On Friday, April 24th, I went in for my 41 week appointment to discuss an induction. At the time, I also asked the OB if she could do a membrane sweep while she checked my cervix to see if this may trigger things along and she agreed. During the exam, I measured 1.5 cm and 75% effaced. They ran a stress test and everything looked good.
Later that night at around 6:30-7 pm, I started to notice contractions about every ten minutes. Since I had been having contractions for the pasts two weeks, I tried to ignore them thinking it was more false labor. However, they felt a little different with pain concentrating in my pelvis and hips instead of my back or abdomen as before. I mentioned this to Dave, who gave little heed since I’d been calling wolf all week. We continued watching our movie and eating popcorn while I pretended not to notice even as they were growing progressively stronger. I went to bed around 11, still saying nothing to Dave, however I was starting to think that this might be it.
Dave hit the hay an hour later and woke me up out of a less than comfortable sleep. The contractions had gotten to the point that I could no longer sleep through them. I started timing them and they were about 4 minutes apart, however not so bad that I couldn’t walk around. I started pacing the apartment. 2 hours later, they were measuring at around 2-4 minutes apart and I had to stop and concentrate on them as they would hit. I woke Dave up and we headed out to the hospital by 3 am. The contractions were getting progressively stronger and the bumpy car ride made them excruciating.
I was checked in triage and only measured 2 cm and 95% effaced. They gave me the option of returning home to labor for a few more hours or, since I was already a week overdue, to be induced. I chose to go home. Dave made me some toast, which I promptly threw up once I got in the bath tub. I spent about three hours in there alternating between swaying on my hands and knees under the hot shower or soaking in the tub. Afterwards, Dave and I took a walk around the park. In the early morning hours, people we passed would stare as I stopped and work through each contraction.
At around 9:30, we headed back to the hospital. Again, I was checked in triage and measured only about 2.5 cm. I hated being forced to lie down for this and I would hop off the exam table to sway and moan through a contraction. They could see I was in a considerable amount of pain and offered me the use of the Jacuzzi tub to see if I would progress any further on my own.
The Jacuzzi was HEAVEN! I spent an hour in there. After which, they checked me again and I’d progressed to a 3. Hurrah! Admittance!
I spent the next 12 or so hours laboring on my hands and knees in the Jacuzzi, rocking and swaying on the exercise ball or roaming the halls with Michelle (my doula) and Dave as I stopped to moan and sway through each contraction. I hardly put one leg on the bed the entire time. I remember at one point, an undernourished Dave attempted to eat BBQ chips and I yelled at him for having horrible breath. Luckily Michelle came to his rescue (and mine) with mints. In the early afternoon, I was checked mid-Jacuzzi time and measured at a 4 so we knew things were progressing, although slowly.
However, by 9 pm, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. At times the contractions seemed to fall on top of each other and I could only catch my breath between them. About every single swear word of my vocabulary had been shouted and I’d startled all the nurses while I continued roaming the halls and groaning in pain. I finally found some comfort lying on my side in the bed breathing and moaning through the contractions. I was so exhausted I even fell asleep between them. They started to grow irregular and things seemed to be halting. The midwife came in to check me around this time and I was now measuring at only 3 cm. This was extremely difficult to handle but each time they hooked the monitor up, the baby’s heartbeat had been strong so I knew that everything was ok.
The midwife sat down next to me and stroked my face. She asked me what I thought about an epidural so that I could get some rest and see where we would go from there. After 26 hours of unmedicated labor and no progress, I felt I’d done my time. The epidural completely numbed me from the waist down. I managed to get about 6 hours of sleep even though the nurse had to stop in at every hour to turn me over like a roast chicken. In the morning I awoke to find that they had attempted to try pitocin to stimulate the contractions. However, whenever they turned it up to 4, the baby’s heart rate would drop- So essentially the pitocin drip was too low to really have done anything. They eventually turned it off by morning.
At 7, the midwife came in to check me and I was measuring 8-9 cm! Dave, who had still been sleeping on the couch in the room up until this point, suddenly jolted up and awake and came running to my side in excitement. Things were actually progressing! I was going to have this baby! An hour later, my water broke on its own. The nurse told me to let her know when I felt the urge to push.
Just before 10 am, I started to feel a lot of pressure during contractions. Michelle asked if she should go get the nurse to check me. I turned her down, thinking it was probably nothing. At the next contraction, I felt much more pressure and exclaimed that it felt like water was getting pressed out of me. At this, Michelle ran for the nurse. She came in and checked my cervix. I was fully dilated and the baby was at +3 station- right there and ready to go. It was time! The nurse called the midwife to prep for delivery and then started to coach me to push through a few contractions to get the baby moving down through my pelvis. However, within about three contractions, I had almost brought the baby to crown and his head was visible. She frantically called the midwife again and exclaimed that this baby was going to come out in just a couple pushes. She told me not to push and hold off until the midwife got there. I had to hold through about two to three contractions and the baby’s heart rate started dipping a little. The nurse ran out to find the midwife, who had apparently gotten caught in the elevator. They both came running and at 10:17 am, Thurston came sweeping out in just a few more pushes. They had me reach down to feel his head as he was crowning and when his shoulders had birthed, I got to pull the slippery and screaming baby up onto my abdomen. It was the most amazing moment of my life. I still tear up just thinking about it.
The total time pushing was only 17 minutes (including the time it took the nurse to find the midwife). Even with such a short delivery and a large baby (8 pounds, 11 oz!), I only had a 1st degree tear, which the midwife promptly stitched up.
He came out pink, wriggling, and screaming as loud as can be. His 1st and 2nd apgars both measured at 9. He is one big healthy boy! Shortly after he was born and while he was warming still on my abdomen, Dave got to cut the cord. I asked the midwife to show me the placenta since I was curious. It was pretty gross and bloody but amazing. I considered but opted not to have Michelle take a photo!
Thurston is doing well. We just had our well baby appointment today and the Doctor said he was “perfect”. He is nursing well and frequently and is already gaining back some of his weight he lost after delivery. He was a bit jaundice, which the pediatrician at the hospital attributed to the large amount of swelling in his head because of his major cone-head! He had to wear a billy blanket the first night home but his levels are in the low risk zone and it is no longer necessary. One of the nurses at the hospital suspected that due to his large Dan Akroyd-like conehead, he was probably stuck in the birth canal, which would explain why I never progressed in labor. I suppose the epidural helped me to relax so that things could continue to progress- unlike what I’ve read previously about epidurals.
This was an amazing and wonderful experience. I regret nothing and treasure every painful and frustrating moment of it.
And now a photo of the milk-drunk baby for your viewing pleasure:
And how I managed to type this whole thing out: