Want to know (every detail of) how baby Jack made his long-awaited arrival into this world? Read on.
Jack Dalton’s birth story simplified into ten (easy, painless) steps:
Step one: Complain about how much you want labor to start already. This will annoy your husband and everyone around you. Oddly enough, this also will be the only time in your life when you actually have a strong desire to feel excruciating pain. Go to bed already and forget about it. The baby’s never coming out and you’re going to be pregnant forever.
Step two: Wake up at 3am and feel a little crampier than usual. You probably just have to pee, but just in case, silently sneak out of bed to go sit on the couch and start reading every pregnancy book you own. Time what you suspect may be contractions. When they don’t subside by 4:15, wake your husband up. He’ll be a little difficult to stir and may be a bit cranky and confused, but when you say the word “labor” his eyes will open right away.
Step three: Realize that you may have packed your hospital bag too soon and now have no idea what is in there. Take everything out and make your husband repack the bag. Hop in the shower and scrub up — this may be the last time you feel genuinely clean for a while. When you are finished with your shower, you’ll realize it takes you five times as long to get anything done because you have to stop every two minutes for a contraction. This is quite frustrating indeed. Your husband will try to make you eat something, but chances are the last thing on your mind will be food. (Typical of the male gender, wanting food at a crucial time such as this!) Finally everything is packed and ready. Between contractions, make a dash for the car. Unfortunately, you probably won’t make it and will awkwardly bend over, breathing through your crampiness as you make it to the parking lot. Good thing it’s 5:30 in the morning and nobody’s up yet.
Step four: Drive to the hospital. Contractions really suck in the car, so the hospital better be close. Park at the hospital. Get a strong contraction on your way from the car to the entrance, and awkwardly lean on your husband (who happens to have his hands full with all of the hospital bags and thus can barely support you). Luckily they expect peculiar things like this to happen on the Labor and Delivery floor. Ride the elevator up, praying you won’t get stuck riding it up and down, unable to exit on the correct floor because you’re in the middle of a contraction. Check in around 6am, and finally get settled in your room.
Step five: Plan to bare it all. Change into an ugly hospital gown which frequently flies open in the back, exposing your right or left butt cheek to the world. Plan to be strapped down to the bed for what seems like an endless forty minutes of poking and prodding. When you tell the nurse you plan to birth naturally without an epidural, she may raise her eyebrows a bit. When she checks your dilation, you are 4.5cm along. It won’t be long now! Then several nurses will be in your room, strapping too-tight fetal monitors to your belly and poking your arm in three different places to find blood. And this all happens while you are stuck in bed battling semi-painful contractions.
Step six: It’s time to roam around the labor and delivery floor and let gravity work wonders. This can be a bit inconvenient when you have an IV pole attached to your arm, but luckily dragging the darn thing around can be your supportive husband’s job. You do three or four laps, passing the ice cube machine and the blanket warmer on the way. The contractions will finally start to pick up and they feel stronger and stronger, but it’s disappointing that in the past three hours you’ve only progressed to 5.5cm. But relax. You can do this.
Step seven: 9:00 am already. Your doctor drops by to say hello. Your bag of waters is “bulging” and ready to pop at any second. She breaks your water to speed things along, and the gush of fluid spilling out of you is unbelievably warm. It feels like you just wet your pants…times ten. Ew…don’t want to feel that again for a while. But luckily labor finally starts to pick up. A routine is established: walk, sit on the exercise ball, and lay in bed for monitoring. Repeat. You lose all sense of modesty. You’ve got nothing no one in the room hasn’t seen before. But suddenly, you are stuck naked in the lukewarm shower when a really, really hard contraction hits. They’re coming closer and closer together, and it’s getting harder and harder to relax. While he is attempting to dress you, your husband tells you to calm down and breathe slowly. You give him a dirty look and probably tell him to shut up. Three more contractions send you doubling over while you make your way to the bed.
Step eight: Breathe deep. Now deeper. Contractions will come barreling at you. Three on top of one another, followed by a thirty-second break. When did this all of a sudden get so hard? Make strange grunting and wailing noises that you never thought would come out of you, and your husband may tell you to keep the noise down. You want to punch him in the face. Calming down is no longer and option at this point. You have lost your sanity. You feel the irresistible urge to push, yet you are only 6cm dilated. Yes, the nurse just checked you again for the umpteenth time. It’s really loud and bright and hard to concentrate on anything but the pain. You’ve completely checked out of the world. You cry and beg for the relief of an epidural, and your husband fights against you. He has good reason to…you’ve worked too hard and come too far to give up now. But luckily the nurse lets you sign the paper anyway. The anesthesiologist comes in, bright and cheerful, and the nurse announces you’re dilated to a 7. No, wait. Now you’re at an 8. You literally don’t even feel the needles in your back at this point. Holy cow. You’re dilated to 8.5cm. (Yes, the nurse checked you again). The pain in your pelvis is much to strong to worry about anything else. Then BAM! Relief. The beautiful, heavenly “walking” epidural kicks in. It is light, and you can still feel contractions. But oh, you can breathe again.
Step nine: Smile and relax. You made it 8.5cm naturally. Way to go, sistah! Say, “Hello, world. I’m here again. I’ve checked back in. See the big smile on my face? I’m ready to birth this baby.” There’s no smile on your husband’s face. He is clearly disappointed in you. Luckily this doesn’t last long. Smile again, and sing in your head, this is the final countdown! while picturing Gob from Arrested Development perform magic tricks with a dead dove. Giggle a bit. Feel pressure as the baby moves further and further down. There is absolutely no self control at this point. Your body is pushing with or without you on board.
Step ten: Let out loud, uncontrollable grunts. Embarrassing, loud grunts. Again, your body has taken over and this baby is coming whether you’re ready or not. No, nurse, I cannot wait an hour to “rest and descend” until I start pushing. Call the doctor. This baby is coming now. 10cm. Hallelujah, complete dilation at last. She thinks delivery will take at least an hour, so we will start pushing and call the doctor later. Wrong. Fifteen minutes into pushing (you are an excellent pusher, by the way) the baby is crowning and ready to meet his parents at last. Your instructions: “Don’t push for the next few contractions while I call the doctor.” Ha! As if you can even control that. Run, nurse, run! The doctor arrives (luckily her clinic is just minutes away) and in three contractions your beautiful baby is born at 12:08pm. You did it! Say hello to the world, baby Jack!
Sidenote: Tyler pointed out that I make it seem like he wasn’t at all supportive. He was wonderful, I promise! I couldn’t have done it without him there. He was constantly holding me up during contractions, rubbing my back, cleaning me up, etc. His back and hands were probably just as sore as I was after labor!
Tyler and I planned on a drug-free childbirth. We took a twelve-week childbirth class together, studying The Bradley Method. I really was confident I could do it. But I learned you have to be flexible. Your first baby is by far the most difficult (and longest) labor. Even though labor was nine hours for me, it came on hard and strong. The point when I really lost control was when my contractions peaked three on top of one another. Three minutes of hard contractions with no break in between really did it for me. That was my breaking point. But in the end, I made it 8.5cm naturally, and I am so grateful I did! I feel like my body has healed quickly (I’m writing this six days after birth and I feel fantastic) because I allowed it to labor drug-free. Being able to walk around and switch positions (instead of laying in bed for hours on end with no feeling) makes all the difference. It allowed my body to adjust naturally to the changes happening to it during labor.
Looking back, I am glad I got the light epidural when I did. It allowed me to check back into reality, and really be “there” for the birth of our first child. Without it, I’m sure the baby would have come out just fine, but I think I would have been hysterical to say the least. It gave me the opportunity to be calm and rational for the most important part of the birth – the end. I’m not at all disappointed. I feel like a rockstar! Tyler and I did a fantastic job handling labor and now have a beautiful son to show for it. :)
From Alie of Double Jones.
P.S. — Did you know October is National Down Syndrome Awareness month? I hope you’ll read this beautiful birth story by Cynthia Smith.
Note from Design Mom: throughout my 6th pregnancy, I posted advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family. My baby is hardly a baby anymore — here’s her birth story and her newborn photos — but the series has been so popular that I’m continuing it indefinitely. You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here. Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to read it. You can send it to me at email@example.com.