Tags

, , ,

With my first childbirth experience, everything was relatively fast and uncomplicated — a 7 hour labor total with 10 minutes of pushing for a first time mom is definitely not the norm. Because that delivery was so fast and because I delivered so early (37 weeks and 6 days), I was expecting this baby to follow the same basic pattern. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the memo…

I first suspected I might be in labor on Monday, February 16th. I was starting to feel contractions a little more often, and I could tell the baby had dropped farther into my pelvis. Although the contractions weren’t very painful or regular yet, I was immediately on my guard because labor with my first baby had progressed so quickly. I didn’t want to let things progress too far before heading to the hospital, but I also did not want to go in too early and risk unnecessary interventions. On top of that, I knew my midwives would be out of town on a retreat starting on Thursday and they wouldn’t return until Sunday morning — so I was feeling a lot of pressure to push labor along to make sure we delivered by Wednesday at the latest.

By Monday evening the contractions were a little bit stronger, but nothing like what I was expecting them to be. I took a few turns around the block to try to shake things up, and there was a definite difference in the contractions after that. Unfortunately, they still weren’t very strong or regular but my first birth experience really had me nervous about waiting at home too long. My husband is amazing in a crisis, but having to pull over to catch a baby on our way to the hospital is probably something he’d prefer not to have to manage. We had three options for where we could leave our son, and despite the late hour our amazing friends let us put him to bed at their house so we could pack up and go to the hospital. Little did I know, we would be taking advantage of their hospitality quite a bit that week…

We arrived at the hospital around 5 am, and the nurse informed me I was 3 cm dilated. For anyone not familiar with the details of childbirth, you have to be 10 cm dilated before your body is ready for you to push. I was a little surprised I wasn’t further along, but the nurses told me to walk the halls for an hour and they’d recheck how things were going. My husband walked with me, making jokes and teasing me to keep me distracted from the pain and moving quickly — we were determined to evict the baby ASAP! After an hour though, there was no change and I was discharged and told to return when the contractions became more powerful and close together. I was beyond shocked — with my first labor, by the time I realized I was having contractions at all it was only a couple of hours until the baby was born, and I had been told that pregnancy and labor tend to follow the same patterns for women. The hubby and I both called in sick to work, crashed for a few hours, and then went to pick up my mildly traumatized 18 month old–waking up away from home was hard on Micah.

I played with my son as much as possible on Tuesday, making sure to stay on my feet (or my birthing ball) as much as possible to encourage things along. I had an appointment with the midwife already scheduled, so we dropped him off with the same friends (have I mentioned they’re amazing?), grabbed our hospital bag just in case, and headed to the office. The midwife said I was still at 3 cm, but offered to strip my membranes to encourage things to move a bit faster. This basically involves pulling the amniotic sac away from the wall of the uterus, and it can sometimes speed along labor. This was really the only intervention I was willing to consent to that would induce labor, and she promised to be very careful to make sure she didn’t accidentally break my water. She then told me she expected to see me in the hospital between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and sent us on our way. We let family know, and my sister-in-law and her family started heading towards town so they could meet the baby and help out with Micah.

I once again spent the majority of my evening pushing my son around the block to get things moving along, and I really felt like the contractions were getting stronger, although they weren’t getting much closer together just yet. We hung out with friends and played games until just after midnight, when we decided to head towards the hospital again. Once again, our amazing friends let us leave our son at their house, so we didn’t have to worry about waking him up or moving him. After going through check in again, we were informed that I was still only at 3 cm — once again, I was shocked (and more than a little upset). They gave us two hours of walking to get things to progress this time, and I walked as much as I possibly could. Despite my effort, there was no change after 2 hours and we were once again sent home. At that point I was pretty upset, because there was almost no chance that labor would progress quickly enough for me to deliver before my midwives left town, but I was far enough along that I didn’t think I would last long enough for them to get back. Sometimes I hate being right…

We once again called in sick on Wednesday, and I resolved not to think about labor at all and just go about my day normally. I stayed active and played with Micah, spent time with my sister-in-law, cleaned up around the house a bit, and got some homework done. Thursday morning I went to work (I work part-time from home), and despite how uncomfortable I was I was able to talk with customers without yelling at them. I picked up my step daughter and we had an uneventful evening of movies and playing. Friday morning came, and as I was logging into work I realized I felt a bit strange but couldn’t pinpoint why. I decided to hit the bathroom one more time before starting to work (especially since the baby had dropped so low I was having trouble going 15 minutes without having to pee), and that’s when I realized that I was steadily leaking water. There was no crazy gush the way you see in the movies, and I honestly wasn’t positive that this was my water breaking, but I figured it was either that or I was having some pretty serious incontinence problems. I finished logging in to work and informed my supervisor that I was pretty sure my water was breaking and that I was probably going to start my maternity leave that day. We then called Big Sister’s preschool teacher and informed her that she would not make it to school today because we didn’t want to risk not being able to pick her up. Instead, we packed the kids up for an extended sleep over (just in case) and spent a few hours making breakfast and relaxing together. Around 1 pm we decided it was time to head to the hospital, so we dropped off the kids with the same friends (I’m telling you, they deserve to be sainted after this week).

When to head to the hospital was a pretty big question for me. While I was pregnant, I read everything I could find on natural childbirth and the Bradley Method (although we couldn’t find a class in our area that worked for us) and everything I read told me that heading to the hospital too early almost always means the staff pushing for unnecessary interventions just because “that’s the way it’s done”. In addition, no  one from my midwife’s office was in town, so I knew we would be stuck with the on call OB-GYN. This was pretty scary for us, because we had some very specific requests in our birth plan that the midwife was fine with, but we had no idea how an on call doctor would feel about them. I also knew that most doctors prefer to have a baby deliver within 12 hours of the water breaking (despite international medical guidelines that clearly prove this time-frame is completely arbitrary), and it had been 6 hours already and the contractions were only just starting to get stronger and regular. This wouldn’t have been an issue with the midwife (as long as the baby didn’t show signs of distress), but if the provider had a different plan it would mean we were in for a long day and probably several big fights. Nervous couldn’t even begin to describe what I was feeling at that point.

We finally arrived at the hospital and once again spent some time in OB triage. I was happy to find out that I was dilated between 4 and 4 1/2 cm, although it was a little disappointing that it wasn’t any further yet. The did some tests to see if my water was really broken and told me to keep walking around the maternity ward to speed things up. The contractions were finally strong enough to slow me down while I was walking, but still not painful enough to make me have to stop. After a few loops around the ward, we decided to rest for a few minutes and the on call OB stopped in to meet us. She seemed OK, but I was still really nervous about her. You could tell that she was trying to respect my birth plan and our wishes, but that it went against everything she did on a daily basis. My husband did his best to reassure me, and we kept walking as much as we could over the next few hours.

To be continued…