage of labor at home, I had no pain medication, I wore my own clothes and I even felt like I looked pretty. But, I was also extremely tired. My hand was sore from the IV used for antibiotics. My son’s heartbeat was hard to find so I was restricted to the bed several times throughout this process. I hated lying down during contractions… it was so painful! But, it was one of the only positions that they could keep a monitor on me to hear my son’s heart rate.
Five and a half cm was disappointing to say the least.
My midwife told me that I could choose to go home to continue labor (as I stipulated I wanted to do in my birth plan) or I could consider a therapeutic rest. I had stipulated that I didn’t want to be offered drugs unless it was deemed necessary. My midwife and nurses had been great with following my wishes, so I was surprised when she talked to me about the therapeutic rest. She felt that my body could not actually handle laboring much longer without rest and she was concerned about my son’s low heart rate. She said that I might consider a small dose of morphine and a antihistamine to help me rest. Otherwise I was still allowed to try to continue laboring at home and that maybe being in my familiar surroundings may help me rest enough to make some real progress.
After laboring for 30 + hours at home and not being able to sleep I knew that there was no way I’d be able to sleep at home. I didn’t want to have them take out my IV just so I could get it put back in later. I was extremely tired. I was scared about my son’s low heart rate. So, I went ahead and got the morphine and antihistamine. The dosage was low enough that I still felt the contractions, but they were much less painful. When the antihistamine kicked in and coupled up with my extreme exhaustion I was actually able to fall asleep in between contractions. I was also able to lay on my side and not be as uncomfortable as I had previously been. It was exactly what my body needed. In those four hours I was able to rest and I dilated from a 5 to an 8.
That is when things got GROSS.
I knew things were finally happening when my contractions went from being painful to being gross and painful. I threw up and my nurse jumped for joy. I started heavy bleeding and she gave me a high-five. I screamed a guttural scream and my midwife and a team of nurses came running in swearing to me that it must be time.
Prior to this I had been laboring in the rocking chair, leaning against my husband, laying in the bed, and squatting. After I hit 8 cm I started laboring on the birthing ball, my hands and knees, on the toilet (sounds gross, but totally useful spot), and in the shower. The shower was AMAZING. When my back hurt my husband could put the water on my back. When it was my stomach that is where the water would go. I refused to leave the shower at one point when my contractions were super close together.
My husband was amazing in all of this. He rubbed where I needed rubbed. He was quiet when I needed quiet. He supported me both physically and emotionally. I couldn’t have imagined that I could love him more than I already did… but, during labor my heart grew to love him even more.
After many hours of laboring my midwife checked me again and I was only dilated to 9 cm. One cm in HOURS of very hard labor. At this point my water still hadn’t broken. I had stipulated in my birth plan that I didn’t want my water broken. But, at this point I was so tired that I just wanted everything to be over. So, when my midwife said that normally at this time they would suggest breaking the water. I said, “Do it.” She did it… but, there was no gush. There was hardly any water coming out at all. My son’s head was so far down that breaking the water didn’t really help things. It did however make labor ten times more painful. This is when I started shaking. But, I kept with it. After another hour my midwife checked me and found that I had actually swollen shut some and was now a 7.
If ever in my life I feel disappointment I hope that I remember what that moment felt like and realize that things could be worse. This was a bad moment.After countless hours of labor, my midwife ordered an epidural. She said I didn’t have a choice because my son’s heart rate was slower than they’d like and because my body was going to physically give out soon. She said I would end up having a C-section if I didn’t have the baby soon. And, I rejoiced. Waiting for the epidural was the longest wait I’ve ever had. I kept saying, “where is it?” My contractions were happening every minute and lasting for a minute.The anesthesiologist arrived saying, “I heard you were trying to do this without me.”
After 30 or so hours of labor I had a therapeutic rest that included a small dose of morphine and an antihistamine. It relaxed my body enough to let me sleep and let my labor progress. Then, after many more hours of labor, I finally reached 9 cm. My water water was broken by my midwife with hopes of making things go faster. It didn’t work. So, two days after going into labor my midwife decided I had to have an epidural or I would risk my body not being able to handle the delivery.
**While my hopes were for a completely natural delivery I was not disappointed in myself because I felt that I did what I could. I believe that child birth is an extremely natural event… but, I also know that before some of our medical discoveries have come about child birth also had more risk of death and infant death. I believe that these medical advances are often overused, but if used correctly they can save lives. I was in pain. But, I could handle the pain. It was the exhaustion that did me in. I could feel my body giving up, the contractions were not actually progressing my labor, and my son’s heart rate was getting slower the longer I was in labor. So, I’m not in anyway disappointed with not being able to have a drug-free delivery. **
Jenni is a freelance writer and media assistant based in Portland, OR. A Well Crafted Party is a blog about all the little things to celebrate in life. Follow Jenni or A Well Crafted Party with BlogLovin, RSS feed, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.