The End of Pregnancy
At a certain point in my pregnancy, I stopped being able to think rationally about giving birth. I felt so discouraged and uncomfortable that I was still pregnant, and I was losing faith in my body by the minute. I honestly couldn’t picture getting the baby out in any way. I couldn’t picture meeting him, or delivering him, and I was extremely tired, not to mention in pain. I had so much false labor and so many disappointments that I was just in a really bad place when I did end up going into labor.
On Tuesday, February 25, 40w5d, I took the day off because my sitter couldn’t watch Alex. We spent the day together, we went to Panera, visited my husband at work, went shopping at Target, and went and walked the mall for about an hour. I had some contractions and abdominal pain at the mall and thought maybe this was it, but I was just disappointed again. The three of us went out to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant.
At about 9pm that night, I got into bed. I had just dozed off when I was awoken by a contraction/cramp. It was 9:38. Instantly, adrenaline coursed through my body but I was so fatigued by the many, many times I thought I was in labor and wasn’t. I tried to sleep but at 10:02 had another contraction. I think I had five of these 25-30 min contractions before I woke my husband and decided to go take a bath.
Once I got in the bath (at about 11pm), the contractions started coming every 7-11 minutes. They were getting stronger. They definitely didn’t feel like anything I had ever experienced before. Andy thought that since they jumped from 25 minutes apart to closer together, that they were therefore “irregular” and didn’t count as contractions. I was too afraid to get my hopes up, so i got out of the tub and we got back in bed.
However, they kept coming and at midnight I said this had to be labor. We called my mom, who lives two hours away and was coming to watch Alex while we had the baby. I apologized in advance if it was a false alarm. She said she’d be here in two hours, and I got in the shower. At 12:20, I was kneeling by my bed having a contraction, and my water broke. Yep. This was the real thing. I frantically finished packing the hospital bag and I remember feeling an urgent need to clean the baby’s pack n play off because Andy had been using it to store clothes on!
Heading to the hospital
By 2am, my mom was here and my contractions had been 3ish minutes apart for an hour. They were getting more uncomfortable but I could handle them. I was encouraged by my midwives to labor at home for as long as possible, but something in me really wanted to go to the hospital, and I actually called the PA on call to ask if I should go. Looking back, I feel bad for waking her in the middle of the night with such a dumb question! Right when we decided to go, I had another strong contraction and more water gushed from between my legs.
We left for the hospital, which is about 25 minutes away. Having contractions in the car was REALLY uncomfortable. I remember yelling at my husband because he was going 60mph when the speed limit was 70. When we got there, we had to wait for an OB nurse to come let us in the mother/baby wing. She sure did mosey her way down that long hallway – no urgency at all – and I was annoyed. Then they’re trying to put me into triage, get me in a gown, and have me give a urine sample and I was just like, I don’t think you understand – I need to be admitted. That was when even more fluid gushed into a puddle on the floor between my legs right as a contraction hit and I dropped to all fours in front of the nurse’s station. That got their attention.
The interview/pain relief
I got to my room and continued to be really annoyed because they had about thirty thousand monitors they wanted me hooked up to, including an IV because I was strep B positive. They were asking me tons of questions like do you have asthma and are you safe in your home, and meanwhile I was having pain! I wanted everyone to leave me alone. Finally, they did, after they checked me and said I was 3cm and 90% effaced.
For probably two hours I labored with Andy and was able to cope by standing and rocking on my hands and knees during the contractions. A nurse had asked me what my pain relief plan was and I said I didn’t have one. I wanted to avoid an epidural or put it off as long as possible because I knew it could stall labor and, being VBAC, I couldn’t have pitocin to get it going again.
Change of plans
At about 6cm I lost faith. I started crying and said I couldn’t do this, it hurt too bad, I didn’t know how to do it. I couldn’t get any time to catch my breath between contractions and I wasn’t coping well. I asked for some IV pain relief, which was a waste of time and didn’t touch the contractions.
Then things got really scary all at once. It went from being me and Andy in my room to being me, Andy, and about 7 nurses. All of a sudden there was oxygen on my face and they were telling me they were putting a scalp monitor on my baby. I cried and said it was going to hurt him and they assured me it wouldn’t. (Yeah right!) Apparently his heart rate was dropping severely every time I moved to try to cope with a contraction. There was talk of c-section and one nurse asked another nurse “has she ruptured?” and the other nurse said “yes”. They were talking about my water, but I thought they meant my uterus! I was like WHAT and they explained what they meant but I was still freaked.
It appeared baby had stabilized, but only because I was on my left side. I was told that I could only labor on my left side and that’s when I said FUCK THIS and began pleading for the epidural. Moving through the contractions was the only way I was even remotely coping and there was no way I could have made it through the rest of the labor on my left side.
The epidural came quickly and with it, sweet relief. I was able to nap my way from 7 to 10 centimeters. My epi was great because I felt no pain but a lot of pressure. I could tell when I was complete because of the extreme need to poop.
At about 9:15, they decided I was ready to start pushing. I pushed a couple of times but then baby’s heart rate started dropping again. I was told it would be best to let me “drift” for a while – stop pushing and let the contractions drop the baby lower on their own. I was told to rest and call the nurse when the urge to poop became constant.
I did that, and around 10 am I started pushing again, but on my side. I kind of had to learn how to do it but then I got the hang of it. They could see the baby’s head, and I reached down and touched it at one point, but I couldn’t see anything over my big belly. After pushing through several contractions, they called my OB and said it was time to deliver. That was probably 10:30.
When my OB got there, I honestly think that was the first time I ever let myself believe I might get my VBAC. Between the frequent breech positioning all the way up until 37 weeks and going overdue, I just always assumed some complication would come along and necessitate a csection. Even when I went into labor on my own, I knew there were still a lot of things that could go wrong. But at this point, the baby was in the birth canal, my OB was right in front of me, and I was actually pushing this baby out. This was happening! I couldn’t believe it.
Andy was holding my left leg in the air and a nurse was holding my right. I was pushing three times, hard, with each contraction. Each time I pushed, the baby’s head popped out a little more and everyone got so excited and yelled. But at the end of the push, it would slide back in. Everyone was so enthusiastic that each time I pushed, I thought for sure that was it! I remember thinking if the doctor could see his head, why couldn’t he just pull the baby out? Haha.
Then, at 10:57am, I gave a last push and felt an extreme sense of lightening (along with some stinging as I tore). I looked down on the table and there was a baby there — a really angry, bluish, cheesy baby! I couldn’t believe it. It was my baby. Augustus James – 8lb, 15oz and 21.5 inches long.