On the morning of Wednesday September 7th, I had strong contractions that were 6 minutes apart. I was awakened by them around 3am, got up and moved around, gathered some things I wanted to add to my hospital bag and then it happened again. Everything completely stopped. I crawled back into bed and cried. N was so sweet and caring and supportive. He said everything would happen when it was meant to and while I didn't want to hear it at the time, he was right.
Contractions picked up again on Wednesday and came every 10 minutes like clockwork from 11am-8pm. These contractions while strong enough to stop me in my tracks at times, were not bad enough to interrupt too much of my day. N's sister and family came over with some gifts for us and for the boys and shortly after they left the contractions stopped. I fell asleep early and woke only a few times to use the bathroom. Even BBZ slept all night and slept in. I ended up getting 10 total hours of sleep, which I hoped was gearing me up for some action.
Thursday I did absolutely nothing. I didn't feel like leaving the house and needed some emotional support. I posted a message on my LLL message board and got some kind and positive words from other women whose children were past due. Friends on Facebook sent messages of support and concern, which was so unbelievably wonderful. Every time my phone chimed with a message from Facebook I got excited and felt better after reading it. People are so kind.
Friday morning was my appointment with my OB. I was having contractions again and hoped that he would shed some light on what all of these contractions were doing in there. He hooked me up to the monitor which recorded contractions every 4 minutes. I tried not to get excited, but part of me hoped that he would come back in, check me and tell me I was in labor. That didn't happen.
He came in and seemed unconcerned that I was having these contractions. He checked me and I was still at 3cm, which I had been all week. I tried not to feel let down, but I was again, disappointed. He did an ultrasound and my fluid levels and his heart rate looked just fine to let things keep going. He said he would induce me if I wanted him to and I declined, although it was a little bit tempting. He actually said I could go all the way until next Saturday, which would be 42 weeks and 3 days. I was surprised, but also pretty hopeful that I wouldn't be pregnant that much longer.
When we left the office I felt a new level of power to push on. Now that I knew that contractions I was having weren't doing anything, I decided to completely ignore them. No more timing, no more packing those last minute things. As long as the contractions were not stronger than the ones I had while on the monitor, I planned to go about my day as though nothing was going on.
BBZ is home with us on Fridays now, so N and I headed home and picked up him and my mom and headed to the Zoo! It was such a fun day. It was hard walking around because I was a bit uncomfortable, but emotionally it was the best thing I could have done. I also think that having the confirmation from my OB that things were fine to keep going was a bigger relief than I anticipated. Part of me worried how a baby could handle 2 full days of contractions, but since my doc was so confident, it too gave me the power to push on.
Friday evening was quiet as usual and I headed to bed around 10pm. I was still having the same contractions I had all day, but I was able to fall asleep despite them. At around 12:30am, which was then Saturday morning, I awoke to a very confused and disoriented. I thought I had a contraction that was crazy strong, but since it woke me up I wasn't sure if it was a dream or not. It was a scary feeling. I got up and moved around and felt another one that was quite a bit stronger than the ones I had been having, but not scary strong. I calmed down a bit then.
When a few more came I felt that it was time. I didn't even really time them because the feeling was so much different than it had been. I called the exchange and let them know we were heading to the hospital. I grabbed my last-minute things and let my mom know what was happening. I was remarkably calm, yet eager to get to the hospital. It was an odd sensation to really want to be where he would be born.
We noticed as we drove to the hospital that it was about the same time of night as when BBZ was born. We got there around 1:30am and talked with the nurse until I was taken into a labor and delivery room around 2am. The hospital was apparently very crowded, so the triage was done there.
The nurse hooked me up to the monitor in the room that I would later deliver in. I wasn't very happy about being confined to the bed and voiced this. She said she needed to take a look at him and as long as things were going ok, I could be unhooked soon. I was feeling trapped and held down by the bed, but I managed.
I really wanted to have a heparin lock instead of an IV like I did with BBZ so I could move around. She started to push why I needed the fluids and it seemed as though she wanted to do the IV instead. N and I talked and agreed that I could probably use the fluids too and agreed. The funny thing about this is that she did end up doing a hep lock after all. I'm not sure where the breakdown of communication went, but that wasn't the only time it happened.
The fluids did help me a lot, but laying in the bed was really starting to frustrate me. She unhooked me from the monitor once so I could use the bathroom and I had a contraction on my way back to the bed. I held on to N and swayed back and forth and felt 1000 times better about the pain. It really is amazing how much harder it is to labor in a bed.
When she came back I asked if there was any way I could please move around and that my hope was to have an unmedicated birth and the bed was proving to be really challenging. She said, "would you like to sit on the birthing ball while on the monitor?" Um, yeah! Why she did not suggest this earlier is beyond me, but at least she finally did.
I sat on the ball and faced N who was sitting on the bed. The contractions really started to pick up and I began to vocalize through them. Sometimes I would hum, other times I would giggle and have a sing-song sound come out, and other times it was a louder way to let the pain escape my body. I started to get scared and said to N that I didn't think I could do it. He told me that however the baby comes is fine and that I should do what I needed to. The word epidural came out of my mouth.
At about 3:30am or so, she said that the baby looked good enough for me to stop the fluids and get off of the monitor. I asked her to check me and I was at 7cm. The pain was really, really intense. I vocalized through the contractions and I think I did pretty well during the actual contraction, but in between was when I felt I couldn't go on. Just like in other areas of my life, during the crisis I knew exactly what to do and saved the freaking out for afterwards. I did not mention the epidural to her although I was constantly arguing with myself about whether or not to get it. It was like this thing that kept hanging over my head. She said she would be back around 4am to check on me.
The time between her visits were really, really intense. I kept moving around and changing positions. At one point I ended up on my knees facing the back of the bed. I'd lay my head on a pillow in between the contractions and almost fell asleep a few times. I was pretty sure that this was the transition phase of labor. N massaged my hands during the contractions which helped me refocus the sensation.
The nurse came in around 4:10am and I asked her to check me again. Still at 7cm, I asked for the epidural. I know it had only been 45 minutes or so, but I was frustrated by no progress. While we waited for the doctor, I said that I wasn't sure that I wanted the epidural and the nurse asked if I was changing my mind. I didn't know what to do. Then the contractions took a turn that I had never felt or expected. My body took over and I couldn't control any part of it.
The urge to push was like nothing I had ever felt. A friend told me that the urge to push during labor is as intense as the need to push your bowels, but this urge was way beyond anything I have ever felt. I could not stop the force to push. When you have to move a bowel, your body can say "wait, stop, not yet wait until you get to the bathroom". This urge was absolutely out of my control.
I was very aware and vocal about what was going on with my body and confused about what to do. The nurse told me to not push and I tried to tell her that I had to. She asked if I wanted her to check me again and while I did, the thought of laying on my back for her to do it was terrible. Reluctantly I did and when she put her hand in to check she broke my water. She said there was meconium in the water.
Around the same time the anesthesiologist came in and couldn't find a table to set up the epidural. The nurse said to him "forget the table, find the doctor!" I felt him moving down the birth canal. It was an unbelievable sensation. It's like I knew exactly where in my body he was and how much farther he had to go. She had me pant hard during 2-3 contractions when all I wanted to do was push. I focused my eyes on some small marks on the ceiling behind N and held both his hands while I tried to fight with my body about pushing. The urge would sneak in and try to take over, but I suppressed it. I know this probably doesn't sound like the right thing to do, but strangely, it made me aware of the control I did possess over what was happening. I was holding him in until it was safe to deliver him.
The doctor (not my OB who was still on his way) came in and said he would deliver just as I was laying, which was somewhat crooked on the bed. I pushed hard and the nurse asked me if I wanted to feel his head. I reached down and felt it. I pushed again and he must have crowned. Then the weirdest thing happened. The whole room went silent. I was completely calm. I was strangely aware of everything going on as we all patiently waited for the next contraction to tell me when to push. It was a peaceful and surreal moment that I will never forget.
The next push was hard, but I knew his head was out. They asked me to look down and see him, but I couldn't over my big belly! There was another moment of peace and one more contraction, and with that one I pushed, and there he was. He landed on the bed and still had part of the bag of water wrapped around his head. He was wet and slimy and perfect. It was 4:52am.
I couldn't believe that I actually did it. I was full of emotions and loved hearing his sweet little cry. I didn't feel a huge need to do skin to skin contact or to hold him for a long time right away. I didn't feel disconnected to him the way I did with BBZ, but I also didn't feel a huge connection that I expected either. What I felt was real, and it was ok. I understood everything that was going on around me and well aware of who was there and what was happening.
Shortly after, my OB came in the room. Since he got the message at 2am that I was at a 4 and at a 7 at 4am, I guess he figured he had time to get there, but apparently my body had different plans! He shook my hand and apologized for not being there. I really didn't need him there though anyway. I chose him for his philosophy about natural pregnancy and birthing, but really only needed him if there had been an emergency. Luckily everything went great and it didn't matter who caught him on his way out!
My OB then did an exam to see if I had damage to my perineum. He said I had a small tear on my episiotomy scar that would require a few stitches. I said that my last tear was 3rd degree and he said this one was no where near a 3rd degree. That was such great news considering the issues that arose after my last experience.
One thing I hoped to gain from this birth experience was a healing from my last. I wasn't sure how or if this was possible, but what happened next made a huge impact on the way I viewed my last experience.
He used a local anesthetic to numb the area for the stitches. He began to stitch and I felt the same sensations I felt with BBZ's birth. I felt everything. I felt the needle, I felt the string, I felt everything. The difference? My OB was very concerned about what I was feeling. He was gentle and sensitive and apologized for the discomfort. He gave me more anesthetic and tried to make it as comfortable as possible. Not only did this show me that I was not crazy when I felt the stitches last time, but I also realized how the reaction of my old OB was so different. She never acknowledged that I felt the pain. Almost as though she didn't believe me. I felt like I had done something wrong or that I was being dramatic. The fact that I felt the same sensation was reassuring, empowering, and healing...even though it was painful.
If there was one thing I would change about the whole experience, I would have stayed away from the hospital. If I were to do this again (which is highly unlikely) I would do whatever I could to not have the hospital birth. Just having the epidural as an option caused me anxiety. I think that if the option had been completely off of the table, it would have been an even better experience.
The recovery from this experience has been wonderful. I have a lot of energy, I feel in tune with LBZ, breastfeeding is going wonderfully and I have only been taking Motrin for engorgement and some aches. I have no back pain, I'm not swollen, and I feel unbelievable for having a baby 3 days ago. Everything about this experience is better, and I know it's because my body did what it was built to do.
Another thing I would change is that everything was so fast and so intense, we didn't take any pictures of the birth at all! After he was born I had to remind N to get the camera out! I wish we had taken some, but oh well. The best pictures are in my mind and now a permanent piece of who I am. I am a woman who birthed my child exactly the way I wanted to. I felt him move down my birth canal. I felt him stretch my body physically and emotionally to a point that I never knew I could go. I felt his body slide out of me and saw his first reaction to the world around him. I did it.