It all started at 1:48 am on Sunday, April 1st. I was awakened by a contraction and immediately knew it wasn't of the Braxton Hicks variety. It wasn't painful, but it was definitely more than just pressure. I laid in bed to see what would happen. Two more contractions followed within the hour. I tapped Damon's shoulder and let him know that this could be it. He asked me what we should do. I told him we should probably go back to sleep because it could be awhile before things pick up. But I couldn't go back to sleep, so I went downstairs and watched TV while timing the contractions. By 5:00 am they were closer, about 10 minutes apart, but only lasting for 20 seconds. Marlie woke up to use the bathroom around this time, and I went up to help her then put her back to bed. She came downstairs an hour later and we snuggled on the couch. The contractions stopped. Just like that. I must have unconsciously sent a signal to my body that I had to take care of my little girl first.
Damon joined us downstairs shortly thereafter and started working on breakfast. I decided to go for a walk to see if I could get things moving. I wasn't crazy about the idea of delivering on April Fool's Day, but I knew better than to waste precious contractions. I didn't want to be in labor for days! I grabbed my iPod and headed out the door. On the way back I ran into my natural childbirth counselor. I told her I started having contractions earlier that morning, but they had stopped and I was trying to kick-start them again. She commented on how beautiful I looked walking. I really did feel beautiful and peaceful and confident, like I knew everything was going to work out. I arrived back home around 8:00 am, had breakfast and then this sudden urge to clean. I stripped the beds and washed the linens. I cleaned the bathroom. By noon the contractions started again. They were about 30 minutes apart and didn't interfere with my activities. They started getting closer around three in the afternoon, but weren't longer than 15-20 seconds. I remember getting annoyed at this point. I tried to take a nap, but was too riled up. As dinnertime approached, they started to feel more intense, closer, longer. I was sure we were cooking this time! I called my volunteer birth coaches Jenni and Val and told them to be on standby. Damon began getting Marlie ready for bed. I tried to remain calm and time the contractions. I willed each one to come quicker and last longer than 30 seconds. Jenni called around 8:00 pm to see what was going on. I was so disappointed to tell her that they were holding steady at 15 minutes apart and 30 seconds long and not going anywhere. She asked if I wanted them to come over and go for a walk. I declined. I was tired and fed up. I told her we should all go to bed and see if anything happened in the night.
I watched some TV, then headed upstairs. I took a shower and climbed into bed. The second I put my head to the pillow...BAM! The most powerful contraction I felt all day hit me. I told Damon to start timing and twelve minutes later another intense one. I told him I was going to call Jenni and Val if I had two more just like those and, sure enough, they came on strong at 30 seconds long about seven minutes apart. I placed the call to my birth coaches. They rushed over. I was bouncing on my birth ball watching Family Guy when they arrived. They immediately took charge. We sent Damon back to sleep and they got me started on walking laps around the ground floor, squatting through each contraction to open up my pelvic floor, breathing deeply and staying hydrated. The next two hours seemed to sweep by. Thanks to the workout, my contractions leaped forward. I was at 4-1-1 (contractions four minutes apart, lasting one minute each for at least an hour) in the blink of an eye. I said it was time to grab my birth bag and head out. We woke up Damon and I threw some last minute items into my bag. I called my OB who thankfully was on-call at Dallas Methodist Medical Center and said she'd meet me there. Jenni was staying to watch Marlie while Val followed behind our car. The drive over was less than five minutes, we arrived 10-15 minutes before midnight. I had two more contractions on the way to labor and delivery, one in the car and one on the elevator. I was taken from admitting by a sweet nurse who examined me (Damon and Val had to wait in the admitting area). I was 5 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced with a bulging bag! She said she had read my birth plan and was impressed. She also said she thought it was a great idea to labor at home as long as I did so I wouldn't be twiddling my thumbs at the hospital. I thanked her for being so supportive.
Damon and Val rejoined me, and I was transferred to a room in the Labor and Delivery wing. My labor nurse was equally kind and had also read my birth plan. She recited the top three: informed consent to all procedures, absolutely no drugs, and immediate skin-to-skin contact and nursing after my baby is born. It was my turn to be impressed! She said I had to take a shower with Hibiclens. I was not prepared for this. What is it with hospitals wanting to kill off all the germs? Some germs are good! I started to argue that I had already taken a shower than evening, but decided that some hot water on my back would actually feel nice. I jumped in the shower and used one of the packets of antibacterial soap to wash my body and nether regions being careful not to use too much to protect some of the flora. Then I removed the shower head and let the jet stream soothe my lower back. Suddenly, I felt a pop. I turned off the water, toweled off and stood still. Yep, my water broke and I was leaking. I quickly put on the hospital gown and came out of the bathroom announcing that my water broke. The nurse helped me into bed where I was nearly knocked over by a contraction. I could see the immediacy in her eyes. She grabbed her clipboard and started quizzing me on my medical history while another nurse ran my IV. At this point, the contractions are on top of each other and they want to know if I have diabetes?! Don't they have my records from my OB on file? Thankfully, my OB appeared at that moment. After some quick introductions and greetings, she checks me and I am 7 centimeters. Everyone continues to prep like it's going to be a little while longer, but the next contraction tells me otherwise. I could feel the baby drop into the birth canal. I tell all in the room that I am going to have to push soon, but my OB replies that I'm not even crowning yet. The next contraction sends me up on my hands and knees yelling, "I have to push!" I felt this urge to go to the bathroom. I tell them I have to make a bowel movement (what happens next is TMI so I'll move on). The next thing that happens is my OB gets behind me and exclaims that I am fully dilated (I had jumped from 7 to 10 cm in under five minutes). She asks if I am comfortable pushing in my current position and I shake my head yes. I stretch out like a cat and give one good push, then I collect my breath and push again. I hear my OB say, "the head is already out." That's my cue. I felt the "ring of fire" and pushed one more time. I felt a big release!
The next thing I hear is mewing. It was not like the great wails that Marlie cried. Then my baby is in my arms. "Here is your son," my OB says. It's 12: 47 am. Everything else fades to gray. It's just me and him. I am told later that there was lots of suctioning and massaging because he was a little limp. I don't remember that part. I just remember holding him to my bosom and getting him to latch. I was also told later that the umbilical cord was wrapped around my left leg and the nurse had to untangle it. I don't remember this either. The next thing I remember is my OB announcing that the cord had stopped pulsating and she clamped it and asked Damon if he wanted to cut it. He did. After that, my OB examined me. The placenta was sitting there, so I had to push it out. I also had a tear (again!) that needed repairing. I refused Pitocin in my IV to help stop the bleeding so there was lots of uterine massaging and fundal pressure applied. I had to let go of Desmond so all this could get done. He went across the room to get measured and weighed (6 lbs and 11 oz, 20 inches. Bigger than Marlie, but not the 8-pounder I was anticipating). I sat in stirrups to get stitched up and drank some Red Raspberry Leaf Tea to help staunch the bleeding. My doctor gets paged for another delivery. I hug and thank her before she goes. After a couple of hours we are moved to a private room on the maternity ward.
|The super awesome volunteer birth coaches.|
Val had gone home by this time and it was just me, Damon and Desmond, for like a minute, then the endless parade of hospital staff started marching in. The nurse tells me that she will check on me and Desmond every two hours. She didn't say anything about the people in between...the lactation consultant, the photographer, the patient tech, housekeeping, food service, other administrative staff dropping off paperwork. They were all lovely people and very professional, but the interruptions were driving me batty. I wanted some sleep! So I started working on getting released that day. I was asked why the rush multiple times. Did I really have to explain the constant intrusions and no rest? After much lobbying and a sworn vow to the pediatrician that I would bring Desmond in first thing in the morning, we left the hospital that night and slept fitfully in our own beds.