Sunday, July 12, 2009

The night Hypnobirthing took a dive

6 months ago today, 39 and a half weeks pregnant, I went into labour.

We drove to the hospital, me and J, in a playful mood, almost certain we'd be sent home again within an hour. Clearly it would be declared a false alarm and we'd be tucked up in bed in a few hours. We were an old hand at this going-to-hospital-to-have-a-baby thing, having only just done it 18.5 months before.

As we walked from the hospital parking lot we saw another couple - the woman also heavily pregnant - walking ahead of us. Being oh so hilarious, we decided it would be highly amusing to race ahead and beat them into triage. Yes, real mature. We ran (okay I didn't really run - more lumbered) up the steps, laughing all the way.

Once in triage things were a little more sombre. We sat in a small room - me in a glamorous hospital gown tapping my fingers on the bed, J playing a game on his iPod. After three hours there was nothing fun to pass the time anymore. Just scowling and complaining that we wanted to be at home, in bed, asleep. At midnight, the nurse told us to take a walk around the hospital, in the hopes the walking would get labour started. Can you guess my reaction? Not exactly thrilled. She told us it was either that or be induced right away.

So off we went, wandering up and down the lifeless corridors, past wards and offices, past walls of oil paintings, past a chapel, past emergency, up and down the staircase leading to the cafeteria. For two hours we walked. J tried to keep me entertained and awake. I told him there was no way I had the energy to have a baby that night.

At 2 a.m., exactly two hours after we started walking, the real contractions started. WHAM.

Here is the part where I briefly explain that I had been preparing for a natural hypnobirthing birth (chuckle). In the months leading up to the birth I had studied the ideas behind hypnobirthing, practiced the techniques, and cajoled J into being my hypnobirthing partner. I was not going to have an epidural this time (mm hmm). I was going to breathe the baby out, not push him out (har). No one would hardly even know I was in labour - because that's what labouring hypnobirthing mums look like (honest they do!).

Labour lasted 3.5 hours. It's true what they say about it moving along much faster the second time. Not exactly the whooooosh here comes the baby somebody catch him I was hoping for, but definitely very fast.

At some point during the first two hours, Hypnobirthing died a sad and sorry death, as I told J through gritted teeth to take the prompt cards I had carefully written out the day before and BURN THEM in a fire. According to Hypnobirthing, I was supposed to be breathing deep controlled breaths through each contraction. Instead I held my breath while the nurses yelled at me not to.

Somewhere around the third hour, I asked very politely, in my nicest voice, for the epidural.

"It's too late!" said the nurse grinning excitedly, as if this was good news. "You're ten centimeters dilated!"

I always thought those movie scenes - the ones where labouring mothers scream as though they're being burnt at the steak - were totally overblown (I was trigger happy with the epidural the first time, hardly any real pain was felt). Turns out, actually, they're not all that unrealistic after all. At one point the nurse actually held down my head and told me "STOP IT!". All I could think was, there's probably some poor first-time mum waddling into the labour and delivery ward, hearing my screams, and wanting to turn and run for her life.

After twenty minutes of pushing, Oliver was born.

My wonderful, beautiful boy.

In what other situation in life could such an ordeal be instantly relinquished by the sight and touch of another being?

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Metropolitan Mum said...

Haha. Was the same about epidurals. But after a whole night of contractions... I changed my mind, surprise, surprise!
Congratulations on your baby boy, he's gorgeous!

That Girl said...

I opted for the epidural - "Less pain, my gain!" was my mantra. Your little boy is beautiful!

Paging Doctor Mommy said...

I went in thinking that I was tough enough to do it without the epidural... I ended up begging for it!

Loukia said...

SO sweet... he's beautiful. I can't believe you did it with no epidural! I lasted until about 8 cm with my first and then got my epi, with my second, I think I was 5 or 6 cm dilated. And then I had a 45 minute ordeal of hell with the dude trying to get the epi in me. I can't even talk about it, it was so traumatic!

Mwa said...

Beautiful boy!
I'm not one for pain either.

James (SeattleDad) said...

I am still laughing at the image running through my head of pregnant women racing to triage.


Kate Coveny Hood said...

I tried to go without the epidural with my first son. But I had been induced and after an hour of feeling like I was being repeatedly slammed into a brick wall, I said, "I may have to do this for 10 more hours??? Get that needle guy in here!"

Your baby is beautiful. Sigh.

Maternal Tales said...

Oh hilarious - you've really made me laugh. SO funny that you ran ahead of the other couple!! and I love that video...

Your birthing experience sounds like was much easier the second time around hey?! Gorgeous little boy x

Lady Mama said...

Metropolitan Mum - yes thankfully I only had a few hours of contractions. No way I could have gone much longer.

That Girl - the bit I forgot to mention is that I'd never try to go without the epi again! Ever.

PDM - I was begging too, just unfortunately was too late.

Loukia - sounds like you had a horrid experience with the epi. It's a good thing we get something good from it at the end.

MWA - Thanks! (I think so...)

SeattleDad - seriously you've never seen a 9-month pregnant lady leg it up those stairs the way I did. I'm sure I was quite a sight.

Kate - I was induced with my first and had the epidural. I found being induced a very different experience - there's no build up to the painful contractions so they're much harder to deal with.

Maternal Tales - My 2nd birth story sounds a lot like many other 2nd-time mum's birth stories. I think because things do tend to happen much faster the 2nd time around, so often there isn't time for the epi.