The last post ended of wishing that I had hired a doula to help me know what was going on with my body at this point, and how to remain patient when all I wanted was for this little person to come out and be in my arms!
Early labour. I would prefer active labour to early labour any time! Only because I did not know if it was time or not to go to the hospital. I wanted my birth plan to go as follows: my water would break while I was laughing at an episode of Frasier and then a few hours later, after no epidural or inducement, baby would arrive. Ha ha ha. The birthing classes drill into you 5-1-1, which means when you have a contraction every 5 minutes that lasts for 1 minute and has been going on for 1 hour, you go to the hospital now because you are in active labour.
It was a Friday, and I started out with the occasional contraction. All day I felt them coming stronger but spaced well apart. But by 8pm I had contractions every 2-4 minutes. They were not always lasting 1 minute but definitely happening for at least 1 hour.
Because I was having contractions under 5 minutes apart from each other, I called the after hours doctors number. The triage advised me to come in. It was a snowy January weekend. And I was ready to give birth.
However I was only one centimetre dilated so I was not anywhere near active labour. They admitted me in because I was planning to induce a few days later anyway. I was very weak from having had the cold and as a result many sleepless nights from both the cold and midnight contractions, but I was determined to have a natural pregnancy. Soon enough, however, as I was being wiped out by the waves of pain of my contractions, I realized that the best bet was to get the epidural so that I could rest and induce while we were at it if I hadn’t dilated yet. The last thing I wanted was to exhaust myself further and then having no energy to push.
I entered the hospital at 10pm that Friday night and the next morning induced at 9am and spent the next 12 hours waiting to dilate. But it was not a time of watching TV and eating popcorn. I went through a strange, hot mess of a day that included crying as I had the epidural inserted (it made me so nervous to have the needle stuck into my back), passing out almost immediately into much needed sleep once the epidural kicked in, coming down with a fever and having to go on penicillin and waiting for the fever to subside, going through a massive episode of the shivers during the fever and having the nurses place ice packs on me to bring down my temperature, trying to hold up to receive visitors but not doing very well as I was going in and out of sleep. I’m sure I looked a complete mess. They had to break my water. And apparently there was meconium that spilled out, which meant they the baby would likely ingest some of that first baby poop. I hated that nothing was going naturally and again, fearful that I would be going into a c-section.
And then it happened…in the evening, I dilated and dilated fast.
The most amazing experience was being told to start pushing by around 10:45pm. I was just so happy and I realized how incredible this all was, and all my weakness and misery died away. 40 minutes after we started pushing, my little girl was born. Indeed they had to drain the meconium out of her lungs and stomach but they did it quickly and effectively and then they gave her to me. My little angel. The nurse asked me if I wanted to nurse, and my daughter latched on right away like the little champ she is.
Thinking back to those two days, I still get a warm feeling all over. It was amazing to have bonded with the nurses who helped me to deliver, amazing to have been able to deliver vaginally, and amazing to have my little girl. Looking back on the entire experience of going through my losses, coming to know the doctors who helped me in their clinical ways, coming to know myself more, the pregnancy, and then the miracle of childbirth, I am so grateful to have been given all of these blessings. Even the losses…after all, the little souls are up in Heaven, I know that.
And here is a true confession – when I was in college, I was having premarital sex with my boyfriend and one month I missed my period. I thought “if I’m pregnant, my only option is to abort.” I was 22 years old and although had been brought up Catholic at home, I had actually been brought up in a very secular world where abortion was a normal idea to me. Thank God I was not pregnant, (only stressed out from exams), not because I didn’t want to have a baby. But because I wasn’t given the option to abort it. And I will be honest, that was the beginning of the end of my relationship with a boy whom I thought, everyone thought, I would marry. Why? He was too relieved that we weren’t pregnant, and we didn’t talk about it again, it didn’t click him into talking serious about where we were going in our relationship. I didn’t get a sense that there was a real commitment. And I was disappointed in myself for considering abortion. Because he did not believe in God I did not feel like I could open my heart to him on the topic of this and many other things, it turns out. He believed in living together before marriage to make sure we were compatible and I did not want to live together, although I was mixed up because I was fine, in my mind, that we were having sex. But just don’t tell my parents kind of thing. Indeed it took me a long time to learn that I needed to adhere to my beliefs through and through, not just bending things according to what I thought was acceptable and manageable in my heart and mind. The body showed me, with the risk of an unplanned pregnancy out of wedlock, that we weren’t taking life seriously enough. Our lives or the life of any being that we made together.
It took me many years to learn about having the courage to stick to my convictions, to even have convictions in the first place, and before that, knowing that I had convictions in the first place and then being able to articulate them, all of that was part of my journey, my blessed journey. God knew all of this and still managed to save a most wonderful man to be my husband.
What does this teach me? Have patience! Know your convictions and who you are and what you’re about and then hold your line, your standards and your faith. From avoiding premarital sex (for so many reasons! I recommend Fulton Sheen’s videos/books/homilies), to finding the right life partner to marry, to starting a family, and then to waiting until the contractions are more consistent…although they were 2-4 minutes apart they weren’t always 1 minute long and they should be consistently 2, 3 or 4 minutes apart…no fluctuations. And for me, I would definitely get a doula for the next pregnancy should we be blessed again.