I am currently sitting with a sleeping two week old sprawled across my lap. I figured that I should probably take this quiet time to share his birth story while I still remember the details accurately.
I woke up on November 17th at 3:39 am after getting only four hours of sleep. The night before I began suspecting that the baby would be arriving soon. At bedtime, I dressed the kids in jeans and t-shirts in case we needed to leave for the hospital in the middle of the night. I was prepared to go to the hospital, but at almost 4:00 in the morning, I didn’t think now was the ideal time. I laid between Maeby and Abram (how I had continued to co-sleep while being nine months pregnant was beyond me) and began timing my contractions. They were around eight minutes apart, each lasting at least a minute. I continued timing them for an hour as a way to pass the time while my family slept. Stephen’s alarm went off. I told him that we were going to be having a baby today and that he probably shouldn’t go into work (he works in the city and his commute can be up to an hour and a half long). He got up to start getting ready for us to go, but I stayed in bed awhile longer. I knew that being upright would make my contractions stronger and I was hoping to make it until 6:00 am before having to alert my parents. I was trying to let everyone around me get as much sleep as possible. I texted my mom at 6:00 to let her know that she might want to head up to our house. I was correct in thinking that being upright would make my contractions stronger. By the time my parents made it to our house, I wasn’t able to time my contractions anymore (they were close together and long, so it was like a never-ending contraction). Stephen drove me in his car, while my parents and the kids followed us in my van. Along the way, my contractions started to fade. I guessed it was because I was sitting and not in a good position to make progress. I was afraid that they wouldn’t believe that I was in labor when we arrived at the hospital.
After checking in, I was taken back to triage at around 8:00 am. They began monitoring me and I was disappointed to see that my contractions were barely registering. A cervical check showed that I had made progress since my appointment the previous Thursday. I had gone from 1 cm to 3 cm and 80% effaced. They said that they would take me off the monitor and allow me to walk around before checking me again in an hour. I was excited to be able to walk around because I thought it would help get my contractions going again. Stephen went to get something to eat and to update my parents and the kids. I noticed my contractions getting stronger and they started to settle into a pattern of every six minutes. I paced back and forth in my triage room, and would brace myself on the end of the bed so I could rock my hips during a contraction. I found myself letting go of any worry or anxiety I was holding onto and I sang the chorus to “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman (I continued singing this throughout different parts of my labor and it brought me peace and kept me calm). They gave me more time to labor without interruption, so I wasn’t checked again until around 10:25 am. Unfortunately, I hadn’t made any noticeable changes. I felt discouraged, especially since my back pain was becoming difficult to deal with. They told me that my doctor said I could be admitted if I felt like I needed to be. Since it was my intention to try for a med free birth, they suggested that I leave (but stay nearby) for awhile. My instinct was that I needed to be admitted, so they began the process of sending me upstairs. Since I was hoping for a natural birth, I was given the option of having one of the rooms with a laboring tub. Despite the discouragement over not making progress and my increasing concern that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain much longer, I opted for a room with a tub.
I’m not sure how things happened so close to being on the hour, but they did. I was admitted upstairs at 11:00 am, after having spent three unproductive hours in triage. My nurse set up the external monitor and went about admitting me. She was very positive and supportive about my plans to go med free. She filled up the tub and set everything up for delivery (since she was preparing for a quick delivery). I had many options for pain management at my disposal. My nurse said that I could labor the whole time in the tub if I wanted to, or I could get out and use the rocking chair or birthing ball. I ended up in the tub for an hour. I used the bars inside the tub to lift up my legs and hips during contractions. It helped relieve some of the back pain I was experiencing. I watched the timer in the tub and noticed my contractions getting closer together. I suddenly felt chilly and shaky, despite the water being warm. This should have been my red flag that I was in transition. I wanted to get out of the tub, but I couldn’t get myself to change positions during a contraction. They were now every two minutes apart, and they were lasting over a minute. It took the passing of three contractions before I was prepared to get out of the tub. I stood up at the end of a contraction and climbed out of the tub, with Stephen standing nearby to catch me if I started to fall. We began wrapping me in the tiny towels that were provided, and I had to lean over the sink because the next contraction had already started. I looked down to notice that the hep lock they had put in wasn’t secure anymore and I was bleeding. After my contraction was over, I put on a robe and headed back to the bed.
My doctor came in and I was hooked back up to the monitor. I was worried that I was only going to be 5 cm. I was really doubting my ability to continue without an epidural. She checked me and I was dilated 8 cm. At this point, she broke my water to help speed things along. She cleaned up, and headed out of the room to check on another patient. The next contraction after she had left, I found myself turning on my side and grabbing the rail on the bed. My nurse came in and asked if I felt like I needed to push. I did, but I was in disbelief that I could have changed that quickly. She said she wished she knew the doctor was breaking my water since she was anticipating a fast delivery. It was 12:55 pm. Stephen texted my mom to hurry to our room (she was still with the kids). The doctor was called back to the room, but she didn’t have service where she was at (and she had just left my room four minutes before). She made it back to the room and my bed was broken down. I had trouble pulling my legs back because for some reason my instinct was to straighten my legs. It really felt like I pushed for eternity, but in actuality it was a total of two minutes. Luckily I had told my nurse earlier that I wanted to do delayed clamping of baby’s umbilical cord because I wasn’t thinking clearly at that point. Asa received a 9 and 10 Apgar scores. They were really excited to give him a 10, since it is so rare for them.
I am so glad that I went with my instincts and asked to be admitted. After spending three hours in triage with no progress, Asa made his appearance in less than two hours. If I were ever to go through this again, I would know to have all of my support people in the room before having my water broken (my mom didn’t make it to my room until a few minutes after Asa was born).