Posted by Saraline , Friday, November 14, 2008 6:30 PM
I apologize for not making a post for such a long period of time. I was busy getting ready for this little guy and it's been taking awhile to get some structure in my life since his arrival.
I went into labour the night of the Canadian federal election. I had trouble getting comfortable all night and it turns out that it wasn't just because of Stephen Harper.
My contractions started at around midnight and we left in a taxi at about 2 am. (My ex-boyfriend had been staying in my spare bedroom every night that week so he would be able to go to the hospital with me.) My friend Leah, who was my birthing coach and had gone to prenatal classes with me, met us at the hospital. The nurse put me in a small room and hooked me up to the EMF reader (a machine that measures the contractions and the baby's heartbeat.) This made me a little grumpy. I was also a little grumpy that I had to wait in this room before going into one of the nice big birthing rooms with windows and showers. I had to wait in this room because they had to make sure that I was in labour before letting me go into one of the nice rooms. My contractions were about seven minutes apart at this point so I was fairly certain that I was going into labour.
Now I understand why natural labour advocates feel like hospitals rely on machines too much. My contractions weren't showing up on the reader. This was partly because I was uncomfortable and couldn't sit still and I also had to keep going to the bathroom. The nurse would come in and check the read-out and it would look like my contractions were really far apart. It seemed like she didn't believe me about being in labour. She didn't have to look at the printout to see how far apart or how big my contractions were. She was at a desk right by the little room. She could have asked me or the people with me how far apart my contractions were or, you know, listened to my screams. They were pretty loud because instead of thinking, "breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out" I was thinking, "breathe in, scream! Breathe in, scream!" I don't think that the machine could have been a more reliable source of information about the situation than I could have been.
The floor doctor came in twice to see how far dilated I was. The second time she checked I was 3 cm dilated so they finally let me go into a nice birthing room. I was in a lot of pain at this point so the nurse who was now looking after me hooked me up with some laughing gas. My birth experience was pretty psychedelic after that happened and it's kind of a blur. Apparently I was making a lot of jokes between my contractions. I remember my ex-boyfriend getting into an argument with the nurse. I also remember yelling at him and Leah saying to him, "We learned about this in baby class, it's normal."
The labour happened very fast and I knew that it was happening fast, but again, it didn't seem like anybody believed me. I can't even describe the pain. It felt like my entire body was part of the process. I had a spiritual revelation at one point but I can't remember what it was now. At one point I was screaming that I could feel the head but I guess everyone just thought I was being a drama queen. I started pushing and I went temporarily blind (or maybe my eyes were closed.) I had no idea what was happening around me, but I suddenly heard voices saying, "Saraline, stop pushing! We have to wait for the doctor! Don't push!" I thought that their advice was absurd so I kept pushing. I felt the head come out and I felt my perineum tear and then I blacked out completely. When I opened my eyes again there was a baby on my chest.
Someone took the baby away and I noticed that my legs were shaking and there were a lot of people staring at my vagina. It was rather disconcerting. Leah talked to me while they were stitching me up. I wanted the people to leave my vagina alone and let me curl up under a warm quilt, but they did not. When they were finished a young woman was apologizing to me for something that happened during the labour but until my baby was on me I'd had no idea that she was in the room.
I found out afterwards that an intern (the young woman who apologized to me) had come in while my doctor was on her way to the hospital. The intern was afraid to deliver the baby without the doctor there so that's why they were telling me not to push. She ran out to get the floor doctor and when he came in my son's head was already halfway out. The doctor yelled at her for running to get him instead of just delivering the baby. My son Eliot was born at 8:25 am.
If I could do it all over again, I still wouldn't want to give birth at home. Maybe at a birthing centre with a midwife, but not in my apartment where all my neighbours could hear me screaming. I would definitely keep Leah. She was a fantastic birthing coach. A few of the nurses asked her if she was a professional midwife. I would still have my ex there as well. It was sweet to see him singing to the baby afterwards.
I did like staying in the hospital after the birth because I could press a button to move my bed up and down or from a laying position to a sitting position. I also didn't have to worry about food because it kept showing up at mealtimes. I felt that my one-night stay in the hospital was a little too short.
A faithful reader of mine (hi J.P!) has requested that I make a list of things that I recommend bringing to the hospital when you're in labour. I've seen many lists like this, but the one thing that they were missing that I wished I'd thought of was toilet paper. One of the indicators that a pregnant woman is going into labour is a soft bowel movement. I had mine at the hospital and I sure would have liked to have something better than one-ply hospital toilet paper!