I'll warn you now, this isn't a short story because it wasn't a short labor! ;)
Thursday, December 6: The first evening… I had gone to the Laundromat, eaten a super spicy sub from Subway for supper, and Jeff and I had some “quality time” around 9:00pm. Contractions started at about 10:00pm that were between 5-10 minutes apart. I tried everything to relax, and ended up trying to sleep on the couch. This lasted all night. I never had to breathe through them or anything, but they were just very uncomfortable.
Friday, December 7: In the morning, Jeff headed to work and I called him less than twenty minutes later crying that the kids were going to be getting up. I was just so tired and couldn’t deal with a 2yo and 1yo. My mom and dad were coming the 2 1/2 to our town for an appointment and would be stopping by at around 11:00am to drop of a crib, the Christmas tree, and a few other things. I called a friend and asked if she’d be able to watch Brenna and Wyatt for the day. It was no problem for her, so Jeff ran them over after he fed them breakfast. Once the kids were gone, Jeff and I decided to do some things to get things moving along. We dtd, I did some nipple stimulation, and then we went on a good walk. This definitely picked things up a notch, and by the time mom and dad got here, I had to stop talking through the contractions that were coming anywhere between 4-8 minutes apart and lasting about a minute long. But then things slowed down. Mom and dad decided to head home as things could take a while. They’d come back with my younger siblings who live at home still (15yo bro, 13yo bro, 11yo bro, and 7yo sis) when we actually had the baby. They felt their presence might be a hindrance to me as I'd feel pressured for things to progress. (They were right in that.) But we called my sister Becky and asked her to head the two hours our way. Her and her boyfriend Dan took off and got to our house in the evening. Jeff and I decided to get the kids at around suppertime and I went to bed with nothing going on again.
Saturday, December 8: We had a quiet day of hanging out with Becky and Dan and the kids. Then in the evening things started up where they’d left off. We sent Dan and Becky out to get a couple movies and dtd while they were gone. Jeff worked on some of the acupressure spots that are supposed to help with contracting, etc. We played games and watched movies until I couldn’t concentrate anymore. Then Jeff and I went into the bedroom to labor where I could focus, and Dan and Becky went to bed. Around 3:00am, things picked up enough that I needed to really breathe and I also needed Jeff to push on my hips. The pain level went up a notch. So I decided we should head into the hospital. Once we were in the van (a very cold van) things stopped. We drove around for a few minutes and I had a good cry. I had a couple more contractions, but we made the decision that I was very tired and should just go home again and try to sleep. It was so frustrating… anytime I’d do anything but stand up, walk around, or sit on my labor ball, they’d stop for a long time.
Sunday, December 9: We woke up again with no labor going on. I called Jeff’s mom, Margaret, and told her what had been going on all weekend. I was quite upset, and she said that she’d come help out regardless of the fact that I wasn’t in active labor at the time. In the afternoon, before Becky and Dan had to head home, Jeff and I went in for a NST. The baby was doing great, I was about 25% effaced and dilated to 4cm. My blood pressure was high, though. So my doctor ordered a 24 hour urine test and monitored me for a few hours. While we were there I started contracting every four minutes again. It was very manageable pain-wise so my doctor let us go home, as I’d be coming in the next day for the 24 hour urine results and for another NST (mostly for my blood pressure). Of course, things died down again as time went on and we went to bed with nothing much happening.
Monday, December 10: After a very good night’s sleep, I went in for the NST and the other test results. My urine came back fine, and my blood pressure had gone down to a not so scary number. They told me I’d have to probably be induced around the 20th or so IF I made it that far. Margaret stayed over one more night to help out and then went home on Tuesday once it looked like nothing new was happening again.
Monday, December 17:
Becky had come to town the previous Friday. Her classes were done for the semester and even though nothing new had happened in the past week, she planned on staying until Saturday the 22nd, or as long as we needed her. She and I decided to get all the laundry done and repeat what I’d done the night it all had started. So we went to Subway and had a super spicy sub, I hauled the laundry myself, and we also ran to WalMart to stock up on groceries, etc. As we were driving down the street near the Laundromat, we saw something interesting in the road. So I stopped and Becky ran out to pick it up. It was a wad of money someone had dropped. I figured finding seven dollars was good luck! On the way home, we swung by Walgreens and I got some castor oil. I planned on using it after my appointment on Wednesday if they wanted to induce me with Pitocin sometime later in the week. But when we got home, Jeff and Becky talked me into it. I took one tablespoon of it in a large glass of water and kept drinking a ton of water. This was probably around 9:00pm. I took a bath and asked Becky to do the dishes and pick up the house, and asked Jeff to come give me a backrub in the bedroom. (Little did Becky know, as I didn’t want to embarrass her, but we also dtd really quickly.) Sure enough, something worked because as Becky was later giving me a facial around 10:30pm I had to run to the bathroom and contractions started up around 11:00pm. I’m very happy to say, I only had diarrhea the one time. By around 2pm, things were very intense. Contractions for at least one minute, every 3-4 minutes. I made the decision to head to the hospital so Becky could go to bed as I knew she’d have to be the one with the kids in the morning regardless of what happened.
Tuesday, December 18: We arrived at the hospital at around 2:20am and were admitted. I ended up with a nurse who, though she never offered any pain relievers, didn’t really understand the “freedom of movement” part of my birth plan. It was very frustrating, so after the first hour being monitored, and things slowing down again, I started asking to go to the bathroom every half hour. She was anal about keeping the baby monitors on at all times except for when I was in the bathroom, and being on the toilet was actually a very good position for me, so that’s where I spent quite a bit of time. Sometime in the early morning, the on-call OB doctor came in to check on me, and I was much more effaced and softened and dilated to 6cm. As for that frustrating nurse, I lucked out and only had to deal with her until 7:00am when her shift ended. The new nurse that came on was much more knowledgeable about how natural-laboring women deal with the pain. She wasn’t nearly as worried about keeping the monitors in place and I was able to pace the hallways, pace in my room, and hop between positions as much as I wanted.
At around 8:00 am the doctor came in to check me, I hadn’t changed for going on three or four hours and I was getting tired, the contractions would fade every time I’d sit or lay. Jeff and I had already discussed having my waters broken artificially. We decided that after all we’d been through, and how it had helped so much with our second child, to go for it. So at 9:00am, the doctor did that. Things definitely seemed more intense. It seemed like the baby went from floating around to the head being down and in position. The contractions felt so productive to me. At around 11:00am, I was at 8cm but still the same effacement as earlier. Things would still keep slowing down unless I kept moving around. I remember feeling so exhausted at this point. But excited because my doctor decided not to go to a dentist appointment he had scheduled for noon because he was sure that the baby would be born very soon!
But, at around 1-2:00pm, I hadn’t progressed at all and the contractions had spaced out as much as a half hour apart. So the doctor offered the idea of Pitocin. He was very kind about the way he suggested it. And I’m happy with him- that is exactly the way he went about it- a suggestion, not an order. We were okay with it, as Jeff had already brought it up. I still told the doctor I’d like a few minutes to think about it. So he and the nurse left the room and I started bawling. It felt slightly like a panic attack. I was so terrified of the pain that Pitocin put me through with my first baby, and how close I’d gotten to having a C-section with her. I told Jeff I didn’t know if I could do it without an epidural. He was so supportive and kept telling me I could do it. So the doctor and nurse came back and we told them our decision.
After being hooked up at about 2:30pm, I took a half hour deep-sleep nap. Then the contractions kicked in good. They upped the Pitocin a notch up every half hour, and by the time I was at 7, that’s as much help my body needed. I vaguely remember feeling like a mama bear. Growling low in my throat was the only way I could vocalize without getting short of breath or getting too high pitched for it to help with the pain. Jeff found me a comb to squeeze in my palm, and it helped with the pain as well. We put the head of the bed up and I knelt on the bed and leaned over it. I’d switch between that and sitting while using my arm strength to lift my bottom off the bed. I definitely felt each contraction in my back and Jeff spent the last couple hours of labor pressing my hips inward to help with the pain. Any time he’d let up, I’d yell at him to keep on pressing. Man did it hurt when he’d stop too soon, especially when they were double peak contractions. At a few minutes to 6:00, I had the first contraction that I felt I needed to push. The nurse happened to be in adjusting the monitors to hear the baby’s heartbeat. All I could say was “baby!” Jeff had to translate for the nurse that the baby would be coming SOON. So she called the doctor and baby nurse. By the time the next contraction came, things had started. I was trying not to push, but my body did it on its own. I had to go from kneeling facing the head of the bed to turning towards the doctor (who wasn’t quite there yet) while the baby was crowning. I remember reaching down then and feeling the baby’s hair. The doctor made it as the next contraction hit. Again, I didn’t have to push, only breathe through it as he un-looped the cord from around the baby’s neck. Then, the only push it took to birth my little one was to get the shoulders and body out.
As my baby was on my chest, we looked down and were surprised to see a girl! I remember Jeff’s tone as he said “it’s a girl!” He was in awe of the whole experience. I just felt relief and love! The doctor waited, like we’d asked, a few minutes until the cord stopped pulsating before cutting it. Then, I asked the nurse to take our little girl as I wanted her to get suctioned out better. She sounded quite gurgly, though her Apgar score was eight for both the one and five minute times. Her hands and feet were quite purple/blue and for my peace of mind I wanted them to look her over better. I got to watch it all from where I was birthing the placenta. They suctioned her better, gave her a bit of oxygen, and as soon as her breathing and crying were good, they gave her back to me. I got to hold her for many hours. The nurse even gave her first bath right at my bedside so I could be part of it. This was very different from my other two babies, and I loved being able to be part of that milestone.
Nora Margaret was born at 6:07pm, weighed 8 pounds and measured 20 inches. Jeff went and picked up her two siblings, Brenna age 2 ½ and Wyatt age 1 ½, they got to meet their little sister when she was only around an hour old. After Wyatt’s initial quietness (at what I think was more me being hooked up to the IV and blood pressure cuff) they were both quite excited to see her. It took us a few hours to name her, as the ones we had been talking about were all for boys. All throughout the day we’d felt like she was going to be a he! What a wonderful surprise, I had been hoping for a girl!