My son was due October 20, 2006, which was a Friday. That night, just
after midnight, I entered the early stages of labor. I lost my mucus
plug and started having contractions. We waited about two hours,
called the OB on call, and were told to come on in. I spent four hours
on the L&D floor, walking around, trying to move things along, only to
find, at 6:00 A.M., that I hadn’t dilated at all. They sent us home
and told us to come back when the contractions were more painful and
closer together. We dutifully followed directions.
As a side note, we had bought a car that evening, not long before I
went into labor. We had to pick it up Saturday morning, so we went
ahead and did that. I don’t think the salesman had a very good sense
of what it meant that I was in labor. He just went on with his spiel,
for what felt like hours, giving us a tour of the facility, showing us
everything we could possibly want to know about our new Toyota Rav4,
and generally doing his salesman thing. I really wanted to go home.
Anyway. We went home. I had no idea what to do with myself. My husband
called his parents in Israel. Their neighbor is a midwife, and she got
on the phone and told my husband to tell me to take a hot shower. Now
that was a great suggestion. The shower felt so good, and it sped up
my contractions because I was standing up. Eventually, I got out of
the shower, and the contractions slowed down, but it had been another
10 hours or so, and we decided it was time to return to the hospital.
This was about 4:00-ish on Saturday afternoon.
I had dilated to a whopping 2cm by then, so they let us stay, since we
were now sure I was in active labor. I had had quite enough of this
labor thing by then, and couldn't believe the long road I still had
ahead of me, with eight centimeters to go! I requested pain relief,
but I wasn’t quite ready for the epidural, so I got a narcotic
cocktail instead. That lasted about 90 minutes, during which I was
high and having the weirdest visions/dreams. I really had no idea what
was going on, how much time was passing, or who was in and out of the
That wore off, and I labored some more, mostly lying on the bed. My
mom was there with me, along with my husband. My mom had given birth
to both me and my brother totally naturally, drug-free, and she said I
should walk around. But I didn’t feel like it. I was tired, and it was
hurting, and lying down was so much easier.
By the time I reached 4cm, I wanted the epidural. It didn’t go very
well and actually took two attempts before the anesthetic took hold,
but it did its job at that point. I was then stuck in the bed whether
I wanted to be or not, but I did enjoy the break from the pain. My
water broke at around 5cm, just as the OB was getting ready to break
the bag of waters manually.
Much of the next several hours is kind of an epidural haze. They
started Pitocin at around 7cm, hoping to move things along. By 5:00
A.M. Sunday morning, I had finally fully dilated, and they started
coaching me on pushing. “Here comes a contraction. Take a breath.
Hold. Push. 1, 2, 3…10. And breathe. Hold. Push 1, 2, 3…” Etc. They
told me my pushing technique was good. But the baby wouldn't budge. It
seemed he was occiput posterior (OP), which means the top of his head
was toward my back, instead of the more comfortable occiput anterior
(OA), where the top of the head is toward the mother’s stomach – the
baby comes out more easily if he is face-down during delivery. Many
babies will turn in the birth canal as they come out, but mine didn’t
want to. It turned out he also had a very big head.
After two hours of pushing, he had not moved at all. He was still up
in the cervix, with no apparent desire to come out and see the world.
My OB told me that I could keep pushing if I wanted, but he wasn’t
making any progress, and it might be time to consider a c-section. She
was not at all confident that this baby was coming out the more
natural way. She stressed that he was not in distress – his heart rate
was fine, he was holding up very well, and there was no immediate
medical danger to the baby, or really to me, if I wanted to keep
trying. However, I was feeling a great deal of pain despite the
epidural, I was completely exhausted, and I just wanted this baby out.
So my husband and I very quickly decided to go ahead and have the
They whisked me away to the operating room, where I was suddenly
surrounded by a bunch of new people, including an incredibly sweet and
caring anesthesiologist who held my hand and looked into my eyes and
helped me stay calm during the procedure. My husband took a few
minutes to get there, because he had to put on a sterile gown, gloves,
hat, mask, etc., and I remember being terribly frightened and looking
around wildly for him. I needed him there beside me. A c-section had
been my greatest childbirth fear, and now here I was having to face
I was aware of some pressure in my abdomen, then a baby’s cry, and my
husband holding him. I looked for him and saw my beautiful son. He was
9lbs., 1oz., and 20 inches. He was healthy and strong. And he had a
big head, as advertised. And I couldn't even hold him, because I was
still strapped down on the table being stitched up.
I had lost a lot of blood and went into shock a few hours after
delivery, requiring a blood transfusion. I was confined to my bed
through Monday, still in a great deal of pain and unable to care for
the baby myself. I spent four days in the hospital, and was sent home
on Thursday afternoon. It took me a long time to fully recover,
including a postpartum hemmorrage about three weeks later. I didn’t
really feel like myself again until about three months postpartum.
9lbs 1oz, 20"
Jessica is a lovely mother of two boys expecting her third (boy!) in a few months. She is a wealth of knowledge regarding VBACs and car seat safety. I am grateful for Jessica's contribution to this blog and would like to direct you to her blog if you would like to read more of her work: http://jessicaonbabies.blogspot.com/