When I was pregnant with my second baby, I was under the care of a high-risk OB due to my history – previous miscarriages (one in the second trimester), and a subchorionic hematoma.

At my regularly scheduled 39 week appointment with my doctor, I told her I was really eager to have the baby. She decided to do a cervical check and said I was 1 cm dilated, so there was nothing really going on. We scheduled an induction for the end of week; since I was high risk, she didn’t want me to go longer than 40 weeks.

On the drive home, I started having really painful contractions; definitely stronger than the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d been having. I was surprised and a little unsettled, not sure what was going on. I laid down at home and timed the contractions on an app. They were about 10 minutes apart, and they continued at this pace through the night. I was able to get some sleep but not much.

In the morning, the contraction continued to be fairly painful, but they still were 7-10 minutes apart. I called my doctor, and they said to come in when they had been 5 minutes apart for an hour. My husband and I decided to work from home that day. The contractions were all over the place in terms of timing – 5 minutes, then 10, then 7, then 15, etc. – all day. I attempted to work, largely unsuccessfully, and at 4pm, I had a call with my boss. I did not mention that I thought I was in labor. I mostly tried to let him talk as much as possible.

Finally, at 7pm, the contractions had been 5 minutes apart for an hour, and we left for the hospital.

When we got there around 7:40pm, the nurse put me into a triage room and hooked me up to a fetal monitor. For some reason, my husband wasn’t allowed to be in triage with me – only patients could be in the room – so he went to the waiting room, while I was left by myself.

After a few minutes, the resident came in. She checked me and said that I was 7cm dilated, and that if I wanted an epidural, it was now or never. My response was, “NOW. NOW PLEASE.”

She left to arrange the anesthesia. At this point, the contractions – which were already pretty painful – started coming right on top of each other, and the pain increased. I started screaming things like “SOMEONE HELP ME IT HURTS,” but no one responded.

In retrospect, I realize that this was transition. But at the time, I didn’t have any idea what transition was, and I was completely unprepared to go through it without an epidural. I had no plan to calm down, couldn’t move, and didn’t have any support.

A million years later (probably about 5 minutes later), the nurse came back and I told her that I felt like I had to push. She said, “Oh, don’t push until the doctor gets here” and walked out.

I didn’t respond, but I knew I was going to have to push regardless of what she said.

When the resident came back into the room and checked me, she said that I was fully dilated, yelled for someone to get my husband out of the waiting room immediately, and they arranged for me to be wheeled into the delivery room from triage.

In the delivery room, the resident broke it to me that there was no time for an epidural, but reassured me that at least I would be able to brag to all of my friends about having birth without pain medication. (Surprisingly, this actually did cheer me up a bit!)

I started pushing during the contractions, and after a few rounds of pushing, my water broke. I had forgotten all about it, so it was a bit of a shock and at first I had no idea what had happened. I pushed for about 5-10 minutes before she was born at 8:40pm.

Right from the beginning, she was so different than my first baby! He had screamed for a full hour after his birth, she was quiet, calm, and latched right on.

The next day, in recovery, my doctor stopped by and told me that she had stripped my membranes at my last appointment. I have no idea why she didn’t ask first or even tell me when she did it. It would have been good information to have when I started feeling labor contractions on the way home.

This was my first unmedicated birth, and obviously I hadn’t planned it that way. However, looking back, it was actually my favorite of my three births. I was amazed at what my body had been able to do. In the past, I had been frustrated by my body – I suffered from infertility in trying to get pregnant, then had recurrent miscarriages, and then I wasn’t able to nurse my first child and ended up exclusively pumping. But here was something that my body did right, and it went a long way towards healing some of the feelings of inadequacy and guilt that I had had from those experiences.