G I V I N G _ B I R T H
This was it, the day of labour, and although I didn't know it yet, all that followed made this the most wonderful day of my life.


    As soon as I woke up, I had menstrual type cramping, and when going to the bathroom, a huge yellow, blood tinged blob of cervical mucous came out. "This could be the day" I thought to myself. I also had a bout of diarrhea, which is a sure sign of oncoming labour. Now you're wondering: "wonderful day???" Well it was! I had never *dreamed that I'd be able to have a second child, and today I'd be having him! All of these pains and things felt WONDERFUL! They meant I was working! All I had ever wanted was to be able to experience a natural birth, to see whether this body of mine could do it all on it's own. I can honestly say that I relished every pain, every ache every drop of sweat and blood.

    * 6 years ago my ex and I had a son after a years try. A year later we tried for a second child with no luck. We saw doctors and I took Clomid. Nothing. I was sure I'd never have any more children and was left feeling an infertile half woman.

    The menstrual type cramping got worse, and now I also started feeling the first contractions - just like the other night. I was very excited as I told Esa. He asked whether it was time to go the hospital, I said no, not yet. (I'd be answering this same question at least 50 times in the hours to come). Feeling these contractions hurt of course, but at the same time I was really enjoying them - they were mine, my very own - and it was MY body that was making them on it's OWN, not some artificial man made drug! I started timing the contractions with a handy little stopwatch program I'd downloaded the previous week, just for this occasion. Once I was quite sure this was it, I called my mom, and told her to come over. She'd take care of my older child Lassi, in case we'd go to the hospital.
Mid afternoon
    During the afternoon, I did things I'd normally do on a Saturday afternoon: write some emails, make dinner, play with Lassi and do some work, all the time timing the gaps between contractions. They varied from 1 to 15 minutes, most being under 10 minutes though. They were never regular intervals apart though. At some point the menstrual pain faded away, and only the contractions were left. This made them easier to distinguish and count. I made supper for everyone (chicken and rice - one of my favorites) yet wasn't at all hungry. In fact I didn't feel like eating anything at all (another sure sign of labour), but forced myself to eat a decent meal. I would surely need the energy in case I would be going to the hospital that evening!
Late afternoon
    At about 5 PM I called the hospital and asked whether I should go. They said to lay down on my left side, and to time them in this position - that it it was time to go to the hospital when they were no more than 10 min apart, and that they should last 1 min and be also regular. So I did as was asked and they got stronger in this position - at first 6 min apart then 3 min - and yes - they lasted exactly 1 min each! They were still irregular though. My partner Esa was in a total frenzy by now since it looked like we should have left for the hospital ages ago ;-). I on the other hand was calm and just smiled, since I felt in no hurry to go anywhere. Besides, they weren't regular yet. (They never would be either, I just didn't know it yet).
Early evening
    I called the hospital again to ask what to do since the contractions filled 2/3 of the requirements. There was a different nurse on the phone this time, and she said they didn't have to be regular after all! She advised me to go and take a warm shower to see whether they would strengthen. She said to come to the hospital any time I felt like it. I took a warm soothing shower with my 5 yr old son Lassi, and sure enough, they strengthened. I noticed that I was bleeding bright red blood as well. Thats it! Now's time to go! You'll never guess how relieved Esa was ;-).
Off to the hospital we go!
    Leaving the safety of our home seemed comically impossible. I scurried around doing some last minute packing while Esa constantly glanced as his watch. Once we finally were in the car, we had to return home 3 times because we'd forgotten something. Once we were actually on our way I felt quite scared and the urgency of the moment started to sink in. The contractions had been so mild all day that they *hardly bothered me, but once in the car, they started to really hurt! I was so relieved when we got to the hospital since I was able to walk around again - aaaah!

    * Since I was induced last time, that meant that a body which was NOT ready to give birth was drugged, forced to open itself against it's will. One moment my body was in it's calm pregnant bliss, the next moment it was in agony, tearing itself open hard and fast. The contractions had been horrific, from start to finnish. Neither my body nor mind was prepared, nor had the chance to ADJUST GRADUALLY like they did this time.

We arrive at the hospital
    The nurse gave me a hospital gown and slippers, then checked me and said I was (only!) 2 cm dilated and 100% effaced. The baby was still high and she couldn't tell whether this was the real thing or not. I was positive we'd be sent back home. She attached a belt to my belly to measure the contractions, and I had to give her a urine sample. I lay for 45 minutes in a little stall, divided from the other labouring women by a mere curtain, listening to their groans and moans, sighs and whimpers. The nonexistent privacy bothered me a bit, especially since I was having some major gas problems :-D. The contractions were getting stronger and laying on that *hard bed wasn't very pleasant at all. They still weren't coming at regular intervals (and they never would). I heard the conversations the nurse was having with the other moms. Many had been there for many hours already! The nurse was advising them on how to get things going, she told one to go walk the hospital halls with her husband and another to take a warm shower. Oh no! That meant that I'd probably be sent home, or have to be here for at least a year, seeing as I wasn't even moaning nor groaning yet!

    * Most of my time during my first birth, was spent on a bed like this.

    Was I ever surprised when she finally removed the belt, handed me a laxative suppository, asked me about birthing preferences and gave me a form to fill out concerning my belongings. This all meant I was here to stay - Yeah!! Never was I happier to use the john (after the laxatives had taken effect). I asked for the birthing tub if it was free (the hospital had bought one recently) and to give birth on the birthing stool (they didn't allow giving birth in the tub). I also said that if the pain got to be too much - I'd like an epidural. (All of my wishes *came true by the way) After all of these things were taken care of, she told Esa to dress one of those gowns since we were going to go to the delivery room! And to think that all those moms who'd been there before me, were left laying in those little stalls. Poor things. I had been wise not to hurry things at home.

    * Last time none of my birthing preference wishes came true.

On the way to the delivery room

On the way to the delivery room

The birthing tub

    The nurse took us upstairs on a big elevator and went to arrange a room for us, while Esa snapped the last pregnancy pictures of me(above). The contractions were coming a couple minutes apart, and were strong enough for me to double over in pain. We were taken to our room #12 and I asked the midwife (who was a brusque elderly spinster type woman) whether the birthing tub was free. She said it was free, and that I was lucky since they were having a very busy night. We left our stuff in the delivery room, then went to the birthing tub room and I drank the fructose juice I was given, while the midwife filled the tub with warm water. By this time the contractions were getting pretty strong and I had to lean against the counter and sway about to relieve the pain. When the tub was full, and I finally got to submerge myself in the water - it felt like heaven!! Being in the tub didn't take away the pain of the contractions, but since the caress of the water was so delicious, it made the contractions bearable. Being on dry land, my body was only feeling the painful sensation - but being in the water, it was feeling both good and bad - sort of evened things out. Another good thing about being in the tub, was the fact that I could maneuver myself in any position I wanted. Since it was so relaxing - the warm water intensified the contractions even more, and some started coming on top of each other. The midwife had said that I'd get tired of being in the tub soon enough, and at the time I didn't believe her. After being in it for an hour though, I was becoming weary and the contractions were becoming so intense and excruciating that I wanted out of there. It was time for an epidural.
Pain relief: I try a pudendal block
    At about 10 PM, we beeped for the midwife, who had been elsewhere, attending to other moms. The shifts had changed, and a new midwife arrived, much younger and oozing with warm empathy - the midwife of your dreams. Thank goodness! I told her I couldn't take much more, and could I have an epidural, please, pretty please? I guess the strength of the contractions was quite visible since she went about "ordering" a gynecologist right away. He would break the waters and attach a probe to the baby's head for fetal monitoring. She checked to find me 4 cm dilated - just perfect for an epidural. I asked if there were any other ways to relieve pain that were in comparison to the epidural - any new drugs these days?. She suggested trying a pudendal block (they give 2 shots to the cervix to numb it) instead of a epidural, that it might be just as affective. Another benefit was that the gynecologist could do one of those right away, but I'd have to wait for an epidural since the anesthesist was very busy that night. Although I'd heard only negative things about the pudendal block I decided to put my trust into their opinions and give it a try. The gynecologist came into the room. He was a tall lean, bearded man who moved about briskly and whistled all the while. The whistling really irritated me since it made me feel like I'm a just a machine he's going to fix, not a living feeling creature - going through a lot of pain. The way he handled me was very mechanic and rough as well, and this was probably the most painful and negative part of the whole birth! When he punctured the water bag, I expected a gush of amniotic fluid to come out, as had happened with my first child, but not a drop, the baby's head was working as a cork of sorts. Once it was attached, I must admit it was soothing to know that we would know how the baby is *doing. Once he'd given the shots to my cervix, we all waited for something to happen. By now I was in quite a lot of pain, and had to take hold of the side of the bed to squeeze something while shaking myself about, every time I had a contraction. They were coming stronger and more frequently then ever, almost on top of each other. The pudendal block didn't seem to do anything at all, and the midwife rang for the anesthesist to come give me an epidural.

    * Last time I had a hard time breathing correctly, and the baby was short of oxygen because of this, and went into stress. I was immediately given an epidural and things returned to normal. We would have never known without the monitor and my first baby could have suffered brain damage.

Pain relief: Time for an epidural!
    By the time the anesthesist arrived, the pudendal block still hadn't made any difference what so ever. I was laying there rigid, sweating and trembling from the pain and the horrors of my first birth all *came back. This time I knew how to breathe (Pooooh Pooooh) though - and the baby didn't go into stress. When that anesthesist walked in the door I would have kissed the ground he walked on, if I COULD have! The anesthesist was totally different from the whistling gynecologist, he was a dark french man who spoke in gentle and soothing manner, and handled me equally so. I was told to lie on my side and crouch like a cat so that my spine would be easily accessible. He then inserted the epidural, which felt like nothing much - a bit weird was all. Esa later said that he was about to throw up and faint when he saw it being done, that it had been a sickly sight to see such a long tube go so deep into my spine. Good thing it didn't feel as bad as it looked! Once the drug was in me, it started taking effect almost immediately and I felt an icy tingling sensation run throughout my limbs. Each contraction felt weaker and weaker - until I couldn't feel them at all! It was HEAVEN!!! It was exactly like how it feels to crawl naked into a warm soft waterbed and dive under the covers, after being outside in the cold - pure BLISS! Not only did the epidural take the pain away - but it caressed my whole body in such a way that is hard to describe. In fact after it had taken affect, I lay there, all relaxed and limp and chanted "Heavenly" over and over again.

    * Last time, since the birth had been induced, all 5 hours of the birth had been like this, and right from the start BOOM!, this time my body was allowed to accustom to the pain gradually, and it was much much easier to take, physically and mentally.

Read on to see what happened next...

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