I had the textbook-perfect pregnancy, from the winter solstice to the autumnal equinox, despite having polycystic kidney disease. I was extremely physically active throughout, including taking a Dancing For Birth prenatal class. Since I was Group-B Strep positive, I was instructed by my Family Physician to call as soon as my water broke, which it did with an audible popping sound at 1:40am in the morning on my due date. After calling my doctor to describe the orange fluid leak, I woke my husband at about three in the morning to head to Swedish First Hill hospital in Seattle, Washington state, USA. After we checked into triage, more amniotic fluid gushed out in their bathroom, causing me to be responsible for closure of their bathroom for bio-hazard clean up for the rest of the night.
I napped between mild contractions until 7:33am in the morning, when I was checked and my cervix was found to be 3-4 centimeters dilated and 70% effaced already, qualifying me for a Birth Suite! At this point, the nurses asked me to rate my pain on a scale from one to ten, where ten was the worst pain I'd ever experienced. I was sorta sore from the internal exam, so I said three or four. They said, "So, five or six?" My husband and I laughed. My doctor told me to walk around for two hours, which I did, and by the time I was checked again in the Birth Suite at 11:10am in the morning, I was 4 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced with the baby at 0 station. They asked me about my pain again, and I was doing fine as long as I wasn't laying around, so they just intermittently monitored my daughter's hear rate with a hand-held monitor.
I danced during contractions, later retreating to rocking in a rocking chair between them. The port on my hand for my occasional IV antibiotics was not restrictive in the least. My doula arrived on the scene and pampered me with back-rubs and cups of tea for the rest of my labour. As the endorphins kicked in, the world seemed surreal, and reality melted away, but not in a bad way; more like in a "Yellow Submarine" sort of way! By 2:09pm in the afternoon, I was 6 centimeters dilated after sitting in the rocking chair listening to movies, and my doctor recommended the jacuzzi tub, which slowed contractions but made them far more productive! At 3:29pm in the afternoon, my uterus simply started pushing on its own. My doula whispered softly that she was going to tell my doctor I was having the "urge to push" and that I would then be surrounded by a lot of people and noise and to just stay inside myself. I was surprised to be found to be 10 centimeters dilated, since I was expecting the feeling of "giving up" or wanting pain medications that was described during transition in all the books I'd read. Those thoughts had never crossed my mind, and I remained relaxed and in great spirits.
They put up a support bar over the bed so that I could squat and push. My doctor donned booties and joked that she always regretted it when she didn't. Foreshadowing of the splashy event about to take place! At a potty break to reduce the physical barrier of my full bladder, my external intermittent fetal monitoring briefly registered a heart deceleration, which frightened me, but switching to a hands-and-knees position solved it. The two and a half hours of pushing really didn't hurt until the last minute, and felt good, albeit tiring! Strangely, I did decide to yell during this stage, despite the great reduction in pain, sort of like a war-cry! My husband dozed in spite of it all.
In between contractions, I shouted for somebody to order me some oatmeal, which I ate after the birth. At 6:32pm, all 6 pounds and 13 ounces of her shot out like a baby horse! She was 19.5 inches long. My first words to her were, "Hi. I built you. I guess that makes me your mom." Then, my husband said something like, "I think we'll keep her" and I looked up at him with tears in my eyes and said, "I'm so relieved that I love her!"
Unfortunately, she had swallowed a bit of meconium, and I had significant tearing that needed some stitches, but we recovered quickly and we still got out of there after our standard 24-hour watch period. My daughter also punched a nurse right in the face during her first bath!
My hospital experience was terrific, and I look forward to another great hospital birth of my son, Orion, coming this May! It is funny because during the last labour's potty break described above, my doctor told me, "We should do this again sometime!" Sure enough, we will!