I started feeling contractions on Monday night around 8:45pm. They were just a little bit more intense than Braxton Hicks contractions, but they felt no different. Many women say that they know they are real because they start in the back and move to the front – but for me, they were basically the same at first. They were very regular: 5 minute contractions lasting about 1-1.5 minutes each, but only moderate in intensity. The doctor that I saw earlier that day told me to call after I felt contractions 5 minutes apart for 1 hour, so I called, but a different doctor on call told me to wait until I felt them for 2 hours and at a higher level of intensity. She didn’t know if that would be later that night or a couple days later. We brought our dog to be boarded at her daycare right away just in case – they are open until 10pm. We tried to go to sleep to get a little bit of rest and pretend like we’d be going to work in the morning. My contractions were intense enough that I couldn’t sleep, so I let Abe get some rest and I watched tv while I debated if my water was broken or not. Totally TMI, but I had lost my mucus plug that morning and some women lose it weeks before delivering and others only days so I didn’t think much of it. But this also meant that I had been wearing a pretty heavy pad so it was hard to tell what was what – it all just looked the same to me, but eventually I realized that I had a slow leak going on that was only getting heavier. Sometime around 1:30am, I called the doctor back explaining that my contractions were now much stronger and that my water may have broken but I wasn’t sure. She told me to come right in to be checked out.
After a swab sampling, it was decided that my water had indeed broken so it meant that I had to stay at the hospital and I’d be having the baby within 24 hours from when my water broke to avoid any infection or complications (I estimated around 9pm to be safe). I was still only about 2cm dilated (so same as earlier that afternoon) The hospital I went to was awesome. They put you right into a delivery room when you get there and put a baby monitoring belt on to you to watch contractions (it was really cool to see my contractions on the screen) and the baby’s heart beats. I was offered a dose of pain relief (a stinging shot to the butt) so that I could get some rest since it was going to still be many hours before active labor. I took it of course – don’t deny the drugs. I was in enough pain so that I wouldn’t have been able to sleep on my own, and the drugs gave me just enough relief so that I could take a 2 hour nap but not be out of it. It’s important to try and get rest so you aren’t completely spent when you need that energy. Abe was able to sleep on a pull out bed in my room right next to me, which was really nice.
In the morning around 10:30am, my contractions had gotten so strong that 1. I couldn’t talk through them, 2. I couldn’t move through them, 3. I couldn’t even begin to try and relax through them like you’re supposed to do. I was deeply breathing, but like unable to relax my body, and 4. I wanted that epidural and fast. It turns out that you need to have 1.5 bags of fluids pumped into you via IV prior to the epidural, so they hooked me up to all the machines and I took a little walk with my portable IV thingie to try and get things moving faster.
They checked me and I was only 3cm dilated at that point and I was pissed off about it. I couldn’t believe how much pain I was in, and there was hardly any progress and that’s when I knew that the epidural was the Only choice for me. I was intensely afraid of the epidural, so I just didn’t look at anything when the anastesiologist came in. We talked, and he explained everything, and then I put my head down and didn’t look up or around for the next 10 minutes while he was doing it. My nurse helped get me through it telling me when things were finishing up and how to breath through contractions while getting a needle in my back, etc. Also, when you get an epidural, that’s the last time you’re going to leave the bed until post delivery. You get a catheter put in, and you can move your legs and all that, but you would never be able to get up or walk or support any weight. About 30-40 minutes later I was in much better spirits and from that point on I napped for a few hours, like I couldn’t even keep my eyes open. The epidural was on a drip, so it was set to go at a certain rate for the rest of my labor.
I met the doctor who would be delivering my baby – we had met once before at the OB office, and she was such a good fit for me, so I was lucky. I needed someone who was calm, laid back, and just a nice energy. At that point they gave me a dose of pitocin to get my labor moving along faster, and I progressed from there. I remained at 5-6 cm for a long time, and then it seemed like suddenly I was at 9cm right around 4:45pm and I could feel lots of pain out of nowhere from the pitocin accelerating my labor so quickly so I got an extra push in my epidural and then I was ready. I started to get really nervous and asked my nurse to give me the run down on how exactly the pushing part works. In the moment I just really needed the bullet points and fast. She was awesome, and explained how it goes: at each contraction they will tell me to push as hard as I can 3 times because pushing is 2 steps forward and 1 step back generally. I would start the pushing with her and then when the baby came close to coming out, the doctor would intervene because some people can take a really long time to get to that point. She said it took some women 1-3 hours of pushing for a first baby so they like to get started with the nurse alone – that was a total surprise to me. Also the lack of people in the room, and the room remained quite dark which was not expected, and it was just really very low key and quite.
Around 4pm, the doctor checked me and said that I was just about at 10cm and then she was like, “you’re just about there, do you think that you’d like to try pushing?” I didn’t really think that was how it was going to happen, I thought they’d be like: Ok 10cm, Push! but no. So I just said, “if you think it’s time, then I will try now.” When you have the epidural, you don’t always have the urge to bear down. Contractions were about 2 minutes apart, so I’d push hard for about 10-15 seconds take a deep breath and push again and then again. At first I felt like I was pushing from my face, like all this pressure was just in my face, but once I figured out how to push down and out I made lots of progress (I also had lots of little broken blood vessels in my face the next day). The pushing didn’t hurt, but I could feel the pressure of the baby and the pressure of bearing down. Maybe only 10-15 minutes later the doctor was wheeling in the delivery cart because I had been able to get further than imagined and quickly. Abe watched the whole thing (I hear it was quite disgusting and beautiful) but when it came time to cut the cord, it was wrapped around the baby’s neck so the doctor had to take care of it. I was able to push the baby out in 40 minutes and he sat on my chest for a couple seconds but he needed to be checked out. He was born at 5:41pm, 6 lbs and 9.5 ounces, 19 inches long. I guess I am gifted in the pushing part of labor and pregnancy but really not good at any other part. The removal of the placenta was something that I hadn’t thought of before, but the doctor like held it up and was showing it to me and all the different parts (omg just take it away!). I had a second degree tear (5 being the worst) so I have a bunch of painful stitches, and I did not poop myself somehow (thank god). It was not love at first sight with my baby… it was more: Oh My God, I just pushed that human being out of my body and like he’s alive and this is weird! I just was more in shock than anything else. It actually took a few days before I felt any real significant bond to him for some reason, but really I think I was just in complete and total shock and life got really scary really fast.
Part II coming soon…