Saturday, February 13th we were scheduled to go to a small group leaders' meeting and again, I didn't just want to be waiting for what possibly could be nothing so we went. I wasn't paying too much attention though because I was timing contractions on my phone. They were about 8-10 minutes apart at that point. Then the plan was to go out to the suburbs for a little birthday dinner at Brad's parent's house. Again, I was timing contractions and they were 5-8 minutes apart during the evening. I was trying to focus on Brad's birthday celebration (which was actually really belated since his birthday is in January) but I was thinking "This is it" and trying to figure out when we would need to leave for the hospital. I called the midwife on the ride home and she said to take a bath and wait until the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart for 2 hours.
When we got home the contractions were becoming slightly more painful. I had to breathe through them a bit, at least stop what I was doing and focus. I tried to lay down and rest but I really couldn't. Around 11:00 I wanted to call the midwife because the contractions had been about 2-3 minutes apart for half an hour. I went to the bathroom and my water broke while I was on the toilet. I actually thought it was my mucus plug because it wasn't very much substance but it was bloody and thick. I called the midwife and told her about the contractions and "mucus plug." She didn't sound like she thought I should come in but she let me make the decision. She said that if I wasn't dilated to 4cm. they would send me back home. When I hung up the phone, more water was gushing out so I realized my water broke but I also realized that there was probably meconium in my water because it should have been clear not greenish and thickish. I couldn't remember if meconium was a serious problem but I knew it wasn't good, so we rushed to get in the car and get to the hospital.
When we got to the hospital around midnight, they checked me and I was only dilated to 1cm. and 20% effaced. The nurse called the midwife to tell her and she wanted to keep me there and monitor me for 2 hours because my water had broken and because of the meconium. I was strapped onto the monitor and was starting to get really uncomfortable from the contractions. They were every 3 minutes and lasted about a minute. I remembered reading about someone chanting "ooohhh - pen" through contractions to help with focusing so I did that for awhile. I was really discouraged that I was only at 1cm and I was trying to will my cervix to open up. I was doing my best not to tighten up during contractions because I wanted to work with my body, not against it. Around 1 or 2 am, I threw up pretty much everything in my stomach. Poor Brad caught everything in a chux pad. At this point, I was seriously watching the clock and just trying to make it to the next point. The nurse said my midwife was coming in around 4am so I was just trying to hold out until then. Around 4:30, the midwife came in and checked me. I think I was at about 2cm, 80% effaced. Again, I was pretty discouraged but at least they were going to move me now to the birthing center room. This was a much nicer room with a tub and shower. I knew I couldn't get into the tub until I was dilated more or the labor would just stall. The only position working for me at the time was to lay on my side but my back was killing. It helped to sit up between contractions but I couldn't handle the contractions sitting up and if I tried to move during a contraction I completely lost my ability to focus and breathe through it. So I stayed mostly on my side and Brad pushed as hard as he could on my back.
At 7am, a new midwife came and replaced the other one. I was kind of disappointed because I didn't have a very strong relationship with this midwife. She checked me and said I was at 4cm and that I could get into the tub now. The tub was nicer than the bed. I laid back and was almost falling asleep between contractions and during the contractions I would push against the bars in the tub with my hands. Brad would give me a sip of water after every contraction. I tried to drink some Gatorade but it really made me sick to my stomach. After an hour or so I needed to change positions so I got out of the tub and tried laying on the bed again. I didn't handle the contractions as well in the bed and I was starting to get a bit frantic. Around 9am, I was at 6cm and completely begging for an epidural. Brad was so great. He knew I didn't want one so he kept trying to distract me. We talked to the midwife about it - me crying and saying "I can't do this anymore. I'm so tired." She reminded me that if I got the epidural it would take at least an hour before they got it in because I would have to get a bag of fluids first. Also, I would have to move out of the nice room and be on continuous monitoring and have a catheter put in. This was enough to renew my focus. I got in the shower and the water on my back really helped. The pain in my back was the worst part. I remembered that low noises would help get through the contractions so I started making this low, guttural sound and counting them. Usually making 10 of them would get me through the worst part. I did this for an hour in the shower and was feeling really proud of myself for dealing with the pain. After an hour, I just needed something different so I got in the tub. This slowed things down so I was having contractions ever 5-6 minutes instead of every 2-3. I realized this but I also felt like I needed the break so I wasn't going to try anything to pick things up. I got out of the tub around 11:30 and laid on the bed. My contractions were still further apart but I was so tired I didn't care. At noon, I was 8cm and exhausted. The midwife wanted me to get back the shower because I made more progress there. I just wanted to get to the pushing part and get it over with. In the shower, I was alternating between standing and sitting on a stool. My back felt like it was on fire and I was starting lose my focus. The contractions were lasting longer and my voice was vibrating and I was starting to growl a bit to make it through. When she heard the growling, the midwife thought I might be ready to push. I was at 9cm and the baby's head was really low, at +3 or +4 so she thought I might be able to push a little bit. I tried, just because it felt better to push than to try to breathe through the contractions. My contractions were further apart again because I was on the bed and nothing was really happening but I didn't have the energy to do more. Around 2pm I started to lose it. I wanted the epidural NOW. I couldn't do it anymore. The midwife said okay and then things got really fast. I had to move down the hall to a different room, which meant walking down by myself. I had a contraction halfway there and I had no energy or focus to deal with it. I was just screaming my head off.
When I got to the new room the contractions were coming one on top of the other and I was still trying to get situated so I had no focus and was just grabbing at the bars of the bed or Brad's hands and shouting through them. The nurses had to get my fluids started and then hook me up to the monitor. All that took probably 20-30 minutes. In that time too I guess the baby's heart rate dropped or something because they put an oxygen mask on me too. I had a huge contraction and I was roaring as loud as I could and pushing. I also peed all over the bed. This was where I got really horrified at everything going on. I'm guessing this is what they call "transition" in all the books. At this point the midwife checked me again and said I was fully dilated so no epidural for me. I was in my own little world at this point, laying sideways on the bed with my face pressed into the bars and the oxygen mask on. I was squeezing my eyes shut and squeezing Brad's hands as hard as I could. One of the nurses lifted my top leg and I pushed and roared during each contraction. When his head was coming out I felt the "ring of fire" and stopped pushing because of the pain but the midwife reminded me that it meant his head was right there and he was almost out. It took about 5 contractions to get him out, Brad says it was 5-8 minutes. A lot of women say that pushing is a huge relief to them but to me it was the hardest, most painful part. That is why I pushed as hard and fast as I could. I think if I had slowed it down I wouldn't have torn but I just wanted him out. He was born at 3:05pm on Sunday, February 14th.
I was so happy to hear that he was completely out. We had wanted to wait to cut the cord but because of the meconium they asked to cut the cord immediately and start suctioning out his nose and mouth. That was okay with me. I just wanted him safe and healthy. He was crying right away and I could look over and see the nurses cleaning him up. He was so beautiful! I just wanted to look at him and they could do whatever they wanted to cleaning me up. The placenta came out with minimal pushing about 5 minutes later and then they had so sew up one tear: 2 stitches so not too bad. If he was a bigger baby I'm sure I would have had more. They brought him over to nurse after a few minutes. I was still shaking and in shock really. He wasn't really latching on but the midwife didn't seem too concerned as long as he was semi-interested in nursing.
An hour later we moved to a different room. I was really grateful that they let us stay with Isaiah the whole time. They only took him out once to weigh and measure him and Brad went with him. Being in the postpartum room, everything felt really surreal. I couldn't take it all in. The next 24 hours I just tried to focus on nursing when Ze seemed interested. I was going to put him in the bassinet to sleep but he had a lot of congestion when I laid him down horizontally so I lay in the bed with him curled in my arm. I didn't sleep much at all, full of adrenaline and just trying to deal with everything that had just happened and make sure Isaiah was okay. Everything went smoothly and we got to leave around 6:00pm the next day, Monday, February 15th.
Overall, I'm really, really happy that I didn't end up getting any drugs even though I'm kind of disappointed and feel like I gave up at the end. I wish the midwife would have been more helpful and more hands on. I think it would have helped to have someone make me walk around and know how to massage my back and just be more present with me. Brad was incredible. I wouldn't have been able to do it without him. I feel like the last 30 minutes were pretty traumatizing to me and I keep flashing back to those moments. It was so scary and painful. I think partly because I didn't know at all what to expect. I didn't know beforehand what contractions would feel like and so I don't think I was as prepared as I could have been. But I keep reminding myself what a huge blessing it is that Isaiah was healthy the entire time. His heart rate never dropped except a little at the end, and even the meconium was not a problem at all. He was so alert for at least 6 hours after the birth: just looking around with his mouth open, bewildered at this strange world he's been brought into. I look at him now and I can't believe that he was inside of me. I think I'm still overwhelmed at it all. Now I'm just hoping to recover from all the soreness so that I can move around and enjoy him even more. Last night he was laying next to me and I was falling in and out of sleep, but every few minutes I would open my eyes and he was just staring into my face from 4 inches away. I can't believe that he is ours.
Kristen married to DH Brad, mama to Isaiah Abraham (born on Valentine's Day 2010) and expecting a new little one in February 2012!