Warning: There are some details in here that may be a bit too much for some people! :) Read at your own risk.
This first part I wrote while in labor around 4:30 AM on November 14.
Woke up to a contraction at 12:01 AM and just had a feeling that this one was different. I have been having so many contractions in the past month that I have been used to them waking me up. This one was more intense. I knew I had a few earlier while I was asleep that had sort of made me wake up, but not keep me up. I had just drifted back to sleep. I noticed that I needed to pee and that it felt like there was wetness down there. Went to bathroom and sure enough – bloody show! I’ve never been so excited to see blood. It was light pinkish tinged mucus…lots of mucus. Took around 8 wipes to get it all off and I had to change underwear and pants. I woke up my husband and told him I thought this was it. I was FREEZING and shaking, mostly from excitement I think. Ryan made me a cup of hot tea and we turned up the heat (we keep it so low at night that was a big part of why I was cold). We sat and watched TV for an hour while timing the contractions. They were between 30-60 seconds long and 5-10 minutes apart. Whenever I would get up and walk around or move they would become more irregular but closer together, not farther apart. I went #2 and around 1:30 decided to go back to bed. I think I slept on and off from about 2:00 to 4:30 but it felt like a light sleep in part because of the contractions but also because of the excitement. at 4:30 I had to go #2 again, so did that….each time I peed in between there was still lots of clear mucus coming out too. I was hungry at this point, so got up and made an egg sandwich. Decided to go ahead and let work know that I would not be in since the contractions were still coming about 30-45 seconds and around 5-7 minutes apart. Got some work emails out to finalize going on maternity leave. Texted our doula around 5:30 to let her know it’s not an emergency but that I’m pretty sure I’m in early labor. Now heading to take a shower and then see what happens from here.
Continued…1 Week Post-Partum!
It was true labor….finally! After taking a shower, I continued to feel more contractions. Ryan woke up around 6:45 and we continued to time contractions. We talked to Kat around that time and decided to wait a little while longer before having her come over. She planned to eat breakfast and walk her dog and then we would touch base. She suggested calling the midwife which we did and she recommended waiting until contractions were 5 minutes apart or less for 2 hours. They had been around 5 minutes apart for an hour or so at that point but were still fairly irregular in duration so we weren’t sure if they really counted as being 5 minutes apart.
The contractions were still bearable although definitely feeling a bit more intense. We let Ryan’s sister know that we would be bringing Emma over to hang out. I continued to breathe through the contractions while we finished up packing the few things we needed to put in the hospital bag. We touched base with Kat and she planned to arrive around 8:30 to our house.
Around 8:00 we walked down to Rachael’s house to drop off Emma and then walked around the block. At this point, I knew things were getting more intense because I really couldn’t talk through the contractions any more. I had to stop and breathe and focus on them even if there was conversation going on around me. The walk ended up being pretty painful and we had to stop walking a few times on the way back home so that I could focus on the contractions. By the time we got back home, Kat was on her way and things were definitely getting REAL. I told Ryan I was definitely starting to feel a little panicky and that the baby was coming soon and we needed to get to the hospital. I was feeling a lot of pressure low down and thinking that I might be in transition. According to our Bradley book, I was definitely having all of the “transition” symptoms. The contractions were 4-5 minutes apart at this point. Ryan suggested I lay down on the rug in the living room in the relaxation position we learned in Bradley class so I did that while we waited for Kat to arrive. He rubbed my back and helped me through some contractions. Kat got to our house around 9:00 and after we talked about how I was feeling for a few minutes, she decided it was probably time to go to the hospital.
So into the car we went! We gathered all of the bags (well, Kat and Ryan did). I don’t exactly remember most of that. I tried to eat a granola bar knowing I wouldn’t get to eat for a long time, but it tasted horribly dry and I could barely get one bite down. I had a contraction right before i got into the car and Kat did some counterpressure technique on my hips. It was great because when each contraction started I would tell her and she would say “deep breath in: okay now breathing out, breathe in peace, breathing down the baby.” She would say that until she could tell the contraction was ending and it helped me have something to focus on in relation to my breathing.
I kept thinking that the contractions were going to get a lot more painful so it would be best to treat them like they weren’t as bad as they seemed.
I felt myself going more inward with each contraction as they became more intense. With each one, the whole outside world started to get fuzzy and if anyone was talking to me, I completely ignored them. It wasn’t that I wanted to ignore them, my brain just couldn’t focus on anything else in addition to the contraction. I just could not get comfortable in the car at all. Each contraction felt terrible to be in the sitting position for, especially going over the bumps in the road (a very bumpy road too! Baltimore roads are awful!). I tried to lift myself up off of the seat for each contraction.
When we got to the hospital, I was so happy to see a spot right near the front of the parking garage. I felt like I could walk in to the hospital, and I figured i would be doing a lot of walking to help dilate things and move things along, so I decided that I might as well walk in. Once we got inside, it looked like I might have to take two flights of stairs to get up to the birthing floor. Those stairs looked like the tallest mountain ever at that moment! Luckily, we spotted the elevator and were able to take that. I was so relieved.
Once on the 3rd floor, we walked to triage where they said only one person could come with me. I decided to bring Kat since Ryan had been working hard already for hours coaching me along. I also figured she might be able to help me through anything scary a little better since she has done this so many times! And it was a bit scary. First, they had me pee in a cup. Well, someone should really tell you that your pee doesn’t look like pee at all. It was basically a cup of blood. It took forever to try to pee. I think I read that your uterus and the baby block the bladder making it really hard for urine to leave the body late in labor. I had a contraction in the bathroom and Kat came in to talk me through it and also I needed some reassurance about all of the blood in the urine cup. She was able to help me back out to the exam table where they checked me. I didn’t really pay much attention to them checking me because they were asking me random questions and I was having contractions. All of a sudden, the midwife came up to my shoulder and said, “You are 9 cm dilated.” BEST WORDS EVER! I was so excited I started crying and high fived the nurse and Kat. I felt energetically renewed by those words because I knew the baby was coming soon and I could start pushing! They asked me if I wanted a wheelchair to go to the delivery room and I said I would walk. I had already walked this far and might as well keep on walking. Besides, sitting down was so painful it did not sound like a good idea at all.
From here, it gets a little bit fuzzy. I know I had to lay down on the bed and I think they checked the baby’s vitals and that’s when they put the hep-lock in, as a precaution in case i needed an IV for some reason. After a little while, my water broke. It was much less exciting than I imagined it would be. I just noticed water dripping down my legs and the nurses told me it was my water. From there, it was time to push!
I got into the hospital bed and they brought me a bar to go across the bed to hold onto for pushing. Ryan was at one leg and Rachael was at the other leg. With each contraction the doula would talk me through it and the nurses would also be there talking me through it. They brought a mirror and asked if I wanted to use it. I was unsure but the doula highly encouraged it. I was afraid to look at first because I have seen the You Tube videos of birth and I didn’t like the way it looked! But I looked, and it was actually super helpful because I could tell when I was doing a good push vs. one that didn’t help the baby come down further. I could see his head and with each push could see it coming out a little further and a little further. Each contraction also brought on terrible leg cramps that were such a weird distraction from an already painful experience. I was surprised that leg cramps even bothered me with everything else going on, but they definitely did!
At one point, the doula and the nurses asked if I wanted to feel my baby’s head. WOW! I felt his head with my hand and started to cry. This baby was really happening and was almost here. It surprisingly didn’t gross me out at all that I could see all of this. All of a sudden, I gave one last push and the head was out and what a huge relief it was. His head was out for a good minute (it felt like) before I pushed again just a little and the midwife delivered his shoulders and the rest slipped out. He was born with his hand up by his face.
Then came the clean up part. I didn’t pay any attention because they had just placed my wet, screaming, beautiful baby on me. He was so amazing. I couldn’t believe he had been inside of my body for 9 months. What a journey.
I delivered the placenta with no problem. It didn’t really feel like much, just a squishy something coming out. Then, the midwife said I was bleeding a little bit more than they would like so they put me on a pitocin drip to stop the bleeding. All of this didn’t concern me at all. I was super cold though and trembling, maybe from the adrenaline and hormones. The nurses brought me a warmed up blanket (those things are awesome!) and got me warm again. We ended up hanging out with baby Roland in the delivery room for several hours before they moved me to the mother/baby unit. It’s all kind of a blur already which is crazy because it was only 4 weeks ago!