My LMP due date was Oct 3, but I told everyone my due date was Oct 2 based on a calculation from when I believed I had ovulated. (It was only one day, and really silly but I so hate the assumed ovulation on the 14th day of your cycle thing).
I was huge and uncomfortable and had decided not to go back to work starting on the first. I was so nervous I wouldn't go into labor for another week or more and use up a bunch of my leave before the baby was born. But I felt like if I stayed at work the stress would keep me from ever having enough oxytocin to go into labor.
On Tuesday I decided to do some of the thing people say to do to get labor started. I scrubbed my kitchen and bathroom floors on my hands and knees and scrubbed out my shower/bathtub, I ate pineapple at lunch, went for a walk with one foot on the curb and one on the ground and climbed the stairs a few times. My Dad stopped by later with a playlist my mom wanted me to have and when I opened the door he laughed at me because I was so huge. When he laughed I took a 2 1/2 hour nap. I wanted to be rested in case labor started the next day.
I honestly didn't expect it though. First baby. I thought he would probably come late.
I went to bed at eleven and tried to sleep. At midnight, on the dividing line between my self proclaimed due date and the due date on my medical chart I had a contraction that was different than any of the practice contractions I had been having. It was weird. Was this a labor contraction? And then another and another.
My lovely doula, Heather, had just reminded me how important it is to rest and not get too excited in the beginning and I tried desperately to sleep. I lay there physically mimicking sleep but could not for the life of me actually attain it. This went on for several hours.
At 3am I decided to start timing my contractions. They were definitely painful but very manageable. They were six minutes apart and lasting 30-40 seconds each. I decided to take a shower because I had read a lot of birth stories and that's what people in this situation do
I didn't seem to have too may contractions in the shower and thought it must be a false alarm, but hoped that maybe I could sleep now. But when I went to the bathroom I noticed that I was starting to have bloody show. I went back to bed and there they were again. Every six minutes.
By six am I knew I was in labor. Contractions were still six minutes apart. My husband and I got up and I called my Mom and texted the rest of the family and some close friends telling them that it looked like "today would be the day". My mom informed me that my grandma had said we would have a baby by noon.
Then I called my doula. She was not impressed. She basically said rest, go about your day, this might or might not turn into labor. Not what I was expecting. But I knew that she had a lot more experience than me so I tried to bring back my expectations a bit.
At that point I could still talk and laugh during contractions. They did seen intense at the time, but experiencing what I have now I would no longer classify them that way.
I had an appointment with my midwife at nine am and we decided to keep it. We rounded up all of our stuff for the hospital. We really didn't think we would be coming back home. After all, I had been having regular contractions for nine hours.
My midwife, Dawn, checked me and I was dialatled to a four. The thing is, I was dialated to a three the week before and a two the week before that. So it wasn't anything earth shattering.
My contractions were still six minutes apart and I was tired from not sleeping at all the night before. She told us that things could go on like that all day and then stop and start again later or it could develop into serious labor later that day. Her suggestion was to go home and sleep.
We were dissapointed. Especially Michael. He really thought we were about to have a baby. I was a little relieved at the idea of sleeping because I was so tired.
We got home around noon and tried to sleep. Michael fell right to sleep but I was struggling. My contractions were still six minutes apart. I would fall asleep, be vaguely aware of the first contraction but then the next one would jar me awake. They just hurt way worse when I was asleep and couldn't feel them coming on. To make matters worse people were texting and calling Michael like crazy. He had his phone on the nightstand on silent but it would buzz and wake me up each time.
I finally gave up on sleeping around four. We went into the livingroom and decided to try some things to see if we could get labor going. I lit candles, turned on some mellow music and danced and swayed. The contractions were definitely more intense when I was moving. I paced and lunged. At this point I wasn't interested in talking or laughing during them. Michael was sitting in a recliner and I would kind of kneel in font of him during the contractions with my head in his lap and he would rub my shoulders. He was timing them and at this point we had figured out that we needed them to get longer (they were still 30-45 seconds). It just wasn't happening though.
At nine o clock we decided to throw the towel in. We couldn't make labor pick up. I thought it might be best to just resign that it wasn't happening, go to sleep and maybe they would stop and I could go into real labor in the morning. We talked with Heather, our doula and she wholeheartedly agreed and said she was going to try to get some sleep.
Looking back I feel so silly. If I had known then what I know now I would have tried to sleep/ ignore them that whole time instead of trying to "get things going". On the other hand, I was doing a little lunging and a lot of swaying during that time and I think that maybe my body was working on getting him into the right position.
Michael was sure that he couldn't go to bed at nine thirty. He always stays up late and did not think he would be able to sleep. I really wanted him to come with me though and so we got in bed.
It took about five minutes for Michael to fall asleep. I would drift just a bit and then wake up startled by the contractions. I decided to heat up some rice socks and positioned myself on my side with rice socks all around my belly. It felt great and I drifted off.
About six minutes later I woke to serious contraction and found myself ripping out of my rice sock nest and out of bed. It was if I were running from the contraction. I definitely could not sleep. I had to concentrate on the contractions to deal with them. I laid there about and hour, getting onto my hands and knees during during contractions. Then I decided to time again.
They were definitely getting longer and more intense. And closer.
I was standing up, pacing, swaying through contractions that were now about a minute long and four minutes apart. I started feeling panicky. I felt alone. Michael was sleeping. Heather was a her house sleeping. I was up by myself in my apartment laboring. What if things suddenly started moving really fast? What if I had the baby right there on the carpet alone? I felt the intense need to be in the place I was going to give birth. I felt like I couldn't really let go until I was at my birthing place. At this point it had been twenty four hours since I had started having contractions.
I woke Michael and told him that I was ready to go to the hospital. He suggested we time my contractions for half and hour first and make sure they were staying at a minute long. I just wanted to go but I agreed to his plan. It's funny because we both always thought he would want to go to the hospital way to early and I would want to go too late and here I was practically begging to go and he wasn't sold on it. I think it had something to do with our disappointing trip to the midwife earlier that day. He didn't want to get sent home again.
As soon as the half hour was over Michael went into the living room to call Heather. I was bracing myself against the dresser and swaying and groaning through the contractions that were now about three minutes apart.
Heather told Michael that if she came over we would probably just head to the hospital anyway so they decided we would just meet up there.
We got to the hospital and they put me on the monitor in triage. Laying in bed was the worst. The contractions were so much harder to deal with! Michael, Heather and I were chatting between contractions but everyone would be silent when they hit so I could concentrate on relaxing and breathing through them. They checked me and I was at a five.
We had to wait in triage for a long time because apparently five people had come I right after us and one was an emergency. We got some good news though. Dawn, our midwife, was there already with one of her other patients. Also, when the nurse brought the hep-lock I asked if I could decline it and she said "sure, no problem". I am so glad because I don't know if I could have managed the rest of labor having a needle in my hand.
We got into our birthing suite around 3am. We dimmed the lights and put on some music and I labored. I would hold onto Michael during contractions and sway my hips. When he had to leave for a moment I would do the same thing with Heather. They set up the squat bar on the bed and I knelt on the bed leaning on the bar for a while.
Things were getting really hard. I just kept talking myself through contractions (in my head). I decided that I would never ever even think about judging anyone else's choice to get an epidural.
At some point someone mentioned the tub and I said Yes! I love water and was looking forward to that. As soon as I got in things were better. At some point they came in and told me that the water was too hot and it was making the babies heart rate go up so I would have to bring the temp down. As the water got cooler it didn't help as much and I wanted out.
Heather suggested the birth ball and I spent some time laboring on the ball leaned forward against the bed.
Dawn, my midwife had come by to check on me a few times and came back in while I was on the ball. I remember her saying that it seemed I was working harder now. I felt like I had been working hard a long time but knowing that she thought we were going somewhere was encouraging. She reminded me to relax my shoulders during a contraction. Heather had actually been telling me that almost very contraction (or often times just gently touching my shoulder to remind me). It was so frustrating. I just kept tensing them up so much but I wouldn't notice it until someone else pointed it out.
We kept laboring.
Michael was awesome. I didn't know how he would handle labor but he didn't seem freaked out at all. And having him with me helped me even more than I anticipated. I just need to be touching him during my contractions. It made me feel safe.
At around eight thirty am Dawn came in to check me. It had been six hours since I was checked in triage and I was so greatfull that she just let me labor in peace that whole time. I knew that frequent checks could lead me to get hung up on progress. I was at a seven.
I labored hard for another two hours and then Dawn checked me at 10:30. I was at an eight.
I don't really remember this part of labor but I know that it had gotten really, really hard. I was reminding myself that no one has ever been killed by a single contraction before. I was exhausted after two sleepless nights and I wasn't coping very well.
At some point we decided to get back in the water. It was amazing again. My contractions (that had been so close together) spaced just a bit and I was relaxed enough that I was dozing a bit in between. For some reason this time in the tub is what I remember most from the labor. Michael and Heather sitting in the bathroom with me. I would lay on one side and the when a contraction hit I would kind of writhe over to the other side and then back the other way with the next contraction. They were SO powerful. I felt like my body would be crushed. I had been vocal the whole time but it reached a new level during that bath. I would just focus on the noises I was making. I decided that the only way to manage the pain was to "roar louder than the contraction". Sometimes my noises would start to get frantic and high pitched and Heather would remind me to bring them down. I tried making a low "ah" sound and would modulate it to distract myself. Apparently, at one point I was belting out the tune to the little mermaid. I totally didn't realize it but Michael thought it was hilarious.
I really felt like I might die but I though "I have to be getting close". In fact, I had decided that I would be having the baby in that tub. I would just work my hardest and get him out. My contractions were so intense I couldn't manage them on land.
Other than crying everytime our nurse (whom we loved, by the way) came in with the monitors, I was making it. I was SO tired though. About an hour into the bath I had several back to back crazy intense contractions that resulted in the most insane roar on my part and I was sure it was time.
Heather was also thinking it might be time. I had propped one of my feet up on the wall to open up my pelvis and she immediately thought "fetal ejection reflex" and had the nurse get Dawn.
Dawn came in and checked me and I could tell by her face that I wouldn't like the answer.
Things were exactly as they were at the last check. No progress. She said that she thought I might need to relax my pelvis some more.
I have read birth stories where the woman gets an epidural and it helps her relax and her labor progress and as I listened to Dawn I tried my hardest to will her to suggest I get one. She didn't.
When she left and it was just Michael, Heather and I again I broke down. I was convinced it would never be over. I couldn't do it anymore. I was so tired and it hurt so bad. I just wanted to give up. I pleaded "I tried my best, why won't you just let me give up". I could tell by there faces that they both wanted it to be over for me, too.
Michael knelt down beside me and put his face by mine. He reminded me of why I was doing this and how important it was to me and how much I had prepared. He reminded me that it was what "l" wanted. Then he sat back up and said "I have been praying about what we should do and I think I have an answer but you aren't going to like it". I didn't like it. He told me I needed to get out of the tub.
Heather immediately confirmed that she was feeling the same thing. I hated that idea but instantly knew that he was right.
I got out and never looked back. I did a few contractions on the toilet. That sucked. Then we moved back to the bed area. This whole part is fuzzy but I remember Dawn being there and I remember that I was freaking out. I was more like an animal than a person. The contractions were so fast and so intense. I was trying to get onto the bed and one would hit and I had to find the position that would hurt the least. I would start frantically moving from one position to another, often just dropping to the floor on my hands and knees. It was like there was only on position in which I could survive that contraction and I had to find it.
It was horrible. I think I wasn't handling it well because I was so sleep deprived. But the truth is I needed to be in a place that I would just do whatever my body told me to.
About an hour after the discouraging bathtub check Dawn checked again and told me I was a nine but stretchy an I could start pushing.
I was so relieved!
Having something to be in control of made thing so much better mentally. From the time of pushing on I was in my own world. With my fist push my water broke. I heard everyone react and they told me that meant I was pushing in the right place but I didn't even notice the fluid. That's how I know I was totally in myself then. Normally I would be very curious and want to see what it looks like when your water breaks. I didn't even think to glance.
When each contraction hit I would cross my arms, lock hands with Michael and drop to a squatting position, pulling against him with all my weight. I did this for what seemed like 15 minutes but was apparently an hour. I was bearing down and roaring. Heather recorded it in her notes as "light pushing". It didn't seem like that at the time but I see now why she said that.
When I first started doing those squat pushes they put some of those blue pad things down under me. It was exhilarating! I remember thinking "someone other than me actually believes that a baby is going to come out of me at some point". It wasn't going to last forever after all.
Dawn started suggesting we try another position. I wasn't sure if that was for me or for Michael who's arms where starting to shake when he was supporting my weight.
After a few failed attempts I managed to get onto the bed. I was laying on my left side with my right foot pressed up against the squat bar and during pushes I would grip the side rail with all my might.
They told me that I should try to stop yelling out and try to direct all of that energy into my pushing. I did and it really helped.
I just pushed and pushed as hard as I could. I repeated in my mind over and over "I can make this be over. I can make this be over. I just have to push really hard." At that point I had lost all interest in the baby, I jus wanted to be done.
I remember that people were encouraging me. Telling me I was doing a good job. It really helped. I need that.
At some point Dawn tied a sheet to the squat bar and had me tug on it instead of the side rail. That seemed to help too. He was moving down and I started to feel really intense rectal pressure.
I just told myself over and over "It doesn't matter if I split open, it doesn't matter if I die. At least this will be over".
At some point they told me to reach down and feel his head (which felt oddly squishy). I just kept thinking "this push will be the one".
Then my midwife told me that she would need me to listen to her the next few contractions, that she might need me to slow down so I wouldn't tear. I yelled that I didn't care.
I guess I kept getting really close to getting him out but he would go back again a bit when I stopped pushing. They told me to try to keep a little pressure the next time between contractions. I felt him really crowning and then held him there while waiting for the next contraction. It was the weirdest feeling in the world (and not pleasant). On the next contraction I pushed as hard as I could and the just kept pushing and kept pushing after the contraction was over. I felt a relief of the pressure and a weird slithery feeling and then they plopped at wriggly little baby right onto my stomach.
I had done it! I kept saying "It's a baby! It's a baby!"
They had to stitch me up and I was bleeding a lot (after the apparently giant placenta came out) so they had to massage my uterus several times. That sucked because I had promised myself it would be over if I got him out and there were still really painful things going on.
My boy never left my chest while they checked him out and worked on me. In fact, I held him until they weighed him an hour and half later and then they gave him right back.
I had done it. I couldn't believe I had survived. I was proud and so glad I didn't give up when I wanted to. I will always be thankful to Michael for beings so strong in that moment. (He told me later that he had to go in the hall and cry several times because it was so hard for him to watch).
At 3:01 on October 4th, after 39 hours of labor, including 2 1/2 hours of pushing, Oliver Michael Taylor was born.
When they weighed him, they zeroed the scale several times to make sure. He weighed 10lbs and 13oz!!
I'm so glad that I had a midwife who never pressured me and never mentioned a single intervention even though my labor was long. I'm so glad that I was able to move freely and let my body tell me what positions to be in. I feel very blessed to have access to a hospital where immediate skin to skin, delayed cord clamping and not separating mom and baby are standard procedure.
Giving birth to Oliver is definitely the hardest thing I've ever done. But I did it. I birthed a baby many doctors would say couldn't be birthed vaginally and felt awesome the very next day. And he's totally worth it!