***Warning-I don’t hold back. If you’re squeemish-don’t read this!!!***
At 34 Weeks and 6 days I had to go to the hospital with what they called “pre-labor” or “false labor”. I was having contractions about every 5 minutes that were painful and I was a fingertip dilated. They gave me medicine at the hospital to stop the contractions (which I did not react well to) and the contractions seemed to slow down. They gave me a shot of morphine and said to come back if my water broke or if I woke up from the morphine and I was still having contractions. The hope was that the morphine would calm my uterus down enough to stop the contractions. I wake up later that night with even worse contractions. Back to Labor and Delivery where I’m still the same amount dilated and I’m not progressing. I get sent home with the instructions to “take it easy.” Not bedrest but I shouldn’t be up and doing anything and I can’t work. Shaun and I started calling it “couch rest”. They wanted to get me to at least 36 weeks and ideally 37 weeks before seeing this baby.
2 weeks of “couch rest”. Oh man. Ick. I feel for the ladies that have months of bed rest-I don’t know how they do it. At my 36 week appointment the nurse, Barbara, just keeps chanting to me “4 more days. Keep her in 4 more days” because during my bedrest I had horrible cramping then entire time. If I was on my feet for longer than a few minutes or even sitting up for 20 + minutes I would get horrible horrible cramps. It felt like the worst PMS pains of my life for 2 weeks. I was pretty miserable. Dr. Medina also gave me the 4 days pep talk and showed me cool applications on my iPhone to help the time pass (what a cute man!). He did, however, give me the go ahead to go to a close friend’s wedding that weekend on the day I turned 37 weeks.
Fast forward to the weekend. On Saturday we went to brunch to celebrate that I was (basically) full term and then we went to a friend’s house who was having a get together. I spent all my time sitting and we all joked that I was going to go into labor then. That night some other friends came over with dinner (I couldn’t cook at this point) and we played a game. I was in quite a bit of pain at that point from being “up” all day and so I had to lay on the couch with Shaun and Josh and Parish next to me while we played Clue. I felt pretty silly, but in hindsight, I WAS in pain.
Sunday, we get up and put the finishing touches on Lucy’s nursery and then go to the wedding. At the wedding, I’m pretty uncomfortable but I’m feeling good and it feels GREAT to be out, so I’m a little hyper. At the reception Shaun and I did lots of sitting but we did get up for 2 dances. We kept joking with the bride that my water was going to break on the dance floor. But I felt good enough to let Shaun drink a little and thought that I would be able to drive home. Shaun did just that and drank VERY LITTLE and ended up driving home. On the way home I got even more uncomfortable. The cramps were REALLY bad. As I was getting out of the car I said to Shaun “I don’t know if I can take 3+ more weeks of this, I’m really uncomfortable.” We go upstairs and Shaun plays video games while I putz around on the internet. I was on Baby Center and there was a thread about “How do I know when my water breaks?” This had been a burning question for me and so I read the thread and it was a mixed bag. Everybody had different experiences but I read about what they were and what it felt like.
I’m pretty exhausted so we get into bed and I fall asleep pretty immediately. At 3:45 I wake up and I’m wide awake. I start thinking about all the things I can do now that I’m “full term”. I want to go to Whole Foods to get groceries to make food to freeze, I want to clean out my cupboards, I want to child proof the house, I want to start my pregnancy scrapbook, etc., etc, etc. I know I’m never going to fall back asleep and decide to get up and start working on the list. I can take a nap later. I came into the living room and was downloading pictures to do a blog post on all the handmade gifts I received (post to come-I promise). While I’m doing that Lucy starts moving around and I feel what feels like a kick down low and then I hear a “POP” and then I feel wetness. This was the way one lady had explained her water breaking. I run to the bathroom and sure enough, my water broke! I yell into Shaun and he asks “Are you sure?” “Um yes”. I grab the phone and leave a message with my Drs. exchange and we start getting ready for the hospital. Shaun wasn’t sure if they’d have me come right in but I knew that with a water breaking they usually want to monitor you. The doctor doesn’t call back for 15 minutes. In our birth class the previous Thursday the nurse had said “If you don’t get a call back in 5 minutes, call Labor and Delivery.” I did and it turns out the exchange had taken my number down incorrectly and the Doctor was waiting at the desk for my call. She told me (big surprise) to come right in.
My bags were packed, but Shaun’s weren’t, plus we needed our camera, toiletries, the computer. During all of this I have a pad on but in the span of 30 minutes, I went through 3 pads, 3 pairs of underwear, and 1 pair of pants and I was cleaning up puddles. Attractive, right? Shaun says “Oh, we need to bring evidence of your water breaking to Labor and Delivery” He runs into the kitchen and grabs a zip lock. Um…yeah…he grabs the 5 GALLON ziplock that I use for large knitting projects. I start laughing hysterically and tell him to go get a sandwich baggy. His response? “Well there’s so much coming out, I didn’t think that would be enough.” I stick one of my pads in the baggy and off we go. As we’re leaving we call my parents and then his parents.
During the 30 minute drive to the hospital I had to call my dentist to cancel my cleaning for the day-can you imagine getting that message? Also during this time I’m getting excited and giddy. Shaun keeps saying “‘this could be another false alarm” and I kept saying “they’ll want her out in the next 24 hours to avoid infection” We’re listening to the radio and we’re in good spirits. I do have some small contractions but they don’t hurt at all. As we turn off for the hospital I turned to Shaun and said “I want to remember this feeling because I have a suspicion that I may hate you later but I really love you right now.” He thought that was sweet
We get into the hospital, they give us a choice of rooms (since we’d been there 2 times already, we knew which one we wanted) and they start checking me in. We get settled in the room and the nurse tries to get me hooked up to the monitors. She tries for what seems like way too long (I’ve had this done before and know) and can’t find Lucy’s heartbeat. I start freaking out. She tells me, “If I was worried I would have other nurses in here helping me. It’ll be okay.” She keeps trying . 5 MINUTES later there’s a faint heartbeat. The nurse says “Lucy you scared your Mommy and me although I tried not to show it.” SInce it was so faint and we had such a hard time finding it they sent in a nurse to give me an ultrasound to locate her heart and place the monitor correctly. Her heart was right at my belly button which apparently is a really weird place for it to be.
The nurse then checks me and says that I’m 2 centimeters, 80% effaced, and the baby is at station -2. We’re getting somewhere-this is much different then my stats 2 weeks ago and 5 days ago at the Doctor’s office. She also says “She’s got a LOT of hair” WOAH, she can feel her hair!!!
The nurse asks about my group B strep test (a bacteria that 1 in 4 women have that is harmless except during birth). I tell her that I had a test done at the hospital 2 weeks ago and then again at Dr. Medina’s office 5 days ago. She finds my results and the hospitals is positive and the Doctor’s office is negative. To be safe I have to go on antibiotics and ideally shouldn’t deliver for 4 hours so the antibiotics have a chance to get to the baby.
She sets me up with an IV and tells me, “My shift is almost over and when the day nurse gets here, she’ll have you up and walking but for now, you got very little sleep and this is a big day, why don’t you rest.” That was fine by me
The Doctor and the new nurse come in shortly after. My new nurse was a man named John. I saw him and my heart sank. I looked at Shaun like “Oh shit.” I really didn’t want a male Labor and Delivery nurse. Before I can really think about this, the Doctor checks me and says that I’m “a loose 1 cm dilated, and the baby is at station -3”. and then mentions pitocin but doesn’t really talk to me about it and says he’ll be back in 2 hours to check me. John tells me that I didn’t go back in progress, just that 2 different people had 2 very similar although different conclusions from checking my cervix.
Then John starts talking to us. We tell John that we want a natural birth-no pain meds. He stops me and says, “Have you ever been in a lot of pain” I say “ummmm” and Shaun says “YES, with her IBS issues.” John says, “Okay, sometimes when I ask that question, women tell me that they have bad cramps, and that IS NOT the same thing-they usually end up with the epidural” Then Shaun says, “She finished an Ironman last year.” and John says with big eyes “YOU did an Ironman? Well, why didn’t you say so! We’re having this baby natural!” He then goes on to tell me that I’m not sick and that I need to get out of bed and start doing birthing squats, using the birth ball, and walking. Ummmm….I LOVE JOHN. John has the same philosophy about birth that I do and he is such a sweet person. It IS a little wierd having a man get you mesh underwear and a pad but I got over it.
Oh yes, something they don’t tell you. When your water breaks, it NEVER stops leaking. You always have gushes of water coming out until the baby has come down enough to “plug the hole”. Lots of pads, towels, and blankets were used during my labor process.
He does have to get me underwear because he tells me “You’re not sick. There’s no need for you to be in bed. You need to get up and get walking and squatting, and getting that baby out.”
John then asks me about Pitocin. I say “I REALLY don’t want a c-section and I heard that pitocin raises your chances” He agreed but said only IF the labor is being induced. But that at this point pitocin was up to me, it would speed labor along and give me a little control. Whereas if I wait fo the Doctor to check me again, he will put me on pitocin and I won’t have any control of the levels. I also wanted to make sure that I got the anitbiotics in my system before I delivered and John said that shouldn’t be an issue. I decided that I would go for the Pitocin, knowing that if I didn’t progress, they would make me get a C-Section by the end of 24 hours.
We started on a REALLY low dose and the contractions got harder and closer together but not unbearable. I was still playing on my phone, knitting (YES I DID KNIT-TOLD YOU SO!), and bouncing around on the birth ball. John tells me “This is not actual labor. Labor starts when you can’t talk during a contraction.” We up the dose. I start walking the halls. Walking makes me have to go the bathroom. On one trip I come in and the toilet won’t flush. The next trip I try to flush the toilet and it gets stuck on permaflush. It won’t stop and doesn’t stop until an hour later when a plumber comes to fix it. Yeah, I did lots of walking during that time.
By this point the contractions are bad enough that I have to stop and breath through them. John wants to check me. Now, my Mom had really fast labors. Her longest one from water breaking to giving birth was 4 hours, so even though I’m a first time Mom they want to continue to check me in case I’m like my Mom. John checks me and he says “I’m hoping for an exciting check-I want you to have this baby while I’m on shift!” He checks. Not so exciting. I’m only at 3. We up the pitocin a little bit more (it’s at a 6 for those of you who know anything).
John talked to us about music-James Taylor, Elton John, Jackson Brown (he really liked my Labor Playlist), he talked to us about living in Philly, about other natural births he had seen and at one point looks me straight in the eye, with tears in his eyes and says “I want you to know that I’m having a wonderful time experiencing labor with you and Shaun. It’s beautiful seeing you two together.” and then he gave me a big hug. Have I mentioned that I LOVE JOHN?
Well, sad news because there’s an emergency c-section and John got picked to be the attending nurse and he has to leave us. THAT SUCKED. The new nurse is nice, but not John. Shift changes in 2 hours and we would have been getting a new nurse anyway but oh well. We go out for another walk and we see Richard from our birth class. Shaun had seen a really nice couple from our birth class that morning, coming in. She was due at the end of Septemeber and was in true, painful labor when she came in in the morning. Richard tells us that she was a 6 when she came in, now she’s a 9 and getting the epidural. Here I stand at a 3 and I feel like I’m never going to have this baby. It’s about 1:30 at this point and we’d been at the hospital since 5.
My wireless monitors had run out of juice-I was literally on my feet or out of bed since about 9 that morning. So while my monitors charged I had to get in bed to be monitored. Laboring in bed SUCKS. The nurse told me that I would be in bed for 20 minutes and then I’d get to go take a shower. That shower was like a beacon because bed laboring is miserable. Finally, I get to go into the shower-but first a check-at 2 pm-I’m still 3 cm. Seriously, I’m never going to have this baby.
I get into the shower and Shaun starts rinsing me off and using the water preassure on my back. At this point we’re waiting for my parents to get there (they flew) and Shaun’s phone rings. He answers thinking it’s my parents and I get a REALLY BAD contraction. Nope, not my parents, but work (who don’t know that I’m in labor), and I’m moaning. I hear Shaun say “Yeah, it’s a bad time. Talk to you later.” I was supposed to be in the shower for 20 minutes but I got cold so we got out at about 15 minutes. The contractions are coming fast and HARD at this point and I’m starting to doubt my ability to do this naturally.
The new nurse comes in and sees that I’m in a ton of pain and that nothing either Shaun or I do is helping. She asks me if I want to talk about pain medicine. I ask what they can do for me. Either pain meds that go into my IV and work for an hour and a half or an Epidural. She recommends the Epidural. I say “I may have to BUT I don’t want to if I’m still a 3. I CAN’T labor in bed for a long time, I want to be up” She offers to check me to see where I’m at.
OH.MY.GOD. That was the most painful exam I have ever experienced and at that point I want to KILL this woman. I hate her more than I have ever hated anyone in my life. I screamed at her that she was hurting me and that she needed to stop. She didn’t and was very stern with me. Turn out I was now a 6! I told Shaun that I had to have the epidural. Before labor I had told him that if I asked for it, he HAD to double check with me and not just let me get it. He did exactly what I asked and I said that I REALLY needed the epidural. Also during this time, Shaun got the one and only death look from me. His brother called, just to chat (he didn’t know what was going on) and Shaun sitting there talking to him and I’M IN PAIN. I gave him that look and Shaun said, “Oh God, I just got the death look, I have to go.”
Other than that, Shaun was PERFECT during the labor. I got lost of tennis ball massages, lots of encouragement, lots of calming and help breathing. He was WONDERFUL.
The nurse calls the anesthesiologist and has me turn on my side to labor with her. Shaun was massaging my back and she was coaching because I wasn’t breathing well. She tried to give me oxygen but it made me hyperventilate worse because I felt claustrophobic. She was still very stern with me about breathing. I was trying but I was in pain. I wasn’t very nice to the nurse-we hadn’t gotten off on the right foot. The anesthesiologist comes in and I start feeling like an utter failure but also a ton of optimism at the same time. I’m in so much pain and it seems like I will be for hours on end. As he’s getting ready I all of the sudden REALLY have to poop.
I say, “I need to get up. I need to poop.” The nurse says, “Oh, that’s just the baby, but don’t try to poop.” Me, “No I REALLY have to go, like NOW.” The anesthesiologist says “It sounds like she may be ready to push.” The nurse “She was a 6, 10 minutes ago. No way, but I’ll check.”
I’m thinking “Oh god NO woman don’t check me” since it hurt so badly the last time she checked. Well, 20 minutes after being a 6, I was a 9 and thinning quickly. She says, “I don’t believe this, you’re a 9 and will get to push soon. Do you still want the Epidural?” Ummm “HELL NO!!!!” So the anesthesiologist leaves, first saying “If you need me again, just let me know.”
And then utter hell starts. I wanted to push SO badly and my nurse would not let me push. Everything in my body was telling me to push, and this lady was telling me I couldn’t. She was breathing in my face trying to get me to do dumb lamaze breathing (in all fairness I was kind of hyperventilating and was making really high pitched moaning noises). She was trying to get me to moan really low pitched and breath but all I wanted to do was push. I started pushing hoping she wouldn’t know (she totally knew) while trying to act like I was breathing with her. Yeah, she was totally onto me. I kept telling her “I’m trying.” and I really was but the urge to push was so great and it was so difficult to resist. She tells me, “I’m giving you 20 more minutes and then I’ll check again.” I start crying and say-“I have to push NOW.” She checks me again, and again “I don’t believe this” I was a 10 and we were ready to push. She gets the room ready. Reminds me about pushing and how to do it. During one contraction you push 3 times for a count of 10 each. You take a deep breath, hold it, push for 10, another deep breath, hold it, push for 10, and then again. I was 3 cm at 3 pm, 6 cm at 3:30 pm and ready to push at 4:20 pm-guess I do take after my Mom! She gets me all positioned to push. Gives Shaun his directions to hold my legs and I start my first pushing. Oh my goodness, pushing is the BEST THING EVER. It feels SO GOOD!!!
She says “look Daddy, her head!” To my amazement Shaun LOOKS (he always said he would pass out and wouldn’t look). Shaun looks up at me with big eyes and says “Lucy is coming honey-You CAN DO THIS.” I push again, the nurse says “WOW you’re a good pusher, STRONG. I need to call the doctor soon.” After the 3rd round of pushing she calls the doctor. He gets there after the 4th round and reminds me to hold my breath while I push (I forgot that part). We do one round of pushing and he stops and says to Shaun “Wow if any husband could push for their wife it would be YOU. You are so into this, this is just beautiful,” Then I get a blanket put on my chest and he says “I think we only have one more push until we see this baby.” I get ready to push and she crowns. It burned but not too bad-I was expecting MUCH WORSE. Once she crowned, she came out and then I had to stop pushing so the doctor could check that the cord wasn’t around her neck. The nurse had warned that it would be really hard not to push but that I had to NOT for the health of my baby. With my “not pushing” pushing a few minutes before, she was very serious that I not push. Well when it got to that point, I didn’t want to push. It was kind of a nice break. Dr. Hill, checks and her cord was loosly draped around her neck but he then had me continue to push and out she came. 25 minutes and 6 cycles of pushing for a 4:47 PM delivery. I hear her cry and then “Daddy do you want to cut the cord?” For the ENTIRE pregnancy Shaun had said that there was NO WAY he could cut the cord without fainting and that he wasn’t going to do it. At our last birthing class the previous Thursday, the nurse had said “Daddy’s you REALLY need to cut the cord.” and Shaun had said that he would see how he felt in the moment. To both of our amazement, Shaun cut the cord! AND, he got splattered with blood all over his face and arm. He didn’t care! And I had to remind him 5 minutes later to wash up. This from the boy who almost fainted when I got my IV!
I ask, “Is she really a girl?” The doctor and Shaun say, “She’s really a girl”. I also say “Wow, that wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.” Dr. Hill, “I NEVER hear that and especially not from someone who didn’t have an epidural”. They set Lucy on my stomach and I look at her all covered in vernix and I think “I know you. Of course that’s what you look like.” I tell her I love her and I don’t cry (who is this person?) Shaun is crying and I ask him to get the iPod and play “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (oh and as I write this, I’m totally crying). We take a ton of pictures. Shaun asks if I want my parents and I say “No, first I want to breastfeed.” As soon as she latches on, I tell him that he can go get them. They come in and get to see our beautiful, perfect girl.
I was really worried about breastfeeding. I knew I wanted to do it but I was afraid that it would feel sexual. No, not at all. It’s the most natural and RIGHT thing in the world. She latched right on and it felt like just right.
Oh and btw? I think the nurse is great now. She was doing her job and she did a really great job! She was so encouraging and worked really hard to give me the natural birth that I wanted. I told her, “At first I hated you, but now I love you.” She laughed and said she gets that all the time. She also said that she was amazed at how strong I was and how fast I got little Lucy out. Coming from a L & D nurse, that meant alot to me.
I do want to touch on recovery. I got one small tear that needed 2 stitches. It’s a week and 2 days later and I’ve had NO pain meds. Not even an Ibeprofen. It hurt to cough for awhile but I had virtually no pain after her birth. I was up and walking around in no time and felt great. I had been feeling so bad for the 2 weeks prior that afterwards I felt 100% better. I don’t know what I did to deserve such an “easy” delivery and recovery but seriously, it was awesome.
Lucy? She’s perfect and everything and more that I imagined her to be. It was so wonderful to see Shaun with her and then my parents with her, it was, well words can’t describe it. She’s made me what I’ve wanted to be my entire life-a Mom. This is the one thing that I KNOW I’m good at, being Lucy’s Mom. She’s what I imagined and more. She makes me a better person and she makes me love my husband even more than I already do (I didn’t think that was possible). I finally feel like I’ve figured it out. I was meant to be a Mom and I was meant to be a Mom to Lucy.
Lucy-I love you. Thank you so much for being my little girl, I couldn’t ask for anything more.