When I was pregnant with my daughter, I also had a sister and a sister-in-law who were pregnant. We were all greatly anticipating having these three babies all so close together. We lamented our pregnancy aches and pains together, and planned for what life would be like for these cousins. I was due March 24, my sister-in-law was due on April 15, and my sister was due on July 21. It was an exciting time in our family.
On March 11, my sister-in-law, went into labor. She had texted all of us (it was the middle of the night) to tell us that she was in labor. Because I obviously had to go to the bathroom during the night, I was awake when she texted us, and I immediately started sobbing. It sounds so silly now, but at the time, when I had been pregnant for 37 weeks, and when I had hormones going crazy in my body, it was a HUGE deal that my sister-in-law, who was due 3 weeks after me, was going to have her baby first. I HAD BEEN PREGNANT LONGER!!! I was actually so jealous that I couldn’t even look at pictures for the first few days. I’m really embarrassed about all of this now, but as any woman who has had a baby can attest, it is easy to be irrational when you are THAT pregnant. (I have since apologized to my sister-in-law for being so insanely jealous.)
When I was about 30 weeks along, I started having contractions every 10 minutes. They never got any closer or any more painful, but they were very consistent. I finally went to the doctor after about 2 days, just to make sure everything was still okay. He said that I was dilating very slowly, but it wasn’t really anything to be concerned about. I did that for the rest of my pregnancy. When they got worse, I would take a bath (usually in the middle of the night), and that helped them calm down a bit. But almost 10 weeks of contractions every ten minutes does get old after a while!
I was teaching full-day kindergarten when I was pregnant, so it was actually kind of fun. My students were SO excited that I was having a baby, and my belly was CONSTANTLY being touched. I got so used to it that I didn’t even notice. The kids would tell me that they could hear my baby crying, or that she had just kicked them in the head, or that they heard her talking. That last one is a little bit creepy… Just sayin’. They also came up with a pretty fabulous/weird list of names for the baby, and voted for which gender they thought my baby would be. Some of them were so disappointed when I had a girl, even though they had voted for a boy. I had to burst their bubble and tell them that their vote actually couldn’t change the gender of the baby. And thank heavens for that! I would NOT want a kindergartner to have that much power.
I went into labor at around 11:00 pm on March 20th. I am pretty convinced that what put me into labor was playing with my kids at recess that day. I played basketball and soccer with them… And then, in the end, I ran races. I’m sure I looked like such a dork, but I was SO desperate to go into labor. I was 39 weeks and 3 days along at that time. There was one little boy who was SO concerned about me running around. Ha. He kept saying, “Ms. Keddington, you need to rest! You can’t run around!” But, it worked. I felt the baby drop when I was walking back inside.
It still took a while for the labor to actually begin. At one point that night, my husband asked, “What do you want to do tomorrow?” and I longingly said, “Have a baby!!!” I knew that my wish had come true when I was trying to calm my contractions down a bit by taking a bath at around 4:00 am, and they just kept getting worse. I started bleeding a bit, too, so I realized this was the real thing. I actually then tried to go back to sleep for a bit, but it didn’t work too well, because my contractions were now 5 minutes apart and getting rather painful. So, around 5:30 am, I finally woke my husband up to take me to the hospital.
On the way to the hospital, we called his aunt, who is a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital I was delivering at, so she could meet us there. We also called my sisters so they could meet us at the hospital, too. The rest of the time, I had Jeff distract me from the pain of the contractions by having him talk in detail about… well… I have no idea. Ha. I just needed to have something to focus on besides the pain.
We checked into the hospital at about 7:15 am. They had a nurse check me, and she said I was dilated to a ten already. I was pretty shocked, and thought, “This was it? That’s not bad at all!” But apparently it was her first day on the job, and when another nurse checked me, she said I was at a 3, not a 10. Darn!
I didn’t really have a birth plan when I went to the hospital. I figured that I would try and go without an epidural, but I wouldn’t be heartbroken or disappointed if I ended up getting one. So, we did it the old fashioned way. My sister had told me a bit about hypno-birthing, and my husband’s aunt showed my husband how to really calm me down and support me. I honestly did not anticipate how much of a bonding experience it would be to go through labor with my husband by my side. He helped me SO much.
At around 10:00 am, they checked me, and I was told that I was still only at a 4. By then I had been in labor for 11 hours, and was afraid that if I didn’t get an epidural, and things kept progressing as slowly as they had, I would not have enough energy to push when the time came—especially considering I had not slept at all the night before. I decided to get an epidural, although the anesthesiologist was busy for a couple of hours. I wish they had checked me before I got the epidural, because when they checked me just after, I was at a 7. I think I may have been able go without an epidural at that point. But I still feel fine about it. There is no right or wrong way to give birth.
When the anesthesiologist finally came, he told me that due to my small size, it would probably be a little difficult for him to place the epidural, but that it would likely be fine. He told me to tell him if I felt my heart race, heard a ringing in my ear, or got dizzy. As soon as the epidural was in, all 3 of those things happened. So, he had to pull it out and do it again. Everything went well the 2nd time, and I actually got to take a bit of a nap. It was a great decision for me, because a couple of hours later, when I was at a 10 and ready to push, I had enough energy and strength to do it.
When the time came for me to push, I only had to do it through 2 contractions, and then my baby was out. My husband’s aunt was kneeling on the bed next to me, encouraging me (in her adorable southern accent) to dig deeper and push harder. My daughter cried right away (and to be honest, she didn’t stop for several months ;). Ha. I tore quite a bit, so I got a few stitches, and it was painful to sit for at least a week.
One thing I learned from this experience was that each birth is a little bit different, and there’s no one right way to have a baby. You just have to do what is right for you, in your circumstance. I am so grateful I had the experience to give birth. It was one of the most beautiful, wonderful experiences of my life.