On birthing Charlotte – Part 1 of 3.
January 11, 2013

I talked to four midwives when I was pregnant with Charlotte.  It was to no avail.  So instead I spent my entire pregnancy discussing birth preferences with my obstetrician, trying to be certain that my voice would be heard in the delivery room and that I was fully aware of the options available to me in the hospital my obstetrician worked with.

Charlotte’s delivery started with a bang.  A contraction awoke me at 2am and I, in turn, woke up my husband.  We placed our hands on my belly, feeling as the muscles tightened and loosened, tightened and loosened.  Is this it?, we asked one another excitedly.

Within half an hour, we knew it was.  So we went back to sleep.

After we woke up, Donald and I spent all morning laboring at home.  At 10am, we took a walk to my parents’ house to tell them how to care for Hank while we were in the hospital.  When we came back, I wanted some pain relief so we filled the tub and I climbed in.

Laboring in water was not relaxing for me the way that it is for some women.  When I entered the tub, my contractions were fifteen minutes apart.  Twenty minutes later when I got out, my contractions were two minutes apart and over a minute each in duration.  The contractions were so intense that I felt paralyzed.  Nothing in my life, not even pushing out my babies, compares to the pain of those twenty minutes.

Donald called the doctor as soon as I was dressed and ready to travel.  He was on lunch break.  Donald called back an hour later.  The doctor was still on lunch break.  “What do you want me to do?” my husband asked.


It took us nearly an hour to get to the hospital, with me contracting the entire ride.  There was no longer any discernible start and end to the contractions, so I counted the seconds through one and nearly immediately began counting the seconds through the next.

We arrived at the hospital around two o’clock.  Donald pulled the car up to the emergency room entrance and I climbed out.  He went to park the car.  The hospital was under construction and there was so much scaffolding that the entrance was nearly unrecognizable.  I struggled to cross the parking lot, stopping at saplings to contract.  I knew that the maternity ward was upstairs, so I focused on the first flight of stairs I saw.

Unfortunately, the contractions made it impossible for me to safely navigate the stairs standing upright.  I made it three stairs, gasping in pain, before dropping to all fours.  As I crawled up the stairs, a group of hospital nurses on break sat at a table nearby and I could hear them laughing at me and see them mimicking me the entire time.  I started crying about halfway up the stairs, thinking that I would never make it and I was going to deliver a baby on the concrete stairs outside the hospital while a bunch of nurses made fun of me.

Then a nurse walked out of the building and down the stairs toward me.  He put a hand on my back to comfort me.  “Never mind them,” he said.  “You’re almost there.  Please don’t cry, you’ll be okay.  Are you full-term?  You are?  Okay, well then you’ll have a baby soon!  Isn’t that exciting?  Let’s get you to the maternity ward!  I’ll help!”

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  1. By Heather on January 11, 2013

    What a mean bunch of nurses! I am appalled by their behavior. Andplusalso, what kind of hospital makes pregnant women walk up stairs?

  2. By Elly on January 11, 2013

    !! I can’t believe those nurses were openly so unprofessional! How terrible. I’m glad that a nurse who did find you was a little bit more compassionate, what a tricky situation to be in!

  3. By on January 11, 2013

    I was induced with my first. Went into labor on my own with my second. I didn’t know what to really expect as far as natural contractions with my second. We apparently went to the hospital a little too early for their taste. They hooked me up to the monitor to gauge contractions and said it wasn’t discernible whether I was in labor or not. At that point the contractions were painful… They wanted me to walk the hospital for a couple hours and come back to see if there had made progress. I reluctantly got dressed and went on my way - I could feel the intensity rising. After 5 minutes I had a similar “too painful to move” episode in the hallway - leaning against the wall, sitting down on the ground, nothing would help. I wanted to roll up on a ball in fetal position and just give up. My husband helped me wobble my way back to the nurses station. Apparently in those few minutes I had gone from 4 to 7 centimeters. I’m pretty sure those are the moments of childbirth (aside from pushing out/being handed my children) that I will never forget.

  4. By momiss on January 11, 2013

    Good grief!!  Sounds like you should have just stayed in the tub!  Very glad you did not go back to this hospital!  I have never known or heard of such behavior from nurses, and to think they were women.  UGH!

  5. By on January 11, 2013

    OMG- Sarah! I think my heart just physically twisted at that image… Don’t mean to be weird but HUGE virtual hugs to you!

  6. By Sarah Christensen on January 11, 2013

    Momiss - Yeah, there’s a reason I didn’t want to go back to a hospital!  I’m positive they aren’t all like this and I’m sure that the nurses weren’t being as mean as I remember - I was obviously in a pretty hyper-hormonal state lol - but it wasn’t a positive experience.

    That nurse who helped me stayed with me for most of the laboring, delivering, and postpartum, though, and he was absolutely amazing.  I made sure the hospital heard about how well he had done his job afterwards; he even stayed after his shift ended because I hadn’t delivered yet.  Donald and I both praise him all the time when we tell Charlotte’s birth story to someone =)

    Heather - I found out later that there was a different entrance to the right of the stairs that I just didn’t see.  I was supposed to enter there at ground level and someone would have taken me up.  But I didn’t know that, so I just focused on the only entrance I *did* see - the one with stairs.

  7. By Amber on January 11, 2013

    WOW. I cannot BELIEVE those nurses!!!

  8. By on January 11, 2013

    That makes want to cry thinking how horrible those nurses were to you! A huge hug to you! Glad you the male doula nurse helped you and was awesome. Cant wait to read the rest of the story.

  9. By on January 11, 2013

    So what you’re telling me is if I can get through the contractions, pushing is less awful?

    My jaw actually dropped when I read about those nurses! How horrible.

  10. By Meg {Phase Three of Life} on January 11, 2013

    So appalled at those nurses. Wow. Very glad you had a nice, competent one nearby who found you and was able to help. Can’t wait to read the next two parts!

  11. By Sarah Christensen on January 11, 2013

    Sheila - I personally feel that pushing is easier than contracting, yes.  Also, in my experience pushing without drugs is easier than pushing with drugs (postpartum recovery is easier without drugs in your system too).

    That said, I progress very quickly and was in active labor only seven hours with Charlotte and only three hours with Evelyn.  So it could be that it just seems more painful to me because it all happens so quickly?

    I should also point out that as a whole I didn’t feel in either birth that laboring or pushing was as difficult or painful as I’d been lead to believe.  I can talk through contractions nearly to the end and I joke between contractions and pushes the whole time.  I only had two major contractions with Evelyn right before pushing that made me regret ever becoming pregnant lol.  Labor isn’t comfortable and it hurts like a bitch, but it’s totally do-able.  The postpartum recovery was far worse in my opinion than the actual birthing - in both cases.

  12. By Ravyn on January 11, 2013

    Ummm ... fuck those nurses. My goodness ... I am sure that your intense contractions kept the mommy rage down, but I would have lost it. I can’t wait to hear more about C’s birth story. I’ve loved reading your blog for years!!

  13. By missjoules on January 11, 2013

    Oh my goodness, that sounds awful. I can’t imagine anyone laughing at a woman obviously in labor—especially nurses! Even if I was just a hospital visitor that day I would have felt like I *had* to help you in that situation.

    I have to agree with you that labor wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be. I mean, not fun by any means! But I had built it up to be way *way* worse than it was. One of the first things I said to the midwife after Robin was born was “That wasn’t as bad as I was expecting!“ She said that no one had ever said that to her after they had been induced, so maybe I was lucky?

  14. By on January 11, 2013

    Wew those nurses!
    Glad there was someone there to help.





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