My birth story: Karl David
Before I start, I just want to let you know this may be TMI for some people so don’t read it if you are not comfortable with natural birth and everything it requires.
First of all, I had a birth plan, but not the kind of birth plan when you literally make a whole scenario of how things will go and plan every move. No. My birth plan sounded like this :NO induction, NO c-section (caesarean), NO epidural, NO forceps, NO episiotomy. In one word, I wanted to have a birth as natural as possible. Unfortunately, it didn’t go the way I wanted, but if I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change anything.
So everything started on Wednesday 3rd of July. I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant and I had an appointment with my midwife who recommended me to have a sweep in order to avoid being induced. Now I know a lot of you who read my posts are not familiar with every term regarding pregnancy&delivery so I will try to explain everything when needed. So when you are overdue (you didn’t give birth until your due date-at 40 weeks), you will get induced at 12 days after your due date (in some countries you can go a bit longer). An induction is when the doctors &/ the midwives will induce your labour (with a tablet or a gel). Honestly, I didn’t read much about induction because this was an absolutely NO for me. From all the things, this is what I really wanted to avoid. Ok so coming back, at my 40 weeks and 5 days appointment I had a sweep. The membrane sweep is a drug-free way of helping to bring on labour when you are going past your due date. This is a bit like an internal examination and doesn’t take long. The midwife or obstetrician puts a finger into the cervix and makes a circular or sweeping movement with their fingers. The point of it is to separate the sac surrounding your baby from the cervix. It is nothing artificial and it doesn’t always bring on labour! Doing a sweep helps to release natural hormones that stimulate contractions so it may get labour started. But, also, it may not get labour started. So after having the sweep, my midwife made an appointment for me for an induction at 41 weeks and 5 days, just in case. After leaving her office, I started having cramps. They felt like menstrual cramps, but much more painful. I wasn’t really able to walk properly because I was in too much pain, but I still went for a quick shopping with Fabian and my parents. Anyway, the day had passed and nothing happened.
The next day, on Thursday 4th of July I was feeling SO tired and I really couldn’t walk anymore or stand up. I remember we all went to Tesco to buy some food and on my way to the toilet, I had to take 4 breaks and sit down because I was exhausted (I just had to walk 15 meters). At the toilet, I noticed that I lost the mucus plug. The mucus plug is a “cork” barrier that seals your cervix, the opening to your uterus, during pregnancy. As the cervix begins to open wider in preparation for delivery,the mucus plug is discharged into the vagina. The time between losing the mucus plug and going into labour varies. Some women who pass a noticeable mucus plug go into labour within hours or days, while others may not go into labour for a few weeks so I didn’t made any hopes. And again, the day had passed and I didn’t have any contractions. I went to bed at 12-1 a.m. and I was waking up from 10 to 10 minutes to go to the toilet (had to wee). At 4 a.m. I woke up again to have a wee and when I came back to bed I realised I was having really bad cramps (or at least I thought they were cramps…). They were coming and going, only lasting few seconds. But yes, they hurt. I woke up Fabian telling him I’m having bad cramps and he said he thinks it’s labour. I downloaded an app to start monitoring the “cramps” and they were lasting like 30-40 seconds, 8-10 minutes apart. They were very irregular. Fabian called the hospital and told them all those details and they said to call back when they will start being regular: 40 seconds and 4 minutes apart. It was fine by me, my plan was to stay at home during labour for as much as I can anyway. Why? Because labour is really bad. I preferred being in a familiar environment, being able to take warm baths (it helps with the pain), get some air, have walks ( trust me, you won’t want to stay in bed during labour, it is 10 times more painful than walking around). Anyway, so I was finally in labour. Me and Fabian were so happy. It was finally time. I was very frustrated in the last weeks of pregnancy because ever since I got pregnant I was so sure I would give birth at 38 weeks (I don’t know why, I just had a “feeling”) and when I hit 40 weeks and there was still no baby, I started getting very frustrated. Last week of pregnancy is very hard, but to go overdue…it is a nightmare-ligaments pain, back pain, ribs pain, heartburn, not being able to sleep, going to the toilet a lot, difficulty to walk and many more.
Ok, so coming back, at 5 a.m., after one hour of having “cramps” (those cramps were contractions, I just didn’t feel them properly at that time), they became more intense, more painful, but still manageable. I was in huge pain for few seconds, but I was able to laugh and talk between having them. Well, in a very short time they became really bad. I dressed up and went to the hospital with Fabian and my mom. Being in labour in a car is the worst thing ever and the hospital was 30 minutes away from our home. However, I was still happy and grateful for being in labour and I was in so much pain that I was so sure I was going to deliver very soon. We arrived at the hospital and they did an internal examination to see how dilated I was. When I heard the midwife saying my dilation, I thought I m dreaming and this is a nightmare. This couldn’t be happening. I was only 2 cm dilated (you have to be 10 cm to deliver). At 2 cm you are in early labour phase. You have to be over 4 cm to be given a room in the hospital and pain relief. They said I could stay in the hospital-on the hallway or I could go home. Of course I chose to go home. I wasn’t happy anymore. I was angry. I was mad and in pain. We arrived home and went to bed to get some sleep (hahaha stupid me thinking I could sleep). I was so tired and I thought maybe if I am asleep I won’t feel the contractions anymore. I was so wrong. As soon as I was falling asleep, a contraction would start and I would wake up in so much pain (as I said before, being in bed makes the contractions feel much worse). For the next hours I tried everything to ease the pain. I tried all the positions possible, I tried taking walks, I tried warm baths, I tried using the TENS machine-nothing worked!
I was in labour for 10 hours and at this point I didn’t care anymore about my birth plan or about the risks of anything, I was begging for some pain relief (before labour, my plan was to not use epidural because it can cause permanent nerve damage-I know it happens very rarely, but it still does happen and I didn’t want to take the risk). I had to be 4 cm to be given an epidural and I was so sure I still wasn’t more than 2 cm. I stopped monitoring my contractions because I was in so much pain all the time that I wasn’t able to tell anymore when I am having one and when I am not having one. For me it was a incessant pain. You know how they say the contraction lasts for few seconds and then you have a couple of minutes to relax? Well for me it wasn’t that way. I was in pain all the time, I didn’t have any time to relax. Fabian called the hospital again and asked what kind of pain relief can I take if I m under 4 cm dilated and they said paracetamol. The hell with paracetamol!!!! It is not strong enough to ease the labour pains!! They said they’re very sorry, but can’t do anything about this situation and when Fabian asked how long should it take to go from 2 cm to 4 cm they said it can take up to 2 days. When I heard that… I went crazy. There was no way I could go through this for 2 days. During pregnancy, I mentally prepared myself for any pain possible. I was ready for anything, but not for a long labour. I never thought I will be in labour for more than 6 hours. To be honest, in my head, it was impregnated the idea of being in labour for only 3-4 hours and pushing for only few minutes. I started crying and screaming and I was begging Fabian to take me to another hospital to have a c-section (my hospital doesn’t do c-section if it is not needed). I know it sounds crazy, but I wasn’t thinking clear anymore. I went to take another bath and beg God, Buddha, Allah and the universe for some help. It was 4 p.m. now.
I was in labour for 12 hours so I decided to go to the hospital to have another internal examination although I was so sure I was still 2 cm dilated (I don’t know why, I just left the hospital with a very negative mindset after they told me I am only 2 cm). We arrived at the hospital and I think (JUST THINK) I frightened all the pregnant women out there (who weren’t in labour yet) with the way I was acting, screaming and crying 😂 Sure they were looking forward to go into labour after they saw me 😂👍🏼. Me and Fabian were asked to go into a private room to have the internal examination, my mom had to wait outside. The doctor made the examination and as she was taking her gloves off she said “Ok, you are 5 cm dilated now.” OMG, those words will always be stuck in my head along with her calm voice. Me and Fabian started crying immediately (yeah I was crying already, but now there were even more tears and these were happy tears. As soon as I heard the number “5”, I said “Thank God, I want an epidural, PLEASE!” She started to laugh and went after the anaesthetist. After she left the room, another doctor came in and transferred us in the delivery room. I was given gas&air to use until the anaesthetist would come. Fabian left to bring the hospital bag from the car and the anaesthetist came in and gave me a paper with all the side effects from the epidural. As I was reading the words “permanent nerve damage”, I was thinking, just for few seconds, of refusing it and keep going on like this, but then a contraction started so I handed the paper back saying that I don’t care about the side effects anymore, I just want to relax. In 5 minutes, the room became full of doctors. They helped me change into the delivery gown and put me in the right position for receiving the epidural. Fabian was holding my hand. While the anaesthetist is preparing you for the epidural, you have to stay still because he is putting needles in your back. Having to stay still while being in labour is not easy! After 5 minutes of seeing all those needles in my back and all the blood, Fabian almost fainted so he had to switch places with my mother. Funny enough, having that huge needle put in your back hurts less than taking blood for tests (at least for me).
Shortly after the epidural, my legs started to feel numb-and with that, I started having those terrible thoughts “What if I will never be able to walk again?” “What if the greatest joy of life will also bring me the worst nightmare?”. But in the same time, I was relieved knowing that soon I won’t feel those contractions anymore. Or at least that’s what I thought…I never stopped feeling the contractions. I know they don’t want to numb you completely so that you would still feel pressure and know when to push, but trust me-it wasn’t just pressure that I was feeling. Those were real and intense contractions. Not as bad as they were before the epidural, but they were still painful. Anyway, I was finally able to lay in bed, relax and have a proper conversation with people around me. I took my phone and posted on Instagram (because not even labour stops me from posting lol) a short video with me laying in bed at the hospital and let everyone know I’m in labour.
The next hours passed very quickly because doctors were constantly coming, presenting themselves and asking me and my midwife questions about my pregnancy, about me, about my contractions etc. I think I met at least 10 doctors in 2 hours. At 10 o’clock I was 8 cm dilated and my water still wasn’t broken! A doctor suggested my midwife to break my water so that we can move forward a bit faster. Of course I panicked and thought it will hurt like hell, but it didn’t. In fact, I didn’t feel anything. After she broke my water, I fell asleep and woke up when she did an internal examination again at 1 a.m. At this time I was finally 10 cm dilated but she said we will still wait 2 more hours before starting to push because it will be easier for me. So I went back to sleep and woke up at 3 a.m. I don’t remember much of how things started with the pushing because I was SO tired. I remember asking her if we can wait until tomorrow 😂😂😂. Fabian was at the side of my bed, holding my right hand, my mom was on the other side, holding my left hand and the midwife was between my legs, helping me to give birth (yes, that’s right, there was only one midwife in the delivery room with me-no other midwife, no doctors, no nurses-just her, Fabian and my mom). The contractions were very strong now and my back hurt a lot. I was exhausted and tired of being in pain so I got a bit angry and yelled at my midwife to change my position because I am in too much pain. Now I feel so sorry for yelling at her, but she was so understanding and calm and I can’t thank her enough for everything she has done for me. By the way, did I tell you she is only 23 years old? A fantastic and brave 23 years old woman helped me give birth to Karl.
Coming back, the midwife was telling me when to push and for how long and I recall crying and screaming “I can’t, I can’t anymore, please make it stop”. After half an hour of pushing, she paged another midwife (or a doctor? I m not sure what she was) to do an episiotomy. When I heard that, I was both terrified and relieved. Terrified because I knew she was going to literally cut me with scissors and relieved because the episiotomy would make more space for the baby to come out so it meant the pushing could end soon. My mom who was a nurse and who assisted so many births and who can put needles in your legs, arms, hands, back, butt (so she doesn’t have any problem with blood), she closed her eyes and turned around when the midwife (or doctor?!) did the episiotomy so I guess it’s not fun at all to watch that 😬 Shortly after the episiotomy, I birthed Karl at 3:50 a.m. and he weighed 3.600 kg.
They put Karl on my chest straight after birth and I had skin to skin contact for about one hour and then Fabian could have skin to skin contact with him. (Karl was cleaned with a towel while he was on my chest)
Bottom line, I was in labour for 24 hours and I pushed for almost one hour. I was so sure I was going to be in labour for only 6 hours maximum and push for few minutes without having an epidural or episiotomy so that’s why I gave all these details because I think you should to be prepared for anything and don’t despair if it doesn’t go as you planned.