The Summer of 2019 was long and hot.
I had the perfect pregnancy physically speaking, but mentally I spent a lot of time being worried and anxious for the well being of the baby. I did countless ultrasounds, and 10 days before the due date I was in the hospital again for a thorough check, as I couldn’t feel a lot of movement in the belly and was scared that the baby might be dead.
I watched all the episodes of The Midwife, listened to numerous podcasts about giving birth, and had lengthy talks with my midwife regarding my wishes for how to deliver the baby. I had heard and seen on tv that epidural might slow down the birthing process and we agreed that I would try to give birth in a birthing tub instead. As the due date got closer, my mindset was positive, I was prepared that it would hurt, but I would get through it.
During my last check-up, a woman in labour came into the hospital. She was wearing a nightgown, no bra and her hair was a mess. She was lying down on the chairs in the waiting room and screamed, while her husband was running back and forth to reception filling out forms. “I couldn’t give less of a f..k about these forms” she was howling, and I thought to myself that I would NOT be anything like her when I was giving birth, she should pull herself together.
My due date was July 15th, and carefully coordinated with my mother flying in from Tromsø five days prior. She would stay 10 days with us to help out. Even if this was my first time giving birth, we also have a six year old boy, so we needed a little help. July 5th he went to spend the weekend with grandma and grandpa and we were looking forward to a quiet couple of days as just the two of us, before all the baby mayhem.
Preparing for Birth
That Friday we went on several road trips around Oslo, ate ice cream, went on little walks and kissed on benches by the lake. I noticed how it was getting harder for me to sit, harder to walk, and I was feeling small cramps. I thought it was normal, as I have been told you often go overtime with your firstborn.
In the afternoon we were eating sashimi and watching a movie together. I felt a strong need to poop, and I had heard that the body tends to want to empty itself before the birth, so this was a bit peculiar but I still thought it couldn’t be a sign, as the due date was still 10 days away.
Water Breaks like in the Movies
My cramps continued, but a long shower before bedtime helped and I fell asleep around midnight. I didn’t get many hours of sleep, before I suddenly woke up with a bang, and my water broke. I ran to the bathroom as the water was pouring out and screamed “MY WATER HAS BROKEN! ”.
My partner is all about keeping it tidy, so he was running after me cleaning up the mess as fast as he could manage. We were running around like headless chickens for a few minutes, before I called my mom and yelled to her that my water had broken. She remained calm and kindly suggested I hang up the phone and dial the number to the hospital instead.
I called the maternity ward. She asked me if I had contractions, discoloured water, movement in the belly. She told me to lie down, eat and drink and feel for movement. If I felt the movement I should wait at home until the contractions were coming on a regular basis, and come in for a check the next morning.
Pizza for Breakfast
We made some sandwiches and tried to watch some series, while I was texting a friend. My water was still coming so I was sitting on a big towel in the couch. After a while my cramps got worse, but as I called the maternity ward they told me to hold off at home until they came closer and closer, and try to sleep in the meantime.
My partner fell asleep, while I was monitoring the cramps and got more and more excited. I had a shower, shaved, made my hair into braids. The cramps were pretty bad, but I could still manage. around seven in the morning I decided to make pizza for breakfast, and try to wait until nine thirty to go to the hospital. When my guy got out of bed, he found me hanging over the kitchen counter while I was trying to eat a pizza as I moaned in pain. He timed the cramps and as they came every two-three minutes, he said he thought it was time. We called again and were told to come straight in. The car-ride to the hospital was totally magic.
It was just over seven thirty, the sun was low in the sky and the city was totally quiet. The cramps were pretty bad, but still manageable. I remembered the screaming lady in the waiting room, and thought to myself I would be able to get in there without quite so much drama. But as I was stepping out of the car, something happened suddenly and a pain explosion erupted. It’s hard to describe the level of agony, and I felt like I was going to die.
Outside the hospital a small group of nurses were smoking, and I remember thinking it would be embarrassing to make a scene in front of them. Even still, it was inevitable. I screamed as a possessed person, and couldn’t move at all. My partner had to shout out to a nurse inside the building to get us a wheelchair. She just shrugged and told us to get it ourselves. I really didn’t want to be left alone in the parking lot, and finally she came with a wheelchair.
Calm and collected went out the window
As I came screaming into the reception, making the aforementioned drama queen looking like a calm and collected yogi, they concluded that I could get in without the forms. I went straight in to be checked by the midwife. To my great disappointment I only had one cm opening, and was told “this will take time”. I can’t remember if I answered something or just screamed, and then I was put into a room with several other ladies at different stages in pregnancy for monitoring.
In the birth room I met my midwife, who I will always love. The first few hours all I can remember is her hand holding mine firmly. I shouted for epidural. I didn’t care, I just wanted to be freed of the terrible pain I was in. The midwife from heaven ordered epidural at once.
I needed to go number one and two, but couldn’t make it happen. They had to use a catheter to empty my bladder. I had dreaded this as I had been told it is painful, but I couldn’t feel a thing. The cramps were so strong they had all my focus.
Handsome Tattooed Doctor
At 11 a handsome tattooed doctor came in to do the epidural. “Nice looking bloke”, I thought while I was on all fours screaming in pain. As he was setting the needle in, I had to be completely still, and at that moment my contractions stopped for a minute. He made the epidural happen, I got one more heavy contraction, and then it stopped.
I could see the world in colours again. I looked at my midwife. Blond and soft, with a warm smile. “Hi!” I said. “I am Mari, nice to meet you”. My contractions now felt like menstrual cramps. They checked my opening. Five CM! The pain hadn’t been for nothing.
I got food. I called my mom. I called a friend. I slept. I woke up, and I was at eight CM! The baby was still a bit high up so I danced around to my music. My fear that the epidural would delay the contractions was luckily not happening. My man went out to get food and a coke for me, and when he was back, my opening was at 10 cm and I was ready to push.
I felt the contractions getting stronger and I am terrified it will hurt too much, but the midwife assures me it will be easier to handle when I can use my body to push against the pain.
It’s now three o’clock in the afternoon, and my midwife's shift is over, but she doesn’t leave me.”I am not going anywhere until this baby is out”, she says.
Pushing felt like a mix between good and bad. It was so extraordinary to work this way with my body, and my screaming felt more powerful at this point, because my baby was coming! After 20 minutes of pushing, the midwife says, “Mari, take out your hands and pull out your son”, and plopp! HE was suddenly on my chest. Without a sound, but perfect and healthy. I think he was as shocked as me that he was suddenly out in the world, nine days before the plan.