What follows is a fairly detailed story of what happened from the first labor pains to the arrival of Benjamin. Though I don’t think I get too explicit, those not interested in the details may want to skip this post! This is for those inquiring minds. You know who you are 🙂
The first contractions started a little after noon on the 19th. They were actually probably going on before then for a couple of hours but I was in the kitchen helping my mom shred two whole chickens so I was already uncomfortable standing and thought that my back was just hurting. I decided to lie down and start timing them and thought that basically I was having back labor (or contractions starting in my lower back) every 10 minutes with discomfort in my lower abdomen every 5 minutes. I didn’t trust the latter ones because of previous mini false alarms, so I sort of didn’t count them 🙂
So at 1 p.m. when I called Donnie who was at work, I told him I was pretty sure I was in labor but that he didn’t need to rush home. So he stopped at Winco for the tortillas my mom needed for the King Ranch Chicken she was making for us (hence, all the shredded chicken). Still, I decided to call my OB’s office since I couldn’t remember if I was supposed to come in when contractions started or only come in if the office was open in lieu of going to the hospital first. So I called and when I told them they were coming about every 10 minutes, they said not to come in. So I continued to pay attention to the contractions but went back to helping my mom. They seemed to be getting closer together, so about an hour later, I called Donnie back and told him he might want to speed things up.
He made it home by 2:45 and we started timing the contractions again. They seemed to be coming about every 5 minutes, which seemed awfully close. But the intensity wasn’t too bad. So we weren’t sure if we should go ahead and go to the hospital or not since you’re supposed to start moving when they’re about 5 minutes apart.
But at 3:45, I decided that we should go ahead and be on our way to the hospital which is about 20 minutes away from our home, just in case. The contractions now seemed to be coming every 3-5 minutes but the intensity was still not too high, though it was hard for me to know how intense they were supposed to be. We left the house at 4:00 (with my mom following in Donnie’s car). The car ride, needless to say, wasn’t all that fun. I had to recline me seat all the way back and use a support pillow behind my lower back just to get reasonably comfortable. And, unlike what I had been told usually happens, my contractions didn’t stop on the way to the hospital. Apparently the adrenaline from the excitement of going usually stalls them, but not mine! Maybe I wasn’t excited enough 🙂
When we got to the hospital, Donnie walked me to Admitting and then he ran to quickly park the car. I smartly accepted the offer a wheelchair since I had two contractions on the way up to the maternity floor. The floor was pretty quiet when we arrived so we had lots of nurses and other staff who were able to help at various stages.
Our nurse, Bev, checked me about 20 minutes after we arrived and I was only 3 cm! I had been about 2.5 cm at my appointment the week before. I was a little bummed but then realized that was probably because even though I was having lots of contractions, the intensity wasn’t too high. At one point Bev pointed out that sometimes contractions can stay that close together for a long time without much progress. I wanted to hit her when she said that, but I just prayed that would not be me. It could not be me! I had no signed up for hours of transition with contractions coming every 2 minutes. When Bev checked me, she also noted that Benjamin was at zero station, which is as low as a baby can be in the pelvis without being in the birth canal. The nurse said that gave her hope that I would progress quickly. And I think all of that pressure did help quite a bit.
The closeness of the contractions was probably the worst part of laboring. I could handle the contraction itself pretty well, but by the time it was over, I felt like I could barely say two words or get a sip of water before the next one was starting. It was very overwhelming! I told Donnie after about an hour and a half–right before I was checked again–that if it continued this way, I would have to have an epidural even though I hadn’t wanted one in the beginning.
The hospital environment could’ve been better. Because his heart rate dropped dangerously and suspiciously just after we got there, I had to stay on the fetal heart rate monitor and Bev kept fiddling with it and wanted me to stay mostly on my back, which is the WORST position for birthing. But soon I asked if I could roll over onto my side, which helped, but I really wanted to be walking around or bouncing on a ball or something else. The bed was horrible. And because things moved so quickly, I didn’t get much peace to focus on relaxing (we had practiced doing the Bradley Method). Bev was often talking or fiddling with the monitor or someone was coming in to check on us or something! I still relaxed well anyway but silence and darkness would’ve been glorious. I did spent most of the labor with my eyes closed without my glasses on, which helped.
So after an hour and a half of laboring, I asked Bev to check me again. She had said she would check me whenever I wanted but if I still was at 3 cm, there was a chance I would be sent back home (which I would not have allowed!!) and she didn’t want me to be discouraged if there hadn’t been much progress. I had been trying to wait 2 hours but then just couldn’t wait any longer. The contractions were so close and so intense that, as I told Donnie, I was either making progress or something was very wrong (which, of course, that doubting feeling is a classic sign of real transition, the last few centimeters).
I was 6-7 cm! Woohoo! Bev asked if I wanted to try the bathtub and I agreed, mostly just to get out of the bed where I had been so uncomfortable.
I spent the last 2-3 cm’s in the bathtub for about 30 minutes. After about 25 minutes, a contraction made me feel “pushy” and that’s when my water broke because I felt/heard something “pop.” I let the nurse know and she checked me and said I was 9-10 cm, and she told me to hold on and to let her know as soon as I felt the need to push, which of course was immediate. I spent the next two contractions really, really wanting to push. It felt like he was pushing himself out, like I had no control. Donnie, as he was supposed to, was encouraging me not to push and even modeled the breathing out I was supposed to be doing. But I couldn’t help it!! I was supposed to be breathing out because you can’t push if you’re not holding your breath. But I pushed a little anyway 😉 It felt like I couldn’t have not pushed even if I had wanted to. So in the meantime, the nurses were scrambling to get the bed set up and to get the doctor there, etc…. But after that second “pushy” contraction, they helped me out of the tub but there wasn’t much time to get me to the bed, so when it came time to push on the bed, I was still naked! My mom pointed out that that made it difficult to get any good pictures right after the birth 🙂
I pushed for about 45 minutes, so about 6-7 rounds of pushing with 3 pushes during each contraction. That was my very least favorite part because of the pressure and the feeling that my pelvis was being pushed apart. Even in between contractions (which were the longest breaks I had the whole labor, about 5 minutes), I felt the pressure of his head and didn’t like it. In fact, the worst part of pushing to me was the breaks between the three sets of pushing during each contraction when I had to inhale more air. Because in that moment, I wasn’t pushing which brought the pressure and discomfort (not pain, just discomfort) back into focus.
After a round or two of pushing, I was given an oxygen mask to wear between contractions because Benjamin’s heart rate wasn’t recovering well between contractions. At one point, Donnie said he saw it drop to 70 bpm, which is very, very low. I think I remember them telling me that if it continued to be that low, more drastic measures would be taken. The doctor did end up using the vacuum to help with the last two pushes. She told me that she just wanted to save Benjamin the stress of an extra push or two, but because the last two pushes were so productive, she didn’t really have to pull him at all. So no cone head for Benjamin! (It did mean, though, that every hour for the next 12 hours after his birth, a nurse had to come in and measure his head to make sure it wasn’t swelling. Quite annoying.)
We had a mirror set up so I could watch him being born but with my eyes closed, I didn’t see much. But when I did look, I had a hard time seeing and it wasn’t until a little while after the birth that I realized I needed my glasses to see 🙂 In fact, I realized it when the doctor was showing me the placenta (looks like a big liver, by the way). Immediately afterward, I felt completely dazed and also totally distracted by the OB who was delivering the placenta and finishing things up down there. I think that distractedness was a blessing because Benjamin basically screamed for the next two hours as he tried to learn how to latch on and nurse. But I didn’t interpret it as screaming. Instead it sounded like basic crying and wasn’t annoying or frustrating at all. Very odd for me but a big blessing!
So basically from the time I started paying attention to the contractions to when he was out was only about 5 and a half hours. And we were only at the hospital for about 3 of those hours! So it was not what I expected at all. I also hadn’t thought that basically the whole thing would feel like transition! But the trade-off for all the intensity was the speed, which was nice. I was 3 cm when I arrived and about 90 minutes later, I was 6-7cm and then 45 minutes later, I was 10 cm and pushing. This probably means that my next labor and pushing will be very, very fast!
The recovery went well. I only ever needed the equivalent of 4 Ibuprofen every 6 hours for the discomfort. Benjamin learned to latch pretty well and the only real frustration was his dangerously high bilirubins level (jaundice) which caused us to stay in the hospital an extra two days with him on light table to treat the jaundice every moment that he wasn’t nursing (see pictures from previous post). I think it might’ve slowed my bonding with him a little bit, but we soon made up for it when we got home that Saturday morning (when he wasn’t being hogged by my mom (Mia) and dad (Grandan)!
And of course, now he’s 2 months and 3 weeks old! And now I can get back to regular postings! Hope this post didn’t freak anyone out 🙂