As my due date approached, DH and I were getting more and more anxious for things to pick up and get started. When we went in for my 40 week appointment, my midwife was reassuring saying that most babies come between 38-42 weeks and that there should be nothing to worry about. At that point, we began having non-stress tests done at the maternity ward every couple of days. Baby girl did great and my blood pressure and other vitals were good. She just wasn’t ready. At my 41 week appointment, my midwife offered to check my cervix and see how far along I was. She hadn’t done this before and I was glad. At 41 weeks, I was still completely closed; no dilation at all. This was a little discouraging for me, since we had been waiting for what felt like forever. Additionally, the baby was right on my cervix, which caused the cervix to be really high up. Needless to say, this was a VERY painful internal exam. I had also been walking a lot and doing other things that are supposed to get your cervix ready. No such luck. At this point, my Mom and Dad were both up here waiting for the birth. We spent a lot of time together, walking and eating spicy food and hanging out trying to keep me calm. DH wound up taking a couple of days off to be with us, too.

The non-stress tests after the 41 week mark were a little different. Baby girl would get sleepy every time that we went. We would have to wait there and try having me lay down differently to see if her heart rate would get up. On Saturday May 5th, my midwife was at the hospital when I was having my NST done, and offered to check me again. Cervix was still totally closed at 41 weeks 5 days. Also, this exam was even more painful than the time before. At this point, we were planning for an induction to happen on Monday morning. When we met with the midwife, she said that we could actually come in on Sunday night to begin induction. This way, I would likely be in labor during the day instead of the middle of the night. DH and I agreed right away and planned to head to the hospital on Sunday night.

Now, since I had been planning for natural childbirth, the thought of induction scared the crap out of me. From everything that we had read, and the childbirth classes we took, we knew what some of the effects of the induction drugs were. I was very nervous that something wouldn’t work, or that it would make labor too difficult for my body to handle. Contractions that are induced with pitocin are known to be stronger, quicker, and more irregular. I just put my faith in my body and my midwife and hoped for the best. There was no way for me to know what was going to happen, so I had to just go with it and see where it took me.

So, on Sunday night, my parents saw us off to the hospital to start our stay. We were leaving as the two of us and wouldn’t be back until we were a family of three!! It was very exciting. When we got to the hospital, we knew that the plan was that we would be checking in, and have another NST. From there, they would insert a 12 hour dose of cervidil to soften and dilate my cervix. We got to the hospital, and my midwife gave me an internal exam again. I was about 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. This made me glad because it meant that my body was sort of on its way to labor on its own. I was still hoping that we would only need the cervidil and I could skip pitocin all together. So, we went to sleep and were checked in the morning after the dose was removed. I wasn’t having contractions like I had hoped I would be. My midwife did one more intensely painful internal exam and found that I was still only 1cm dilated but that the cervix was nice and soft. It was hopefully doing what it was supposed to be.

From here, we could decide if we wanted to start with the pitocin right away or try another drug; misoprostol. We opted for the misoprostol with the hope that it would continue to ripen my cervix and prepare my body to deliver this baby. After the 4 hour waiting period with very few contractions, they administered the pitocin drip. This was our last shot.

When the pitocin was administered, things picked up right away. I began having contractions that I could feel. By 3pm, they were getting so uncomfortable that I couldn’t really speak through them anymore or focus on the movie that we were watching on TV (A League of Their Own…I was so excited that we caught it at the very beginning!). When the nurses changed at 3:30, our day nurse (who was awesome) said that she was glad things were picking up, but that she was so bummed out that she would likely miss the birth. Just before this, we were told that it could take a while for the pitocin to work. We were hoping to deliver that day but were told that if things do not progress, we would need to decide to let me sleep or continue with labor into the wee hours. I did not like that idea and wanted my body to do it’s thing to get me into full on labor.

By 4 p.m. I was telling DH that I wanted to get into the tub. I think this was around the same time that I lost my mucus plug, but thought that it was my water breaking. My contractions were stronger and I was feeling them heavily in my back. I knew that water would take some of the pressure off. So, he called for the nurse to start filling the tub. I feel like it took FOREVER for the water to finally fill up. Eventually, I was able to get into the tub. The weightless feeling that I had in there really helped deal with the pain in my back that I was having through contractions. We turned the lights way down, or maybe even off. DH kneeled by the tub the whole time. I know at some point our midwife got him a pillow to kneel on, but before that he was bare on the ground! The great part about this was that I felt like I was in there for a half an hour. I found out later that I was actually in the tub for three hours! The hospital was having problems with hot water, which meant that the water wasn’t very hot to start, and then there was no way to add hot water once it cooled down. So, since I was getting relief in the tub, my wonderful midwife ran back and forth from the coffee station with hot water for tea and was adding it to the tub for me. We think that it’s likely that my water broke at some point while I was in the water. I also had some issues with hyperventilation, which was a little scary for DH. I was letting out way more air than I was taking in, so I had to change the way I was breathing. I was in the tub for an hour before my midwife was able to check me for dilation. At that point, I was at 4 centimeters. By the time I got out, I was at 6. I eventually got cold, and wanted to get out of the tub, so that’s what we did.

At this point, I was pretty close to transition. I had a couple of hard contractions on the way back to the bed. I ended up lying down for a bit, but that was uncomfortable for me. I decided to kneel on the bed, leaning up on the back of the upright bed. This was by far the worst part of labor for me. My contractions were nearly unbearable, and this was when I started whimpering through them. I felt pretty pathetic when this was happening, but it was getting hard! At some point, my midwife asked if I thought I wanted to push with contractions, and I told her that I did. She checked me and I was 8 cm. She told me to try to push on the next contraction. I bore down, and in that one contraction, I went from 8 to fully dilated and time to push!

Everybody started to get ready for the big show at this point. I decided to lie on my back, even though I know that’s not always the most productive pushing position. It was just after 8 p.m. and things had progressed so quickly. My midwife was really surprised and how fast things were going. I started pushing as soon as they were ready for me. DH was by my side, and my Mom and the labor nurse were at my legs with my midwife. With each contraction, I pushed. Initially, I wasn’t pushing right which prompted me to apologize to my midwife mid-contraction. Later, DH and my Mom said how funny that was. At some point during pushing, they had to put an internal fetal monitor in to make sure they knew what was happening with the baby. I was being given oxygen between each contraction. Towards the end, I would push for one contraction and then not push on the next. The baby crowned at some point, but not much of her head was showing. I know that my pushing also got much more productive around this time. I remember having a couple of contractions on top of each other and pushing really hard with each one. Then, a contraction came and I pushed to get her head out and in one push her whole body was delivered!! After about 40 minutes of pushing, we had our baby girl who was born at 8:53! She was immediately brought up to me and placed on my skin. Once the cord was done pulsing, DH got to cut it and then I got to hold our sweet girl. She looked so much like her Daddy! While we were bonding, my midwife was stitching me up. Luckily, I didn’t have a big tear anywhere. Because she came out so quickly, there were a lot of little tears inside that needed to be fixed. Once we had our hour or so of skin to skin bonding, we got DH's parents, my Dad and my best friend from the waiting room so we could measure and weigh our new addition. She was lighter than we expected at 7lbs 6oz, but she was 22 inches long!

All in all, my labor was painful, but much better than I expected. I always said that I would rather have a quick and intense labor as opposed to one that was slow and long. I went into active labor sometime between 3 and 4, and she was born before 9. It was wonderful. DH and my Mom both said how I was not the person in labor that you see in movies and TV (or that my Mom was, even!). I didn’t yell, I didn’t swear, I never once said that I couldn’t do this. Instead of yelling at people in the room, I was apologizing to my midwife and husband and nurses. I think I just went into a zone and went for it. I was so lucky that my induction went the way it did. I was thrilled that I could still go through labor without pain meds like I had wanted to from the beginning. My midwife said that first babies very rarely progress as quickly as my labor progressed; I consider myself lucky. After going through all of that, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. DH was just in awe of what I had done, and I loved him more for being so supportive. Our sweet girl was so worth it!