Labor/birth photos on my blog
Friday, August 3, 5:00 pm - reflexology session (41w5d)
Saturday, August 4, 3:30 am - contractions start/nesting
Saturday 11 pm - glass of wine/bedtime
Sunday, August 5, 1:30 am - early labor kicks up - contractions too frequent and noticeable to sleep through. I try to go back to sleep for a couple hours, but it's not working. I get up at 3:30 and put veggie soup I'd previously made and frozen into the crockpot for labor sustenance.
Sunday 8 am - we call midwife to give her heads up. Early labor putzes along. Too uncomfortable to leave house. Lots of resting trying to conserve energy for long haul, but can't sleep.
Sunday 11 pm - labor intensifies; glass of wine doesn't work. Even though my contractions are still spaced around 5-6 minutes apart, I'm in active labor, vocalizing through the contractions. Sleep is not going to work. Scott calls midwife. She decides to come over - will rest/sleep at our house as much as she can.
Spaced out contractions is a typical labor pattern for me. Worse yet, I have to stay active to keep them at a reasonable frequency. If I sit in even the smallest bit of a reclined position, get in the tub or lie down then the contractions spread out even more - as much as 8-10 minutes apart.
Monday, August 6 (42w1d) - My midwife (S) and her assistant (J) arrive around 2 am. They had been at another birth earlier in the day and haven't had much sleep either the past couple nights. Upon assessing my status, my midwife recommends that we all try and get some rest until morning. I'm frustrated that lying down will space out my contractions and I won't be able to sleep anyway, but I also know that I am TIRED and still have a long way to go. I haven't had a cervix check at this point, but I know I'm 4-5 cm max. based on my past labors.
S gives me some great advice at this point - she suggests that if my contractions are slowing down when I lie down that my body is giving me an opportunity to rest and conserve energy and I might want to take advantage of it. Even though my contractions are getting pretty powerful, she advises me to do my best to relax through them, knowing that I'll only have 4-6 minutes like that per hour to endure and the rest of the time I can rest/drowse, maybe even get a little sleep. I took her advice and adopted this strategy for the next 3-4 hours. It worked! My labor slowed down to contractions every 10-15 minutes. They were hard ones - I was vocalizing very loudly. I didn't really get any sleep, but I got just enough rest to help me power through the morning.
Monday 5 am - Let's get this party started. I'm done with this lying in bed and moaning thing. I can hear the girls getting up and ready for school with help from Scott's mom. Maybe I will have a baby brother for them to meet by the time they get home!
All through this, Scott has been very attentive to my needs - especially making sure I'm staying fed and hydrated. Now things are starting to pick up, though - in intensity, if not in frequency - and I find myself seeking more physical support to get through contractions. He's there for me. Wonderful man.
I'm having a VERY difficult time finding a comfortable position. I could manage the contractions really well in the glider rocker, but it slowed labor down significantly. I'm just way too tired to walk for 5 minutes between contractions or maintain my posture on the birth ball. I found that if I perched on the edge of my office chair with pillows behind me for support I could handle the contractions pretty effectively (especially with sacral counterpressure from Scott) and they didn't slow down too much. I tried alternating that with some walking and that was a reasonable way to manage it all for a couple hours or so.
Monday 11 am (Where Diet Coke saves me from a repeat cesarean)
I announce that I'm done. I can hardly keep my eyes open and I feel SO discouraged. Nothing seems to be progressing; I'm just in this incredibly tedious holding pattern and I don't have the energy to cope anymore - let alone kick up my activity to help accelerate the pace of the contractions. All I want to do at this point is be done with labor so I can sleep, sleep, sleep. Epidural, I say to Scott. Let's go.
He suggests we discuss our options with the midwives. Maybe I need a pep talk? I said, just so long as you know you have to support me in whatever I want to do next. And understand that I've already thought this through. I know the risks. He said, You'll most likely have a cesarean (true, because my labor is progressing WAY too slowly by hospital standards, an epidural would slow it down more, and since I'm a VBAC my doctor would be *very* unwilling to augment with Pitocin). I said, I'm not sure I care. At least I won't feel contractions anymore.
All of this is, by the way, a repeat of my last labor. I gave up in the middle, too, and needed a pep talk/coaching to get back on track.
So the midwives suggested a cervix check so I could make the most informed decision. I consented - especially since I knew I'd have to get one at the hospital anyway. They were excited to see that I was a "very stretchy" 6-7 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Baby was +1. Membranes bulging. I guess my labors are putzy, but they DO get the job done. Eventually.
But I was still so TIRED. I was having a tough time imagining that I had the mental and physical resources to manage transition unmedicated. At the same time, I was trying to imagine all the nightmare of being processed at the hospital and how many hours were in store before I'd get any pain relief. And then there was that huge looming risk that hospital most likely meant surgery. And I really wasn't on board for that - not yet.
Semi-jokingly, J suggested that I have some caffeine. Couldn't hurt, right? A soda actually sounded good to me and anyway as soon as the words were out of her mouth, Scott was on his way to prepare me a Diet Coke. I ended up having two. ;-) What a difference it made! I was still pretty darn tired, but it gave me a mental alertness I was desperate for. It helped me with coping as I moved into transition.
Speaking of which, I lose track of time right about here. I get into the tub for a couple hours where I can relax through contractions pretty effectively. This is taking FOREVER. S checks me - I'm 7-8 cm, membranes bulging less. She suggests it's time to get out of the tub and walk around a bit. I glare at her. She suggested I stand in the tub with Scott supporting me for a few contractions and if I can't stand it, then I can sit back down in the water. I attempt that. Wow - the contractions bunch right up. I'm feeling out of control. I plop back down in the water. Contractions space back out. I can handle this better.
Unfortunately, this is taking forever. Another check. Not much progress - they start thinking that my sitting position is impeding progress and suggest some side lying in the tub or on the bed. I try it in the tub for awhile and it's too uncomfortable. Finally I am just resolved. I have GOT to get this over with and I know what I have to do. The midwives look a little shocked to see me getting out of the tub.
So now I walk. I try to squat during contractions, but it's hard. I start feeling pushy during contractions, but not the real "urge to push." I get another check. 8-9 cm - gah! Why is this taking so bloody long?? Walk, walk, walk. Lean on my strong man during contractions. It seems like a million contractions later and FINALLY my water breaks. I didn't think it ever would, but then again I was totally expecting it soon on some level because at this point I confined my pacing to the tiled bathroom so I didn't sploosh all over my lovely bedroom carpeting.
Another check - still only 9 cm. Shoot me now. I was lying on the bed and didn't want to get up. I needed a little break. But surprise! Next contraction I felt the urge to push. The midwives said that it was okay to do it as long as I didn't push more than what my body needed to do. I pushed and could feel his head moving past my pubic bone. I've never noticed that sensation before - amazing!
We discussed moving to the tub for the birth, but before I could verbalize my choice to be in the tub, another contraction hit and I was astounded, "Ring of fire!" I said. Holy cow, the boy was crowning after only two contractions. We hastened to the tub. Scott stripped to his underwear and got in behind me. Two more contractions and Jake's head was out. One more contraction and he was born. 40 hours from the beginning of early labor; 18.5 hours of active labor and 11 minutes of pushing. Amazing. I've been saying that once my uterus opened the door, he just rather fell out!