I’d like to preface this story with a note about contractions. My body is extremely sensitive. I feel Mittleschmerz when I ovulate, and I start feeling Braxton-Hicks contractions starting around 16 weeks into pregnancy. I get lots of those practice contractions as I get further along, culminating in about 6 an hour starting around 34 weeks up until I deliver. I get so used to them, I don’t notice them much. So when I describe contractions in this story they are the real thing. The pain starting in my back and lower pelvis and them circled around me, with a definite peak of intensity.
On Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 3 days past my due date, I went to Dr. Fountain’s for my weekly check-up. I didn’t undress, since everyone at the office knew I didn’t get “checked” at my visits. Dr. Fountain came in, leaned the chair back, and I pulled up my shirt. He said, “Whoa! That’s going to be a big baby.” He measured me and listened to the heartbeat, then he asked with a wink if I had considered being induced. He already knew I’d say no, which I did, so then he told me that he guessed the baby was going to be 9lbs. He knew that size wouldn’t be a problem, since my last baby was large, but he also knew I really had a fear of tearing. I tore really badly with my first baby and discovered that it wasn’t that bad, but I really wanted to minimize the risk this time. I asked if he would check me. When he checked, I was 3 cm dilated. Since I was already past my due date and a bit dilated, I asked if he would sweep my membranes to try and get things started. I had old blood spotting that evening, but it was just from the doctor poking around. I also made love with my husband and stayed on my back afterwards to let all the happy prostaglandins bathe my cervix.
The next morning, Wednesday, May 19th, at about 5:30am, I got up to use the bathroom and noticed that I lost the mucus plug on the tissue and had started having real bloody show. Later that morning around 10am, I took my daughter, Lily, to the park while Kenny went exercising. Once I was there for about half an hour, I started having contractions about every 10 minutes, but they weren’t too bad, just annoying. I got excited mentally, but tried to keep things in perspective, since it was just early labor, but I knew that it was starting. About an hour later when Kenny met us at the park, I was starting to have to breathe through some of them. He packed us all in the car and we headed home for some lunch. The contractions steadily got stronger and stronger, but they stayed between 7 to 10 minutes apart. We called Teresa, the doula, to tell her that things were starting, but that we didn’t need her. We also called my parents and sister to put them on alert. I went to bed after lunch and Kenny entertained Lily.
I woke up around 4pm, and had a snack, and sat to watch a movie. The rest of that day is beyond memory for both my husband and myself. We know we ate and got Lily to bed, but we were concentrating on contractions, so we don’t remember much. We tried to go to bed at the usual time, around 11pm, but I didn’t sleep well at all because the contractions were coming about every 7 minutes. Kenny downloaded a contraction timer onto his iPod Touch so that we could keep better records. Some were easy and I just breathed steadily, and some were strong enough for me to wake Kenny and have him massage my back. I would lie down between contractions and try to sleep, and when one came, I’d get on my knees and put my head down on the pillow. I started to be afraid to go to the bathroom, because urinating always brought on a very strong contraction, but I kept drinking after every contraction, because I didn’t want to get dehydrated. I finally decided that squatting while urinating felt much better, because contractions felt better that way, so I got a big Tupperware container and would just squat over the container to urinate. It was a little funny, because sometimes I could feel the baby move into my pelvis while I was urinating, and then a big gush of urine would come out as he squashed my bladder. At some point during the night, Kenny mastered his mantra that saved me in contractions. He’d lean in close to me and say, “You can do it… It’s only 6 breaths…. That’s right, this is the worst one, and you’re doing it… Okay, just a couple more and it will be gone…. Yes, this is the last one… You did so well.” If I really went wild, he’d get in front of me and breath with me, or just grab me and pull me into a labor posture while he crooned his contraction speech. It was very intimate.
We called Aunt Kim at 6am before she left for work, and told her to come and pick up Lily, because we were sure we would be having the baby soon. She came over and my contractions were about every 5 minutes. Aunt Kim got to see a couple of contractions, and then she took Lily back to her place for the day. We all thought that I’d be having the baby any time that day. I noticed that somehow in the middle of the night, the baby had turned from Left Occipital Anterior to Right Occipital Anterior, which is not the best position for delivery. I tried laboring in many positions to try to turn him. At noon, I was still having contractions about every 5-7 minutes, so my Doula suggested that I call my doctor and see if he could check me to see if I’d made any progress. We got an appointment and Kenny drove me to the office to see Dr. Fountain at 3:30pm. Doctor fountain said I was still 3 cm, but that I was almost fully effaced. He told me that I’d probably have the baby soon, but that he’d see me at my regular appointment on Monday if I didn’t. I didn’t say anything to anyone, but I was horrified and devastated to think that I’d have to bear the labor until Monday!
We went home and continued to labor. I tried to labor in many different positions to get the baby to turn back to LOA. I had contractions in lunging positions, in knee-chest positions, and spent lots of time making figure 8s on my birth ball. Kenny was really good at coaching my breathing. Aunt Kim brought Lily back to our house that evening, and then Laura Bogle, our friend, came over to get Lily. It was interesting, because when Laura came over my contractions slowed down and then stopped, but about 30 minutes after she was gone, they came back. At 10pm, my Doula, Teresa, came over and she suggested I drink a large glass of wine and I also took a Tylenol PM sleeping pill. Again, my contractions eased up, and eventually faded away while she was there. She sat with me and we chatted while I drank the glass of wine, then I crawled into bed and she gave me a nice massage with calming oils. I slept well that night, only waking about once an hour when a very strong contraction hit, and I slept until 9am.
When I woke up on Friday, May 21, my contractions were gone! I was so disappointed. I just took it easy and tried to relax so they could come back. I got a few every hour, but they were spaced apart by about 12-15 minutes. That evening around 5pm, the Bogles dropped off Lily, and Kenny and I took everyone out to dinner at the Cracker Barrel (Amanda’s favorite restaurant) as a thank you. Lily slept at home that evening. It was nice to see her and snuggle on her a bit before putting her to bed. Kenny and I had sex again, knowing it might be our last time for a while, and I laid in bed afterwards to let the semen bathe my cervix. I slept for a bit, but woke up around 10pm because the contractions got very strong again. I got up out of bed and sat on my birth ball so that I could lean on the bed. I didn’t want to wake Kenny, because he had been getting just as little sleep as me, so I labored as quietly as I could. It’s a good thing that he’s the heaviest sleeper ever, because some of the contractions were strong enough that I had to moan out loud to get through. By 1am, I was miserable. I was mad at Kenny for being able to sleep, I was mad that he could sleep through my moans, and I was mad that I was the awake in the middle of the night. I didn’t want to wake Kenny, even though I knew he’d stay up with me, so I was mad at myself for being too nice. I drank a glass of wine and took a long bath to try and ease the discomfort of the contractions. It helped slow things down again so I could slip back into bed and lay down through contractions.
Saturday morning, I was really tired again after having no real sleep, and the contractions were very strong, so Lily went to spend the day with Mimi and Didi. I labored all day, with contractions coming every 5-7 minutes. Most of the day was Kenny and me watching movies. When a contraction would hit, I’d crawl onto the coach, so that my knees were on the cushion and my arms and head rested on the arm. Sometimes I’d rock, sometimes I’d just relax. Sometimes to break up the monotony, I’d walk in circles around the living room and do effleurage on my abdomen during contractions. Thankfully, the baby decided to turn himself into a better birth positon and was laying on my left side by now. I called my Doula and my doctor around 4pm and told them I didn’t know how much longer I could labor like this. I asked them if I should come in and get my water broken to speed things up or try to get some rest. Both of them told me that there was no right answer, but that once my water was broken, I’d be on a timeline, and that if I was already tired, speeding labor up might not be what I really wanted. Dr. Fountain said that he could prescribe a sleeping pill, but that if I went into labor, I’d be groggy, so he suggested that I use my Doula Teresa’s advice and take the Tylenol PM sleeping pill and the wine, because both of those things could metabolize in my system much easier and wouldn’t make me or the baby groggy. Kenny and I decided to try to sleep, and decided that when I woke up, I could come into the hospital and Dr. Fountain would break my water to try to speed up labor. The doctor promised that even if I woke up at 3am, he’d come in and break my water. Kenny went out and got me Spicy Basil Eggplant from the Vietnamese restaurant down the street and we had a nice dinner, then I took the pill and drank the wine at 7pm and I went to bed at 8pm.
My mom arrived just as we did and we told her to go move our car and bring in our things. They got me into a wheelchair at 12:57am and ran down the hall. It felt nice to have the air rushing past me. I got into the bed at 1:07am
and my wonderful nurse, Lakisha Kerr, checked my cervix. I was 7cm. Kenny and I looked at each other astonished!! Someone said, “Where’s the doctor?”
I turned around in the hospital bed so that I was on my hands and knees. I did a few more contractions while they put my ID bracelets on and asked me some questions, and when she checked again, I was 8cm. My mom came into the room with our bags and my birth ball and one of the nurses said, “She’s not going to need that ball.” I didn’t see much of anything happening, because I was sitting backwards on the bed on my knees, concentrating on Kenny’s face. Kenny was up by my head, helping me breathe through contractions. The nurse never questioned my being on my hands and knees, which was really nice… and good, since I wouldn’t have moved even if she did. I had been laboring most of those days in that position, and that’s how I was comfortable. I could hear them start to run around and someone said, “Find the on-call doctor.” The nurse told me to tell her if I felt any pressure. All of a sudden with one of the contractions I felt the baby move down into my birth canal and I said, “Pressure!” It was a magical feeling. I thought, “This is it!” They told me not to push, and I knew that they were trying to find someone to deliver the baby. All the pain was gone. I looked up at Kenny and smiled. I remember grunting and groaning and lots of breathing, and then they told me it was okay to push. They had found a midwife, Susan Doyle, to deliver the baby.
At about 2:30am, they moved me to the recovery room upstairs. Nurse Lakisha brought a wheelchair over to the hospital bed. I stood right up and got in. That felt really good. I felt in control and healthy when I was able to stand on my own without pain or help. Once I sat down and looked at the bed, I was amazed at how much blood was on the bed under where I had been sitting. Everyone told me that it was totally normal, but I didn’t realize that one loses blood like that for the birth. They estimated that I lost 200cc of blood on my chart. They handed me the baby and we wheeled past the nursing station. All the nurses smiled and one nurse called out, “That’s how to have a baby, honey!”