It’s officially been ONE month since I walked into the hospital ready to meet our Charli girl and 1 month since our lives changed forever. I know each birth is completely different and I want to preface this by saying that I am so grateful both she and I were healthy the entire time, as I know it could have been a very different story so quickly.
*P.S. This is not the most ‘positive’ of birth stories and includes some pain trauma that can be triggering*
Let me start out by saying I was prepping for months. I was doing hypnobirthing, meditation, labor prep tea, dates, pelvic floor exercises, legs/squats during the 2nd trimester, yoga/pilates during the 3rd trimester, ball work, ice holding/breathing, affirmations, etc.
I honestly went into labor with as much positivity as I could. I wasn’t scared, fearful, or dreading it. I created a birth preference sheet, but wanted to keep in mind that they never really go as ‘planned’. I just knew that I wanted to go as natural and unmedicated as possible, but was open to pain management if I knew I couldn’t get through it.
Friday, June 30th.
Around 8 pm I started noticing consistent contractions/Braxton hicks. They weren’t painful at all, so I just started to track the timing (which was around 4-5 minutes apart). I lost my mucus plug and called the nurse’s hotline to confirm if it was actually labor or prodromal labor. Because I planned to have an unmedicated water birth, they told me to take some Tylenol PM and let my body do what it needs to do.
Saturday, July 1st.
The contractions started to slow a lot (around 15+ minutes apart), so I was almost worried it was false labor. At this point, I was mentally prepared and wanted to keep things progressing. So, I kept moving and doing what I could to keep it going, but again, the contractions weren’t very painful at all and mostly just my stomach tightening with some cramping.
Sunday, July 2nd.
I woke up at 3 am with the first noticeably painful contraction (especially in my back), quickly knowing this might actually be the start of my labor. They were about 15 minutes apart at that point and did what I could to try and sleep (which was impossible ;).
With each contraction, my lower back started to hurt and my fear of having back labor really kicked in, something I worried about during my entire pregnancy.
According to the APA, about a quarter of women report experiencing severe discomfort in the lower back that is most intense during contractions and often painful between contractions. It can often be accompanied by an irregular contraction pattern, a labor that is slow to progress, and a prolonged pushing stage.
Some women who experience back pain during their menstrual cycle may be more likely to experience back labor regardless of the baby’s position. Unfortunately, this is exactly why I had fears.. because I have bad menstrual back pain.
LESSON No.1: More research on back labor
I was at home laboring almost all day Sunday. My dad came to pick up Curry and my sister arrived in the afternoon. I was about 5 minutes between contractions, but still working through the pain. During this time I kept walking around the house, bouncing on the ball, took a shower (which felt so amazing), and started using the TENS unit on my lower back.
The TENS unit electrode ‘shocks’ did help take my mind off the cramping, but soon after the contraction ended and I stopped the unit, my back pain kept radiating :(
Around 5 pm I took a bath and started to feel very uncomfortable. At this point, the contractions were ranging from 3-4 minutes apart (yet could still mostly talk through them). I wanted to wait as long as I could to go into the hospital knowing that I could have hours left to go being a first-timer. Yet, also know it’s been 14+ hours already (not considering the hours of pre-labor).
At 7 pm I finally told Kiley and my sister that I think it was time to go in as the pain was getting pretty bad.
That drive was a bit brutal…every single bump would send more pain into my back.
At the Hospital
We got into our room and met the midwife (whom I never met). She was just a bit quieter and hands-off than I ever expected and so different than the midwives I had met. I can’t help but say I was a little let down I didn’t get any of the midwives I had during my pregnancy.
LESSON No.2: Water Birth Options
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I made it clear I was wanting an unmedicated vaginal water birth. They had it on my Preferences sheet and something we talked about at almost every appointment towards the end. I knew there was a list of factors that could prevent it, but I stayed positive and just hoped my blood pressure let it happen…especially knowing that the back labor felt ‘best’ (I say that knowing it was still so painful) when in the water.
When we got into the room, my sister asked “So do we go into a different room for the water birth”? The midwife and nurse looked at each other with confusion and said they didn’t know I wanted one and let us know that it was not ready yet.
Little did I know, there were only 2 birthing tub rooms. So, the actual chance of getting one actually is pretty low, which I wish I knew ahead of time.
LESSON No.3: Expectations
The nurse said I can labor in the jacuzzi in the bathroom for now and will keep us updated on the birthing tub. As I got in we tried turning on the jets (which again, was something that helped SO much with the back pain), but the nurse looked at us and said “Sorry, they don’t work”. She handed my sister the shower head and said we can use this instead. So, Kiley and my sister had to take turns trying to spray my lower back after each contraction (which also meant I had to try and keep my back up towards them). And of course, I’d have to reach below to drain the tub since we used the shower head :(
I was laboring for a few hours, each one just as painful as the last with pain in both my front and my back.
Right after the contraction ended, the most excruciating pain radiated through my lower back..which gave me ZERO relief between contractions. How was this possible? How can I get through consistent pain like this?
Kiley and my sister had to take turns doing counter pressure, massage, heat pad, hold me up, etc. We asked again if the tub was ready, but she said it still hasn’t been cleaned :( I didn’t want to let this get the best of me, but I couldn’t help but feel like nothing was going as ‘planned’.
Breaking my Water
Around 11 pm, the midwife told Kiley she recommends that we break my water to start to speed things up (It took about 4 hours for me to get to 7 1/2 cm. I agreed to it knowing that the contractions and pain would intensify, but knowing it would get me that much closer to the end.
Soon after she did that, she said there was just a little bit of meconium present..meaning I can’t do a water birth anymore. To be honest, there is a part of me that wonders if it was true or that they were just that short-staffed during the Holiday that the tub just wasn’t clean. We’ll never know, but damn.
The next 2 hours were even more brutal. We tried so many positions to try and alleviate the constant back pain, it hurt so bad to try new positions and just prayed I could start pushing soon…I just wanted the pain to end.
Sometime during the 2 hours I finally said my code word “pineapples” to my sister to let her know I needed an epidural and some sort of pain management. But, they said I couldn’t. And that even nitrous oxide wouldn’t be much help.
I was crushed. How can a human endure this much continuous pain?
Monday, July 3rd
Around 1 am and at 9-9.5cm I had the urge to push so bad. They kept repeating to me to moan deeper/lower and to breathe because I cannot push yet. But it was the most intense pressure/pain. Every time the midwife would check, I just prayed it was time to push. I was feeling defeated.
Finally, around 2 am, and almost 24 hours since the painful contractions started, I was able to push.
At this point, I remember reading that most women with back labor find pushing easiest since the bad back pain goes away because the baby finally re-positions.
Unfortunately, that was not my story.
With every single push, the minute it ended I had the most excruciating pain…I didn’t get any relief. I could no longer hold my legs up (thankfully my husband and sister did the entire time) and was just shaking. I felt like my body was failing me. I dreaded each contraction because after each INTENSE push, I would collapse to my side and they would have to apply pressure and a heating pad to my back until the next contraction hit.
I remember constantly just saying “my back, my back, my back”
This went on for 3 hours. The crazy thing, my body knew I was so exhausted, there was a moment I somehow had a 7-minute contraction break during pushing that I actually fell asleep for a few minutes while they held the heating pad on my back.
I have no clue how I did it and how a human can endure that amount of constant pain. I remember thinking to myself that I’m just going to black out, pass out, die, wake up in surgery, or that she is just never going to come out.
My body was just so exhausted from the 26 hours of it. And the crazy thing, my husband and sister never got a break either. There wasn’t downtime between contractions for me, so there wasn’t really time for them to grab a bite, sit down, take a bathroom break, etc. They were my superheroes, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to do it without them, and will forever be grateful for what they did for me.
July 3rd, 5:04am
The little stubborn lady finally was here, Charlotte Anne Mondloch. The first thing that came out of my mouth was “I’m never f*cking doing that again” and then proceeded to ask if she was okay about five times.
My body was wrecked. My eyes hurt, my face was so swollen from pushing, I couldn’t even attempt to move my legs, my breathing hurt because my lungs were in pain, and my abs and arms were sore, you name it. But, my back pain was finally gone. THANK GOD.
It is hard for me to think about my labor and I still have had such mixed emotions. I know I am so insanely lucky we both were healthy, but the pain my body went through was, well, kind of traumatizing. I can’t listen to meditation breathing without going right back to that hospital room. Taking baths triggers the memory of it. The outfit I wore during labor is in the trash. You name it.
I am so proud of what I did, but I’m also kind of grieving the fact that I don’t think I could ever go through it again (as we did plan to have a sibling for her). I just do not know how I did it. Not only that, even an epidural isn’t guaranteed with back labor (and could prolong pushing even more).
After a month, I still miss my baby belly, my pregnancy, and our old life a bit. This newborn stage has been really hard, recovery has felt long and all the little ‘issues’ we’ve gone through the past 4 weeks have been unexpected and tough.
I remember having a fear towards the end of my pregnancy that I wouldn’t connect with her, that I wouldn’t feel like a ‘mom’, and that I wouldn’t love it. And well, that’s exactly what I’m going through.
But, I’ve also realized I need to give myself grace. Not everyone LOVES the newborn stage and is obsessed with their baby right out of the womb. Not everyone has the same labor or recovery. And I’ve definitely learned that no baby is the same and you can never really prepare for it.
As I sit here, looking at her, I am proud that I start each day as positively as I can. That although the nights can be tough and so insanely tiring, I know I’ll miss it one day. She’s so tiny and cute and this stage does go fast. I want to look back and be grateful that as hard as it is, I embraced it. That I focused on all the good (her latching, her health, her sleeping, her funny faces, etc) and didn’t let the tough parts get to me.
But, maybe that is motherhood. That you do things that are hard, exhausting, and trying..because life is no longer just for you.
It’s for them.
And to my Charli girl, I can’t quite believe what my body went through to get you here, and definitely can’t believe my pain tolerance. How I never screamed or passed out is beyond me. But, as I get to know you each day, that pain feels less and less (and worth it ;). This month has been
hard different, but I’m here embracing it each and every day.