It took me awhile to write this post since I didn’t want to leave anything out. It is pretty lengthy, so thanks for bearing with me!
It all started on the way home from the annual “Friendsgiving” party we have with our friends. I was 39 weeks, 5 days pregnant and ready to pop, and I started having contractions on the drive back to our house.
I was pretty sure this was the real deal, so I called the nurse hotline to confirm when they would want us to go to the hospital. We were told to wait until the contractions were less than six minutes apart for at least two straight hours, then to call back for further instructions.
Geoff started helping me time my contractions using a worksheet we had gotten at one of our classes, but what I really found useful was an iPhone app called “Full Term” that times your contractions for you and gives you averages on how far apart they are an how long they last. All I had to do was push start and stop.
My contractions were sort of all over the place, ranging from 5 to 20 minutes apart and lasting around 20-30 seconds each, so around 10 p.m. we decided to go to bed and try and get some sleep in preparation for what was coming. Geoff fell right to sleep, while I squirmed through my contractions for an hour before exhaustion overcame me. Even then I was only able to sleep for a little over an hour and I was waking up every four to six minutes from the contractions getting stronger and stronger.
When I couldn’t take laying in bed waiting anymore, I got up and decided to take a shower in case I wasn’t able to take one later on. After that I rounded up the last few hospital bag items we needed and got ready to head into the hospital. I called the nurse hotline again around 3:00 a.m. (after two hours of timing my contractions to be less than six minutes apart) and was told to come to the hospital as soon as we were able.
So I woke up Geoff who had been sleeping for about four hours, he took a shower and I dried my hair (it was only about 18 degrees outside), we fed the cat and headed into the hospital. I was so uncomfortable and tired that I barely remember the drive.
We got checked into the hospital, then just waited around for about an hour until the doctor came to make her rounds and to confirm that we were going to be staying for the delivery and not sent home to wait it out. In the meantime, Geoff decided to open the blinds in our room and we were surprised to see that there was a mini blizzard going on outside!
Once the doctor confirmed we were going to stay (I was at dilated to 4 cm by this point), we were walked through all the paperwork, including the epidural risks/consent. This was all supposed to be “before labor gets too bad.”
I also got my IV all hooked up, which I had been dreading. I asked for some numbing cream so at least I wouldn’t feel most of it, and the nurse was happy to oblige. That’s when she told me that she normally worked the day shift and was just filling in for someone that night. She said since it was nearing the end of her shift she was starting to get really tired. Just what you want to hear from someone who is about to shove a giant needle into you! Luckily she grabbed another nurse to actually put in my IV since she realized she might not have been the best person for the job. So this new nurse comes in and tries to put the IV into one of the two spots where I had the numbing cream. Even with the cream it still hurt pretty bad, so I was NOT HAPPY when she told me she didn’t get it in because I had “tough skin.” She then decided she didn’t want to try the other numb spot on my hand and tried for a spot further up my wrist. This one hurt like a you-know-what. And guess what? IT STILL DIDN’T WORK. At this point I was clearly unhappy, so someone grabbed a THIRD nurse to try to put in the IV. This lady was my angel, since she used a numb spot and got it in on the first try.
At this point my water hadn’t broken on its own, so my doctor planned on breaking it for me when she came for rounds over the lunch hour. I was okay with this, since my contractions were strong but manageable. Geoff helped me breathe through each one. What really helped was having him watch them on the monitor and actually tell me when he could see that each one was going away. That way I knew the pain was about to go away. The weird part was that in between each contraction I felt completely fine. Tired, but not uncomfortable.
When the doctor arrived she came in and checked me. I was making progress and was dilated to 6 cm! She had me lay back in between contractions and broke my water, which didn’t feel like anything at all other than wet. They started putting my bed back in the upright position, and on the way up I felt instantly nauseous. I told the nurse I thought I was going to throw up, and she grabbed me a barf bag just in time. Luckily I hadn’t eaten since Friendsgiving, so there wasn’t anything in my stomach but water. The weird part was that I wasn’t having a contraction at the time, so I wasn’t in any pain. I mentioned it to the nurse and she said it is because I probably had a major cervical change right after they broke my water. Turns out the baby dropped from -2 to almost +2 instantly, which is what caused the vomiting. This whole water-breaking process only took about 30 seconds, and they told me that now that my water was broken I could start to push as soon as I was dilated to 10 cm.
The contractions were fairly strong at this point, but I was still able to get through them. I asked the nurse if they would get much worse, because if this was the strongest they would be and they were only going to get more frequent then I could probably stick it out and do a natural childbirth. About 10 seconds later I started having a horrible contraction that was way worse than anything I had felt yet. I only lasted through one more of those before I asked for an epidural.
The anesthesiologist came in pretty quickly (I later found out we were the only ones in the labor and delivery ward at that point) and asked me to sit up and dangle my legs off the edge of the bed, round my shoulders and push my lower back out toward him. He called this “the position.” In order to accomplish this, my bed had to be raised up off the floor so my feet wouldn’t touch the ground. I was pretty nervous about the giant needle, but it turns out that the feet dangling part was the hardest. I must have been using my feet to take some of the pressure out of the contractions, because as soon as my feet left the ground the pain was intensified again. This time the contraction was so strong that I started vomiting again and I wasn’t able to get into “the position.” They warned me earlier that the whole epidural process would take around 10-15 minutes, which for me was a blur of contractions and quite possibly the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. Apparently the anesthesiologist did mine really fast, so I guess it is good that it didn’t last longer than it did.
It took awhile for the epidural to kick in, but when it did my legs were completely numb. The weird part was that I could still wiggle my toes even though I couldn’t feel them. Since the baby was so low already I also had an incredible amount of pressure going on “down below,” which wasn’t painful but was so strong that it was really hard for me to breathe through the contractions.
I don’t remember how many contractions I had before they told me I could start pushing, but it can’t have been many. The nurse grabbed one of my legs and Geoff grabbed the other, I grabbed behind my thighs and, in the words of my doctor, I tried to “push the pressure away.” Geoff told me later that watching me push through those contractions was the worst part for him. I couldn’t catch my breath after each one, so I probably sounded terrible. I was pushing for around thirty minutes before little Henry was born.
Once Henry’s head was out, the doctor told me to look down, but I still couldn’t see anything. Geoff didn’t look at that point either. It wasn’t until Henry was about 3/4 of the way out that we both saw our son for the first time. They plonked him on my chest and started cleaning him up right away, though I was surprised at how clean he was. In my head he was going to be all gory and gross, but that wasn’t the case at all.
Little man didn’t pink up right away so they took him from my chest pretty quickly and put him on the warmer. He got an APGAR score of 8 (both times) because he was still a little blue. Luckily that didn’t last long and Henry was able to come back and hang out with his mommy and daddy for the rest of the day. His grandmas and grandpas, uncles and aunts came to visit him right away, and it was clear by how full our room was that Henry is already a much-loved little boy. We couldn’t be happier to bring him home with us on his due date, Wednesday, November 27, 2013.