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Guest Blog: A Birth Story (DD #1)


Guest Blogger The Biologist shares one of her birth stories.

Now I have been introduced, I’d like to tell you the story of my daughter’s birth. As you might already have picked up on with this blog, everyone’s experience of pregnancy and birth is unique. Yes, there are commonalities, but it is very unlikely that you will have the exact same experience as the author of this blog. That’s another reason I was asked to share a few of my stories – to give another example. Of course, it is also very unlikely that you will have the exact same experience as I did either. And in fact, I didn’t even have the exact same experience each time!

So, here’s the first story:
Stats: DD#1 (dear daughter #1): born Nov. 2006, in Wisconsin. 8 lb 5 oz. I was 27 years old and a graduate student.

The pregnancy was pretty easy. I was nauseous the first trimester, but never threw up. The second trimester was awesome – I was happy to be pregnant and everything was great! The third trimester was also just fine. I never got too big and never felt so physically uncomfortable that I was ready to have the baby. However, after my due date came and went, I was mentally ready to be done.

Finally, on Tuesday morning I began to have contractions. I was sitting in lab meeting and timing them – ~10-15 minutes apart. They weren’t painful, I was able to sit there and appear totally normal. They just felt like mild cramps. After our meeting, I finished up telling people in my lab what I needed. The contractions really weren’t getting any stronger, but they were regular. I got a ride home with a friend, because my biggest fear of labor was having my water break on the public bus! (I know it seems like a silly thing to be afraid of and only ~15-20% of labors start with the water breaking anyway).

I continued having contractions… I sort of slept on Tuesday night, but not that well. Wednesday they continued at 4-5 minutes apart. They were getting stronger, but still not at all painful. My dear husband (DH) stayed home from work and class all day and we walked a lot, then they’d get to be 3-4 minutes apart and I’d have to stop walking. By 4pm on Wednesday we decided to go to the hospital, since I had been having contractions 5 min apart, lasting for a minute and going on for not just one hour, but many! (just like the birth class told us!) Also, we went partly out of boredom, for a change of scenery and to see if anything was actually going on. I was 3.5 cm at the hospital so they had us walk around there for 2 hours (and we thought we were bored before!). I was still 3.5 cm, so we went home and got a good night’s sleep on Wednesday night.

Thursday: Contractions continue all day, just like before. Fun! Then around 7-8pm, they start getting even stronger. This is where I feel like I finally went into active labor. I sat on my birth ball a lot, or was on hands and knees on the floor. I needed my husband there. But I was still doing fine. I could definitely handle this! The contractions were by now 3-4 minutes apart lasting for a minute and a half.

Around 3 am Friday we headed to the hospital again. This time we knew we’d be staying as I was at 6cm. I was pretty excited because it really hadn’t been that bad up til this point. Then we went to our room and labored there. The hospital was very nice with a birth ball, two different kinds of rocking chairs, a large tub in the bathroom, shower, etc. I tried pretty much everything. Things were pretty tough, but still I was able to relax in between contractions and I was fine, though getting quite tired since we hadn’t slept all night. At one point (between contractions) I said to my DH: “this is tough, but grad school is way harder!”

Around noon (8 hours after arriving) they checked me again… only 6-7 cm. I was pretty disappointed. All of that work, for maybe 1 cm?! (They wanted to break my water to speed things along. I agreed – to hopefully avoid the use of pitocin. The resident was pretty horrible at breaking my water, so it really hurt, (it shouldn’t hurt when they do this, but it turns out that if they miss poking the water bag and instead hit your cervix with the little pointy tool… ouch!) but after that, things got moving. And not coincidentally, this is where it got tough. It was so intense, the contractions were maybe 3 min apart and lasting for almost 2 min and I was so exhausted and so was my DH. I pretty much had my eyes shut for the whole of transition… which lasted about 3-3.5 hours. It’s amazing how I can’t really remember the pain now, but I do remember that it was there.

At 9cm I asked if it was too late to have a 1/2 dose of narcotic. I still didn’t want an epidural, I really wanted to experience all of labor, but I was tired and hoping that a little bit of something might make me be able to rest a bit more. However, it was too late because I was potentially too close to having the baby, which would have been born under the effects of the narcotics and possibly have problems, and so I said, “fine, I’ll just do it myself then!” My doctor told me later that it wouldn’t have helped me at that point anyway. And I’m glad I didn’t get it, though if I would have, that probably would have been okay too.

Then it was time to push! That was so much better, really. The contractions didn’t hurt when I was pushing. I’m not sure why, possibly because I was so tired. Pushing went on for 2.5 hours (on the longer side for first-time moms, though my doc said she thinks runners often have to push longer…) and then DD#1 was born at 5:43pm on Friday… with a full head of hair, screaming at the top of her lungs and staring at me with her big eyes and big cheeks. I was absolutely in love from the start. After looking myself to see that she was a girl, my first words were: “Oh my god, she’s so beautiful!” Then, while she was lying on my chest she peed all over me! (She thinks that’s hilarious now when I tell her about it.)

I only had a tiny tear requiring a couple stitches and recovered pretty easily. Everyone were great. Our birth plan said that no one should ask me if I wanted drugs and to have a positive attitude, and everyone followed our wishes. However, every time a nurse or doctor would come into the room to do anything, my contractions would slow down to 6-8 min apart instead of 3-4. Very strange!

To summarize: I went into the experience wanting a natural birth because I wanted to avoid any possible side effects with drugs and because, as a biologist, I really wanted to experience every part of the birth process for myself. I looked forward to the experience and while I knew it would be painful (and it was), I also knew that pain couldn’t kill me. During the process, (as you read, if you made it through that whole story!) during the toughest part I wanted a ½ dose of narcotic, but it was too late for that. I never wanted an epidural, for various reasons. It’s not that I believe that everyone should experience birth this way and that drugs are ‘bad’ – not at all! But for me, I knew I didn’t need them or want them, so that was my plan going into labor. It was a painful experience, yes, but it was also a wonderful experience and the ‘high’ after my daughter was born was incredibly amazing!

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