I stayed up late Saturday night watching the Olympics, as I have had a hard time sleeping in general lately. Its been tough because I run around after a 2 and 5 year old all day, and then have a hard time going to sleep! I was sitting on the couch playing on my laptop at the same time, and started getting fairly frequent contractions, enough to start timing, and they were around 10 or so minutes apart. I figured though, that it was probably because I was sitting very awkwardly on the couch with the laptop squashing my stomach.
We went down to bed at about 1am, and then my contractions stopped, I thought. They spaced out to every 20 minutes, but were strong enough that they were actually waking me up, which was new. I decided to get up and get a few “before baby comes” things done in case it was the real deal and get something to eat, but didn’t wake up DH. I figured if the baby really was coming, he’d need his rest, and if she wasn’t, he was going to have his hands full of kids the next day while I slept in!
Alas, by about 3am, my contractions sputtered out. I felt kind of silly being up at that time of night for no good reason, so went back to bed. I’d never had prodromal labor before, and could suddenly understand how frustrating it could be, after only one session! Sunday dawned, and it was DH’s turn to get up early with the kids. I slept until past 9, and woke up feeling pretty good, all things considered. I now think that my labor really had started the night before but my body decided I was just too tired, and shut it down to try another day! I self talked myself into the idea that it was going to be days before baby would come, and I just needed to relax and stop getting so worked up about every potential symptom.
I ate a good breakfast – a two egg and cheese sandwich and some tea, and then we loaded the kids in the car to head out to the barn to get some work done. I have the horse I have owned since childhood at a co-op barn 20 minutes away from my house, and I’d just gotten a grain delivery a couple days beforehand and needed to get the grain moved into my horse’s barn, and wanted DH’s help. It was SUPER hot and muggy out, what weather! One of those days that is so nice to enjoy – from the comforts of an air conditioned car J Another errand while we were out, and then time to get home and get kiddos down for a nap. I put my DD down for hers, while DH put DS down for his.
I’d been having annoying irregular contractions for the past hour, but this was pretty much the norm for me at this time of day, what with running around in the heat, lifting a tired cranky toddler around, going up and down stairs, etc. I was looking forward to laying down and taking a rest myself, and having them go away. I finally got to lay down around 2:30pm. Glorious! I checked my e-mail on my iPhone, looked to see if there were any new DDC birth announcements, and started reading about delayed cord clamping vs. cord blood banking. I was happily browsing along when I got a really hard contraction out of the blue, and POP my water broke. I was totally surprised! I guess labor was going to start after all. I was still in the mode of talking myself into the idea that it might be a long time before I had this baby, but was also nervous, because when my water breaking with DD was the start of a 2 hour labor, and my water breaking with DS was 15 minutes before he was born. Still, how fast could my labor really start when I’d only had one contraction?
DH, on the other hand, wasn’t into playing any silly head games, and immediately called our neighbor to come over, grabbed the hospital bag, and started herding me out the door. I called my OB to tell her what was happening, and she thought it would be a good idea to head in, and agreed if things weren’t moving fast, we could walk around the hospital for a while (in retrospect, she knows my history, and I think she was just humoring me!) 20 minutes later and we were out the door. At this point I started to be thankful at how fast my DH can move, because I was already needing to quietly vocalize through contractions. I loved Tchotchkes description of sounding like bagpipes in her birth story – the visualization of low, sonorous tones really stuck with me. So, we drove to the hospital with my husband pretending he was Mario Andretti, and me pretending I was a set of Irish bagpipes!
All this time, I am guessing my contractions are about 3ish minutes apart. I never had a chance to time them, but given that the trip to the hospital takes 13 or so minutes, and I had about 4 or 5, that sounds about right. We sailed straight up to L&D, and I introduced myself at the desk, and my labor nurse met me, having already been notified by my OB that we’d be arriving. My OB is known for having patients who want natural labors, so the nurses tend to self select to assist her when her patients come in. I had another contraction at the desk, and envisioned myself the picture of natural birthing loveliness – wearing a flowing summer maternity dress, gracefully leaning over the desk for a little support, sonorously humming a low vocalization. Wow, was that going to change fast!
My nurse said she had read my birth plan, which included a preference for using the room which has an aquadoula. Unfortunately, she said that room was already occupied, so there went any chance for a waterbirth. Ok, no worries – there are 6 rooms total, and I know that 2 others have big Jacuzzi tubs, so I ask for one of those. Nope, those are occupied, too! The only rooms left have the bitty 1950’s sized tubs. Grr. My nurse ever so optimistically points out which of the remaining rooms is “nice and quiet” since its away from the nurses station, and escorts me in. I’m disappointed, but hey, I can still go get into a nice hot shower, which would be lovely, because at this point my contractions are very low down and painful in my back.
My nurse got me a gown and set out the Doppler to get a read on baby while I went to the bathroom, and get off the clothes I wore to the hospital. The last contraction I had in the car, I had a huge gush of amniotic fluid, so the shorts I was wearing under my dress were absolutely soaked. When I sat on the toilet my contractions drastically intensified, so I leapt off the toilet as quickly as I could. DH, meanwhile, is on the phone with Registration to get us checked in. This is a vast improvement on the time when they made him leave the L&D floor to go downstairs to register, but I’m still glad when he is done, and can come back to helping me.
Next, I had to sit down on the hospital bed long enough for my nurse to get one blood pressure reading, and two contractions on the monitor. It was miserable, and I was swaying and moaning to get through as best I could. She let me go right after that, and said I was free to move around, use the birth ball, and walk wherever, and she would be back in a few minutes. I found out later that she could see how fast my labor was moving in the few minutes that I had been at the hospital, and didn’t think my OB would arrive in time, so she went looking for a midwife to help her deliver the baby!
At this point I somewhat realized that my contractions were coming very fast and I was either almost at, or in transition. I remembered from DS’s birth that the position I liked best was when I found a high counter in the room, and leaned against that. I found a large chair that fit the ticket in the corner of the room, and walked behind it so I could lay over the top. Perfect! My joy at the discovery was short lived, as I was mostly definitely in transition, and was basically having one contraction on top of another with no break. At least, I thought, it would soon be over, and I would get a little break before pushing. DH had up till this point been walking with me, stroking me during contractions, getting me water and such. All of a sudden I didn’t want him touching me at all, which was another good sign I was in transition.
Finally, FINALLY, my OB walked in the room (I’d been at the hospital 20 minutes at this point) and she said hello, and observed me for a minute, talked to my nurse, and said she was going to go get into her scrubs. I was moaning through a contraction when she said this, and as soon as she started to walk out of the room, my “transition contraction” turned directly into a “pushing contraction”. Goodbye bagpipes, hello grunting rhinoceros! My OB turned around and said, “Nope, not getting into my scrubs!” and dropped her bag, and started getting ready to help me deliver.
My nurse had come back in the room, and started telling me that I couldn’t deliver my baby standing up in a corner. Of course, this just annoyed me, and so I ignored her and continued working my way through Noah’s ark of grunting animals. My OB, bless her heart, told the nurse to pass the things she needed, and squished herself into the corner to check me, and suggested I might have more room to move around if I came over to the bed and stood there. I was willing to put out the effort for her, and really, I didn’t want to deliver my baby in a corner either, so took the few steps over to the bed.
When she checked me, she said the baby’s head was right there, and said I could push if I wanted to. A couple of contractions later I finally found my voice, and started a mantra “I-don’t-wanna-push- I-don’t-wanna-push- I-don’t-wanna-push!” because I really HATE pushing. Some women find it a nice change from the more passive earlier stage of labor, but to me, it just hurts! My OB encouraged me that baby really was ready to come out, and I could push her out when I wanted to. I tried a few pushes, and yes, it did hurt. I decided to take a chance on not holding myself up on the bed with two hands, and reached down with one to feel baby’s head. It really was there! With the next push I could feel her moving down and out, and decided that I wanted this over with. My OB coached me through pushing gently so that I would stretch, and within several pushes I birthed her head into my hand. She had a hand up near her face, so it took a couple more pushes, and our little Miriam came out. I reached down with my other hand, and took her up on my chest, and then my nurse, OB, and DH helped me lay down on the bed. Time of birth: 4:08pm, less than 30 minutes after arriving at the hospital, and 10 minutes after my OB arrived.
She cried a couple of times right at birth, then happily and quietly settled on my chest. It was as if everything suddenly went quiet and calm (ok, it WAS as if everything was quiet, since I stopped making so much noise!) The two of us just silently lay back and looked at each other for almost the next hour, it was just wonderful. DH, who had been at my head on the other side of the bed, stoking me and encouraging me, came around to my side, and we just watched her, enthralled.
It took almost 20 minutes for the cord to stop pulsing, and then DH cut the cord, and my OB did a little clean-up work. I had a very small 2nd degree tear that she put 2 stitches in. I’ve had hardly any pain from that, and actually very little soreness down at “Ground Zero” as my girlfriend likes to call it. We ordered and ate dinner, filled out a ton of paperwork, took some pictures, got my Rhogam shot, and went home around 9pm to introduce Miriam to her brother and sister.
I’ve really been trying to take it easy, stay in bed, and rest. I’m usually a very active, “show them how its done” kind of person after birth, but this time I’ve decided I don’t have anything to prove, and I just want to rest and be with my baby and family. I took a short walk this evening with Miriam and DH, but have mostly stayed in bed otherwise. I think it has really been helping my recovery, as my bleeding has nearly stopped, only one day past. I’m looking forward to some nice hot baths in the next few days, and snuggling in clean sheets with my family J
Miriam |rva P.
7lbs, 8ozs, 20 inches
Born 4:08pm, August 5