Giving birth is an amazing, wonderful and agonizingly painful part of bringing life into this world. I have been blessed to do it four times with every labour experience different, yet very much the same. My fourth, however, took the cake on confusing this mama and causing a whole lot of drama!
Being my fourth term pregnancy, there were already a lot of aches and pains and I was getting braxton hicks on a daily. Then came Saturday. I was contracting every few minutes and they were painful. I know this feeling – or so I thought. I showered, I laid in bed, I tried to relax but nothing was alleviating the pain. Because I delivered my second child at 36 weeks, I was pretty sure I was heading that direction. After all, I was 36 weeks and 5 days and I know what labor feels like, right? By the late evening, the pain was getting intense and I said the words every husband loves to hear, “I think it’s time”.
I got checked into labour and delivery, put on the gown, and prepared myself to walk out with my baby. I wasn’t ready but I know my body - and this baby was ready! With my blue gown on and monitors strapped, I laid back and waited. Nothing was getting worse, but nothing was getting better. Annoying. Finally the nurse comes in and tells me I am extremely dehydrated and they will be giving me an IV to jumpstart my fluids. Cool. I will now deliver the baby AND be hydrated. As I lay there listening to another woman scream for what seemed like hours, the nurse assured me the doctor would be in to check me shortly. Man that woman was in a lot of pain – good thing I don’t scream like that when I deliver! Ha!
It’s now actually hours later and the same woman is still screaming. I, on the other hand, am not. I am uncomfortable at worst. Super annoying. What is taking my body so long to get this started? The doctor finally makes her rounds and opens my little curtain. Yay! This is where she will check me, I will be well on my way to the magic number and be wheeled into a delivery room. Rubber glove on. Hate this part. Done. “So you are dehydrated and this is definitely false labour. We will see you in a few weeks.” I sat in shock for a few moments. So, I go home now? I have become what I was always afraid of – the woman who “thinks” she is in labour but isn’t and is sent home – of course not before wasting everyone’s time and taking up valuable resources. Shame on me! How could I not know this wasn’t labor? This is my fourth child! I was so confused.
The next morning, I got up and felt pretty good – still ashamed – but good. The braxton’s had slowed down and I was ready to rock the day. We had ‘Church in the Park’ that Sunday and I was really looking forward to it. I got the girlies ready in their sundresses and I prepared for the beautiful day. There were times I was uncomfortable standing or sitting on the low lawn chairs, but I was fine! After all, I was weeks away from delivery. I relaxed for the rest of the day but my contractions were not going away. I guess I didn’t drink enough water. So I downed more.
Evening came and I wanted to rest. I drank another glass of water but the contractions were still there. I couldn’t understand why they weren’t going away. Plus, I was weeks away from delivery and I did not want to go back to the hospital just to embarrass myself again and be sent home – no way! Not this chick. So, I showered. I laid down; again. I slept. I woke around 1AM and decided to shower again because that should relax the braxton’s. I was timing just in case, but some were 3 minutes, some were 20 minutes and others were 45 minutes. Just like they had been for the past few days. Guess this is typical of false labor. And then, in a split second, it all changed. I bent down and I literally felt my baby there. Right there! The pressure was mind-blowing! I turned off the water, stepped out of the shower and realized, I can’t walk or this baby is going to come out! I crawled on my hands and knees to my husband’s side of the bed, “Babe please help me!!!! Call my parents. We have to go!!!!” I cried. What I was thinking for the next 25 minutes was literally only one thing – do not let this baby be born in the car!
I barely got dressed and made my way down to the car. All I knew is that I could feel my baby pushing his hardest to exit my body and I was fighting my hardest to keep him inside. I cried out, “God please! DO NOT let this baby come out!” Not once, but over and over and over. I am sure my neighbours appreciated the crazy woman screaming outside at 2:45am. Awesome. I barely got myself into the car and then we were off. And when I say we were off, I literally mean we took off – comparable to a jet. I keep screaming for this baby to stay inside! So, my husband gets freaked out and calls 911. He says we are on our way but the baby could be born in the car. I keep screaming. The 911 operator is clearly impressed with the sheer capacity of my lungs. I remember glancing over at the speedometer while deciding whether to push or squeeze and we were a comfortable 180kph. I feel the car slow for a brief moment while my husband takes the exit. There is a semi truck. So my husband does what all husbands would do, he takes the shoulder around the semi at 160kph.
Finally! I see the hospital and my husband flies into the parking lot and jumps out to open my door but I can’t get out – literally. My body will not allow my legs to move. The next few moments seemed a blurry mess. Racing in a wheelchair down the hallways, my water breaking all over me and the hospital floor, and screaming like a madwoman - it was the epitome of chaos! And then, only moments after arriving, our little man came into this big world.
All the time I spent worrying about being THAT woman – the one who didn’t know what real labor was like, who wasted everyone’s time, who didn’t know her body - none of that mattered. Everything I didn’t want to do, I did. I was the one who showed up to the hospital and got sent home and I was the one who screamed bloody murder for my neighbourhood, the 911 operator, and the entire two floors of the hospital to hear. The fact is, when you have a baby, there is no time for pride or perfection. Who cares how many times you “think” you are in labor or how you deal with the excruciating pain? Or whether you had an epidural or didn't? Or a cesarean or natural birth? As women, there are times we are incredibly hesitant to let down our guards, forget our expectations, and give ourselves permission to be our perfectly imperfect selves. So mamas, forget the unrealistic ideal and be blessed and know that you are delivering a miraculous baby and HOWEVER that may look, it’s absolutely beautiful!