I have always had a desire to experience natural childbirth. I think part of this desire came from my love of endurance sports and putting myself through physical pain, part came from my nursing professor Catherine Coverston who pretty much taught us that you're not a real woman if you get an epidural, and I think most of my desire came from the fact that my mom delivered six babies without any pain relief, and if my mom can do it, then dang it I can too. But while I had the desire, I was never completely committed to epidural free childbirth. And since I live in the small town of Roseburg, OR there aren't a lot of childbirth class options, so my plan going into the birth of my first baby was that I didn't have a plan. I was going to see what labor was like and go as long as I could without an epidural, but I figured I would end up with one eventually...so much for plans.
It all started at my routine weekly doctor's appointment. My due date was five days away and I was only dilated to 2cm. My midwife asked me if I wanted her to "strip my membranes," which she said might help to move things along a little faster. I shrugged my shoulders and said why not (I guess I didn't see Brannick frantically shaking his head no in the corner). Plus we had a race to win. Brannick's sister Kristi was getting induced the next day with her first baby, and we had been talking to our baby in the womb that she really needed to beat her cousin being born (I just can't help my competitive nature). So the midwife stripped my membranes (ouch) and instructed me to go for a nice long walk. I got home from the appointment, Brannick went to work, and I went for a walk to our post office, probably just over a mile round trip.
Pretty soon I started to have small little cramps, and by the late afternoon I could tell that something different was going on. I called my mom and sister and told them that maybe I was starting to go into labor, but didn't want to call Brannick and tell him to clear his schedule the next day just in case I was wrong. But by the time he got home from work at 7:30 that night, I was fairly certain I was in labor. Brannick wanted to take me in to the hospital. But I told him no, that first labors always take a long time and people always say to stay at home as long as possible. Plus I had dirty bathrooms that desperately needed to be cleaned before I had the baby. So I scrubbed tubs and toilets while Brannick read through all of the handouts from our childbirth class (doesn't he know that cramming before the test never works). With bathrooms now clean, I suggested that we go to bed and try to get some sleep and we would go to the hospital in the morning. So Brannick fell right asleep and I tossed and turned with increasingly intense contractions.
I finally got up and tried to distract myself by watching recorded episodes of Glee and Dancing with the Stars. Then I got a brilliant idea to call my friend Jennie who is a labor and delivery nurse in Utah. She works night shifts so I took the chance that she would be up at 2 am, which she was. After catching up for a while, I described to her my contractions (which were about 4-5 minutes apart, lasting a minute, and pretty intense), and she agreed with me that I could wait a little longer to go to the hospital. I thanked Jennie for distracting me through an hour of contractions and decided to get in the bath tub to see if I could rest a little bit, which is where Brannick found me about 3:30 am. He again tried to talk me into going to the hospital, but the stubborn nurse in me wouldn't give in. I kept thinking that I didn't want to have to wake up the doctors in the middle of the night, and more importantly I didn't want to be that first time mom that always thinks she's in labor and goes to the hospital but gets sent home because she's really not. So I told Brannick to go back to bed and we would go to the hospital in the morning.
But as Brannick went back to bed and I got out of the bath tub, I knew I was in trouble. The contractions got incredibly more intense, and I didn't think I was going to be able to make it out of the bathroom to go get Brannick. After what seemed like an eternity I made it to our bedroom to tell Brannick I was finally ready to go to the hospital. He asked if he had time to take a shower before we left. This time the kind compassionate wife in me took over and I knew Brannick probably wouldn't get a chance to shower or shave for a while once we went to the hospital, so I said, "sure take a shower, but make it quick". So while Brannick was showering I finished packing our hospital bag, and after what seemed like hours Brannick was finally ready to go. He frantically packed everything in the truck, and at 5am we were finally on our way to the hospital. On the way, Brannick called his sister Kristi, who was just checking in to a hospital in Lincoln, NE for her induction, to let her know that we were going to win the baby race.
We got to the family birthplace all the staff were running around, it had been a very busy night for them. So they put me in the last empty room they had and the nurse got me hooked up to all the monitors, all the while I kept telling her that I wanted an epidural. She checked my dilation and I was between 6-8cm, and she said she didn't think I would have time to get an epidural. I started to panic and told Brannick that I couldn't do it. Then my nurse midwife came in, luckily she was already at the hospital with another laboring woman, and she said, "You're a first time mom, you'll have time to get an epidural." So the nurses started an IV and preparations for an epidural. And about that time I started to feel lots of pressure with each contraction and naturally started to push a little. The nurse noticed and asked, "Are you pushing!?!" I told her I couldn't help it, and so she checked me again and I was fully dialated. She said, "I knew you weren't going to have time for an epidural!" and then the room started to frantically fill with people and equipment. My midwife came back in and I started really pushing. After about 30 minutes of the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, my beautiful baby girl was born at 5:58am. We had been in the hospital a whole 45 minutes. Ella Ruth Adams was born October 6th and weighed in at a whopping 6.0 pounds and was 19 inches long.
So I ended up up experiencing a natural childbirth after all, I am officially a real woman, my nursing professor would be so proud. And apparently I inherited my mom's genes for having fast labors, which now I totally understand when she describes the process as, "being hit by a truck." The nurses at the hospital kept joking with Brannick that if we had waited at home any longer he would have been delivering the baby. Which is why he says next time we have a baby he is taking me to the hospital the second I start having contractions.
Brannick was an incredible coach and support during the whole thing (at least the parts he was awake for), and it was so cute to see him turn into an immediate proud and loving daddy. We are so happy and grateful that our baby girl arrived perfect and healthy and we are loving life together as a new family!