Saturday Aug 27th: Hurricane Irene blows in and everyone is sure I’ll go into labor. I am doubtful.
Sunday Aug 28th: I start having period-like cramps now and then and we start timing them around 11 am. I see some mucus plug around 1ish. By 5ish they are about 2-5 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute and I have some bloody show, so we call my parents to let them know that we might be having a baby. They tell us to go to the hospital but labor doesn’t feel *hard* to me yet and I’m in disbelief that this can be it. I’m alternating between back labor and front labor and the contractions start to get a little harder so we head into the hospital at 8pm. I’m only dilated to 1cm but “really thinned out” and have a bulging bag of waters. The CNM is on call that night and I was glad. I hadn’t met her yet, but was excited for a non-intervention hospital birth. They told me to walk around for an hour and they’d recheck me and if no progress, they’d send me home, which is exactly what happened. At 11pm we were discharged and told to come back when contractions were longer, stronger, and closer together. So we went home and contractions didn’t really get much closer together, they stayed about 3 mins apart but were lasting 1.5 mins and were definitely stronger, this was definitely work now.
Monday Aug 29th: So at 6am we headed back into the hospital, only to be checked and told I was still at 1cm. The baby is probably posterior because I’m having so much back labor so we really need him to turn before I’ll make much more progress. No walking around this time, they just discharged me and gave me Ambien to help me sleep through what they called ‘nuisance contractions’. I was to sleep today and switch my OB/GYN appointment that was scheduled for today at 1:15 to Tues or Weds. I was already acting drunk by the time we got to the nurse’s station from the Ambien and had to have a nurse wheel me out to the truck. When we got home I woke up for every contraction completely out of it feeling like someone was trying to murder me in my sleep. It was so disorienting and I hated that. After that the contractions really spaced out and were all over the place but were 1.5-4 minutes long and were kicking my butt all day long, but we did a lot of spinning babies techniques to try to get little Owen to turn. My parents headed down from halfway across the country, but had to drive to Philly to get my mom’s car from the airport and get some of her things from the apartment and then would head down. They ended up staying the night and driving down the next day. That night, thankfully I got a little sleep in between contractions and at one point had no contractions for an hour so I could sleep and that was great.
Tuesday Aug 30th: Contractions continue to be difficult but are all in the front now. My back is sore and I’m holding tension in it with most contractions, but it’s definitely different than the back labor. I’m very anxious for the doctor appointment at 1:30. I have contractions while walking into the office, and a few in the waiting room, which was awkward. But I find out I’m dilated to 5cm and now have an anterior cervix! I met Julie the CNM and she seemed like a straight shooter who was on board with our natural birth quoting “if you don’t want to be institutionalized, stay out of the institution”. She said she figured we’d have a baby by the end of the day and to call the answering service and have them page her to meet us at the hospital so we could avoid all the triage stuff that takes so long and just admit me and have a baby. We went home and I tried to get some rest because I knew pushing would probably take a while. I planned to start walking after I had gotten some rest, but my parents got there about 5ish and I continued sitting in the chair visiting with them and having hard contractions but they were all over the place, anywhere from 4-25 mins apart and all at least 1.5 mins long, most quite a bit longer. I never did get up and walk around like I planned.
Wednesday Aug 31st: Between 2 and 3 am the contractions are coming fairly steadily 5 mins apart and I feel like I have to pee after each contraction, but I feel like I have to push to get urine out. I am nervous that this is me feeling ‘pushy’ and I don’t want an unassisted homebirth for my first so I want to go into the hospital.
0330: Julie doesn’t meet us even though we call the service and tell them to page her, so we are wheeled up to triage. The hallways are empty unlike the other day (when we came in twice) and all the nurses are standing around in the nurse’s station. It takes them a while to get to me in triage. A nurse puts me on an EFM for 20 mins of monitoring and checks me. She says I’m 9 cm, then says 8 to 9. While she is checking me my water breaks, which was a gross feeling. There is light meconium in the water and they’ve gotten 1 decel from the EFM when they first hooked it up. They wheel me into a room and I’m told there are going to be people swarming all around because the baby is coming quickly. Julie finally shows up and checks me. She says I’m at 6-7cm now that my water has broken and the baby is at -2 station. She thinks because I’ve been at/beyond 5cm since 1:30 pm yesterday, that I should be farther along and says the baby is going to be mid 8 lb range and thinks because I’ve been in labor for so long and I’m only at -2 station the baby isn’t going to be able to come out vaginally, which I believed to be complete bullshit. (Damnit I should have been walking instead of resting!!!) She says a c-section is likely in my future but she knows I want to go natural. She says it would be better to go into a c-section calm and non-emergent with a spinal than try to have a natural birth and end up with an emergent c-section where my husband can’t be there with me because I’d be put completely under. She emphasizes the fact that I ‘should have’ had my baby by now and that because I haven’t I probably can’t fit him vaginally and really makes it seem like a c-section is a foregone conclusion. She leaves me to discuss this with my husband. We couldn't really do that though because meanwhile I’ve got people putting in IVs and taking my blood and trying to get me to sign forms that I want to make sure to read, much to their irritation. We’re also trying to discuss my birth plan with the nurses and how it has to change now because of the meconium. I’m also in the most intense pain I could ever imagine now that my water has broken. The time between the contractions feels like my *bad* contractions did before, and contractions are now a nightmare and I’m strapped to a bed powerless to do anything to ease the pain, sitting in my broken waters feeling disgusting. I am trying to massage my stomach to ease the pain, which is messing up the EFM. I feel kind of pushy during the contractions and sometimes I can’t help but push and a little water comes out when I do. Everyone keeps telling me to relax and breathe when I hold my breath to bear down and I’m getting so frustrated and going insane from the pain. They say they can give me something to take the edge off (phentynal?), but only a half dose because they don’t want to affect the baby since he’s in ‘distress’. The nurse comes in and has the meds poised to go into my IV and then goes back out of the room without administering them to me. Grr.
0600ish: I have been wanting immediate pain relief since I got into this room and no one is trying to do anything quickly. I’m ready to give into an epidural if that is what it takes. But I’m told that if I go the epidural-pitocin route I have to have an internal fetal monitor (I do NOT want an electrode in my baby’s head!!) and it will be AT LEAST 45 minutes before I could get the epidural. And if I am considering the c-section, I can’t have the epidural, I’d need a spinal. I tell the nurse at one point that I feel a little pushy and she checks me and runs out of the room. The woman getting a c-section done now is in recovery and they are cleaning up. They would be able to get me the spinal faster. I’m in so much pain that I’m no longer scared of the consequences of a c-section. I mean what if there are cord issues that are preventing the baby from descending and I’ll end up with a c-section anyway? Julie basically made me feel that a c-section was a certainty and I didn’t want to have to go through it without dh, and I didn’t want him to have to worry about me because he couldn’t be there with me if I ended up needing an emergent c-section later. Either way I could tell that the longer I was taking to make this decision, the longer I was going to sit here in misery likely not making any progress because of all the adrenaline pumping through my system at this point. My parents have showed up at the hospital by about this time. I say just give me the damn c-section and the staff makes a huge production out of the fact that I’ve just “chosen” a c-section and is that what I’m consenting to. I hate that I feel like the choice has been taken away, but I guess technically it had not been and I did make that choice. I know my husband is so disappointed. This is 180 degrees from what we wanted.
0720: I get into the OR and the spinal wasn’t bad. I was told I was excellent at sticking my back out the way you are supposed to, with them even claiming “if there was a video for how to do it, we would want you to demonstrate in the video”. The numbness is weird but the pain relief is so sweet. Although I realize that I have now just traded what could have been a couple more hours of pain for what could be weeks of pain and a difficult recovery from this c-section. This was probably not the right choice. (We should have just figured out a way to make it work and gone to the damn birth center.) Dh comes in and I’m surprised to learn they’ve already been working on me by that point. I hear a faint cry I think and the next thing I know baby Owen is over on the warming table surrounded by 3 people, I can’t see him. I tell dh to go be with him and check him out and stuff. The first time I see him is a few minutes later when they lift him up to put him on the scale to weigh him. He has so much hair! He weighs 7 lbs 10 oz and is 22.5 inches long, which is pretty darn long! No issues with meconium getting into his lungs. I found out later he was born at 7:48 am. Dh leaves with the baby to go to the NICU to get checked out and then off to the nursery. My surgery finishes up and I get wheeled into recovery. I have read horror stories about how drugged and out of it women feel after their c-sections, but I feel really with it, just tired. But I’m not sure if I’m tired because I haven’t slept much since Sunday or if it’s the drugs.
Around 9ish: The lactation consultant and dh and Owen show up. She is talking a mile a minute about breastfeeding, which was the only time I started to feel out of it because I couldn’t comprehend at the speed she was speaking, but she was helping me to figure it out. Really the goal was to introduce us and stimulate colostrum, and she’d come and run through everything again later. Dh and I take pics with Owen. Dh looks on cloud 9. They go back to the nursery where he’s going to bathe Owen.
Around 10ish: I get to leave recovery and I’m wheeled to my room where I will get to room in with the baby for the next 3 days. This is where my parents have been hanging out since this morning. Dh and the baby come in from the nursery shortly thereafter and we all ooh and aah over the baby and I get to hold him some more.
I was really concerned that breastfeeding was going to be impaired because of the c-section, but it has actually been quite smooth. Owen and I work well together and it seems to come naturally to both of us. No issues with my colostrum or my milk coming in, which was good. I didn’t get a crazy engorged feeling like I thought I would either, which was nice. Recovery was quite easy actually. I mean I was kind of freaked out the first time I tried to stand and I guess I went white as a sheet, but I ended up asking to leave on the second day because I felt fine. They kept offering me Percocet but I never needed any, I just stuck with ibuprofen. I’m not sure if I’m lucky, or if my pain tolerance is higher than I thought, but it has been much much easier than everyone else says it will be. I read that it’s important to take it easy after either kind of birth so I made sure to do that and not overdo things and I think that helped too.
We found out after this was all over that when I was feeling pushy and the nurse checked me and ran out of the room it was because I was back to 9cm and at 0 station. I don't know why they didn't tell me that at the time. If I knew I was actually making progress I would have pushed my baby out. The baby did end up having the cord around his neck, but I don't think it was to a degree where it would have hindered birthing him vaginally. I can’t even begin to describe how pissed I was that no one told me this. And my son had a huge cone head so I know he was well engaged by the time he was born. I could have done it…he could have fit.
So I've had really mixed feelings about it all. At the time it really felt like no matter what I did I was probably going to end up with a c-section anyway so I might as well get it over with. But we had done the Bradley classes, and talked so much about how I really wanted a natural birth because it was the best for the baby. I felt like a failure. I felt like my husband had lost all confidence in me, my body, my ability to birth. Now what? This was baby #1. Do I have to have repeat c-sections for all the other kids we want to have? What if I was just lucky with this one and future ones could bring complications and rough recoveries? I think I could have gotten through the pain if my care provider had more confidence in me and my ability to birth. I should have communicated to her that I hadn't been walking and actively trying to speed the labor, that I had been resting trying to preserve my energy. Maybe then she wouldn’t have been so certain that a c-section was going to be the only way to get the baby out. It was pretty discouraging to hear I probably wouldn't be able to do it as soon as she got there. Plus if I could have been in the water like I'd planned and not chained to a damn bed feeling like I am sitting in my own filth unable to move or get up at all, I probably could have gotten through it. I might have been in transition when I was desiring meds so badly. If so, I could have made it a little longer if I knew an end was in sight. If VBACs are slightly more risky than regular natural birth, will I be able to attempt one in my home or do I have to find a birth center to birth at? All the birth centers around here are 2+ hours away.
I'm still processing it all and worrying already for the next pregnancy...thanks for letting me share.