My Labour and Delivery Story
It all started around 8PM. Philip and I were having dinner with my parents and his mom when the period-type of annoying cramps began. I had visited my midwife earlier that day so noone seemed to be too bothered by the fact that I wasn’t feeling that well. ‘Cause having a first child and delivering it 3 days earlier? Also, it was the 16th, which meant that if I were already in labour I was gonna deliver on the 17th – the National Day of the Capital of Bulgaria (Sofia) and the official Name Day of everyone carrying that name. And what were the odds, right?
But then my mom and I began timing my ‘cramps’, which were coming and going every 40 minutes and less than an hour later every 20. Apart from the camps I was also getting hot and cold flashes, mild back pain, and had no appetite at all. I ate some bruschetta with cheese, some cheese from a platter, and a piece of home-made apple cake with cream, or in other words I consumed plenty of dairy products that night (the last thing you should eat when you’re in labour). Near the end of the evening I decided to do my manicure, because I had no intention of going to the hospital without having my nails picture-perfect. Yep, it was the stress speaking.
By the time Philip and I entered our flat the cramps were no longer mildish. What I was experiencing was much more powerful so there was no doubt that these were proper contractions. I can vaguely remember what happened over the next hour. I was snuggled in the couch and Philip was running back and forth finishing off our hospital luggage. I felt the urge to go into the shower, while Philip was timing my contractions. ‘Baby, they are every 4 minutes and last for 60 seconds’…‘Here we go’ I thought. We called the hospital but they told us to wait, get some sleep, because apparently it was still too early.
10 minutes later, with my PJs on and ready to go and have a nap, my waters broke (00:45 AM). Philip and I started hysterically laughing, because due to the pain I couldn’t really figure out whether it was my waters or pee (TMI!). After closely examining the liquid – all seemed fine. No smell, no colour. We contacted the hospital again and we were advised to go for a check at 8-9 AM. I guess the reason behind that was that I was talking with a smile on my face, which showed them that my contractions were bearable. That’s a smart way to determine whether it’s too early to head over to the hospital, because as long as you can tolerate the pain, it’s much better to wait at home and do something to distract yourself.
Only 5 minutes later I told Philip that we had to go. I didn’t care what I was advised – I knew the little Sofia-Malou was on her way.
We checked-in the hospital at 1:55 and the midwife that welcomed us began monitoring my contractions. Then she examined me to find out that I was only 1cm opened with 9 more to go… Not ideal at all. My contractions were crazily strong, so her advice was morphine until I go into active labour (4cm). ‘Nah’, Philip replied that I was against any type of painkillers. The midwife, determined make me reconsider my decision told me on her way out ‘ This might go on for hours and you will need a lot of energy to push your baby out. At least think about it!’
She came back an hour later and Philip asked her to check me again. It was 02:50 and she was shocked to find out that I was already 4cm opened and in active labour. They were discussing in Danish how crazy this was and they assumed it was because I had been very active during my pregnancy and had done best to stay fit and healthy.
There we were – on our way to the delivery room. By that point my contractions had gotten incredibly strong. Still I was determined to go all the way down the natural lane and the epidural was not an option. I’m allergic to painkillers so I didn’t want to take any risks and end up harming my baby. All I had to do was stay positive and (wo)man up. But then it’s difficult to do so when you feel your body is just about to explode. I was walking back and forth like a mad person (without much clothes) around the room and the midwife I was assigned to was running after me trying to monitor my baby’s heartbeat. Every time I tried to lie down I’d feel a sudden urge to get up. I tried the ‘Gas and Air’ thing. I hated it. Having a mask over my face just made me feel as if I was suffocating so I just refused using it. Thinking back I’m very grateful I was going to yoga, because the breathing techniques I learned during my classes were incredibly useful to gain control over my contractions. At the beginning I did a mistake I had promised myself not to make – I shouted, which made it much more difficult to go through the contractions.
At 04:35 the Head Midwife came by to see how I was doing and checked me. I was already 6 cm and only an hour and a half later I was 10, which explained my urge to push. Philip was right there next to me, holding my hand and taking my crazy attitude with inexplicable amount of patience. Also, because all the dairy I’d consumed I was puking a lot every time a contraction hit. So it was quite a lot ‘Sorry Philip’. So if you are in labour – DO NOT consume dairy products. For your sake. Puking all over the place just made it more difficult to perform the breathing techniques correctly…so go for plain carbs instead.
The most challenging and at the same time relieving part of my labour was the pushing out part. Relieving because I could do something about the pain and difficult because my contractions were way too powerful and short. In fact, Philip told me that and the midwives were afraid I wouldn’t be able to push my baby out without their help and they were preparing for episiotomy. (I’m grateful for once for my limited knowledge of Danish). Apparently one of them was holding a pair of scissors and that’s where Philip stepped in. I remember him holding my head and one of my legs and a midwife assisting me with the other so that I’m in the right position. Meanwhile Philip kept on reassuring me that I could do it with voice that was much firmer than before. And that’s when they saw the head coming properly out. Philip was that extra nudge I needed…
To ensure that I don’t tear the Head Midwife, who decided to stay with us in the room, applied Olive Oil to my baby’s head, which would help it come out more smoothly. Crazy! But it worked!!!
After 66 min of pushing Sofia-Malou was born, 07:36 AM; 50 cm and 3,230 gr. She came out all at once and there she was crying in my arms. I remember I was laughing and crying and talking to her, apparently greeting her in Bulgarian.
To be honest I was skeptical towards the Danish way. Not because I didn’t believe that the hospitals and specialists here were great, but just because I was raised in another culture that has exactly the opposite ways. The bottom line, however, is that I’m more than impressed and incredibly grateful that I gave birth here. Olive Oil on the head of the baby? So freaking smart! And just the whole anti C-section attitude. I love that! In Bulgaria I would have been advised to get C-section, because of the size of my baby. Seriously, most of my friends had to have C-section, because the size of their baby’s head was apparently too big to be able to come out naturally without causing massive damage down there. Despite my petite size I was capable of delivering a 3.230 baby – so if I can do it – there is no doubt that you can do it too.
Was it a scary/terrifying experience? No. Did it hurt a lot? It hurt like a b****, but the moment it was over – it was over! Actually, only a few hours after giving birth I told my mom that I would be more than happy to do it all over again. 🙂
Aw, and another thing. Recently I mentioned the remarks I was getting in regards to my small bump. Well, Sofia-Malou and I are a living proof that small bump doesn’t mean small/underdeveloped baby. As my doctor put it – it simply means that you’ve been eating healthy enough for your baby to grow rather than you.