• Thu, Aug 28 - 12:00 pm ET

Labor Day Submission: The Ring Of Fire

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They say having your water break is something that only happens in the movies. So I wasn’t too worried when I tested positive for GBS, a naturally occurring bacteria that exists in one out of four women. If you are GBS positive, you just have to take a series of antibiotics here and there and once the baby is born. While harmless to us women, the bacteria can be very harmful to newborns. The more rare course of action is if by some small chance your water breaks, you have to rush to the hospital and get the antibiotic administered through an IV so the baby doesn’t get exposed to the bacteria without the amniotic fluid protecting it.

So there I was, five days late, HUGE, thinking…would tonight be the night? And sure enough, at three in the morning on February fifth, what happens? My water breaks. Oh and by the way, this wasn’t just a dainty trickle of water, but a gushing, ongoing release of water that continued for a few hours. So, my husband and I headed to the hospital at around 3:30am, with me sitting on a couple towels in the car…and in triage…and then again on the hospital bed. It appeared that a good 20 out of the 50 pounds I gained (yes, 50) must have been amniotic fluid, which was used to provide my baby a cushy, penthouse suite decked out with waterbeds.

I had hoped to labor as much as possible at home with our doula, but alas, I was instantly hooked up to an IV and uncomfortable monitors and wires that completely restricted my movement. The blissful early laboring experience at home that I had dreamed of was kissed goodbye in a Niagara Falls instant. So, I tried to stay positive, and let the contractions take their course.

After six hours of what seemed like advancing contractions, the midwives did a check – only two pitiful centimeters. This does not bode well for a labor when one’s water has already broken AND you’re GBS positive. So…the dreaded p-word entered the conversation.

I reluctantly agreed to go for the Pitocin. For those of you who have not experienced the drug, it’s commonly coupled with an epidural because the contractions become machine-like in nature, and so intense that it feels like you’re experiencing the most active and intense part of labor for a consistent period of time. I turned down the epidural initially, hoping that the Pitocin would ramp things up quickly and that I could take the heightened amount of pain for a short period of time. I just didn’t want to be further sequestered to the hospital bed, on my back, numb and unable to squat or move during the contractions. So I rallied…without having ANY idea what I was in for.

As the midwives pumped the Pitocin through my IV, time ceased to exist and we were catapulted into contraction marathon. Both my amazing husband and doula were running the marathon alongside me, squeezing my hand or pushing a hot compress to my back, which was the focal point of all my pain. Later, we found out that my little bean was “posterior,” a backwards but still head-down position that can prolong labor and be extra painful. It is also known as “back labor,” which I am now intimately familiar with. The contractions were consistently three minutes apart, two minutes apart, then a while at one minute apart (they came in and turned down the dose at that point, whoops!).

After eight solid hours of this sheer insanity, the midwives were ready to do another check. I’m praying at this point that we have made considerable progress.

ONLY FIVE CENTIMETERS.

HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?! So, there it was. I surrendered to the e-word, knowing that at this snail-paced rate, I would probably continue to progress at only one centimeter per hour, with no energy left to push at the end.

The heroic anesthesiologist then floated to my bed and administered my epidural. Instantly, I started to feel the contractions fade a bit, and the midwives instructed us all to get some sleep. So I just lay on my side, breathing more calmly through each softer contraction, while my doula and husband conked out.

Hours later, I finally progressed to nine centimeters …and the miraculous part of this story is that while I was attempting to rest, my little man decided to turn on his own. I could feel the back pain disappear and shift where it was “supposed” to go and for a blissful moment understood what non-back labor felt like.

LIGHTS UP! Nurses and midwives came in to “prepare.” They were thrilled that he turned on his own. If he hadn’t, they would have had to MANUALLY turn him before pushing which can be quite painful, as it’s not typical to deliver a posterior baby vaginally. Good little man already made his mama proud.

And then the spotty finale… the pushing was much harder than I anticipated. At one point they proudly rolled in a massive vanity mirror so I could watch the baby come out of me – I guess for motivation?? Not able to make any concrete decisions at this point, I looked toward the mirror and witnessed the first action shot, and must have muttered something quite disturbing as they promptly wheeled it away.

Then of course was when the midwife announced that I was about to feel “The ring of fire,” (ie, Jackson’s head sprouting out of my hoo-ha)…and then…well…I got why they named it as such.

But in the end, after 28 hours of labor, I said to everyone, “There is no f**&%#@ way I’m getting to 30 hours!!!” and proceeded to push like an Olympian for 45 minutes. And there he was, my baby Jackson, who was just as relieved for this epic journey to be over. I gazed at him in disbelief, then had just enough energy to give him his first hug and kiss before we both dozed off into blissful slumber.

This article is a submission in our Labor Day Giveaway contest. Have a funny/crazy labor story you’d like to share with Mommyish readers? Go here for more details.

(photo: Icons Jewelry/ Shutterstock)

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  • Lilly

    so weird side question — I thought with an epidural you wouldn’t feel the ring of fire, but is that not the case?

    • Dixie

      It really depends on how much drug they are pumping into the epidural. With my first I didn’t feel anything. With my second, I could feel her moving down the birth canal and I felt a little bit of the ring of fire. It’s actually better to feel a little because then you know when to push.

    • Lilly

      that makes sense — my birth was unmedicated so while I felt it, I think like noelle I was more focused on the fact it was time to push and getting near done.

    • http://www.babyinbklyn.tumblr.com Mona

      That’s exactly right. I certainly knew when to push, and I should mention that Jackson was 9 pounds, so that probably had something to do with it!

    • Bleu Cheese Bewbs

      Epidurals can wear off. Mine did for both of my kids.

    • noelle 02

      See, I had three unmedicated births, two with pitocin, and I recall no ring of fire. I was so relieved kid was crowning and thus the ordeal was nearing an end and the pain was changing that it was a relief. To each their own.

    • Jayamama

      Oh, my gosh you’re lucky. I also had two unmedicated births, but the ring of fire experience was so much worse than the 12 hour and 10 hour labors were. But to be fair my babies were 8lbs and 9lbs 10 oz, so that may be part of the reason.

    • biggerthanthesound

      I don’t recall the ring of fire being that big of a deal, either. I remember with my first my mom came in the room and I excitedly announced “I’m dilated to 10!” My dr. was all…. “some first time mom’s push for over an hour” and i’m all…. yeah, no…. i know this pain ends once baby is out. I’m doing it even if i poop in front of everyone.

    • http://www.babyinbklyn.tumblr.com Mona

      I thought so too, Lilly! I had no idea I would feel it. I am sure the midwives kept it at a low dose, and yes, it was a good few hours later when it was time to push. I do recall they wanted me to feel the contractions coming so I knew when to push so I’m sure it was a choice in dosage.

    • blh

      I pushed for two and half hours and by the end, it had worn off, so I definitely felt it. I had them before that I ould feel things again and they were like no, no it’s too late to give you. Pshhh, whatever.

    • Natasha B

      I’m not sure-I’ve popped out 4 kids, back labor, Pitocin, and epidural with all…and never felt this ‘ring of fire’
      In all honesty, when baby crowned….it kinda felt like a giant poo….

    • Brandy

      Way late here, but I had an epi and felt the ring a few minutes after I delivered. I was SO glad that it was muted because fire is the most perfect word to describe it. Hot, skin melting, hell fire.

  • Joye77

    “They say having your water break is something that only happens in the movies.”
    This confused me, I had to read it several times and still don’t understand. Who ever said that water breaks only in the movies? It breaks in every labor. I think I missed something.
    And with GBS + you don’t have to take any antibiotic prior to the birth process. I had to have two doses during labor and that was all..with all 3 of my babies. Maybe they do it differently where I am.* shrugs*

    • guest

      She means to say that everyone expects that their water will break on it’s own (like in the movies all dramatic) but that a lot of people never seem to have that happen and usually they have to have the Dr break it once they’re already at the hospital.

    • shel

      Yes… it’s actually some smaller statistic like 25% or something (don’t quote me, I don’t remember the actual number) of women who have their water break outside of the hospital.

      In movies it always seems to happen at a restaurant or during the big argument or whatever…
      That said, 3am does seem to be a popular time as well- that’s what happened with my daughter, i woke from sleep just before it happened and it was a very, very strange feeling.

    • http://www.babyinbklyn.tumblr.com Mona

      Hi Joye77 – Yes, as far as initiating labor, it’s a much lower statistic as others mentioned than the movies depict! And you’re probably right as my mommy brain is probably not recalling correctly – I’m also O- blood type so I had to take yet another medication so my blood wouldn’t intoxicate the baby as well. Probably getting them confused!

    • Joye77

      With my only labor that started naturally the very first symptom was my water breaking. So I guess I am in the low percentage.

  • Bleu Cheese Bewbs

    Back labor can burn in hell! I had it with my first but not with my second. While the labor with my second was intense, it was nowhere near hte labor with my first. Congrats on making it through!

    • http://www.babyinbklyn.tumblr.com Mona

      Thank you! I figure the chances of it happening again if I have a second are low so I’m excited to NOT experience it :-)

  • LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

    LOL the mirror!! I remember when they asked me if I wanted to watch. I must have said the same thing you said because the mirror went away.

    • http://maitribathbody.com/ Maitri

      I would have been like “hell yeah, bring it!” But I’m odd.

    • ted3553

      I asked for the mirror when I noticed it. I had an epidural so I was super calm and it was cool to watch. I have issues.

    • http://www.babyinbklyn.tumblr.com Mona

      LOL @disqus_XIc7LPERet:disqus that’s awesome. @disqus_ozTRIaGllW:disqus and @ted3553:disqus you gals are just more hard core than I was ;-)

    • ted3553

      like I said, I had an epidural so no pain. I’m not so sure that without it, I would have been interested in a close look at my lady business in that state.

    • Angie S

      I say a loud screaming no. I figured it was like a nasty splinter or cut…it hurts more if you look.

    • LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

      Oooooh no a failed epidural is one of my worst fears!

  • Katja Yount

    My mom told us that she felt back pain in the morning, but didn’t think it was labor until she was standing in line at the market and her pants filled up with the waters. The check out girl gave her a shocked expression while my mom felt the cascade. Looked down, was all “Yup…” paid for her groceries, went home, and immediately called my aunt to take her to the hospital.

  • http://maitribathbody.com/ Maitri

    My water broke with my 2nd when I was getting back into bed after using the bathroom for the 3rd time in 2 hours. I was 3 weeks early too. Water breaking happens more than they say.

    • ted3553

      Mine broke at about 6 in the morning while I was in bed. It woke me up.

    • biggerthanthesound

      Mine broke when I was baking a cake!

  • ted3553

    Contraction marathon is the best term I’ve heard to describe it and I am stealing it. My water broke and I still hadn’t had contractions about 4 hours later so they hooked me up to pitocin and holy F’ing hell. I spent the next 4 hours trying to catch my breath until the epidural.

    • http://www.babyinbklyn.tumblr.com Mona

      Haha, thanks ted3553! I also recall how hard it was to pee during the contraction marathon. Ie get up start rolling IV pole – CONTRACTION – walk to bathroom – CONTRACTION – sit on toilet – CONTRACTION – hurry up and pee before next one!! – CONTRACTION. So awful.

    • Harriet Meadow

      That sounds exactly like my experience! Pitocin 4 hours after my water broke (and it had a good deal of meconium in it, so they were worried), and then epidural 4 hours after that, because F. THAT. NOISE.

  • Jayamama

    My first had her head so low that I never really got the gushing water breaking moment. But with my second, I was lying down on the couch timing my Braxton Hicks, which I had been having off and on for a week, when it felt like a balloon popped on my cervix, and WHOOSH! came more fluid than I thought was possible to be inside me. And it kept coming and coming for the next hour. Quite amazing.

  • http://www.babyinbklyn.tumblr.com Mona

    Glad you gals enjoyed my labor story! I love seeing everyone’s comments and similar experiences. GO MOMS!!!

  • MomOf1+2

    I had back labor with my first. It was awful until I got the epidural. My husband says I was “mean” because I kept telling him to push on my back for counter-pressure/relief. I tell him he can get over it because it was less than an hour that I was “mean” and I was having back labor so I had the right to be mean! My daughter also turned on her own after the epidural.

  • Heather

    Omg! We have an almost identical birth story