My Birth Story: Welcoming Baby E Into the World

Warning: May be best not to read while eating! This is a very honest and detailed account of my birthing experience, in the hopes it may give others an idea of what to expect.

I went to the hospital around noon on Wednesday, August 29th, after I noticed a small trickle of water down my leg when I got up in the morning. My due date was the 26th, so I was already three days past due, and getting anxious. I was observed on a monitor for several hours, and then started to have bloody show around 2 pm. I was examined, and was only at 2 cm, the same as I had been at my OB appointment that Friday. So half an hour later, I was discharged, since they were not able to confirm I was in labor. My back started to feel a bit sore when I got into bed that night.

The morning of Thursday, August 30th, I awoke to discover my back was quite sore. Even stranger, the soreness would come and go. My husband had to go to work, and just in case something was up, I went along with him so we could drive straight to the hospital if necessary. By 11:30 am, the soreness had become achy. My bloody show continued, and the aches were gradually getting harder to ignore and sit through. But the entire day passed without event, and we returned home when my husband finished work. I had no idea what I was experiencing, but it was nothing like what I expected contractions to feel like—-there was no obvious tightening of my stomach, and no pain in my belly or south of my abdomen whatsoever. So I presumed I was experiencing false labor, or something else as equally minor. To err on the side of caution, I called Health Link to ask one of the advise nurses about what I was experiencing. She said that she couldn’t find anything about what I was experiencing being related to labor at all, but that it might be best to go into the hospital to be sure. Reluctant to get my hopes up only to be sent home yet again, I decided against going to the hospital.

I was feeling a bit restless, so after dinner, we ran out to the grocery to get a few baby basics (newborn diapers, wipes, and nail clippers) that we didn’t have yet. We returned home at about 9:30 pm. At 10:30 pm, we decided it might be best to try to get some sleep, in case I woke up in the middle of the night to discover I was experiencing contractions. I laid in bed for 15 minutes, getting up frequently because the aching feeling had now become a sharp feeling, and it seemed to be worse when I laid down on my side. I started to feel nauseous, and within 10 minutes, I threw up part of the light dinner I had had. I attempted to return to bed, as I was quite tired. I may have dozed for about 15 minutes, but then woke, because the discomfort of the come-and-go back aches were too much to sleep through.

I got up, and tried timing the pains. But they were inconsistent. I would get five in a row that were only 4 minutes apart, and then get six in a row that were 10 minutes apart, etc. etc. Until now, I could easily walk through any of the back aches, but suddenly, I had to be sitting when they came on, because they were quite sharp. My husband stirred from sleep, realized I wasn’t in bed, and came to check on me. He asked me what I wanted to do, but I still was not convinced I was in labor. My husband encouraged me to at least call Sturgeon Community Hospital to ask one of the L&D nurses if we should go in. So at 12:45, I made the call. I described what I was experiencing, and the nurse said she wasn’t at all sure if I was in labor, my pains were irregular and only in my back, so she told me they were not obvious signs of labor. But she said I should come in anyway for peace of mind. I wasn’t entirely convinced we should go in after hanging up the phone, but decided being told it was all in my head and being sent home would at least ease my mind. Perhaps after that I could get some sleep!

We drove to St. Albert. The roads were dead the whole way there, and it seemed eerie to see the city at night. I had a hard time sitting down in the passenger seat when the aches would start, as having my back up against the seat seemed to make the pains sharper. We arrived at Sturgeon Community Hospital at about 1:30 am. I was hooked up to a monitor, and the nurse left to attend to other patients for awhile. My husband and I watched as the machine measuring my contractions went up to 93, when the aching got really strong, and then came slowly down to 25, where the aches died off. I was observed for about 30 minutes, and the nurse verified I was, after all, having contractions. I felt relieved, I wasn’t crazy after all. I had worried I was turning into a huge wuss and was making a huge deal out of some little back pain for no reason!

The nurse then examined me, and told me that I was dilated a stretchy 5 cm! They told me they had no rooms, so they were probably going to discharge me and have me drive to the Royal Alex. The nurse left to talk to the doctor on-call for the night, and a feeling of dread started to sink in. We were going to have to leave, and go to another hospital.

About 10 minutes later, the nurse returned. “Good news!” she told us, “You can stay.” I got really excited, but was in doubt, so I asked, “Really?!?” And she said, “Yes. I explained that you’re already a stretchy 5 cm, so he decided to let you stay! You’re going to be admitted.” My husband and I were both relieved, and I told the nurse I loved her. She laughed. A few minutes later, she was walking us upstairs to a room, even though we’d been told just shortly before that they had none available. We had a private LDR (Labor, Delivery & Recovery) room, which was one of the many reasons we had hoped to have our baby at Sturgeon in the first place after I had done a bit of research when I was 38 weeks along. The room also had a private bathroom with a walk-in shower and sitz bath.

Not long after settling into my room, I hopped into the sitz bath, after the nurse encouraged me to try it to manage the labor pains. It was absolutely wonderful. If I used the sitz bath and the shower head nozzle at the same time, and held the nozzle on my back when contractions came on, it toned the intensity down a few notches. After a good 30 minutes or so, my skin was red from sitting in the heat of the water so long, so I decided to hop out.

I attempted to lay in bed for a few contractions, but they were quite painful that way, so I asked to try out a birthing ball. When the nurse brought it in, my husband would hold warmed towels on my back in-between contractions, and then massage my back when contractions came on. This was another wonderful labor management technique for me. I found that heat made me feel wonderful, and I felt quite chilly throughout my labor. When I would feel too cool, I would hop back into the sitz bath for as long as it took to feel very hot, and then return to the birthing ball. I hopped into the sitz bath six or seven times by the end of my stay.

After my third visit to the sitz bath, the nurse checked me. It was about 7 am. I was only a stretchy 6 cm. My spirit felt a bit deflated. I had been admitted at about 2 am, and had been checked last at about 1:30 am. In 5 hours, I had only dilated 1 cm. At this rate, I’m not going to have the baby until tomorrow night at the earliest, I thought glumly. Back into the sitz bath I went, figuring if I was going to be there awhile, I might as well be as comfortable as possible. My husband came in and tried to help, offering to hold the nozzle over my belly for me, but I told him to try to get some rest. After all, he’d only had 2 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours by that point. He asked if I was sure over and over, but I insisted. He went to try to catch a bit of sleep in the lounger, and I started to doze off during the hour I spent in the, wonderfully, piping hot sitz bath.

A nurse came to check on me with the doppler, and suggested I lay in bed so my dilation could be checked again. With reluctance, I left the sitz bath. I wasn’t eager to leave its warmth, or be checked only to be told I hadn’t dilated at all. But I was checked, and I was almost at 8 cm! That was much faster progress than getting from 5 cm to 6 cm. This brightened my mood considerably. I was getting close. Soon, it would be over, and our son would finally be in our arms. The nurse had also checked our son’s position, and informed us he was sunny side up. She told me to try to lay in bed for a few contractions on my side to see if we could get him to turn. As three contractions came and went, I recall thinking to myself, I’m not sure if it’s because I’m not in the sitz bath anymore, or just because I’m in bed, but these are the most excruciating contractions I’ve had yet! The nurse checked his position again. He hadn’t flipped. So she asked me to try laying on the other side. I passed through three or four more contractions, as my husband held my hand through them. It’s hard to describe the feeling of those back labor contractions, but it felt like a giant knot twisting my spine, pressing into my back, and then sending a sharp, aching feeling all the way up to my neck, and all the way down to my tailbone. The nurse checked the baby’s position once again. No change. She said she was going to leave for a bit and check me again in a little while.

At this point, I couldn’t imagine laying on the bed throughout the rest of my labor, since laying in bed seemed to be giving my back labor an undesired edge. I tried to use laughing gas through each contraction, but it was making me nauseous. Then the nausea seemed to grow stronger, even while I wasn’t using the laughing gas. I wanted to get up to go to the bathroom, but a moment later I had the overwhelming need to throw up, and leaning over the bed onto the floor was the best I could do. My husband asked if I was okay, but I couldn’t respond, each time I thought I was done, I would throw up a bit more. My husband went to get the nurse, since he didn’t know what was happening. By the time she had come, it was finally over. I apologized for the mess, but she told me there was nothing to be sorry about, and in a moment, it was all cleaned up. She also mentioned it was a good sign that the labor was progressing well.

When I was checked again, I was finally at a stretchy 8 cm. I had two nurses at that point, and they both encouraged me to try labouring on my knees, hugging the back of the bed while it is in an upright position. It was hard for me to change into that position, since there was little time in-between contractions, but I managed, and the contractions that came on were very intense. Then, all of a sudden, a contraction hit me and I had to push. I felt like my body did it automatically, and I was simply a bystander. I forced myself to stop, and took a few quick breaths, but again I had the strong urge to push, and I couldn’t stop it. “Don’t push, don’t push! It’s too soon to push, you aren’t at 10 cm yet!” the nurse told me. I tried to get control of my body, to stop from bearing down, and I cried out for the first time in my entire labor, trying as hard as I could to stop. I heard the second nurse say she was going to get the doctor, and saw her figure leave the room in the corner of my eye. The contraction passed, and I was okay. But I still felt a lot of pressure, and I was allowed to go to the restroom, after being reminded, “Peeing is okay, but no pushing!”

Once I had gotten off the toilet, I didn’t even make it to the door before another contraction hit me. It took all of my focus to control myself and resist the urge to bear down. My body started to push against my will again, and I had to really try to stop it. It felt like my brain was sending the message to my body to stop, but it was delayed, and took a minute for my body to respond to what I was asking. I forced myself to open the door, and I couldn’t seem to move my legs on my own. All the back labor was starting to make my spine feel like jell-o. My husband and one of the nurses came to offer me their arms, and with a lot of help, I managed to get back into bed. I returned to labouring on my knees, hugging the top of the bed. When the next contraction came on, the urge to bear down was irresistible, as it was the only thing that eased the pressure I was feeling. The nurse reminded me not to push, and I cried out again, and told my body once again to stop. The nurse gave me the laughing gas mask, and told me to breathe slowly, in, and out. If I broke the rhythm of breathing for even a moment, the urge to bear down would overcome me again, and I would cry out from the discomfort of resisting the pressure. I breathed in and out slowly, and the laughing gas relaxed me. The contraction stopped, and I took a break from the laughing gas. It felt like only a moment passed before another contraction started, and I was breathing with the laughing gas again, the nurse right there with me, reminding me to breath steadily.

Finally, I met the on-call doctor, Dr. Tam. She introduced herself and slipped into a disposable gown. She checked me, and told me my water hadn’t broken, so she was going to break it for me. I said okay. Another contraction started, and I focused all my energy on breathing steadily through the laughing gas mask the nurse held up for me, and not bearing down. There was a momentary relief of pressure, but then the pain peaked again.

As soon as it was over, I could hear Dr. Tam say, “Okay, it is a little more tricky to deliver the baby this way, since he is sunny side up, so we are going to try pushing this way. During the next contraction, go ahead and push, okay?” I looked at her, confused.

“But, my water hasn’t broken yet,” I said.

“I broke it already!” she told me. She and the nurse both laughed.

“What?” I said, bewildered, and surprised.

“Yes! I did it during your last contraction!”

“Oh,” I said, thoughtfully. I hadn’t felt it at all.

A moment later, it happened. The pain in my back got tense, the pressure formed again, and the urge to bear down filled me. But this time, I didn’t resist. I pushed for a minute with my breath held, and then cried out as I stopped. I took quick breaths in and out, and pushed again. But then the feeling passed. When the next contraction came, the process repeated. When the contraction was over, Dr. Tam said, “Okay, try laying down. It’s easier that way.” I was reluctant, since I had read so many stories about pushing while laying down being the most difficult. However, my back felt relieved when I managed, with a lot of help, to lay down. “When the next contraction comes, push as hard as you can, okay?” The contraction came, and I pushed, I could feel the baby’s head at the ring of fire, and it felt like trying to squeeze a ball through a plastic ring that was too small. It didn’t want to go. It’s not going to work, I thought. Oh my god, I’m not going to be able to do it, and then I’m going to have to have a c-section! The thought scared me, so I cried out, and gasped for air. I was psyching myself out. When the contraction was over, Dr. Tam told me I needed to take a deep breath, and then push as hard as I could. I was trying to push and breath at the same time, and it wasn’t going to do anything. So I collected myself, and when the next contraction hit, I focused on what she said. I took a deep breath, as deep as I could, as if I were about to dive deep into a pool, and then I held both my legs up and bore down as strongly as I could. “Good! Keep going, you’re doing a great job, Mom! That’s it!” It felt like I was pressing the ball was pressing tighter and tighter against the plastic disk. This doesn’t burn, I thought. “Okay, take a breath” she said, just as the contraction ended. I breathed quickly a few times. “One more push, and we’re going to get this baby out, okay?” I nodded. When the contraction came, I bore down again, feeling like the ball was putting so much pressure on the disk, it was about to burst. “That’s it!” she said. Suddenly, a relief, as if the ball and the disk were both gone. Dr. Tam lifted up the baby, and a moment later he took his first breath of air, and cried.
“It’s a boy!” she told us, and in just the blink of an eye, they were wiping him down. They asked if I wanted skin-to-skin contact. I said yes, and they helped me unbutton the top of my gown, and then they immediately placed my son on my chest. “Oh my god,” I said, tears welling up in my eyes, which I was helpless to stop. “He’s perfect. I can’t believe he’s ours. He’s just so perfect. I can’t believe we get to take him home.” Tears streamed down my face as he looked up at me with his perfect round eyes. It felt like I was filled to the brim with so much happiness, it was spilling out of me in tears. Somehow, seeing my son didn't feel like I was meeting someone new. Instead, if felt like I was finally reunited with someone I've always known. “Hi, baby. Hi, handsome,” I said to him. For the next few minutes, all I could do was say the same kinds of things over and over. I looked up at my husband, and behind his glasses, I could see he was welling up a little bit, too. I was shocked, never in my life had I seen him like that.

And so we welcomed our son, Baby E, into the world. Fashionably late—-6 days past his due date—-at 10:24 am.

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  1. What a beautiful story! I always get so emotional reading and hearing birth stories! All the sweat, tears and frustration is gone when we see that bundle of joy! I know, I've done it 3 times! <3

  2. Awh he is SO beautiful! You look so happy & in love too. I cannot believe you did not know your water broke! My water broke about 5 mins after we got to the hospital mid contraction & it was by far the most disgusting thing. I did the same thing when they told me I had to push. I was actually VBAC-ing, so it hit me that OMG I am about to really push a baby out of me! EEK!

  3. Aaawwww! a new baby that is coming is always amazing and full of happy emotions. Your baby is so cute. All the pains we go through during the labor is all worth it :D

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