By Kristina Horner
I started having contractions on my due and went to the hospital only to have them send me home to do more walking. Nothing progressed until the next day. We were watching the Notre Dame game when they started again. That’s when I knew the night before wasn’t the real thing and that I’d wasted a bill with that trip to the hospital.
I called my midwife, Kristin, a few hours later. My contractions were mild and about 10 minutes apart. She said it sounded like the baby was sunny-side up. So she told me to swing my hips through the contractions to encourage the baby to flip. I slept that night and woke the next morning. It wasn’t until 6:11 the next night that my water broke probably because the baby finally flipped. Evan was behind me as I was swinging my hips when my water broke. We just looked down. The contractions started coming at 2 minutes apart. That’s when we knew it was time to go to the hospital.
It was an ice storm that night and I was in a lot of pain. When we got to the hospital, they asked if I wanted a wheel chair. I said, “No, I got it. Wait. Yes! I need one!” I wasn’t in triage for very long because I was ready to have the baby. I was 8 cm dilated when they checked me. I had to wait on Kristin because of the ice storm. They didn’t think she was going to make it. So they sent in the resident who was some young guy. I was like, “NO!”
I wanted a support system in the room with me. In my birth plan, I had written that I wanted them with me unless I changed my mind last minute. My husband Evan, mom, mother-in-law and friend Amber were all with me. My mother-in-law is a labor and delivery nurse, so it was good to have her there. A lot of people think it’s crazy to have so many in the room, but having that many people was a great support. Evan helped hold one leg and my mom had the other. Amber was grateful to have that experience since she hadn’t had a child yet and didn’t know what to expect.
I wanted a natural birth, but wasn’t swearing off an epidural or drugs because I hadn’t done it before and didn’t know what to expect. If I needed it, it would be there for me. But I would say the pain of the contractions was tolerable for me. It was similar to the kidney stones I’ve had, which I expected because of what others had told me. I had ideas of how to manage the pain because of my history with kidney stones. I knew warm water or the tub would help, but there wasn’t time to get in it. They asked me if I wanted an epidural. If I wanted it, I had to have it right away. I said, “No.” Then they asked if I wanted Nubain. I said, “Yes,” but didn’t have time. Instead, I just counted down. I told myself that it’s only 30 seconds and I can make it 30 seconds.
Thankfully Kristin walked in the door right when I started pushing. She started massaging my perineum, which was some of the worst pain, along with the crowning. I said, “Do you have to do that?” And she said, “You’ll thank me.” It really went pretty quickly, so it wasn’t too bad. Unfortunately I did have a pretty bad tear. I didn’t know how bad it was until a nurse doing clinicals said it was really bad.
We didn’t find out the sex of the baby beforehand. It wasn’t anything like the movies when the baby is born and the doctor announces, “It’s a boy!” They put him on my chest and I looked down to see he’s a boy! I was exhausted, but it was such an adrenaline rush. I was laughing and crying at the same time. It was love at first sight. I didn’t realize he would be covered in vernix. He started nursing right away. He was a champ. I didn’t have to teach him anything. He just knew what to do.
I thought I was done at that point, but then they said, “Okay, a couple more pushes.” I was like, “Uh, aren’t we done?” But I needed to deliver the placenta. I thought it just sort of tumbled out.
From the time I got there to the time he was in my arms was 3 hours. The three hours I was there did not feel anything like 3 hours. It went so quickly. He stayed with me for probably half-an-hour before they took him to clean and measure him. Right after that, they gave him back to me.
I couldn’t have asked for a better birth experience, especially after hearing stories from friends and family. Personally, I don’t know what the difference was. I think part of it was that I had no interventions. But every birth is going to be different. My best advice to others is to give yourself enough credit to know that you can have a natural birth. Don’t necessarily swear off the epidural or other pain medications. Know they are there if necessary. But also know that your body is made to do this.
A great support system and counting helped Kristi through her contractions. What helped you?