I’m not sure how to label this birth story, because it wasn’t the greatest experience of my life, yet it also wasn’t a negative horror story. Nothing really went sideways and the outcome was perfect: a healthy baby girl and a mom, who now writing this, at 4 months, can run and do all the things she used to.
I guess I could label my birth story as honest and realistic. With all the possible emotions (and body fluids). I want to share my story to give an honest view of the most difficult and painful thing I have ever gone through. And for those that are scared of giving birth and wondering if they should read it or not: all I can say is that I was really scared, but my experience was positive enough, so that I’m not anymore. And as crazy as it is, I would do it all again.
My birth story
Everyone always asks: were there signs? Did you have any symptoms, which would predict labour starting soon?
And I guess I did, and I did not.
I had been experiencing contractions for a while. The first painful contractions I got already in December (they came at night and lasted for an hour) and after that I got them a few times, 3-10 minutes at a time. Besides those I had normal practice contractions every day quite a lot.
My belly visibly dropped at some point and at week 36 the baby was already head down really low (“she might come sooner rather than later”, the doctor said).
I did all the things I could to speed up the process: I went to a really hot sauna, I walked stairs, I ate dates and I tried to sleep and relax as much as I could. I also made sure to tell my belly every day: I’m ready for you, you can come out anytime.
But I still don’t think it was up to me. These things never are. It’s the most exciting and frustrating thing to wonder and wait.
7.2.2022 Monday 38+4
Monday was as normal as it could be in my 38th week of pregnancy. Meaning I was really tired and at that point where I was pretty much uncomfortable all the time. I remember that on that day I decided not to really do anything. I rested, napped and ate.
23:30 when it all started
I was sleeping, when I was woken up by painful contractions. I didn’t think much of it, because I had experienced them before. Risto was on my side and started patting my back – he also didn’t think this was it, because these had happened before. However, pretty soon he realized they weren’t going away and they seemed to only get stronger. This was it.
23:45 my water broke
I realized something was happening, when I felt some liquid coming out on a contraction. “Something came out! Did I pee myself?” was my first reaction. The contractions kept coming and were painful.
My water had broken. It kept coming out on contractions and was a funny feeling, because it’s out of your control. At this time we started clocking the contractions and realized they were already 2 minutes apart, 1 minute at a time. In other words: it was full on, right from the start. I didn’t have time to rest and recover. The pain was really overwhelming and I couldn’t move when the contraction started. (I had this idea in my head of jumping on the ball and helping myself by moving, but in reality I couldn’t move every time the contraction hit.)
Risto put the tens machine on my back and I started using it. It helped, I guess, a bit. It helped to focus on something else and have another feeling on the back, rather than just the pain.
The water had a slight green hue to it, which I’m sure was because of this vitamin drink I had had, so Risto called the hospital. He told that I was having painful regular contractions and that my water had broken and it had a green hue to it. They told us to come straight away to check the situation. It was mainly because of the color – I think they didn’t really take my contractions seriously.
It took at least an hour for me to get out the door. Risto started to pack our hospital bag. It was partially packed, but I had written a small note on the fridge of the stuff that still had to be packed (thank god for that little note, because I was no help in packing!).
In the beginning I talked about “all fluids”. Well, pretty soon when the contractions started my gut was like: okay, time to get everything out. So at this point I was still sitting on the toilet, painfully contracting, while also getting the “embarrasing” part out of the way, luckily at home.
After that I took a shower and tried sitting on the floor, desperate to find a comfortable position (which was impossible). I looked myself in the mirror and thought that I’m gonna die. I was shocked that already at this point (what was it, 1 or 2 hours after everything started) I was in so much pain.
Somehow we finally got to the car (Risto put the tens machine back on me after the shower). I just sat on my seat and was quietly suffering. Risto mistook my silence for relief, but nope, the contractions were just as painful, if not more painful, than before.
“The pain is straight from the lowest part of hell”, I described it. And even that doesn’t quite cut it. The roads were dark and silent in the middle of the night. I stared outside, but my mind was already going somewhere else.
1:05 at the hospital
At the hospital our midwife took us in and examined me. My legs started to shake uncontrollably and I was wondering why I couldn’t keep still. “You’re running a marathon”, the midwife told me sympathetically. I was 3-4 cm open. “You haven’t been contracting for nothing”, she said and brought me hospital clothes so we could move into our delivery room. I was (still) in shock of how quick everything was and I guess I asked if we were seriously staying. “You’re gonna have the baby today”, she told me.
At the delivery room I suddenly felt sick and puked two full bags. It all happened in seconds, I was leaning against a door and said that I was feeling a bit sick. The midwife was super fast in giving Risto puke bags to hold for me.
I guess around this time I also asked if Panadol (Tylenol) would help me. Safe to say my brain didn’t quite catch up to what was happening and how bad the pain was.
At the room I used laughing gas (besides the tens, which was still on). I also sat on a gym ball. These two didn’t really help the pain, but they helped to keep me focused. And the laughing gas made me breathe slowly, which was good. Risto was patting me through each contraction.
Somewhere around this time I also told the midwife I was scared. The whole situation felt unreal and the pain scared me.
Real pain relief started to interest me and the midwife recommended an epidural, since I really felt the pain in my back. So we waited for the anesthesia doctor. Meanwhile, I just suffered. My diaper (or a sanitary napkin of some kind) was all bloody and I told the midwife I was bleeding. I was opening up really fast, she knew. However, she purposefully didn’t yet check me, because if I was too open already, I wouldn’t get the epidural. And I guess I had been in so much pain for such a long time already, it was better to give me a break.
By the time the doctor came in and was getting ready to put the epidural in, my contractions had gotten to a point, where I felt this huge need to push. My body started to naturally push, when the contraction hit. However, the midwife told me to not push yet and focus on the breathing, so I could get the epidural.
– To this day this is the part that bothers me a little bit – would the pushing have been easier, if I had not taken the epidural? That way my body would have helped me to push. Then again, I had been in so much pain already, I’m not sure how much strength or willpower I would have had left. –
The epidural didn’t really hurt. The position in which it was put, was really uncomfortable, but Risto and the midwife held me still. I remember feeling safe in their tight hold.
And finally – a break from the pain. The epidural took it all away basically. I got my soul back, I could talk and even smile a bit.
At 4:50 I was fully open. My contractions had gotten really mild though and I didn’t feel the need to push as strongly as I did before the epidural. However, I felt a pressure down there and mentally I was ready get it over with.
I got an anesthetic down there. I also got some oxytocin to help strengthen the contractions.
6:00 I started to push
Then, it was just hard work. Every time a contraction came, I pushed with everything I got. The difficulty of this surprised me. I had to learn the technique and really put all my strength to it. It was weird trying to relax my pelvic floor and hip, while doing the most heavy physical work I’ve ever done. I tried different positions and pushed and pushed and pushed. The baby’s head was showing a bit, but it always got back up. It was so frustrating. Pushing was also a mental battle and I told the midwife I was scared to push. It was scary to not be on control, of having my downstairs explode (or so it felt). Really, I just had to decide to let go. I was just gonna push and everything was going to explode and whatever.
Finally the midwife recommended an episiotomy and I was fine with it. I was relieved knowing it would help to finally get the baby out.
6:59 Eva was born
On the next contraction she cut me open and I pushed the baby’s head out. That was such a dramatic moment. I could feel the cut and obviously, because the baby’s head came out at the same time, it hurt a bit. Her head was tilted (that’s why I couldn’t get her out!) and the umbilical cord was around her neck loosely. The midwife loosened the umbilical cord from her neck and soon the whole baby came out. Then came her first cry, and mine (and Risto’s).
I cried from relief and love. During that whole thing I didn’t cry, not once. I felt like it wouldn’t have helped, it would have been like giving up. But finally, when the baby was out, I could let go of the emotions. And what a ride it had been. Such a physical and mental battle, but now it was over.
The best and most important part of everything was when I got to hold our baby – and it was pretty much right away. She cried a bit, but then stopped and just rested on my chest. I stroked her little head (she had hair!) and was just really amazed at this little person that came out of me. I felt like it was the most important thing in the world, getting to hold her against my skin.
7:12 I pushed the placenta out and that was like nothing, after everything. All in all, I lost just 400ml of blood. I was stitched and I got to take a shower and I had to pee, before we got out of the room. I couldn’t pee at first, which was so weird, but I got some medicine, which helped.
Eva was 46cm long and weighed 2955g when she was born.
Then we spent some sleepless nights at the hospital and started to get to know to our little girl. My recovery is a whole other story. For a long time it felt like I was getting nowhere with it. But now looking back, I should have been more forgiving and patient. Recovery takes time, but your body is pretty amazing and it does the work once you let it.
It wasn’t the greatest experience of my life
I have mixed feelings about my delivery. It’s hard not to compare it to others, others who describe it as the best experience of their life. Others, who didn’t have to be cut open. Others, who don’t, at first, just think of the intensity and pain of it.
Mine didn’t feel like a movie delivery. Or amazing. I think it’s mostly because I wasn’t prepared for it being that quick and being that painful that fast. I though the pain would slowly start to get worse and I would have time to adjust. And that’s why mentally it was hard to grasp what was happening. First deliveries always come late and they last for days, everyone says. I thought mine would have taken days, of just contracting home at first, probably doing unnecessary visits to the hospital.
So I guess I also want to share, because this story is different. It can also happen quickly. The baby can come sooner.
But you can still survive it and however you do it, with drugs or not, crying or not crying, it’s a remarkable thing for your body and mind to go through.
And it took a while, but I’m proud of myself for getting through it. I know it wasn’t in my hands and I did my best to just ride the wave. And however it went, it went. I’m here now and I did it, even though I was scared. I didn’t let my fear stop me.
And I’m pretty sure I’m now stronger for it.