It is a beautiful spring day today....finally. My son was born on just such a day as this many years ago.
I didn't start the day with any notion of having a baby by mid morning. There were nearly 6 weeks to go until the due date. In my inexperience with childbirth and children in general, I hadn't realized the tremendous distress my back muscles had experienced the day before and the inabilty to get comfortable for sleeping that night signalled the onset of labour. Duh!
My husband drove off to work that morning, a fair distance out of town, and I prepared to have a shower and start my day. As I stepped into the tub my back began to spasm. Oooowwwweeee!!! Then I had a few twinges in my abdominal muscles that made it very uncomfortable to balance my feet on the slippery tub surface. I finally figured out that these were actually labour-like pains, but in our pre-natal classes we had been warned and warned not to bother the hospital staff with the false labour that is so common in the last weeks leading up to a birth. When I literally couldn't stand up any more I decided perhaps I should call the hospital and check. Thank goodness I was at least bright enough to pick up the phone! The triage nurse listened to my symptoms and told me in no uncertain terms, "You get the hell down here right now!!!" I was more terrified by her than by any pain, so I finally reached my husband on the job site and home he came.
In pre-natal classes we were told that my husband should pack up a bag of items to bring to the hospital: a rubber ball for me to squeeze during pains, a book for himself to read, various items to distract us both from the pains. I waited in our vehicle while he was preparing our little bag of "stuff" when the thought suddenly hit me that if we didn't get going on our 15 km drive to the hospital and get going quickly, the baby might not wait for us. Finally my dear husband ambled out of the house with his collection of distractors and away we went. Unfortunately, for all his dilgence in remembering every item that was to go into the bag, he never got to use any of them.
Fortunately he thought to call the hospital to say we were on the way because by the time we arrived in the parking lot my head was pushing against the driver's door and my feet were jammed against the passenger door as I tried desperately to keep that baby from arriving before we did!
So here is something I don't understand about hospital arrivals such as this: as we pulled into the lot a nurse came running out the door flogging a wheelchair in my direction as fast as she and it could go. It was kind of scary to see this apparition racing in my direction. Plus, when you are having a baby and that close to delivery it is no longer possible to sit down!! Jamming one's pregnancy butt between the handrails of a narrow wheelchair is barely possible to start with, but then to have to push down on the handrails with all your might by your elbows in order to keep your butt aloft...well, it is a huge struggle a pregnant person doesn't need!!
Our little old hospital was not well set up in some ways. In order to reach the so-called maternity ward, (right next to the operating rooms in order to give us terrified birthing moms a solid view of accident victims on our way to the delivery room....guess it was so we would stop feeling sorry for ourselves??), we had to go through the extended care. My dear nurse was running as quickly as possible and we careened around many an older person in bathrobe, bearing toothbrush and shaving mug, paralyzed into place apparently by the speed at which we were attempting to get around them without knocking any of them over. It was a thrill ride unlike any other I have been on in any amusement park.
Finally we found an empty room in which to place me to await the doctor's assessment of my situation. His assessment of my situation was, "Get her to delivery! STAT! That baby is coming NOW!!" And 12 minutes later I gave a mighty scream and a mighty push and the doctor's prophecy came true. A teeny preemie came into the world.
It was during that intense 12 minutes that I experienced a revelation about pre-natal classes. I realized that the purpose of them is not for assisting the mother with her birthing process as much as it is for the comfort of the doctors and delivery nurses! All that breathing to keep you from screaming nonstop is to protect the ears of the hospital staff. Oh, I did try the breathing for a couple of minutes. My husband coached me, a student nurse coached me, but I decided that I would like to try screaming, just to see what that was like in comparison to the breathing exercises.
Well, let me tell you! My dears, if you are at the end of a painful labour process screaming is the only way to go. I had no idea I could scream like that and it felt so good!! Once I started to wail it was nearly impossible to stop, and wow, talk about distracting from pain. It is amazing, I have to say.
The doctor and nurses didn't agree with this assessment, except for my birthing coach who had in past years been a home birth delivery nurse in England. Oh how I love her to this day. When the doctor told me to get it together and stop screaming, she turned on him like a wild dog: "Have YOU ever had a baby?", she asked him. "Well no, of course not.", he admitted. "Then you just shut up! Go ahead dear and scream all you want." Aaaaah, a wise woman.
The student nurse though really hurt my feelings, when, as soon as my son was born she burst into tears and hollered, "I am NEVER haing a baby! NEVER!!" and stomped out of the room.
2 weeks after my son was born I received a phone call from the leader of the pre-natal classes I attended. She asked me how the breathing exercises had helped me and if I had been able to use them successfully. I agreed that there was some help available through their programme but that really the best advice I could give a birthing mom would be to scream long and loudly whenever she felt the need as that is what had helped me the most. The lady hung up in my ear.
The 11 days my son and I spent in the hospital waiting for his weight to hit the 5 pound mark so he could come home included many adventures that I will post separately for the sake of post length.
What a trip.........