I'm sitting here right now in the hospital room, with Micah asleep in his crib next to me. He is making these sweet little squeaking noises and trying to break out of his swaddle. DH is sitting on the couch typing on his computer, and I thought I'd try and write out my birth story before I started to forget. I'm actually feeling pretty good right now - some cramping, a bit sore, but all in all, I feel much better than I did yesterday!
As you all know, I've been experiencing contractions for weeks - 14 1/2 days to be exact. I've had several episodes when I thought I was in labor, but no such luck. Thursday night was the last time I thought I was in labor, and I was SOOO disappointed on Friday morning when the contractions faded. Nothing much was going on Friday, and things stayed quiet all Friday night. I woke up on Saturday, and I did not feel well. My stomach was bothering me, and the baby was sitting so low that I was really uncomfortable. All day, I felt as if I had really bad gas . . . except I didn't. I kept thinking I had to go to the bathroom, and I would run to the bathroom . . . and nothing. I just felt awful. After having a breakdown on Thursday on the phone with my midwife, we decided part of the problem was that I felt a bit house-bound. Because of all of the contractions, I have not felt comfortable driving, and DH has been so busy that he really hasn't been able to take me anywhere. I had been stuck at home for almost a full week, except for my doctors' visits. Anyway, I scheduled a day out with my mom - she came to pick me up around 11, and a day out we had!
We went to Babies 'R Us (BTW - I will NEVER go there again - but I'll save that story for a different day). We went to Target to get a few more things to organize my kitchen pantry. We went out to lunch, then we went to visit my grandmother. Our next stop was another baby store, then off to AC Moore to return some yarn. My mom dropped me back at home around 6 pm. It was a nice day out, but I was definitely tired and my stomach was bothering me.
I got home and was a bit frustrated that DH had forgotten about taking me out to dinner. By the time he was ready for dinner, it was 8:30 pm, and I had been snacking and no longer wanted to wait for service at a busy restaurant on a Saturday night. Instead we spent the night watching tv and hanging out. I was pretty uncomfortable, and I couldn't figure out what I wanted to eat, or what I wanted to do. I crashed on the couch around midnight and woke up at 2:30 and headed up to bed. When I got to bed, DH was already asleep.
For the life of me, I could not fall back to sleep. I couldn't even sit still - I was SOOO restless and uncomfortable, and could not find anything on tv to watch. So I decided to wake DH up to keep me company! He wasn't pleased, but I was persistent. When I finally got him awake, we decided to watch a movie on demand. Around 3:00 or so, I was STARVING, and tried to convince him to go downstairs and make me macaroni and cheese. No such luck! I ended up saying I would wait and eat it for breakfast in the morning.
DH stayed up with me for about 1 1/2 hrs before he fell back to sleep. At this point, it was around 4:00 am or so, and my contractions were kind of picking up a bit. Not to the point I thought it was labor, but just enough that I was experiencing a lot of discomfort in my back again. I tried to get DH to wake up and massage my back, but I did not have much luck. I eventually fell asleep around 5, but I was waking up every 20 minutes or so and I was tossing and turning. At 6:00 am, I woke up with a contraction, tried turning over and . . . . my water broke! It caught me totally off guard. At first, I thought I'd wet the bed. After a few seconds, I realized what was going on, and I yelped to DH that my water broke.
Surprisingly, DH sprung to life! He hopped out of bed immediately, he started talking about calling the midwife, and I asked him to get me a towel so I could get to the shower and clean off. He went downstairs and called the midwife, and I took a shower. She called back, and told me that we did not need to rush to the hospital. She said we could come in immediately if we wanted, or we could hang out at home for up to 8 hours or so or until the contractions were intense and close together. Initially, the contractions were not particularly strong - certainly not as intense as they had been on Thursday night, so we decided to take our time. I took a leisurely shower, then DH took a shower. DH stripped the bed and ran a load of laundry (BTW - I am SOOO thankful that I thought to put down one of those children's pee pads under my half of the bed!), then he made himself some breakfast. I wasn't sure whether or not it was a good idea to eat anything, so I ended up waiting. By about 7:00 am, my contractions were regular and stronger - not as strong as they had been on Thursday, but strong enough that I decided I would feel better at the hospital where I could just put on my head phones, settle in and get comfortable, and really work on my hypnobirthing relaxation techniques. DH took the dog for a walk, and we waited for the laundry to finish, and about 7:30, we hopped in the car to head to the hospital.
On the way to the hospital, my contractions started to increase in intensity and were running 2-4 minutes apart. I would say these contractions were about as strong as the ones I had been experiencing on Thursday (and the other 2 times I thought I was in labor). I needed to close my eyes and try to relax and breathe through them. I was a bit worried because ALL of my discomfort was in my back, and I knew that back labor is supposedly the toughest kind of labor.
We got to the hospital around 8, and at 8:30 I was checked in, settled in my room, and getting checked by my midwife. The news . . . I was 5 cm dilated! I was so excited that I'd actually made some progress in addition to my water breaking. She was in the midst of another birth in the room next door - told us she thought she would be a bit longer (the other woman was already 8 cm dilated). We were told that an average person dilates at about 1 cm per hour, so we were figuring our best-case scenario is that I'd be at 10 cm around 1:30 pm or so. Knowing how slowly things had been going, I thought I'd probably be in labor all day long, and possibly into the night.
I set up my ipod with my hypnobirthing recordings, and I started to try and relax. My back was really bothering me, so I had DH massage my back through the contractions. They were coming about every 4 minutes, but not all of them were horribly intense. My parents showed up around that time, and we let them join us. I had sent text messages to a few of my friends, but I really wasn't feeling up to talking to anyone at that point. I was in enough discomfort that I just needed to close my eyes and try to lose myself for a bit. At some point, my brother joined us in the room as well. I think my father could not sit still - he kept disappearing to the waiting room to watch television (and he did run a few errands for us that were quite helpful!).
Unfortunately, the next issue came up - IV antibiotics. My midwife came in and asked me what we decided to do about IV antibiotics, and I said that after much thought and consideration, at this point we were going to turn down the IV antibiotics. I told her that if at any point I ended up with an IV, we would do the antibiotics, or that if my labor was prolonged I would revisit the idea. I felt comfortable with the decision because my Group B strep swab was negative, I'd been on oral antibiotics, and I had been able to take my medicine that morning before we arrived at the hospital. Of course, when the midwife shared my decision with the OB on call, a swarm of doctors descended on me - the OB on call, the hospital neonatologist, and someone else I cannot even remember. We spent about 20 minutes discussing my decision, my needle phobia, etc. Of course, the OB on call started to look at me like I had 3 heads, and asked what I planned to do about a c-section (yay for positive thinking, right?). I told her I was well aware that if an emergency happened that required a c-section that I would be a challenging patient, and that I knew an IV/spinal/general anesthesia would likely be required, and that I wasn't sure how we would get through that. Again, I got the stare indicating I had 3 heads. The hospital neonatologist was actually far more understanding and he seemed to think it would be okay. He talked about the protocol they would use post-birth to make sure he was ok. I told him that if at any point I ran a fever or if my labor was prolonged and my risk factors increased, I would be completely open to revisiting how we could get an IV into me to give me the antibiotics.
Of course, simply talking about everything got me very tense, so my contractions worsened and became very uncomfortable. After I finally got everyone to leave, I tried to go back to relaxing. About 5 minutes later, in walks the anesthesiologist. Once again, we had to discuss my phobia. Luckily, the anesthesiologist was very kind and understanding, and we developed a plan if I needed to get an IV or if an emergency c-section became necessary. We realized that in all likelihood, there was a good chance that general anesthesia might be necessary if I had to have a c-section, but we decided to have a "plan A" and "plan B" to try our best to get me a spinal. Despite his kindness, just having the discussion about needles and possible c-sections got me quite worked up. As predicted, my increased tension and stress made the contractions hurt far more. I couldn't get him out of there fast enough so I could go back to my relaxation plan.
At this point, I am not exactly sure what time it was. I had my mother call one of my friends who wanted to join us at the hospital to tell her that I was not in a place to have company, but we would call again later. I really needed to try and relax through the contractions, and the back pain was increasing. DH took up a position massaging my back through the contractions - that REALLY helped me a lot - so much so that I wouldn't let him take a break. I was SOOO dependent on the massage - I could not have gotten through the labor without his help. My midwife came in and out a few times to ask me how I was doing - she stayed and talked me through some of the contractions, and spent time massaging my legs and back. She apologized for needing to step out, but there was another woman in labor next door who was already 8 cm dilated. Around 10:30-11:00, the woman next door was clearly ready to push - we could hear her shrieks. I saw my brother turn a shade of green, and about 5 minutes later, he was out the door! I think the noise upset him, and he couldn't handle the thought I might start screaming, too.
Around 11:30, my contractions were definitely intensifying - the back labor was quite uncomfortable. I was not getting a ton of time in between the contractions, and if the massaging stopped or let up, I could not remain "relaxed" and I started to curse my needle phobia. Of course, when I thought about the fact that I could ask for an epidural at any time, I knew that I would never let them give me the epidural - that I would still rather deal with the discomfort than the needle. That kept sharpening my resolve to get through things. I did toy for a while with the idea of getting an IV, doing the IV antibiotics, and maybe getting some IV pain relief - I was thinking that the pain relief might lessen the back discomfort I was experiencing, especially if that pain was being caused by the fibroid. I think around 11:30 or 11:45, I was definitely feeling uncomfortable, and I started to experience extreme nausea with each contraction. That part was horrible - I think I threw up a few times. I was also extremely hot and feeling dehydrated - it was not a good combination. My mom was there with a cold wash cloth, cooling me off and soothing me. I was having trouble getting comfortable, and I just didn't know what to do with myself. I was definitely having trouble keeping my relaxation focus, and I was having doubts about whether I would be able to do this naturally, and starting to panic because I didn't think I could get through an epidural either.
A little while later (maybe 11:50 or so?), I started to think I needed to push. The nurse who was there told me I could push if I wanted to, but I could tell from her tone that she basically thought it was pointless, that I had a way to go. All I kept thinking was that if I still had another 2-3 hours of this, I was getting worried. Right at 12, my midwife came back in and really helped me calm back down. The contractions were intense, and I kept saying that I needed to push. She told me to go ahead and push, and when I pushed that time, I felt this big huge gush - I can only assume it was kind of bloody and nasty, but I couldn't see anything. I was wearing one of these diaper pad things, so nothing was hanging out, but my father was sitting at the foot of the bed, so I'm certain he saw the aftermath of the mess. He excused himself to step outside, and they checked me again.
At that point, the midwife asked me where I would like to be. I thought I was going to cry . . . I thought she was trying to break the news that I had barely progressed at all, and that she was trying to gauge whether I still had the energy to hang in there longer. I am certain I gave her a pitiful and woeful look and said something to the effect of "I'm ready to push this baby out" or "I'd like to be at 10 cm." I braced myself for her apology and her pep talk, but instead I heard "Good - you are ready to go!" Next thing I know, I was being turned into a different position, and the midwife was "suiting up" for delivery. She asked me who should stay in the room - my dad was outside the door, and I sent him packing to the waiting room, but I decided that I wanted my mom to stay. She was really soothing me, and I felt like I needed the extra help.
At this point, every time the contractions hit, I was feeling the need to push. In some ways, this stage was much easier than the previous 20-30 minutes - the pain seemed to shift away from my back, and I really was feeling relief in between the contractions. I seemed to want to be a bit on my side, and I felt the need to pick my leg up to push. For those of you who do not want too much information, you may want to skip ahead a bit! It mostly felt like I was extremely constipated and was trying desperately to clear my bowels. I couldn't really think about the hypnobirthing recommendation of "breathing down" the baby, but I think I did something kind of close. It was a more gutteral sound, and I sort of pushed down through my breath on the exhales. I could feel him coming down, and I even got to reach around and touch his head! He kept coming close, but then the contraction would stop, and he would slide back up again. I remember turning a few of my gutteral grunts into "Ow it is stinging" a few times. After about 15 minutes of pushing, his head actually came all the way down and stayed there - I can only assume I was "crowning" at this point. The contractions were almost continuous at this point, and I think it was only a few more pushes until we passed the shoulders. I know that DH went around to "catch" the baby, and my mom stayed up with me to soothe and encourage me and wipe my brow with a washcloth. Once the head came down, the pushing stung, but it also surprisingly brought relief as well. I felt him slide right out, and I knew it was all over, and I felt wonderful!
We were amazed at what a full head of hair he had! It is thick and black, and he looks beautiful. He was a tiny little thing - 5 lbs 14 ozs, but quite long at 20 inches. I got my skin time with him, and we nursed for a while. I was quite lucky and had only one minor tear that did not require any stitches. My bleeding quickly got under control, so no shot of pitocin was required.
Oh, and to top it all off . . . as soon as things quieted down, DH made me macaroni and cheese! My dad had run out to pick up one of those easy mac in a cup packages, so DH ran to the snack room and cooked it up for me! He felt bad I did not get my macaroni and cheese in the middle of the night - how cute is that?
Here are a few pictures to start you off - I'll do some editing and post more pictures tomorrow!
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