Easton’s Birth Story: Part 1 can be found here
For the first 12+ hours of my labor, I had been able to breathe through my contractions pretty well. They were painful, but not at all unbearable. Soon after my water was broken, however, my contractions started getting really intense. I was no longer able to close my eyes, breathe deeply and visualize waves on a beach. Instead, I was moaning and groaning and starting to question my decision to give birth med-free.
I spent the next several hours laboring in bed, in the shower, and on the birth ball. I started experiencing what I thought was back labor (my midwife later told me the pain may actually have been due to the rods that were placed in my back during a surgery 10 years earlier). During every contraction, my lower back felt like it was ripping apart. We dug the tennis balls out of my birth bag and Joe spent every contraction pushing them into my back as hard as he could to give me some relief. Even so, I spent most of the time moaning, groaning and eventually screaming through my contractions. I never imagined I would be "that woman," the one that people halfway down the hall could hear, but I totally was.
Around 3:00, I finally made it to 4 cm. and was given the green light to labor in the birth tub. I was so relieved that I would finally get to relax in that warm water. I sat in the tub for several contractions, but it soon became clear that I was not going to last in there long. The heat was really getting to me and I started feeling like I was going to pass out if I stayed in much longer. With Joe's help, I climbed out of the tub and laid down on the bed in that room just as a horrible contraction hit. When the nurse came in the room and saw me out of the tub, laying on the bed and screaming, a look of panic crossed her face. Once Joe assured her that I was fine and just needed some air, she relaxed a little. The nurse helped me back into my gown and we crossed the hall back to my labor room.
Back in my room, the nurse checked me again. I was sure I was approaching 10 cm. so I was crushed to hear I was only 5 cm. My back pains were still excruciating and I had reached a point where I felt like I just couldn't go on so I broke down and did what I swore I wouldn't do...I asked for an epidural.
The nurse disappeared to find the anesthesiologist, leaving me to fight through several more horribly painful contractions. After what seemed like hours (but was likely only a matter of minutes), the nurse came back and dashed my hopes. The anesthesiologist had told her I "wasn't a good candidate" for a spinal injection because of the rods in my back. I had been planning an unmedicated birth all along, but being denied the relief I thought was finally coming was absolutely horrible. The anesthesiologist came into my room to explain why he refused to give me the epidural, but I honestly have no idea what he said. In that moment I didn't really care WHY I couldn't have the epidural, I just wanted him out of the room so I could get back on track!
With the epidural off the table, I ended up getting an injection of a mild pain medication instead. The medication instantly made me feel like I was drunk. It didn't do much to help with the pain, but it made me relax enough to doze off between contractions. I had already been awake for 32+ hours at that point, so it was a relief to finally get some rest. After the injection started taking effect, I was given some Pitocin. I had turned that down several times earlier in the day but finally decided to go for it, hoping that it would make me progress a little faster.
Just as I was starting to feel like I couldn’t handle the pain anymore, my midwife came back. She helped me into different positions and really got in my face and helped me breathe through each contraction. I really don’t know how I would’ve done it without her. She mentioned in passing that she was only on call until 5:00, but fortunately she stuck with me until the end.
As 7:00 p.m. approached, I had been in labor for almost 19 hours, yet nothing prepared me for transition. Suddenly I went from having 30 seconds between contractions to having them one on top of the other. I would literally just start coming down from the peak of one contraction when I would be slammed with another. I started getting the strangest feeling during those moments. I must’ve been squirming more than usual because the nurse asked me if I felt like I needed to push. Until that moment, I hadn’t realized what was giving me that weird feeling, but once the nurse mentioned pushing, I knew that was what I felt. My midwife was called back into the room (she had just stepped out for a minute) and after a quick check, she confirmed I was fully dilated and ready to go!
The hazy effect of the medication coupled with the concentration it took to get through the intense contractions had actually made me forget that I was going to be pushing out a baby in the near future. I panicked a little when it was time to start, begging my midwife for a few minutes break. She somehow managed to calm me down and convince me that I didn’t need any more time, I just needed to focus and my baby would be out soon. Joe was a little freaked out at that point, but he didn’t have time to dwell on it. The nurse grabbed one of my legs and instructed him to take the other. When I started pushing, I was a little hesitant at first. With encouragement from Joe, the nurse and midwife, I started working harder and harder. During a rest between contractions, I turned to Joe and asked if he could see the baby yet. Both he and the midwife emphatically said “YES!”
That was the push I needed. For the next few contractions, I pushed harder than I thought possible and finally, I could feel the baby’s head starting to slide out. After one more big push, he was here.
My midwife flipped the baby up onto my chest and my heart instantly exploded with love for that wrinkly purple little guy. I didn’t have long to snuggle with him, though. The medication I was given had made him a little sluggish, so the nurse brought him over to the bassinet to make sure he was okay. After a quick rub-down with the towel, his sweet little cry filled the room. The nurse wrapped him in a blanket and handed him to Joe, who laid him back on my chest for some more cuddles.
After 41 long weeks, my sweet Easton Joseph was finally in my arms for good.