Birth Story – Part 2: Active Labor

30 Nov

Part I: Waiting for baby can be found here

I woke up early Wednesday morning with a warm liquid between my legs – I quickly got up and went to the bathroom.  There was just enough liquid to know that I didn’t pee myself (which I had never done before, by the way). Luckily I didn’t get any on the bed!  I got a towel and lay down on the coach to try and get some sleep.  In recent weeks, I started most nights in bed and ended them on the couch because of hip pain.  This night was the same—only my baby was coming!

After about 45 minutes I started to feel an ache in my back that did come and go—contractions!  I was too excited to sleep so I took a shower to relax and do something with my hair for laboring.  I braided the hair by my face to keep it out of the way so that hopefully I’d be presentable at the end.  I made some scrambled eggs for protein, drank lots of water and tried to keep moving so that things could progress.  I did the dishes.  I straightened up. I bounced on my exercise ball.  I went outside and listened to the birds.

By 7am I knew that things were moving along, but there was no real “pain.”  I called the hospital and the nurse at first told me to come in since my water had broken, but the midwife on call said I could call back at 9am.  I texted my doula to let her know it was baby-day.  I let my husband know that things were happening (I wanted him to sleep as much as possible!) and I called my mom.  I wanted to delay going to the hospital as long as possible, especially since I knew that my water had only partially broken and there was no meconium in it.  Yes, there was a risk of infection, but it wasn’t that high.

At 9:30-ish I called the hospital again and they told me to definitely come in. I told them I’d be there in an hour or so, as I needed to get ready.  I woke hubs up for real, I told my doula to come over, and I told my parents that I’d call when we were on our way.

That last hour at home was filled with getting ready. I had a hospital bag packed, but I wanted to make sure we had plenty of snacks and drinks so that both the hubs and I were taken care of. We packed a laptop, camera, and checked that we had chargers. My doula came over and we double-checked everything.  And then we were on our way.

When I got to labor and delivery, they brought us into the triage room to check my contractions on the electronic fetal monitor, and check dilation.  Everything looked good, but there wasn’t a room ready quite yet so they sent us out to walk around for about an hour.  Hubs went down to the parking garage to call his family abroad, while my doula and I basically did laps the length of the hospital, and occasionally outside.  We’d walk from the elevators past the entrance to the East end of the building and back. Near the elevators was a bathroom and I’d try to go each time.  I probably walked that hall 10 times that hour, but I made a lot of progress.

By the time hubs came back, I was ready to get a room.  We went down to the cafeteria to get some food to get us through the afternoon and it was really uncomfortable! The heat and smell of food made me sick—I grabbed a fruit and cheese tray and we headed up to get officially admitted!

We got checked in at about 1 pm. I remember this time as fun—a contraction would hit and I’d need to focus and either my doula or husband (or both) would provide pressure to counteract the pain.  But then the contraction would end and I’d be positively cheerful. It was such a funny contrast!

I spent most of my time at this point in the shower. I got the bright idea to bring the birth ball into the shower and it was perfect. I could sit and bounce on the ball while my doula or mom sprayed the shower head wherever it hurt.  I also used ice on the area that hurt—I got this idea from when I had a car accident in high school.  I had a sprained back and the physical therapist had me take hot showers while rubbing ice over the pain. The hot/cold contrast released the muscle pain then and it helped me deal with the pain of my dilating cervix this day too.

The nurse had to check the baby’s heartbeat every 30 min or so, usually by Doppler.  One time the heartbeat was difficult to find so she put me on the electronic fetal monitor on my back on the bed.  The contractions during that time were some of the worst I had to deal with.  I was so thankful that I didn’t have to deal with an induction and IVs that limited my mobility—It was very hard to cope on my back!

At around 4pm my midwife came by to check in. I asked her to check my progress so that I would know if I could move into the bathtub.  I was dilated to a 5 and fully effaced.  I was making slow but sure progress!

The rest of that afternoon I moved between the bath and the birthing ball in the room. At times the bath was relaxing, but I also needed space to move.  It was nice to lean on my husband and sway while someone else gave me back pressure.  I also had him reach below my belly and lift—it was nice to take that weight away.  I remember getting really tired so we laid a blanket on the floor next to the ball. Between contractions I would lay down to rest and then my husband/doula would pull me up to labor through contractions on the ball. This was a difficult time to get through, but taking it moment by moment to help. After the birth, I actually had a bruise on my arm and the only thing we figure out is that I got it when they were pulling me up from the floor.  When a contraction hit, I needed pressure NOW!

By 7pm I was back in the tub because it was the only place I could rest.  I remember the amazing feeling of relaxing between contractions and the dread when a contraction would hit. I remember the frustration when the contractions got closer and closer and I just couldn’t rest.  Although I was really good about keeping my moaning voice low and open, I remember my labor sounds turning into a high-pitched whine. My thoughts at this point were “wow—I know why some people just get a dog” and “oh, I’m never signing up for this again!” I guess I never said these things out loud, but they were definitely clear in my mind.  I panicked once or twice: this was transition.

Part 3: Hello Baby! can be found here.

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