Gwen’s Birth Story: Part II

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As I shared in Part I, I was dilated 4.5 cm in triage, so they got us set up in a labor and delivery room with our wonderful nurse Christine just after 7pm. My mom (my unofficial doula) arrived and started heating up socks filled with rice to place against my lower back to relieve some of the pain from the back labor while I got my penicillin drip. Socks with uncooked rice, guys! Helps so much! I don’t know if it’s just me or if everyone has this experience but the penicillin STINGS. It stings so bad! The pain would shoot up my arm and was almost worse than the contractions. So Christine made the drip go really slowly so that it wouldn’t hurt so much. The downside was that I had to be hooked up for what felt like eternity in order to receive the full dose.

When I was finally done with the antibiotics and had been monitored for the fetal heartbeat, we noticed that my contractions had slowed down. So Daniel and I took a long walk around the halls to speed things up again. When the contractions started to intensify, I opted to try laboring in the tub for awhile so that the water could relieve some of the back labor pain. The warm water did help with the pain, but it felt like I had gotten TOO comfortable. Again my contractions had spaced out, so we decided to get me out and try laboring on the birth ball for a bit. Daniel and I prayed a Rosary as I sat on the birth ball and I looked at a holy card of Our Lady and the Christ Child that Abbey sent me.

As it neared 11pm, I started to feel exhausted. My contractions were strong but not regular. I remember apologizing to Daniel and my mom about how boring the labor was.  I really wanted to lay down and rest, but I was worried that would slow things down and just make me more tired in the long run. But since it was time to get more antibiotics and be monitored, we decided I should rest while I was hooked up to the IV. By this point my contractions were difficult with intense back labor. I would breathe into each one while praying Hail Marys and Daniel stayed by my side every minute, encouraging me and helping me remember to relax and let my body work.

It felt great to lie down on my side for a bit while I received the second dose of penicillin, but just as I feared, the contractions slowed down and I was antsy to get out of bed and start walking again. Midnight came and went, so I knew our Gwen wasn’t going to be a May 29th baby. After what felt like forever, my second dose of penicillin was finished and we could get up and walk. I remember telling Daniel, “I’m just so tired. I don’t remember feeling like this last time.” We consulted Dr. B. who offered to give me something to help me sleep for a bit. Daniel and I talked it over and he was worried that I wouldn’t actually get good rest and that it would just slow everything down with an end result of being more exhausted than before. So we decided to soldier on.

I had been snacking on and off and drinking water and orange juice but I was hungry for something more substantial, so our nurse brought in a sandwich tray and I devoured a ham and cheese. That perked me up a little bit and I was having some good contractions in the rocking chair. I kept getting up and walking around our room and the halls because that seemed like the best way to make progress. My contractions were getting longer and closer together and I couldn’t pray Hail Marys anymore while breathing through them. I switched to a combination of counting down from 20 with each slow breath (by 0 the contraction would be over) and praying to favorite saints with each breath “St. Lucy, pray for us. St. John of God, pray for us. St. Michael, pray for us. Bl. John Paul II, pray for us...”

I got back into the tub to get a little break from the back labor pains. It was almost time to get another dose of penicillin and I was getting so discouraged and tired. Lucy’s birth had been so fast and I hadn’t expected another long and painful labor like I had with Benjamin.

During labor I am very calm and quiet. I go inside my head and breathe through the contractions and don’t move or make noise. But the pain and exhaustion were becoming overwhelming. The back labor and pain in my thighs with each contraction was getting unbearable and I knew it meant that Gwen was likely in a weird position like Benjamin was. I didn’t want to go through that kind of pain again. I looked up at Daniel and just burst into tears. “I can’t do this! I’m not going to be able to do this! I’m so tired and the labor isn’t going anywhere! I don’t know what to do!” I might have also said really reasonable things like, “Do something!” and “Fix this!” He held my hand and looked straight into my eyes and said, “I know you can do this. You can do this, Haley.” It was almost 4am and it didn’t feel like we were anywhere close to meeting our baby…

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  1. says

    Edge of my seat! I mean, obviously everything happened and worked out and all, but I breezed through that post in two seconds. I’m excited to hear the rest!
    PS: I’m taking notes on the Rosary with contractions. What a good way to stay focused.

  2. says

    My last labor 25 years ago was very much as you are describing. You have stayed so strong! Can’t wait to hear the end! Obviously the results are wonderful !

  3. says

    It’s true, you were doing such a great job! My wonderful father-in-law gave me a rosary to say just in case my labor lasted a long time. The long, slow breathing and going inward are very HypnoBirthing. I feel like I’m in the room with you heating up that rice and saying “You are doing this. You are.”

  4. Maria Bowles says

    Your birth story is sounding A LOT like mine! Minus the penicillin and Dr. (we had a midwife). With Gretchen my contractions were 5-7, then 3-5, 1-3 and then back to back and then she was born after 8hrs. I surely thought Fredrick’s birth couldnt be any longer than hers but my contractions never got any closer than 3min apart and were consistently either 3 or 8 min apart. And every time I got in the tub they would slow down. I was so exhausted and tired after a day and a half of this I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to be able to push him out. But lo and behold after 40hrs of real contractions, and finally letting them break my bag and with Gods strength I did it. Can’t wait to hear the rest! I love birth stories!

  5. says

    I love birth stories, and this one has got me hooked! I love it when other women talk about prayer giving them strength during their labor. It was the only thing (that, and my husband) that got me through!

  6. says

    This is a good reminder to focus more on prayer with my next one. My husband did a great job of helping me relax by smoothing the worry lines on my face. Weird, but it worked. Funny as it was, I was so focused on laboring I didn’t even think to pray through each contraction.

  7. says

    Aaaaahhh…I can’t handle the suspense! I’m seriously so proud for you and Daniel for “soldiering on” and perservering. I know it’s not easy, but you two are just so selfless for your babies, which is wonderful. I, too, want to focus more on prayer during our next labor, so thanks for the good example! Can’t wait to read the rest!

  8. Sarah says

    Back labor is the worst! When I gave birth to my daughter, they gave me 4 shots of sterile water in my back to kill the pain receptors. I’d recommend that for anyone with back labor.

  9. LPatter says

    GREAT CALL on refusing the Sleep Aid!!!!

    With #1 my labor was sooooo gradual and I’d read my tail off with all the Bradley materials and labor stories I had access to, so I knew we could be in it for a long haul when after 12 hours of very light but increasing contractions (who knows the first time around just how far you are?!) and only dialting to just barely 2 when we checked in (and out!) of the hospital (45 min drive!) the first time, so when the nurse told me that and offered me Ambien to get some rest while I waited for labor to pick up, I hemmed a little and took it as it was also 7 pm and I knew we’d be in for a long night. WORST MOVE EVER! I am pretty drug sensitive and have never ever needed sleep assistance (can nap anywhere!). Ambien made me feel SO groggy/loopy/weird, and of course, labor started to pick up. I didn’t get to a bed soon enough (needed a turkey club, of course!) to actually get quality sleep, and when the contractions intensified I felt totally off my game and unable to mentally prepare and endure them. Because it was affecting me into the normal bedtime hours, it was harder for me to come-to and I told my husband to sleep for a bit before going back to the hospital, so that left me having been totally “out of it” from about 8 pm -midnight, and then laboring by myself from 12-3:30 am. Not fun for a first time mom.

    [Mini-birth-story conclusion just for fun: when we finally went back at 4 am I was j-u-s-t b-a-r-e-l-y 4 cm – what?! – but the contractions were very demanding! I could not believe how long it took my body to earn those first 4 cm. I’d already been over 1 cm at my last appt! But I ended up going from 4 to 6 to 8 pretty rapidly, and after waters broke at 6.5/7 it all went hard and heavy from there. Great natural birth – minus the Ambien! – in the end and Nathanael came at 9:32 am after having had the first light contractions 27 hours previous. Not a bad first labor – was so grateful for the chance to do it all naturally.]

    Can’t wait to read the rest of yours!

  10. Laura says

    Can’t wait to read the rest! Our own little angel is due in four months and I’m just thrilled to be surrounded by women who are having wonderful, beautiful pregnancies of their own. I can’t wait to hear their birth stories and then share mine!
    Praying that you and Gwen (and the rest of your family) are doing well, and sleeping well.
    Inspired in part by you and Lucy and in part by Deirdre’s wellspring of knowledge, I’m beginning my breastfeeding research campaign. I know a bit already from my maternity books, but I look forward to getting all the gritty details.
    All this to say, congratulations! So happy for you!

  11. says

    Loving hearing your birth story! So mean of you to break it into 3 parts though! 🙂 My first labor was 27 hours. It started at 9:00 at night, just as I was winding down for bed. And of course that was the one day I didn’t take a nap! I remember the exhaustion factor being worse than the contractions. I was so tired I was literally falling asleep between contractions even though they were only a few minutes apart. My labor stalled out at 7cm for 5 hours despite our best efforts to get things going, so they ended up breaking my water. That’s when it got crazy, but hey, crazy meant I got to meet my baby in a couple hours! Anyway, way to be a trooper! I feel you on the exhaustion factor!

    Jennifer @ Little Silly Goose

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