It was a Friday morning, around 7:30am, and I was getting ready for work. I started to notice some slight cramping in my lower abdomen, like menstrual cramps. I didn’t think anything of it. I had those types of cramps a week earlier and my OB said it was a good sign that my body was getting ready. Archer wasn’t due for another 11 days so I figured more progress was being made toward labor.
I headed into work and throughout the day noticed the cramps getting stronger. They started to wrap around my hips and the cramps became progressively stronger — by 4:30 I couldn’t talk during the cramp so I figured it was time to go home and rest. I was so busy at work I didn’t really realize that they were coming regularly. Once I got in the car to drive home I started timing the craps. They were consistently 4 minutes apart. Still didn’t think anything of it and even stopped to get gas on the way home.
Once home I took a bath and tried to relax hoping the cramps would subside. The cramps kept coming. My Doula advised to rest and if the cramps kept coming regularly to go to the hospital to get checked. I then called the OB on call to get her opinion. Once a cramp came on and I stopped talking, she said, you need to go to the hospital to get checked.
My husband and I gathered our bags (we had everything we needed packed already) and headed out in rush hour Los Angeles traffic to the hospital. For some reason neither he nor I thought we were in labor. I assumed contractions would feel like tightening of the belly. That is what I remember being told in our Labor class. I didn’t have any belly tightening.
Finally after an agonizing drive, we make it to the hospital. We said, “We’re not here to get checked in, I’m just here to get checked.” As they had me sign papers at the front desk they noticed how much I was dancing around and trying to breathe. They decided it was time for me to get checked and my husband stayed behind to fill out paperwork. A few minutes later the nurse checked me and said, “Yup, you’re 4 cm dilated and having contractions every 3 minutes.” I said, “So we’re in labor?” She looked at me confused, “Yes, you’re in labor!”
They moved me right away to the Delivery room. I should say that we wanted an all natural non-medicated birth. I wanted to feel what it was like to have a baby. I didn’t want to be numbed or confined to my bed as you are with an epidural. I wanted to be able to move around and go with what my body wanted.
Long story short… I was in the delivery room at 8:15 and by 10:13 Archer was born. My OB didn’t even make the birth. A mid-wife from down the hall had to come deliver the baby. All the nurses were amazed at what a fast labor I had for my first baby. I am convinced that all the walking and squatting I did while laboring is what helped. I never sat down until it was time to push.
What I learned though this experience is how amazingly equipped and intelligent our bodies are. They will birth a child with your help or not. To feel my uterus pushing the baby out without my help was an amazing feeling (they told me not to push, ya right I told them, the baby is coming whether we’re ready or not). While definitely painful, it was the most exhilarating experience and I’ve never felt a bigger sense of accomplishment. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
While natural non-medicated birth isn’t for everyone, I encourage you to consider it. I read about the benefits of baby mother bonding with natural birth, nut honestly I was more curious than anything on what birth was like. What was I supposed to experience as a pregnant woman?
Any birth plan that ends with a healthy mom and baby is what we want so no matter how your birth ends up, be proud of yourself and amazed at the little joy your body created.