February 6 - February 7, 2010
About one week to go before my due date, or so I thought! A friend came over the other day and helped me organize the baby's room. This was extremely helpful as I was just overwhelmed by putting everything together and in order. She also gave me some advice as to what to pack in the baby's bag and my bag.
This morning I went and met a friend for coffee (she had coffee, I had decaf), then came home to put more things in order. I did the laundry and started to pack my hospital bag. I had been in denial that I was actually going to the hospital to have a baby. Packing my hospital bag was the thing that would make it real for me. In my bag I had a change of clothes, cute pajamas that I made sure were too big since I knew I would still have a belly, a massage tool, a heating pad, and other essentials like a toothbrush and hairbrush.
Around two in the afternoon my lower back started to hurt. I figured that I had been doing too much during the day, so I told Husband I was going to lay down for a while. I laid on the couch and the pain subsided. About twenty minutes later it came back, so I changed position and it went away. Then it came back. (You get the idea). I figured laying down was not helping, so I got back up to do some more housework.
Around five my mother came over to visit and I did some more housework and finalized packing my bag. I figured by this time I might be having some type of contraction (although I thought they were supposed to be in front?), but kept this information to myself. Instead, every time my back hurt I would get up and walk around for a few minutes until the pain went away. My mother left about an hour and a half later.
Around seven the pain started radiating to the front, right below my belly. I figured I had to be having contractions at this point,and finally told Husband. He was a little worried, I think, but we decided to just start timing them to see what was going on. I wasn't sure if this was false labor or not, or maybe Braxton Hicks. It was manageable pain if I just walked around the house. I pretty much paced back and forth in our long hallway each time I had a contraction. I had thought about taking a warm bath, but I didn't think I could sit still. It helped for me to just walk.
One thing that I noticed was that after each contraction I had to pee. After each and every one. By this time the contractions were coming about every seven to fifteen minutes apart. Husband called the hospital to see what they said about using the restroom after every contraction. They thought that perhaps my water had already broken and was trickling out each time. They said they would expect us sometime later that night or in the morning.
I had previously decided that I did not want to have my baby in my assigned hospital. Technically, I could show up anywhere and they would take me. For this reason, I chose to deliver in a newer hospital about an hour away, in the same town as Husband's Sister. Since the hospital I had chosen was so far away, I didn't want to wait at home and risk being in a lot of pain on the way there, or end up delivering in the car. Instead, we called Husband's Sister to see if we could hang out at her place until it was time to go to the hospital. She graciously agreed to take us and let me pace her hallway until I couldn't handle it anymore.
Husband quickly packed his bag and then loaded everything (my bag, his bag, baby's bag, birthing ball) into the car. Luckily we had already installed the car seat. Then we were on our way.
We used the CD counter (you know, each time a track plays it lists out the minutes and seconds) to time my contractions on the way. I was able to easily breathe through them, although they were starting to get a little more painful. Before long, they were consistently about two minutes apart, lasting for thirty to forty seconds. We decided to bypass Husband's Sister's house and go straight to the hospital. We were going to have a baby!
We arrived and checked in to labor and delivery. I was very worried that I would be sent home for not being dilated enough (you have to be at least three centimeters for them to keep you). I didn't think I was in enough pain yet.
I was asked to pee in a cup and then taken to a triage room where they checked me. When the nurse came in I was having a contraction and breathing through it. She said that just by looking at me she could tell I was in active labor. I really hoped she was right! I changed into a hospital gown and she hooked me up to the monitors to check the baby's heart rate and my contractions. I was anxious that the monitor wouldn't show any contraction, and that maybe I was just making it up. Was I really in pain? Maybe it was all in my head. Thankfully, that was not the case. I was indeed having contractions- the proof was on the little line that was going up and down on the computer monitor. The nurse checked me and I was about four and half to five centimeters dilated. Woohoo, I was not going home!
The nurse asked me if I would prefer a doctor or midwife, and what my birth plan was. I told her preferably a midwife and I wanted to go all natural as best I could. She seemed to favor my choice. I was then moved to my own labor and delivery room. The room was a lot larger than I thought it would be. It had a bed with equipment next to it, a small couch under a window, a bathroom with a shower stall, and all the equipment for the baby once she came out.
A new nurse (I ended up having quite a few, so from here on out all nurses are Nurse), hooked me up to the monitors in that room. She said they needed a straight twenty minute readout of my contractions and the baby's heartbeat before I could get up and move around. I also got to wear a thingy on my finger that measured my heart rate. Remember how I couldn't sit still contractions at home? Well, now I had to lay still in a bed for twenty full minutes while harder contractions came every two minutes or so. This was really hard for me to do. After twenty minutes Nurse came back in to check on my, and the readout wasn't complete. I guess I had moved too much or something. This happened a few times. I think I was hooked up to the machines for at least an hour or so before they were satisfied. I have to admit that it was fun watching the intensity of the contractions on the screen. I would have one, then turn around to see how high the little line had moved. I think it justified my pain. I would tell Husband, "See, that was a bad one!" I do believe I amused him.
After I was allowed to move around I paced the room a lot each time a contraction came. Husband went out to the car and got my birthing ball for me to sit on, and also CD's that we had brought. I ended up not listening to any music. I just wanted to focus on breathing through contractions.
I really liked using the birthing ball. I sat on it and rocked back and forth to help open up my pelvis. Anything to let that baby come out easier! Another plus was using the shower. The minute they said I could, I hopped right in. It had a spray nozzle that came off so I could spray different parts of me. Husband stood there with me (right outside the shower door), and sprayed my back with the nozzle. It was my lower back that hurt the most each time I had a contraction. Every half hour or so Nurse would come back in and check the baby's heartbeat, so I had to get out of the shower. As soon as she was done, I would try to stay out for as long as I could, then I would jump right back in.
The contractions started getting so bad that I couldn't concentrate on breathing anymore. My back and front hurt. Husband was great about massaging my back for me where it hurt. Eventually my breathing turned into bouts of "ow, ow, ow oooooowwwww." Which in then turned into higher pitched "ow, ow, owie, owie." Getting into the shower helped, but it got so that I couldn't hold the shower nozzle by myself during a contraction, and had to pass it off to Husband as soon as a contraction started. I sat and rolled around on the ball in the shower, too. Nurse came in during one of my "ow" episodes and showed Husband and I some different positions to use with the ball and the bed. When the contractions started coming harder, I literally started to climb the walls of the shower. I don't know if I was trying to get away from the pain, or what. But I couldn't sit during them and grabbed on to the handrails to try to push myself up and away. Needless to say, they kept on coming.
For the most part, Nurse and Midwife left us alone in our room until they had to come monitor me and check the baby's heartrate (or until they heard me yelling 'ow' a little too loudly).
I had my "bloody show" when sitting on the ball, and Husband called Nurse in to tell them there was blood. It was a lot more than I was expecting. They checked me again and I was up to seven centimeters. I had hoped to be more. I think I had been laboring for a few hours at this point, although I honestly don't remember. I do remember it was very tiring and getting more and more painful. At some point I decided I wanted it all to be over and decided I would try pushing on my own. Forget ten centimeters, I was going to speed things up for myself. As it turned out, pushing actually helped counteract the pain of the contractions. From that moment on, I pushed a little each time a contraction came.
Sometime later while in the shower, my water broke (I guess it hadn't broken earlier during the day like we had suspected). It gushed out all of a sudden and I knew instinctively what had happened. Good thing I was already in the shower or it would have been really messy.
Husband called Nurse in and they checked me again. I was nine centimeters, yay! However, my cervix was starting to swell, which is exactly the opposite of what is supposed to happen. It is supposed to thin so baby can get through. Because of this I had to lay on the bed and Midwife had to press on my cervix during contractions to get it to thin out. That was extremely painful. I was starting to scream at this point. Think of movies where people are getting tortured and they yell out in pain. That was me. I was holding on to the bed railing for dear life.
Then it was time to push. Midwife told me to push whenever I felt a contraction. I really couldn't distinguish contractions anymore, so I just pushed when I felt like it. Unfortunately at this time the monitor stopped detecting baby's heart rate and the Midwife and Nurse started to get worried. They began to yell at me to push baby out as fast as I could. I was really trying, but nothing was happening. Midwife tried to screw the little wire monitor into baby's head so they could get a reading, but she couldn't get it in. She said the baby had too much hair and was moving around too much.
Midwife gave me an episiotemy so that she could get to the baby better. I didn't get any drugs for it, she just cut me during a contraction so it wouldn't hurt as bad. At this point I don't think it really mattered. They also gave me an oxygen mask so that I could breathe it in and send it to baby. Husband held it over my face and held my head for me when I was pushing. They kept telling me to put my chin to my chest, to help push, but what I wanted to do was fling my head back. I was still screaming at this point, so Midwife gently coached me to make deep guttural noises in the back of my throat instead. Screaming was not helping anybody.
Midwife called in a few more nurses and a doctor to help her out. I was pushing and pushing and nothing was happening and they were starting to get really concerned. Doctor was about to use the vacuum to suction baby out, but I was able to push her out just in time.
Baby was placed on my chest and I was able to meet her. They waited until the umbilical cord stopped pulsing before letting Husband cut it. I don't remember pushing out the placenta, but I know I did! Baby was very alert and started nursing right away.
Midwife gave me some local anesthesia and sewed me up. I could feel her inserting the needles into me for that, and I yelled out in pain. Then she stitched me up while Husband and I marveled at our new baby girl.
Another nurse came in and washed baby off and took her measurements. It was now shortly after five o'clock in the morning. Baby was six pounds, nine ounces, and nineteen inches long. If she had been any larger, I really would not have been able to push her out.
It turns out that baby was facing the wrong way inside of me. Not breech, but what they call "sunny side up." Normally babies are supposed to be head down, facing the rear. She was head down, facing the front of me. Thus, her head was putting pressure on my lower back, causing me to have the more painful back labor. It also explains why I had such a hard time pushing her out. Midwife also said she came out with the umbilical cord wrapped in a figure eight around her legs. She said she had never seen that before.
I'm very proud of the fact that I gave birth naturally. I did not have any medications to help with the pain, and I never once asked for it. Only once when I was pacing the floor (I think around seven centimeters) did I tell Husband I might not be able to do this. In the back of my mind I kept telling myself that I would not ask for drugs. I was also afraid of how the pain would make me act. You see all these shows where the woman curses at her husband and blames him for everything. Never once did I even think of doing that. Husband was absolutely wonderful during the whole process. I know he felt helpless and tired, but that didn't stop him from encouraging me and helping me throughout the night.