A’s labor was a long and confusing process if we count the numerous false alarms and various trips to the hospital starting back with preterm contractions at 25 weeks. Then into the hospital at 34 weeks with more contractions that dissipated by the time I was on the monitors…then again at 35 weeks with gushing fluids. AND another time at 36 weeks with what we seemed certain was a “different” gush that meant my water had broken. Again and again these were all false alarms and each time I was sent home with less confidence in my ability to detect what was going on with my body. I began to fear that I would not “know” when labor was upon me. The contractions continued coming on/off from 36 weeks until he was born.
At 40 weeks and 6 days my OB had scheduled me for an induction based on “big baby” reasoning. I was okay with it thinking things would happen before then…when nothing did and my induction date was 24 hours away I panicked. I went to the chiropractor and an acupuncturist trying to get things moving. I called my OB and explained my uncertainty about induction and he agreed to postpone it until I was 41 weeks and 5 days.
At 41 weeks and 1 day (Nov. 30th) my body started “cleansing” and I had more contractions all day long that were (in my mind) possibly still just prodromal labor. They seemed more consistent and didn’t disappear, but weren’t coming in any specific pattern and I couldn’t time them. My MIL came the next day to help with E since I figured that if things stayed the same (with all the trips to the bathroom and the contractions) I would be in no shape to manage on my own with my hubby working that Saturday. The contractions continued all Saturday and seemed to be more consistent about 5-7 minutes apart and lasting varying amounts of time. But still nothing was picking up and I was not about to say “this is it” as I’d been there so many times during this pregnancy and each time was wrong. I nested like a mad woman all day Saturday in spite of my discomfort and managed to get all of my Advent decorations up and finished a few last minute things I had wanted organized before A was born. That night my mom and dad drove up since my mom decided that even if this wasn’t “it” they wanted to be here just in case it was…and it’s a good thing they did!
That night my mom took me to Publix and Target to walk around and hopefully help get things moving. I had a few harder and longer contractions while I was walking around and they were coming a little closer together 2-4 minutes apart. But they were still easily managed and I was sure active labor was not upon me yet. When we got home from Target I was so tired and all I wanted was to lie down. I went to bed hoping that if this was “it” I wouldn’t have much longer to go. Around 3 a.m. I woke up to a hard contraction. I knew this was it…finally! I woke up my hubby, my mom and dad and my MIL and informed them the time had come and could they please clear the living room as that is where I wanted to labor for as long as possible. My dad went and laid down with E so she wouldn’t be alone when she woke up and my mom and MIL helped get things ready for me in the living room. My parents had a blown up air mattress in the living room and we left it there as I had been instructed by my doula to try and labor lying down on my side as long as I could since it was so early in the morning. I tried this with my hubby holding me and found I didn’t like it. So I got up and tried some other positions but really couldn’t get comfortable. The contractions were coming 3 minutes apart consistently for the first hour and quickly picked up to 2 minutes apart by the second hour. I wasn’t timing them and preferred not to know how far apart they were. I had a bunch of ideas for how I wanted to labor but in the end I wound up back on the bed lying on my side with counter pressure on my low back moaning or humming through each contraction. This was the only way I could manage them and stay focused. Apparently my doula had told them to call her when I started vocalizing through contractions and I started doing it about an hour after we talked to her. They called her and told her I was vocalizing and she asked them to time how long my contractions were lasting. My mom told me later that I scared them because right after this the contractions were 2 minutes apart and lasting almost 2 minutes long. There seemed to me to be very little time between them at all and I had one toward the end of this part of the labor that nothing I did seemed to help me cope. I got frustrated with my mom at this point as she was trying to help stay focused and in control and later on we figured out this was me hitting transition. Shortly after getting irritated with my mom and screeching for someone to continue applying pressure to my low back I vomited several times.
We called the doula again (who was on her way to the apartment) and she advised we head to the hospital based on my vomiting and the 2 minute long contractions I had entered into. At this point I began to feel sort of outside of my body. They told me it was time to go to the hospital and I was unable to even question the command. I just put my shoes on and headed out the door. Getting off of the bed and walking was excruciating. For some reason it felt better on my side. It took me awhile to get down the stairs as I had to stop for some intense contractions. Of course at this point it was all intense! I got into the car and knew immediately why every woman abhors riding in a car during hard labor. I propped myself at an angle and gripped the handle to keep from sitting fully on the seat as that caused even more pain. My poor hubby was flipping out at this point and I think he was certain that the baby would be born in the car. He drove excessively fast and looked at me with concern whenever I started humming and moaning. Again this continued to be the best way for me to manage the pain (maybe because of all the vocal training I did in college for Theatre…lol). He actually called the Police and wanted to tell them we would be running red lights…they thought I was giving birth in the background or something b/c they put him through to the fire department!! It was like something out of movie. I started feeling pressure when we were halfway there and it worried us both since there was (in our minds) no way of knowing if my water had already broken or not since my “gushing” had continued throughout the end of the pregnancy and in the days leading up to labor.
We got to the hospital around 5:30am and they wanted me to pee in a cup…HA! That was not happening. I changed into a gown and was strapped onto the monitors I stayed on the bed for the remainder of my time in the hospital, but Praise God there wasn’t far to go. I think if I gotten up and moved around the baby would have come before my doctor arrived! So this was probably a good thing! They were asking me all these stupid questions that they should have already had the answers to from my 4 previous trips to the hospital and I was trying to answer them between my fast and hard contractions. Thank goodness my hubby arrived soon after parking the car and was able to answer some of them for me.
They checked me and I was 8 cm!!!! Hoorah! I had done it! I was thrilled to be that far along, but not really in a place of celebrating…lol. They said my water had not broken…go figure…it was tremendously ironic…if it had broken they think I would have had the baby in the car! They wanted to break it, but my doula said that there was a chance things would move too fast if they did this before my doctor arrived so I declined. I was sooo ready to be done and vomited again when I hit 9 cm. I began feeling lots of pressure and they informed me I was complete. My wonderful hubby had been amazing to me during this part of the labor. Whenever the doula reminded me to look into his eyes he would tell me how great I was doing and how much he loved me. This really helped me stay focused. My doctor finally arrived and I asked them to please break my water to move things along. There was meconium in it so I was informed I wouldn’t be able to hold him right away. After they broke it the contractions slowed to a halt for awhile until the baby dropped further down to get them going again. Pushing seemed impossible to me and I informed my doula and hubby that I didn’t think I could do it. She was great and looked me in the eyes and said I’d made it this far and I could push my baby out. She brought out some fabric with a knot in it and she pulled on one end and I pulled the other and pushed with each contraction. This immediately moved things along and everyone began to praise my pushing and I regained confidence that I could push him out. I didn’t really feel the ring of fire the way many women describe it, but what I felt reminded me of the burning I have had when I have a bladder infection…maybe that sounds strange but I don’t know any other way to describe it. For me this was the best part. The unproductive pushing was the most frustrating of it all, but once the pushing was going well I really was glad to be in that stage and ready to have him out. It only lasted 45 minutes but it really felt much longer to me. When his head was out the doctor was worried about his shoulders not fitting so he had me keep pushing instead of slowing down. Then he was out! I felt instant relief! They took him and checked him over really well b/c of the meconium, but he was fine! My hubby held him while they stitched me up. 2 small tears; same as with E. We were both over the moon to get to hold him immediately as we weren’t able to enjoy E since she was rushed to the NICU. I was able to hold him in the delivery room and nurse him there before they took him to be checked.
The entire experience was very healing for me. I really wanted to labor naturally and I am so glad I was able to do it! I think it is the one thing that I can honestly say I am proud of myself for doing…something that really was worth all the trouble and something I want to do again next time!
ALSO, thanks to this experience and our AMAZING doula, my hubby has decided that next time we can have a birthing center birth with a midwife!!!! Hooray!!!!
Daddy and son
One tired mom and her handsome son...
E loves holding her little brother and likes to point out where his eye, nose, and mouth are! :)