Well, I suppose this won’t be much of a story. I’m still sore and very tired, thus not really up for composing any kind of compelling narrative. But I wanted to get this down before I forget everything…..
I believe my labor began at about 9pm Sunday, October 1. Or at least that’s when I noticed contractions coming in at fairly even intervals (about 20 min apart). I let K know, texted my mom, and then went to bed because I didn’t know what else I was supposed to do.
The contractions weren’t too bad, but they did wake me every 20 minutes, then 15 minutes, then 12 minutes. By about 2am, the contractions were about 10 minutes apart and much stronger. I crawled out of bed and sat on my
yoga birthing ball, which (surprisingly) helped A LOT. I breathed through my contractions from about 2am to 7am when I woke up K. The contractions were about 8 minutes apart then. I was very tired, and a little bit scared.
The Hospital, part 1:
We had a 9am appointment for a NST/AFI test (my fluid levels had been low for a few days– actually, we’d been to the hospital every day since Thursday… so this was really our fourth trip to the hospital in as many days). But we called to see if I should go to the testing center or to Labor and Delivery (L&D). The nurse said to go to L&D so that’s where we went.
At L&D we learned that my cervix was just 1cm dilated and my contractions were coming in steadily at 7 min apart. Good progress, definitely early labor, but definitely not ready to be admitted. Fluid levels were okay and baby’s heart beat was strong. Thus, all I could do was go home, labor some more, come back when it gets worse.
Well, yeah, worse. It really wasn’t THAT bad… at that time.
Before we left, they offered me a shot of morphine — to “take the edge off.” But K and I googled the side effects of morphine in labor and freaked out and I FOOLISHLY said “it’s okay, I’ll try to labor through it without the morphine.” LOL. NEWBIE MISTAKE. Sure, the contractions weren’t that bad at that time, but they were about to get A LOT worse.
Laboring at Home:
To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember this part very clearly. My mom came by at some point and cooked a bit and just waited for me. It was nice to have her to talk to. K was exhausted and took a nap.
I do remember that at about 2pm, the contractions got really bad. I couldn’t sit through them anymore so I stood, leaning against one of our barstools. Somehow, leaning and lifting my weight off of my feet helped. I remember telling myself that each contraction only lasts about a minute. And I remember that once I shut my eyes and braced through the pain, the minute actually went by fairly quickly. It was bearable — well, no, it wasn’t, but I had to bear it, and I did, thus it was bearable. It wasn’t like I could just press a cancel button. Though I think I fantasized about that at one point.
Then it got even worse.
What does “worse” mean 15 hours into labor?
Well, I started shaking. I don’t know why I started shaking. One of the nurses later explained it was likely in part the pain, and in part my fluctuating hormones. But damn, those contractions hurt. I remember leaning onto the stool, shaking uncontrollably as I tried to breathe through my contractions. Then, at some point, my mom had had enough and told me it was time to go to the hospital. I hesitated because I didn’t want to just get sent back home again. But I had a few more contractions and decided I needed help. At the very least, I’d go to the hospital, ask for that shot of morphine, and then come back home.
“K! Let’s go. I need to go to the hospital.”
He hustled awake and we were back in the truck driving to the hospital.
The Hospital, part 2:
Again, the beginning part of this phase is a bit blurry. I remember we parked and then I got out of the car and started walking towards the elevator. Then I had a contraction and had to stop moving. It was about 4pm and a nurse going home noticed us. She asked if I was alright or if I’d need a wheelchair. I waited for the contraction to pass and then said I’ll try to walk– honestly, I didn’t want to sit. Sitting made my back hurt and made me feel more helpless, but maybe I should have accepted a wheelchair. Regardless, I kept walking, clutching onto K (likely cutting off any circulation to his hands).
We were about 20 feet from L&D when I suddenly had another contraction. It wasn’t any different from the others but, for reasons still unknown to me, I started crying. I felt my eyes prickle and my face got hot, and all of a sudden I was sobbing. Like great big heaving sobs as I shook my head trying to say “I don’t know why I’m crying. I’m okay. I’m okay.” (Obviously, I wasn’t “okay.” But I also wasn’t really thinking straight. Obviously.) (Also, my poor mother, I think I really freaked her out.)
Standing there, crying, I felt a bit like a fool. Weak, somehow. Embarrassed.
In retrospect, I know I shouldn’t have felt foolish or embarrassed at all. I was in labor. That’s a big deal. But, at the time, I felt like I’d failed something, somehow. (I’m sure there’s a whole essay I can write on those feelings, but now is not the time…)
I did get over my irrational sense of shame fairly quickly because the nurses were so great. They got me into a triage room, made sure I felt calm and safe, and quickly got some morphine ready for me. Throughout my whole stay at the hospital, the nurses were really SO SO SO amazing. They were attentive, competent, kind, patient, responsive… I’m running out of adjectives, but I hope you get the picture. I felt really good in their care.
Anyway, I got a shot of morphine on my butt 🙂 (my first butt shot). And settled into my bed waiting to hear from the doctor. Then, as if on cue, my water broke.
It felt a little bit like a fart. It was a soft pop somewhere down below and then I felt the water running through me. It felt like a lot of water, but when I looked at the “puddle” later, it really wasn’t that much. It also felt like victory– FINALLY! My water broke! I get to stay at the hospital! My labor is getting somewhere! Soon it’ll all be over! YASSS!
Lol… noob. I had no idea…
After the Flood:
We moved into our room. (At our hospital, we labor and deliver in the same private room. It’s really nice and convenient. We were also really blessed in that we got a really big room with windows and a clear view outside.)
I labored and labored some more until a nurse came in at about 9pm and asked me about my pain. Maybe the morphine was helping a lot and my pain was just getting worse, but I didn’t think the morphine was doing anything. So I was offered Fentanyl. I learned my lesson with the morphine and enthusiastically accepted the kind offer of more narcotics.
It started working almost instantly and I actually fell asleep. I felt no pain– I could feel the contractions in a sense but I felt NO PAIN.
Sadly, it only lasted about an hour, but it was such a sweet hour. I felt like a new person after that hour of sleep. I felt like “I can do this!”
When the nurse returned, she said I could get another dose of Fentanyl or start an epidural. I didn’t want a catheter just yet so I asked “Please, ma’am, I want some more.” She kindly obliged. Angel. Such an angel.
I also took a tiny magic pill to help my cervix dilate.
At this point, my recollection of events begins to blur together. Maybe it was the fatigue, maybe it was all the drugs I was on. But, as you can see by my summary here, I started getting a little loopy 🙂
Anyway, the second dose of Fentanyl lasted just shy of an hour, but when the nurse came back, my cervix had dilated to 6cm. This was great news! Not only would I not need Pitocin, but I could get my epidural and just chill.
I confess I was a little bit afraid of the epidural. In part due to the potential side effects, also just the idea of a giant needle in my spine.
WELL, silly me. It was totally painless. Or, maybe about as painful as the flu shot.
It was a system where I can administer myself more “epidural” by pressing a button, but I was careful not to press it too much. But it was still very effective and I got some much needed sleep until I woke up to the nurse frantically trying to turn me right then left then right then left.
The Disappearing Heartbeat:
I would say that the hardest part of my labor was the laboring at home. Physical pain is one thing, but psychological uncertainty, which leads to anxiety, is even worse (in my opinion). When I was at home, I didn’t know if the labor was progressing as it “should” or if something was wrong and stalling. That uncertainty stressed me out and compounded any physical discomfort I was experiencing. Once I was at the hospital and hooked up to all the monitors, I relaxed a bit. Weird, I know. But I really don’t mind the machines as long as they give me useful information (which they did).
For the most part, my stay at the hospital was uneventful– it was a healthy, safe labor and birth… except for one part– sometime in the early, dark hours of October 3, the baby’s heartbeat started dropping dramatically. It went from a 140bpm average down to 80– and kept dropping.
I was a little too out of it to fully process what was going on, but K was awake. As the nurses worked to try and find/stabilize the baby’s heartbeat, I looked over and saw K pacing back and forth, craning his neck trying to see what was going on. (Tools went in, blood came out, the machine beeped and didn’t beep… it was probably pretty freaky.) I didn’t know enough to be afraid, but I was a little worried. In such a situation, what can you do but pray, right?
It ended up being fine. Apparently, the baby didn’t like me rolling onto my side, or changing my position at all, so I was stuck on my back for the rest of the labor. In addition, as a result of the fluctuating heartbeat, we had a small team of pediatricians when I finally delivered just to make sure the baby was 100% okay (spoiler: she was perfectly 100% okay).
Push, Push, Push:
By noon, my contractions were 3 minutes apart and I was ready to push. I remember debating whether or not I should push my epidural button a few times just to “get ready.” I could move both of my legs and feel the labor in my back so I knew it was wearing off, but I didn’t want to be so numb that I couldn’t feel how I was pushing. Ah, choices. I pushed the button three times. :3
I started pushing with just one nurse and K holding up my legs. There’s a learning curve to pushing in labor, but I figured it out quickly enough, I think. And no, it’s not really like trying to take a poop.
I remember feeling each contraction starting up and getting ready to push. A small part of me was worried about tearing, another tiny part was worried about me pooping, most of me just wanted to get it all over with.
The pushing really wasn’t that bad. Tiring yes, but pushing through each contraction felt really good.
I pushed for almost exactly 2 hours and then she came out. I remember the final push… I could feel her head moving down and I was worried that if I stopped pushing too soon, her face would get squashed and she’d get a flat nose– weird thing to think, huh? hehehe… but she came out in all her twisty, slimy glory and I finally relaxed.
Or, actually, I think I may have blacked out for just a moment. I remember groaning, really loudly, when she came out; I remember seeing the doctor pull her up; I think I saw a flash of K’s face looking mildly confused as he leaned in to cut the cord; and then I felt her all slimy on my belly. But it was all flashes, and I can’t remember the connecting pieces.
I guess that’s okay.
I was pretty tired.
But I do remember the doctor calling out the time. It was 2:19pm, October 3, 2017.