As you know we made a Birth Plan as part of the birthing classes we took throughout the month of October. But how did things really unfold?
Contractions started late in the afternoon on November 14th. I was finishing up some grocery shopping when the first two struck. They were so mild I could pretty much go on normally with the rest of my shopping and driving home.
The remainder of the evening, contractions kept coming until they were averaging 10 – 15 minutes apart. The pains were still so mild, I started crocheting a new afghan while watching Hallmark movies on the couch. Josh and I went to bed as usual at 10 PM.
I was awoken at 11:40 PM with a contract that was too strong to sleep through. I walked it off and went back to bed. The next contraction I couldn’t sleep through arrived at 12:30 AM. Again I walked it off, and was just getting comfy on the couch when another one came, and then another. I decided it was time to finish packing our hospital bags, clean the kitchen, and tidy up the house a little. So, I went about my house work having contractions every 3 – 7 minutes until 2 AM, when I woke Josh to ask him if we should call the doctor. He encouraged me to, because he thought it would help ease my mind about laboring at home a little longer before making the 1 hour drive to the hospital. To both our surprise the doctor recommended going to the hospital… already! Josh took a quick shower to wake himself up, while I put everything for our voyage by the front door.
The contractions slowed during the car ride, which was nice since I couldn’t walk them off. We arrived at the hospital around 4:30 AM and were checked in for observation. After an hour more of laboring in the hospital, the contracts picked up where they had left off and an exam showed that in just that hour we gained 2 cm and 20% effacement… so they checked us into a proper maternity room.
Josh fell to sleep on the sofa while I paced the room with each new contraction. The doctor arrived at 8 AM to check on us. We were still 3 cm, but 100% effaced. We labored with the same type of mild contractions all the way until noon when the doctor returned to check on our progress. Still just 3 cm. We were 12 hours into labor, I was feeling sleepy already, and knew the hardest bits were still hours away. Realizing I would very easily repeat the 36 hour labor mom endured with me, I surprised myself by accepting the doctors recommendation for Petocin, a synthetic version of the labor hormone the body makes naturally the stimulate contractions.
Over the next four hours, contractions intensified and become more frequent as promised. Breathing through each one became more tricky. I was trying new positions and ideas with each one. …the birth ball, the peanut ball, hand massagers, heating pads, standing, kneeling, etc. What worked was totally hit and miss. It would help for some contractions, but not others, with no recognizable pattern. Then, my water broke. I was so excited, the next half an hour of contractions seemed less intense even though they were still growing more powerful. Another exam found that we were at 5 cm!
Over the next two hours, contractions intensified and became so regular it was getting hard to breath through and relax between them. My level of fatigue was again obvious after the euphoria of broken waters and 5 cm had passed. I even started having back to back contractions about every third contraction, making it even harder to relax my muscles as I knew I needed to, to progress. My next exam, confirmed my suspicion. We were stuck at 5 cm. How was I going to breath through and make my body relax enough to dilate? And pushing was still hours away!
After another hour, with double contractions growing in frequency, and only 2 – 3 minute tense breaks between, I accepted Fentanyl to take away some of the severity of each contraction, in hopes that I could force myself to breath through again and relax my muscles. It worked! …for about half an hour. Yikes! Now, what? I thought to myself. The nurse informed me that she could only give two doses of Fentanyl without doctor’s orders. My only more long term option was the dreaded epidural! …but before an epidural, one must have an hour of fluids. Clinging to Josh and sobbing through each contraction, I agreed to start the fluids and be prepared for the epidural.
I don’t remember much of that hour except for the looks of torture on Josh’s face as I clung to him through each contraction. I vaguely remember the anesthesiologist and his directions as he swiftly worked between contractions.
After the epidural was in place each contraction softened in intensity until I felt only the muscle movements with none of the pain. Just half an hour after the epidural I was at 9 cm, smiling, and mumbling about having a baby. My body was ready! It just needed help relaxing… and the epidural did the trick. The nurse explained that they were going to let me labor down for the next hour or so. I tried to nap to prepare for the pushing, but I kept rambling excitedly to Josh, between dozes.
At my next exam, “Wow, this baby has a lot of hair!” was exclaimed. The labor room hustle started. A nurse came in to assist the doctor. Another nurse was fussing over me. While a third nurse, got ready for baby. As they were dressing each other in blue surgical gowns, I realized we were going to get started.
My legs were hoisted into the stirrups, the doctor explained how to push, we waited for the next contraction to start, and the pushing began. I was letting too much air out. I needed to hold air in to intensify each push. It was counterintuitive after 19 hours of breathing through contractions. After a dozen or so contracts, I was getting the hang of pushing and my mind was guessing I had four more to go. My eyes were closed. I was giving the current push my all. I opened my eyes and a purple gooey baby was headed for my chest with about four different hands holding it. In all the confusion, baby’s little hand found mine and wrapped around my finger, while hands kept rubbing and agitating baby to make him cry.
Apparently, baby took a big swig of fluid on his way out, so he was whisked to his little baby area just feet away from my bed, while the nurses worked to clear out his lungs and warm him up. Meanwhile, I birthed the placenta, which I didn’t notice until it was announced. I was too busy watching baby. Then, Josh said something about a giant needle. I shushed him and told him what I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me. He smiled and we both resumed baby watching.
After 15 minutes, baby was returned to my chest and we just lounged there for the next hour and a half. I was so happy to have baby with us, but the exhaustion of my 22 hour labor was catching up with me. My memories are drifty of those precious first hours. I remember naming baby. I remember finally surrendering to a nurse’s offer to look after him for a few hours so I could get some sleep.
That is the story of how baby came into the world. Was it the birth path I’d planned? No… but I am regret free, happy to have it over, and still exuberant that baby is here us!