Like most first-time mothers, I was dreading the whole birth process. I was unsure of how I would deal with the pain, and I was hoping for a very quick, very peaceful labor and delivery. What I got was all that and more - I couldn't have hoped for a better birthing experience, and I can't wait to get pregnant and go through it all again.
On January 27, I was one day shy of being 39 weeks pregnant. I had been in the hospital for pre-term labor at 33 weeks, so I was sure that I was going to have my baby early. Therefore, I was so disappointed to learn at my OB appointment that my cervix was still tightly closed. I was tired of being pregnant, and the waiting was making me cranky. I was completely emotional with my husband that night, saying "I'm going to be pregnant forever!"
Well, at midnight I woke up with what felt like mild menstrual cramps. I didn't really think anything of them at first - until I realized that they were coming every 20 minutes or so. If this was labor, I knew that nothing significant would happen for a long time, so I went back to sleep.
The pains woke me up again at 5 am. They were every 15 minutes apart, and, although they seemed stronger, I wasn't in any pain. I wasn't sure if this was pre-labor or not, but I was hoping! I dozed between the pains, trying to keep track of their rhythm.
At 6:30 am, I got up to go to the bathroom and was quite surprised to see brownish blood on the toilet paper. I thought this might be the bloody show, but was still unsure. The cramps were still not that painful, so I didn't want to get my hopes up only to find out that I was having false labor.
I woke my husband up and told him that I thought I might be in labor but wasn't sure. I still had things to wrap up at work, so I was going to go into the office for a while. I told him I would call if things seemed to be progressing.
Much to the chagrin of my co-workers, I worked in the office until 11am. I called my mother and asked her if she thought my symptoms were labor, and she told me to "go home already!" I called my husband and told him that I was leaving work and would call the doctor at home. He said he would meet me there. We were both very calm - I think neither one of us wanted to admit that this was it!
The cramps were starting to hurt a little bit more when I got home at 11:30, but they were still quite manageable. I called my doctor and told her I wasn't sure, but I might be in labor. She said to come into the office and to bring my hospital bag just in case. My husband and I took our time packing my bag and took a bunch of pictures of me getting ready to go. He also took some time to massage my lower back, which felt so good.
At the doctor's office, I was extremely surprised to learn that I was already 3 cm dilated! The doctor said to check into the hospital next door. This was definitely the main event!
At the hospital, I got checked in at 1:30 PM, and while I undressed, I noticed that I had lost my mucous plug (it must have happened during my internal exam at the doctor's office). I got hooked up to the external fetal monitors and resigned myself to a long afternoon and night. The nurse on duty said that the baby would probably arrive around dawn the next day.
Since it seemed like it would be a while before anything noteworthy would happen, my husband decided to drive back to his office and get his computer and files. I wasn't too pleased, but I figured I could manage by myself for a while. He was gone for about two hours, and when he got back I was ready for him! The contractions were now starting to be rather painful and I had to concentrate on breathing through them. They were coming every five minutes or so, lasting 30 seconds.
I labored like this for about three hours, and at 4:30 PM, decided that it was time to ask for some pain relief. I was now moaning through the contractions, which were beginning to come quicker and with more intensity. The resident doctor came in and checked me, and was disappointed to learn that I had only progressed to 4 cm. She asked to break my waters to move things along, and she approved some Demerol for me. We decided to talk about an epidural later.
Well, the Demerol shot hurt worse than the contractions and really gave me no relief. I was in a lot of pain at this time, and my husband could see the beginnings of panic in my eyes. We decided to ask for the epidural, which was administered at 6 PM. (The hardest part of the epidural was leaning over and staying still through the contractions. The tube going into my back felt weird, but it wasn't especially painful.)
Although the epidural took two doses to work, the relief was so nice. I was suddenly able to relax and chat with my husband and the nurses. I still wasn't progressing as quickly as the resident doctor hoped, so she asked if she could give me some pitocin through the I.V. I had heard about the painful pitocin contractions, but since the epidural was working, I said sure.
At 7:55 PM, my husband and I were just settling in to watch Friends on TV when my doctor came in to check on my progress. We were all surprised to learn that I was fully dilated! She said that I should start pushing at 8:15 PM and got the room ready for the delivery. I couldn't believe that this was it - everything was happening so fast!
The nurses put the stirrups on the bed and gave me some coaching on how to push. I didn't really need it though, I felt like my body knew what to do.
Although I was still numb from the epidural, at 8:15, I started to push. I could sense when the contractions were coming, and the doctor just let me push when I felt I needed to. At every push, the nurses and doctor kept saying, "Great! The baby is coming down with each push." I could also hear my husband in the background saying "whoa" as he watched the baby's head get closer and closer.
At 8:47 PM, after only 30 minutes of pushing, I felt a big whoosh, and the baby slid out! My husband cried, "It's a girl!" and we both laughed (we both wanted a girl, but were sure the baby was a boy). They took her to the baby table to suction her nose and mouth, and Hannah Rose Whitney gave a lusty cry. When they brought her to me, I couldn't believe that my husband and I had made such a beautiful baby. Hannah was 7 lbs., 4 oz, and 20 inches long. From that moment on, our lives have never been the same.
I look back on my labor/delivery experience with such joy. It is such a beautiful memory for all of us. Hannah Rose is now five months old and has her mother and father securely wrapped around her fingers.