As you know, Nora was a week overdue. The waiting was absolutely excruciating! I cried at the drop of a hat, I was stressed, nervous, excited, and anxious to get the baby out and meet it already. The 9 (10) months of pregnancy was supposed to be over!! I tried everything to put myself into labour and nothing worked!!
I finally went into labour with Nora at 11:50 pm on August 4th and she was born a whole 26 hours later at 2:20 am on August 6th. I stayed at home for most of the labour until about 4pm on the 5th and then the contractions were coming quite close together and lasting a good 90 seconds. We had to drive to Cranbrook, BC (a 1.5 hour drive) to the hospital there, as the one in my town doesn't offer epidurals and if anything goes wrong, there is no OR and you are sent to Cranbrook anyway. We wanted to play it safe and have the baby in Cranbrook in the first place.
The epidural was an ever present topic of conversation with our doctor, my other pregnant friends and between Tom and I. I was adamant that I could probably do it without. I thought I was pretty tough and had a high pain tolerance. I was physically fit, healthy and mentally in a place where I really wanted to try and have the baby au natural. But I wasn't against the epidural if it came down to that. I did want the option and thank god I left that window open!
The drive down to Cranbrook was AWFUL! I was kicking the window, yelling, moaning, swearing, hot and cold, blasting the AC and then the heat... Poor Tom didn't say a word and by the time we got to Cranbrook I had announced several times that I would be getting an epidural. We walked into the hospital and got to the maternity ward (I could barely walk up there) and the first nurse I saw, I said with a stern look on my face "I need an epidural". I didn't even introduce myself or tell her anything about my contractions... just that I needed the pain gone, stat. It was pretty funny looking back as there were a number of things that needed to happen before they ordered one for me. I had to wait about an hour at least for the anesthesiologist to come.
Anyway, for the record, the epidural wore off before it was go time as it took me a long time to dilate. But the relief I had for a couple of hours was really great. We have funny pictures that Tom took of before epidural and after. Before, I was grasping the hospital bed railing with white knuckles, eyes closed and a look of pure misery on my face. And after, I was propped up with pillows and blanket, happy as can be, texting! Ha!
At about 10 pm I felt a strong urge to push, but was only 5 cm dilated. The nurses told me repeatedly not to push and tried to help me into different positions in order to stop it. That was really hard. I was crying, moaning and yelling and so uncomfortable. I actually started to hyperventilate as I couldn't breathe through the contractions and the pushing. At midnight, although I still wasn't fully dilated, they let me push at 8 cm as I couldn't do it any longer, I was begging to get the baby out. 2 hours of pushing later... Nora was born.
There are many more gory details that I could tell you, but the point of this post is not to scare all you pregnant mamas out there, but to speak in favour of the epidural. Labour is really hard. And through all the books I read to prepare me, nothing did. I was never scared of the pain or how hard it was going to be and I went into it feeling prepared and I was simply ready to meet the baby. I watched so many episodes of Baby Story and read so many birth stories online and in books that I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I could do this. And I did. But... with help.
I asked the nurse after Nora was born how on EARTH women do that without an epidural and she said that some women feel more pain than others (not one book told me that!) My Auntie Wendy had 4 kids all without epidurals and she said, she didn't feel like the pain was anything unbearable. Lucky her. After I heard that I felt better. I thought I was a weak wimp for a while there and unfortunately some people made me feel that way.
Several people that asked me about Nora's birth would say "So, were you able to make it without the epidural?" and I would say no, and they would sigh and say "Oh too bad", or something along those lines. After the crazy hormones and first time mother insecurities started to wear off, I spoke openly about how awesome the epidural was. Labour was f-ing hard! Heck yes, I had an epidural. I still pushed a baby out of my area and endured 26 hours of intensity! C'mon people! Give me a little credit here! I have a beautiful baby girl and the thing you are concerned about is whether I had an epidural? Most people take an Advil if they have a headache, there is no difference here. Modern medicine allows us to have luxuries such as epidurals, so why not take advantage?
I still felt everything. I was not numb from the waist down. I felt the baby come out of me and saw her first breath. I watched her open her eyes for the first time and heard her first cry. I saw the umbilical cord and watched Tom cut it and I smiled from ear to ear when the doctor flipped her over and announced "we've got a girl!"
I get that in some places, they push the epidural on women in order to speed the labour up with pitocin and make it easier on the hospital staff. I don't agree with that, but in Canada, I am unaware of this happening. I ASKED for it. I NEEDED it to get some relief and I am fine with that. If you are in the same boat as I am. Don't feel bad, you will still have a baby at the end of it and that is what matters.
And a few months later, the memory of the birth and the pain fades and people stop talking about it and you stop telling the story over and over. Looking back, it is still unbelievable that Nora grew inside of me for 9 months and slowly but surely made her appearance, just one year ago today. It seems like she has always been here and yet, the year was over just like that.
Our baby is one!
Happy Birthday Nora June!