Here's your fair warning...This is a birth story. If that's not your thing, just look at the pic of my beautiful baby girl and I'll see you next post. :-)
The week of May 17th was an interesting one for me. I couldn't go to sleep Monday night and at 11:00 pm I started having contractions every eight minutes like clockwork for an hour straight. I won't say they were painful because I knew I needed to reserve the word "pain" for something more substantial than that. I could feel them, but that's about it--they weren't just Braxton-Hicks fakies playing with my emotions. So after some debate in my head, I woke Adam up and told him. Wouldn't you know the dang things stopped! I had Adam's attention though..he NEVER wakes up that easily, at least without incoherent responses. So we both lay there in bed waiting..and waiting. Nothing happens any more. He finally falls back asleep. They start up again..eight minutes apart, for at least an hour. By then, I figure getting in a panic about it just causes them to go away so I fall back asleep.
The next morning, I continue to have them off and on. In the afternoon, I go in to see Bonnie, my midwife and I tell her about our false alarm. She strips my membranes hoping to help labor along. We also do a non-stress test to make sure the baby is still healthy. This was really just for me because I was worried there would be a repeat from when Ben was born and his heart rate would go down each time I had a contraction. But this time all was good. I was still having constant contractions, but I was only dilated to 1 cm. From the non-stress test though we were able to observe how she would handle the contractions. She passed her test with flying colors..That's my girl! The position I was laying in for the NST caused me pain each time I would have a contraction where she stripped my membranes so when Bonnie came in, she thought for sure that I was in labor since my face was kind of red.
But we go home and Bonnie fully expects me to be back in that night or the next day in full labor. No such luck. The contractions did keep coming though, but I went on about Wednesday and Thursday as normal. I lost my mucous plug on Thursday. Then Friday at 6:30am, a contraction woke me up. It was just uncomfortable, not painful really. I noted the time and went back to sleep. Ten minutes later, another one woke me up. So I got up and told Adam before he left for work. Neither of us was too anxious about it. I kept having them throughout the day. Adam called at lunch just to make sure he hadn't missed anything, you know, like a baby being born or something..
After lunch, my good friend Melinda called asking how I was doing and if there was a baby yet. I filled her in on the latest and she suggested that I just go in and get checked before the three-day weekend for Memorial Day began. I figure I might as well. I wasn't going to be able to sleep any way with the contractions coming the way they were. I was also curious if all these contractions had caused any changes.
So Adam came home early to get Ben and I go in to see Bonnie at about 3:30pm on Friday. She checks me and there is very little change. I'm 90% effaced, -2 position, and dilated 1-2 cm. I was really surprised that all those contractions hadn't done a little more than that. Bonnie tells me that I am in "latent labor" and that I have chosen the harder way by going VBAC. I could likely be in this kind of labor for days and that I can take a unisom or benadryl to go to sleep if I need to, although it will probably stop the contractions. She also mentions that the least VBAC-supportive doctor is on call that weekend so if I made it through to Monday, life would be easier for everyone. I should have taken that as a positive thing that labor wasn't starting yet since I really had my heart set on NOT having another c-section, but instead I was almost in tears wondering how I was going to get any sleep (I wasn't about to take unisom, benadryl or anything else if it was going to stop labor, unless it got A LOT worse than it was now, not to mention the paranoia it would cause me that it would hurt the baby) and thinking how bad it sucks that my Memorial Day weekend was likely going to be spent having contractions that aren't doing a dang thing besides keeping me from sleeping. So what's a bummed-out prego to do? Rip it up on some Guitar Hero of course!
I get some good playing in before Ben wakes up from his nap and insists that it's his turn to play. I'm having contractions continually while I play and sometimes I pause the game to let it pass and sometimes not. Either way, sadly, it didn't affect my average much at all. Adam goes to grab some food and makes me the most delicious-smelling burger to be followed by some candy-loaded ice cream. Although I'm tempted, I just wasn't really up for food. I must have had some hope too because I kept thinking that if I am in labor, I didn't want to screw any anesthesia up by eating. Whatever..
So I sit in the recliner smelling the burgers as Adam and Ben munch down and the contractions are steady coming. I was generally timing them like I had been all day. They'd be eight minutes apart, then three minutes, then four, seven, etc. so they weren't consistent. They weren't even long. I was only in real pain for about 30 seconds each time, if that. Finally I just gave up and would yell to Adam that another was coming. I should have known that this baby is soon coming when I was on the phone with my mom for twenty minutes (one of the many times I called her that night)and I had four of five contractions within that time.
Finally, Adam insisted that I call Bonnie and ask her if this was normal. She doesn't sound worried at all, but says she'll call in about an hour to check on me since she was just leaving Jennings and for me to call her if anything else changed. The contractions started being consistent when they were three to four minutes apart, but still didn't last very long. By then, Adam had already packed the car and called to make sure that Ben's sitters were still up for keeping a two-year-old very dependent on his mom for getting (and staying) asleep. (Yep, he's still in the bed with us. Another post, another time...) Adam called Bonnie to let her know we were on our way to the hospital.
It was at about 9:30pm, maybe a little later when Joan arrived here to keep Ben. I told her that we'd probably be sent home, but, after she saw me go through a contraction, she said she'd be very surprised if they sent me home. It was just time for Ben to go to sleep and I was filled with a lot of emotion as I kissed him bye and tried to help him understand that we were going to the hospital to hopefully to get our baby. He wasn't crying and was glad that Nuw-nuw-nuw (Sister Newton) was there, but he was also uncomfortable too because he was tapping his left and right fingertips together as I tried to help him understand.
He was doing better than me at least. I mourned for him that things would never be the same for him again--in some ways better, but in some ways worse. Specifically, I mourned that his and my relationship would never be quite the same. We had always been what I felt like good friends. He always listened pretty well to me and seemed to still like enjoying playing with his mom and such. I was also sad thinking he would feel kind of cheated on when he saw me and Adam with the new baby, despite all the reassurances we gave him. Lastly, I worried how he would sleep without his normal routine and his mom's (or even dad's) shoulder to sleep on. Not a thing I could do about any of my concerns, but it didn't stop me from feeling them.
Finally we got out the door (thankfully we had packed our bags completely earlier in the week after Monday's little excitement). Contractions kept coming and I was feeling every bump we hit despite Adam's efforts to drive as "gently" as an anxious husband and dad could. We got to the patient drop-off and one comes just as I'm getting out of the car. (They seemed to come any time I tried to walk even if I had just had one a second before.) I brace myself on the car door as Adam rushed around to help brace me. A hospital maintenance worker (I think) had been sitting in his truck and saw what must have been a familiar sight. He was an elderly man, but he snatched up a wheelchair and had me back to pre-labor before I could exhale. Adam looked like he had a hard time keeping up since he had to stop and answer questions from someone at a desk I think.
Once we got back to pre-labor, they didn't have my file (even though Bonnie had called to give them a heads up that I was coming in) so they are asking me all kinds of questions. I remember being handed the phone to talk to some lady I didn't know to answer more questions. I also remember talking to Bonnie. She said she would be there in about 20 minutes. The nurse checked me (thank goodness for that nurse with small cold hands..lol) and I was dilated 4-5 cm. That kind of surprised me. I had expected to be in a lot more pain to be dilated that far.
Finally the nurses leave me and Adam alone for a minute while they are preparing my room. That's when those painful contractions I had been expecting started coming. One minute I told Adam that I *think* I might need an epidural. The next I'm telling him to get the nurse to get me an epidural NOW! He goes and gets her, a new one this time. This nurse looks to be fresh out of nursing school, maybe even high school from the looks of her. She came in and she said this, (I will never forget it), "I don't have orders for you to get an epidural". That's when I say as nicely as I can while still being in some intense pain something like, "That is what this is. Your orders are to GET ME AN EPIDURAL!" My attempts at being nice obviously didn't work because she kind of eased backwards out the door while watching me and saying okay. (I mean, really though..If "orders" for an epidural don't originate with the patient, then where do they originate???)
A second later, Miss Teenage Nurse comes back in again and says they have my room ready. They wheeled me over and got me settled. By then, I was roasting hot and I asked if I can have some water. They say I can have some ice chips. I have yet to see those blasted chips. I have yet to see that epidural either because after they got me in my room and got the IV going, I tell the nurse with the tiny hands that I think I might have pushed a little on that last contraction. She tells me not to push yet and then she checks me. She says I'm full and that on my next contraction, I can push. Bonnie still wasn't there and I was surprised to hear that they'd let me push without her being there, not that I could have kept myself from pushing any way. I didn't have time to have another contraction before Bonnie walked in the door, smiled at me, washed up, slapped on her gloves just in time to be there while I pushed. It was literally that fast. Just before I started pushing though, I remember asking if I should labor a different way to avoid tearing. Dumb question considering nothing that size has ever come out of that space. She tells me to listen and push when she says as hard as she says to avoid tearing.
I got through several pushes and ask her about how many more I have. She said she figured about four more pushes till the baby is out. I get through a couple more and she told me that she knows the situation is intense but that she needed me to hurry and get the baby out of there because her heart rate had dropped. I had no idea how much it had dropped but it was just the catalyst I needed to up my game since Ben's drop in heart rate was the very reason (fetal distress) that I had had to have a c-section before and since I knew it was too late for that this time, I was worried. I pushed as hard as I could and often as I could. I ended up pushing through four contractions with about four pushes in each contraction. So total I pushed about 16 time or so the nurse estimated. It felt like a little less to me.
In between one, I remember looking over at Adam who was standing by my head. His eyes are red and he was obviously concerned. I ask him how he is holding up. I can't remember what he said. I try to reassure him that I'm okay and that I'm just working. Then another contraction came and I pushed. I felt first her head come out and then slightly more painful was her shoulders and then the rest of her little body. I could feel each inch of our precious baby coming into the world.
I heard Bonnie say that the baby was thick meconium so they didn't let Adam cut the cord. They just take her straight over to the warmer and check her and syringe her. They tell me she is fine and Bonnie looks at me and says I needed to push the afterbirth out. I look right back at her and say, "I'm finished, see? Baby's over there." She and the nurse with tiny hands laugh. After that's all done, she takes about 15 minutes to stitch me up. So much for listening to her and not tearing. Then again, a healthy baby was obviously the higher priority.
Stella Lucile was born at 10:40am about 40 minutes after we got to the hospital. 7 lbs, 7 oz, 20 3/4 inches long with dark hair. She nurses well and sleeps pretty well so far too. (Knock on wood..) Ten days later now, Ben is still adjusting but doing better. He still tells me "back" as in put her back in her bed, especially when he's ready to go to sleep, but he also rubs her head, gives her kisses and likes to hold her. Thanks for all the prayers, meals, well wishes, baby sitting, and good intentions on our behalf.
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Posted by Jennifer at 12:43 PM