- 4 years ago
- Wedding: May 2013
My birth story started the night of Saturday the 8th. After having dinner out, we came home and had sex (woo hoo!). After, I had a lot of cramping and spotting, but figured it was most likely due to the cervical exam I’d had earlier in the day. The next morning, I woke up to continued cramping, which got progressively worse throughout the day. After having sex again, the cramping started to include contractions. We went grocery shopping, and I found myself very uncomfortable during the trip. The cramping and contractions continued to get closer, and I started to see heavy spotting at about 5pm. By 9pm, my contractions were coming at regular intervals of about 5 minutes apart. By 11pm, they were only 3 minutes apart, but not very strong.
We arrived at the hospital at about 1am, got a cervical check, and were sent home at 2am with a diagnosis of prodromal labor and only 1cm dilated. The midwife said she was fairly certain that I would have the baby in the next couple of days, and complimented baby on having “a textbook perfect heart beat”. That night I had contractions strong enough to wake me up every 45 minutes-ish. The next morning my bloody show was very apparent, and my contractions were about 30 minutes apart. Throughout the day they got stronger, but only slightly closer—From 30 minutes to 20 minutes. My family arrived from Vermont and visited with us that night. I continued to have contractions every 20-40 minutes all through that night, and continued so see bloody show.
The next morning Ryan went to work, and I labored on my birth ball from 6am to 1pm, when my family decided to get lunch. During this time, my contractions had gone from every 20 minutes to every 8-10 minutes, like clockwork. They were bad enough that I couldn’t talk or walk through the peak of them. We walked to the pizza place across the street for lunch, and my contractions sped up—They started coming every 5-7 minutes, and increased in intensity. When we came back from lunch, they were still coming every 5-7 minutes, and we were pleased to see Ryan had arrived home from work early. My Mom, sister, and I all went downstairs to my apartment’s gym, where I walked on the treadmill for 45 minutes.
After 30 minutes on the treadmill, at about 3pm, I felt a small “pop” and a gush of fluid— After 39 weeks of spending an hour a day at the gym and joking about how my water was going to break there, my water really had broken on the treadmill! Luckily, I had a pad on and it was a small leak. So I finished my walk before heading back to our apartment. Once we got there, I told Ryan what had happened and called the doctor, who wanted us to come in immediately. I took a nice, long shower, and we told my family what was going on. Then we drove the 1.5 hours to the hospital.
My contractions slowed down while we were driving and in the admittance room, from every 4-6 minutes to every 10-15 minutes. We arrived at the hospital at around 6pm. We got to wait in line at admissions, and finally got into an intake room at 7pm. They confirmed my water was broken and monitored me until 8pm, and I was finally transferred to labor and delivery at about 8:30. My doctor said if my labor wasn’t established by midnight, she would start Pitocin.
At 9pm we’d finished answering questions for our labor and delivery nurse, Leah, and laid down to rest. Suddenly, at 9:15, I had a horrifyingly bad contraction. After it passed, Leah went “How was that? It was actually three contractions with no breaks. I was watching it on the monitor.” My husband, who was timing my contractions chimed in and said “Yeah. That was three and a half minutes long.” I shrugged it off, and tried to rest. But less than two minutes later, I had another contraction, also about four minutes long. After 45 minutes of contractions lasting 3-5 minutes with one-minute breaks between them, my doctor and my nurse came into my room. While they hadn’t wanted to check me before, they wanted to see how far I was dilated. At this point, I found myself shivering and couldn’t stop, though the pain was mostly manageable. The doctor informed me I was at 4cm, and she was certain I was only 1cm at admittance. The nurse remarked that I appeared to be in transition, despite only being 4cm dilated. Baby was doing well, though, so we decided to walk the halls to get the pressure off of my back.
We started walking at 10pm, but were only able to walk for a minute at a time before needing to stop for contractions. They were bad, but more manageable than the ones I was having while laying down. Ryan continued to provide counterpressure to my back and hips. After one string of contractions lasted for 20 minutes with no breaks in between them, the doctor got concerned for the baby’s heart rate and asked me to lay down so I could be checked and monitored again. At 10:45 I’d gone from 4cm to just shy of 6cm. Laboring on my side was excruciating, so when monitoring was over, I requested to get in the shower. Baby continued to be “fine and active”.
Getting in the shower was difficult, since I couldn’t walk through my contractions and my contractions were coming in sets that were 15-20 minutes long with no break, and then just a minute or two of rest before the next set of contractions would start. When I did get into the shower, at about 11pm, I felt much better… For about 10 minutes. But then my contractions got more intense. No amount of leaning or hip-swiveling made the pain better. The shower was so hot I felt nauseous, but it was the only temperature that helped to relax my belly. They continued to do intermittent Doppler monitoring while I was in the shower.
Eventually, I couldn’t take the pain. I was exhausted, breathing wasn’t helping, and I was having horrible thoughts like “I don’t even want her—Make the pain go away and you can have her!”, a thought so horrible I still get upset thinking about it. I broke down crying, and asked what my options were for pain medication. Leah said I could have a dose of Nubain, or an epidural. Defeated, I asked Ryan to pick which one I would get–but Leah stepped in and said that’s not how pain management works. The hardest conversation of my life was standing in that shower, trying to breathe through an ungodly long contraction, while asking about side effects. She assured me that Nubain would not make me nauseous or slow down my labor, and worked within a minute of getting it. Reluctant but exhausted, I agreed.
Before they could give me the Nubain, they needed to monitor the baby for 15 minutes and do a cervical check. It was arguably the worst 20 minutes of my life. I was in so much pain, and all the counterpressure in the world was barely taking the edge off. I desperately held on to the rail of the bed and prayed for it to be over. Vaguely, I could hear Leah saying to Ryan “If she was having a normal labor, she would be fine without meds. I’ve never seen anyone labor like this. I’ve never seen contractions like this.” I got my cervical check around midnight, and was at a small 8cm. When she came back 10 minutes later with the Nubain, she asked to check it again, “real quick”. I was at 8.5.
Leah informed me she wasn’t comfortable giving me the full dose, since I was moving so fast. I felt like the world was ending. I was sure she wasn’t going to give me anything, and I couldn’t do it any longer. Instead, she explained Nubain is a series of three shots, and she was only going to give me the first one, straight into my IV port. I literally threw back my arm and said “Please hurry up and stab me!”. Less than 30 seconds later, I felt an incredible rush of relief. I didn’t realize how tense my body was until my muscles relaxed. Just like she had promised, I felt like I had shotgunned 4 glasses of wine. The contractions were still horrible, but I was able to breathe through them again. I even managed to rest through many of them. For the first time since 9:30pm, my poor husband got some rest since I was able to massage my own hips.
At around 1am, I started to feel enormous pressure. At first I thought it was terrible back labor. I tried switching positions, but it only made the pain worse. Unlike my contractions, which were constant, this new pain came and went with the peaks of my very worst contractions. As I was writhing on the bed, desperate for relief from this new pain, the nurse came in. She explained that it was probably the baby’s head, and she’d be ready to come out soon! She said to call her when “all I could feel was that intense pressure in my bum”. At first I wasn’t sure I could identify that feeling. Then at about 1:45am, I felt it. It was so incredible there was no mistaking it. My body was pushing, whether I liked it or not.
I fought against the sensation, tried to breathe through it, but it was impossible. I couldn’t vocalize what was happening with my body, so I just started yelling. Leah came rushing in, and all I could do was say “Hurts”. Luckily, she knew what I meant and did a cervical check. I was finally at 10cm! But with a lip. She got me to turn on my side, hoping that it would go away. I could barely stay on my side, and every time I felt the urge to push, my whole body would start shaking as I fought against the urge. After two urges to push, Leah got another nurse to give me a cervical check to see if I was good to push, despite the very slight lip.
They came to the decision that they would let me start pushing, and they’d push back the lip. The nurse took one leg, and Ryan took the other. The first push hurt, as I tried to figure out “how” to push. Luckily, Leah instructed me on how to hold my legs and bend my upper body and where to push, and with the second one, I started making some progress. With the third one the nurse was finally able to remove her hand as the baby’s head went past the lip. She had me turn back on my side for some side pushing, which was horrible. I only managed two pushes on my side, but apparently that was okay, since she let me lay on my back to push again. She also called the doctor to come in.
My urges to push followed my contraction schedule, so there was no resting between urges to push. I immediately asked to push again once on my back, and Leah actually checked my tummy to make sure I was really having a contraction. She couldn’t believe I was still having them one on top of the other with no breaks. She okayed it, and I started my next set of pushes. After the second one, she let me know that she could see part of the baby’s head. The doctor walked in as I was starting my last set of pushes. I started crowning on the first push, and my husband swears I yelled “Oh, God. Can you put her back, please?”, which I don’t remember! With the second push she was out to her shoulders, which was the most bizarre sensation I have ever felt. And with one last huge push, with every ounce of energy I had left in me, I delivered her. Later, Ryan told me how that the doctor was actually turned around when I started my last push, and nearly didn’t catch the baby! The nurse was right there, so it would have been fine, but apparently the doctor didn’t think she was coming with that push.
They put her directly on my chest. She was screaming so loudly they never even had to suction her. The first words out of my mouth were “Oh, wow. She’s huge! What’s the damage down there?” Which I still attribute to shock, awe, and leftover Nubain in my system. Then I started talking to her, and rubbing her sweet little back. I tried to move her up, forgetting about the cord, and nearly gave my doctor a heart attack. After about 5 minutes, they let Ryan cut the cord.
Suddenly, my world was not so rosy and sunshine-y. I felt the need to push again. I had been telling myself for the last horrible 45 minutes with urges to push and actually pushing for 20-25 minutes that “it will be over once the baby is out”, so I was horrified by the continued urge. As I started panicking a little, my doctor reminded me that I still had to deliver the placenta, but it would only be one little push. Unfortunately, I was not in a “little push” state of mind, but a “make it stop right now at any cost” state of mind. I pushed as hard as I could, and delivered the placenta (and this is extremely graphic) and a huge gush of blood. It felt big to me, but it wasn’t until I saw Ryan’s face that I realized quite how much blood it was. Later, he let me know that he was pretty sure I was going to die after delivering the placenta. Apparently I lost a lot of blood.
Still, I was fine. They expertly changed the blankets and Chucks pads under me, gave me my shot of Pitocin, and carried on like it was no big deal. The doctor decided to give me one stitch, just to be safe, and that was the last time I saw her. I got a full hour of skin-to-skin, which is the best hospital policy ever (they also encouraged walking, hydrotherapy, varied pushing positions, and allowed food and drink during labor. Ryan was great with my water bottle! And they actually did delayed cord clamping without me asking! If anyone is giving birth near Boston, the South Shore Hospital is amazing). Then they took her and weighed her, examined her, and wrapped her up so Ryan could get 20 minutes of holding her.
She was 8lbs 1oz, 21 inches long, and born at 2:24am on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014! Apgar scores of 9 both checks. 4.5 hours from start of active labor to the start of pushing, 20-25 minutes of pushing (11 pushes total) to delivery.
As far as post-partum, I gained 41lbs and am 19lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight 2 weeks out. I had an extremely easy recovery, which the nurses/midwives all attributed it to “birthing hips” (I always thought that was just a bitchy way to say I have big hips, but it turns out that I legitimately do have a pelvis that is shaped well for birthing children) and the incredible amount of exercise I did while pregnant. The only lingering issue I have is an inability to do kegels and a fairly significant loss of bladder sensitivity, which my doctor says will get better, but never fully go away. And it’s not as bad as it sounds—I just go from not needing to pee at all to suddenly needing a bathroom or else. So it’s a little like still being pregnant.