Monday, September 12th, I felt like I was getting a cold. I sent whiny text messages to Ernesto griping about feeling sick and wanting to go home. When we got off work that day, I was still a big whiny mess and we were trying to figure out what to do that night, since Ernesto was going to go on his last hunting trip before the baby the next day. While laying in bed upstairs, I fell asleep really early, and felt bad for not doing something nice with Ernesto, like going to dinner or watching a movie before he went out of town.
I woke up around 10 something with a cramp but dismissed it and went back to sleep. I woke up again around 11 and tried to find a more comfortable position. When I woke up again around 1:00 am and couldn’t get back to sleep, I figured I should see if these were coming at any regular intervals or were just weird Braxton-Hicks contractions or the baby laying in a funky position. I started using the contraction app on my iPhone at 1:08 in the morning, and in 30 minutes I’d had 6 “cramps,” each lasting one minute, six minutes apart. At this point, I remembered everything my doula and midwife had taught me about false labor, and I decided to take a bath and change positions to see if anything changed.
Ernesto woke up when I got up and asked what was going on. I told him I was having weird pains that were kind of regular, so I was going to take a bath and try to relax. I thought he went back to sleep, so I headed to the tub. Thanks to my iPhone, I spent that time using Dr. Google to try to figure out what the heck was going on with my body. I still had 4 days before I could fudge my due date enough to have my birth center birth, and I thought most first time moms went overdue. I assumed that at 36 weeks, this wasn’t labor – just something weird. However, the cramps didn’t stop or slow down. The tub made them less noticeable, but they were still there. I started tracking them again at 2:25, and they were still in the 5-6 minute apart range. I went downstairs to lay on the couch and figure out what to do.
Ernesto came downstairs and wanted to know why I hadn’t came back to bed. I told him what was going on, and that I didn’t want to keep him up. He said he hadn’t been sleeping well anyway and made me come back to bed. I figured if this WAS something, I should probably rest anyway. We laid down, but I couldn’t fall asleep. Laying down just wasn’t comfortable when I had a cramp. He suggested we go for a walk, but it didn’t sound like a good idea. Shortly after that, I realized I was pacing the bedroom and a walk didn’t sound half bad.
We got dressed and headed outside around 3:30. Ernesto pointed out that I was walking really fast. I said, “Yeah, to try to get away from whatever this is!” I was stopping only when I had a cramp (at this point I still didn’t think it could be labor) and grabbing on to Ernesto for support. I leaned on him through a couple and squatted during a couple. I noticed I kept doing something similar to the “I have to pee” dance during them – I’d lean on Ernesto and shift my weight from foot to foot. For some reason, that seemed to help. When we got to the end of our street, I told him we should turn around and head home because I should stay close to a bathroom – the pressure had me running in and out of there quite a bit.
We got home around 3:45 and I decided to call the midwife. She didn’t answer (which freaked me out) but I left a voicemail and waited for her to return my call. In the meantime, I broke out the contraction app again – one minute long, every TWO minutes. Still though, these didn’t hurt that bad and I could still function during them. It couldn’t be labor, but I wanted to make sure. I called the midwife again and it went straight to voicemail. I called her alternate number – straight to voicemail. At this point, I knew I needed to talk to SOMEONE, so I called my doula – voicemail. I started to panic. I will never let Ernesto forget what he said to me at this point. “I’ve seen a lot of videos with women in labor, and when they are two minutes apart, they are in a LOT of pain. You’re tough, but you’re not THAT tough.” I agreed with him – this was actually kind of easy (but annoying). Laura, my doula, called back and I explained things to her. She told me she would try to get ahold of my midwife and would call me back, but suggested I try to change the position of the baby while waiting. She figured I just had pressure due to him being in a weird spot and told me to do cat/cow and the Rebozo technique while waiting for her to call back. I got on all fours and Ernesto started “sifting” my belly with a towel.
Then I felt a pop.
We stopped and I was changing positions when I noticed I was leaking. Before I could even call Laura, she called me back and I told her what was happening. At this point, with water leaking, we both admitted that I needed to go to the hospital – the clock had started. I still didn’t think this was real labor, and anticipated being at the hospital for hours or even days. Laura told us we should grab something to eat because I wasn’t going to get anything when I got there. She said she was going to try to get ahold of my midwife again, as well as call both local hospitals to find out who the on-call OB/GYNs were for that morning.
We started rounding up our bags, but I needed to change into clean pants and couldn’t seem to get them on. Every time I tried to do something, I was having a contraction and leaking more fluid. Laura called back, we picked the hospital that had the best OB coming on at 8am (again, we thought this would be awhile) and she commented that since I was still talking through these, she was really curious what they would do at the hospital. She again suggested that we grab something to eat and call her when we were on our way. When I hung up with her, I finished another contraction and felt SUPER nauseous. I looked at Ernesto and said, “I’m in transition! We need to GO.” I said it, but I was still in denial. After all, this didn’t really hurt that bad, and it had only been 3-4 hours. There’s no way I’m that far along!
I FINALLY got my pants on (and shoved a huge towel in them) and waddled downstairs. Ernesto grabbed all the bags (and the car seat, since we knew a baby was coming at SOME point due to the leaking fluid and hospital rules), and we set out for McDonald’s to grab food before heading to the hospital (still denial). We were turning on to the main road when my water BROKE broke. I mean BROKE. My feet were on the dash and I was trying not to push. We obviously skipped McDonald’s at this point, and I called Laura who had to talk me through the contraction so I didn’t panic as much. Ernesto had no idea how to get to the hospital (since this was NOT part of our plan) and kept asking me for directions, to which I snapped “JUST FOLLOW THE SIGNS!” Laura was on her way to meet us, so I got off the phone with her and tried to concentrate on NOT pushing.
I told Ernesto to pull up to the ER entrance and run inside and tell them his wife is in labor (I finally realized it) and couldn’t move (middle of a contraction). They came out and loaded me into a wheelchair and took me straight to the L&D ward triage. At the desk, they were trying to check me in (while Ernesto parked the car) but I told them I needed a second for my contraction to finish and I apologized as I stood up and tried to work through it. They said we’d skip the formalities and they’d just check me. We went into the closest room and the nurse told me to lie back. I expected it to hurt (everyone says the checks hurt) but I didn’t expect the nurse’s reaction. She pulled back really quickly, yanked off her gloves, and yelled “We’ve got to go NOW!” out the door. People started coming into the room to cover me up and talking about where to take me while the nurse explained that I was fully dilated, there was no cervix left, and the baby was at +2 – it was time.
They pushed me into an actual delivery room where I yanked off my sweatshirt and shirt and told them, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have any modesty at this point and I’m melting.” They said, “Don’t worry, we’ve seen everything.” I was down to just my bra and socks with a sheet covering me and I wanted to push SO bad. The nurse asked me to please, PLEASE hold back just a second while they found a doctor. Ernesto fought his way into the room and somehow we called Laura who was rushing there. She told Ernesto to tell me to push if I need to and don’t wait for them. A Family Practice resident magically appeared and they told me to pull my legs back, put my chin to my chest, and push. I asked if I could change positions, and I was told there wasn’t any time to move, I was going to have this baby RIGHT NOW. I started pushing around 6am, but I kept breathing out instead of holding my breath. I kept my eyes closed almost the entire time because there was just too much going on for my brain to process, and it was really hard to hear anything anyone said to me unless they spoke loudly and close to my head. Everything was just blurring together. After two contractions of this, the nurse told me that if I just held my breath, he could probably be born in the next contraction. Ernesto told me that even he could see I was progressing more when I held my breath.
I had another contraction and pushed with everything I had and he started to crown. I stopped and waited for the next one while the nurse asked if I wanted to feel his head. I said, “No thanks, I can feel it JUST fine from here.” I somehow realized Ernesto was having a conversation with the doctor about tearing and episiotomies and how I didn’t want either, and the doc said I was doing really well by resting between contractions and that it should prevent anything from happening. I faded out at this point as I felt the next contraction come on. Ernesto had one leg, the nurse had the other, and I gave everything I had and finally felt the first really intense pain of the whole ordeal and screamed a bit. Everyone said “No! Take another breath and push push push!” I did what they said and felt something splash on my face. Apparently, right as my little guy came out, a gush of fluid exploded around the room spraying everyone, including me and my husband who was standing next to my head. I then opened my eyes just in time to see ANOTHER gush as Corbin was born. The room looked like a war zone. My poor husband has amniotic fluid all over his shirt and blood on his neck in all of our pictures. I had to clean fluid off of my glasses. Corbin definitely made an entrance.
Corbin was born at 6:17 am after about 5 hours of labor and maybe 20 minutes of pushing. He was only about 36.5 weeks gestation, weighed 5lbs 4oz, and was 19.5” long. Ernesto was so worried that he wasn’t crying, he asked the nurses about it around three times before they rubbed him vigorously with a towel and we heard a little blast of anger. He then went right back to being the mellow, low key baby he has been ever since. While we were trying to process the fact that I just had a baby, they delivered the placenta without me even doing anything. In fact, I asked, “What was that?” When they told me, I said I thought I had to push it out and they laughed and said it is a bit easier than pushing out a baby.
I’m still in awe of what my body did. Labor and delivery was nothing like I was prepared for or had expected. My “cramps” weren’t in my back at all and felt nothing like Braxton Hicks contractions, I didn’t have hours of crippling pain, I never went into “labor land” (except while pushing), and the urge to push was the weirdest sensation ever. I would have started pushing in the car, but I really couldn’t figure out if I was pushing or going to the bathroom! I am very thankful that I took childbirth classes and hired my doula though, because everything I learned taught me how to tell the difference between “false” labor and something else, as well as coping strategies.
I’ve debated about whether or not to share what happened in the couple of hours immediately following his birth, but I don’t want to take away from the beauty and humor that was Corbin’s birth story so I’ll save that for another thread. I’m still angry that we didn’t get time to fully enjoy and appreciate our baby before the hospital madness started, and it has made it hard to process everything that happened, since it all happened so fast. I do think it’s important information to share though, especially if any of you end up having NICU babies, so I will try to post it at some point.
Here’s a link to my Facebook album. I try not to use that account much, but it’s good for keeping in contact with my non-local military friends. Let me know if you can see the pics, please.
Sorry this took so long to post! I’ve been having a really, really tough time with time management and the emotional roller coaster of hormones. Overall, we’re all happy and healthy, it’s just been a lot harder than I thought it would be.