Sorry for the delay in our birth story, but our son decided to make a slightly early appearance at 38 weeks, three days, and we have been getting settled into our new roles as parents. Without further ado, here is the story of how the two of us became three . . . and finally, a family.
At my 38 week appointment, I was disappointed when I was still only dilated to 2 cm. But what I didn't know at the time is that the NP at my last OB appointment had stripped my membranes and a lot was about to happen in a few short hours.
I felt very restless as I went to bed on that Tuesday night. I was tired, but I couldn't fall asleep, as I mindlessly flipped through the channels on the tv. I planned out a busy day for myself the next morning, wanting to get the last minute things done. My lovely neighbors had just installed his closet organizer that very night, so I wanted to get going on hanging up clothes and putting things away. I wanted to do a few things around the house so that it would be more company-ready. Little Man had other plans for me.
I finally drifted off around 11:00, but woke up several times during the night. I just could not get comfortable and the restless feelings continued. At 3:24 AM, I woke up and felt this gentle pulsing wetness. I thought to myself, I think my water has broken, but of course, I couldn't be sure. I quietly got up, went to the bathroom, and found a lot of pink staining and very wet underpants. The toilet bowl was filled with more pinkish water. I did smell it, and it definitely lacked the amonia smell of urine. It didn't smell sweet, as some had said, it really lacked any odor at all.
I put on a pad, a new set of pants, and went downstairs to call the triage nurse. I explained what happened and that I thought my water had broken. After taking me through a set of questions, the nurse said that it probably had, but to see if I soaked two pads with the clear fluid before coming in. I had a vague backache, but nothing that I could call a contraction, so I wondered if it was a false alarm. I lay down on the couch to watch more t.v. and to wait and see what happened.
At 4:00 AM on the dot, I felt my first contraction. It felt just like a period cramp, down a bit lower, and definitely coming from my back. I got up, changed my first soaked pad, and started writing the time of the contractions down. They started at 12 minutes apart, but rapidly went to 6 minutes apart. Just around 5:00 AM, a few came at 5 minutes apart and I went to wake my husband.
WHAT? Yep, I had let my husband sleep til this point. I was worried that it was all a false alarm and that we would get sent home from the hospital and he would have to go to work that day. I wanted him to have as much sleep as possible. Now that the contractions seemed to be getting stronger and closer together, I figured it was time to get him up.
I crawled into bed and gently tapped him on the shoulder. When he opened his eyes, I told him, "Honey, I think I am in labor."
His response? "How far apart are the contractions?"
I told him, "Five minutes." (This being the threshold that my OB had told us we should come in to the L&D).
I've never seen a man jump out of bed so fast!
He was actually a bit irritated at me for waiting to wake him, but with the day that we had ahead of us, I am still glad that he got that extra sleep.
After that, things got a bit rushed. We already had a hospital bag "packed," but once you realize that you are actually heading in, it becomes essential to review the contents and add a few more things. We both took quick showers and cleaned up a bit around the house.
By this point, the contractions were still about five minutes apart, but becoming much more intense. I was getting distracted by them and would start doing something only to have to pause for one and then forget what I had been doing. At one point, I went to the bathroom and felt something slide out. I looked in the toilet and there was a small, dark red lump, that looked exactly like a plug - my mucous plug! I was a little concerned because it was so dark and bloody looking. I guess I had been expecting something clear. All of a sudden, I started to get worried. Was that really my plug or a clot? And in a weird way, the little plug sliding out felt like when I had lost one of my seven-week pregnancies. It brought back some strange memories, that this cramping and discharge could equal something good and not bad. After that happened, I was pretty much ready to get to the hospital and be around professionals that could tell me that the baby was okay.
The drive to the hospital seemed to take forever and mere seconds all at once. I felt perfectly fine in between contractions, but once a new one hit, I was pretty speechless. They were starting to come closer, more like every three to four minutes apart, and were pretty intense. I remember telling Mike that if this wasn't labor, I was in big trouble.
There were a lot of things that I wanted to do in that drive, like take video and pictures, but when it was actually labor time, I found that I needed my concentration to get through the pains. And though I had thought that I would never need the cheesy breathing exercises that we had learned in our birthing class, I found myself using them to focus and breathe. In between contractions, Mike and I held hands and tried to get our minds around the fact that this was actually happening. I kept saying to him, "Can you believe this?! We're going to have a baby today or tomorrow!"
The lady who checked us in was all cheerful, and I was getting nervous, and still quite distracted by my contractions. Every time that I would get one, she would ask another question, almost as if she was doing it on purpose!
"It's a good sign that you are losing concentration," she chippered as I breathed my way through another contraction. I kind of wanted to hit her.
After admissions, we went and sat on a bench waiting to be called back to triage. Although I was excited, I was still very nervous. I just wanted to know that everything was all right with Little Man.
Luckily, we didn't have to wait long, and soon I was being weighed, leaving a urine sample, and getting into a gown. They hooked me up to the heartbeat and contraction monitors. I told them that I was pretty sure that my water had broken and they took a culture to confirm that. I calmed down a bit once I heard the baby's heartbeat going nice and strong. It was also interesting to see the spikes on the little paper showing regular contractions every two to three minutes that were lasting 60 seconds. With contractions that close together, the nurse told me that if the test showed that my water had broken, I would be admitted for sure.
While we were waiting, they did an internal exam and found me to be dilated to 4 cm! And the test came back positive for my water having broken. There was no going back now! And just to prove how committed I was to delivery, I immediately asked when I could get my epidural. Those contractions were no joke!
For awhile, our labor was textbook. I got my epidural, which was only briefly uncomfortable and worked on the first try. After that, I was quite calm and pretty comfortable. I did get awful shakes, where I could not control my body at all, but was told that it was quite normal. I dilated 1 cm every hour and things looked on track for a mid-afternoon delivery. However, once I got to ten centimeters, a couple of things had happened. First, I had started running a fever, so they had to start antibiotics and Tylenol. Also, when doing an internal exam, the doctor found that the baby had not really moved down into the birth canal. If anything, he had moved back up (I had been a -1 station when admitted and he had slid back to a -2). Also, he was ear down and facing towards my back. She recommended that we "labor down" for an hour and work on rotating positions so that when I pushed, he would be in a better position.
So, we paused for an hour. I was still comfortable, not feeling the contractions, and was rotated every fifteen minutes. Then, the nurse told me that it was time to push. I was kind of scared about the pushing and started to shake again, this time in fear. However, once I got down to business, I wasn't scared anymore and was just excited about meeting our son.
It took a few pushes to kind of get the hang of it, but I soon fell into a rhythm. I felt as if things were going well and the nurse was very encouraging, saying that the baby was definitely moving forward. After about an hour of pushing, the doctor came back in for another look. She was surprised that the baby hadn't really moved at all and that his head was still turned ear down. She rotated his head manually and told me to keep going.
So we did. And did. And did.
After two and a half hours of pushing, the baby had moved to maybe -1/0 station, and that was being generous. I was exhausted and started to cry, simply because it felt as if we were making no progress. The nurse was supportive, but she seemed concerned. She went to get the doctor, who examined me again and said that she was starting to be concerned that the labor wasn't progressing. She mentioned a c-section, which I immediately said no to. I felt as if I had done all of this work and wanted the payoff of a vaginal delivery. The baby seemed to be tolerating the contractions and pushing well, so the doctor gave me another half hour to see some progress.
I pushed with all of my might for that next half hour, but by then, my might wasn't what it had been when we started. Between pushing that long and the fever, I was losing a lot of strength. We tried rotating positions again, but the epidural had turned my legs to mush, so I couldn't get up on all fours like they thought might help. I was getting frustrated, tired, and a little scared.
The doctor came back in and said that the baby was still too far up to use any help, like forceps or a vacuum. I felt as if I wasn't pushing right, but the doctor assured me that I was. She said that if she felt the mother wasn't pushing effectively, she would turn off the epidural and make her push. She said it was time for a c-section. She left Mike and me to make a final decision. I was very tearful about it, but we finally agreed it was for the best.
Things went very quickly after that. There was a flurry of activity as we signed consents, got my medication, and I was wheeled to an OR. They had some difficulty with getting me numb on my stomach. After the epidural failed to do the trick, we tried a spinal, which took longer than usual to take hold. There was some talk about using a general anesthetic, but fortunately, I finally was numb and they started the surgery. I didn't feel a lot during the procedure, just some tugging, but no pain or pressure.
At 7:34 PM on Wednesday, August 20, Mike and I welcomed William Patrick into our lives. He was 20 inches long and 8 lbs, 6 oz. After he was cleaned and my husband cut the cord, he was brought to me, and I looked into his sweet face for the first time.
All of the heartbreak and loss of the past three years was finally worth it. I touched his soft, tiny cheek and said, "There you are."
Recovery with a c-section has been easier than I thought. Parenthood has been much harder. Will had a tough bout with jaundice and that was scary. Every decision that we make seems so monumental, as I know it will affect him for the rest of his life. He likes to be held a lot and I wonder if we are spoiling him, but I can't stand to see him cry, and I love to cuddle his sweet little self. However, he is sleeping by himself at night, and only wakes up once or twice to be fed, so I think we are on the right path. Time will tell, I suppose.
Thank you for reading along with my pregnancy journey. I have loved recording all of the special moments so far and look forward to all of the exciting and challening times ahead. StorkNet has graciously agreed to allow me to continue my journal as we transition to life with our son. I wish each of you happy and healthy pregnancies and babies!