My due date was May 23. May 23 came and went. On the morning of June 2, I woke up at 5 a.m. to pee, and lost my mucus plug. I knew this might mean nothing, so I didn’t get too excited, and went back to bed. I woke up at 6 a.m., to pee again (gotta love late pregnancy). When I sat up, my water broke. I wasn’t sure that was what had happened, but I continued to leak so I knew this was it. I should have gotten some more sleep but I was too excited. Contractions started slowly—about 15 minutes apart and 30 seconds long.
To stay busy, Chad and I went to Lowe’s and bought a sickly aloe plant. We stopped at Bruester’s and got ice cream. We took several walks around the neighborhood to try to get things moving and thought about maybe taking a nap, but that didn’t work out. Anne, the midwife, called later in the day to check on how I was doing. She thought I sounded much too chipper.
Around 6 p.m., a full 12 hours after my water broke with no sign of hard labor; Anne called again and wanted us to come on in to the hospital. On the way, we took one of the dogs by my sister’s to stay for the night, went through a drive-through for a quick bite to eat, and headed to the hospital. We weren’t happy about getting to the hospital with me not in hard labor yet, but Anne was concerned about the risk of infection and wanted to make sure everything was okay.
We got to the hospital and checked in around 9:00 p.m. My contractions were picking up some thanks to a lot of nipple stimulation during the drive, but were still light. They put me on the fetal monitor for about 15 minutes and everything was fine. Anne checked me and, same as for the past two weeks, I was one centimeter. At that point, she got a little serious about administering Pitocin to speed things up a bit, but did so in a low-pressure manner. After considering her advice, we decided to wait until morning so we could try a few things on our own to encourage labor. Anne was so wonderful because even though she didn’t think it would help, she supported our decision just the same.
Around 11, my sisters, mom and best friend left for the waiting room. My contractions were picking up in frequency and intensity and the noise was getting on my nerves. Over the next several hours, I moved from the bed to the tub to relax. I had some transition-like symptoms, so we thought from our birth classes and reading. We called the nurse around 3am and she checked me: 3 cm. She called Anne to tell her where I was and Anne came in. She stayed with us awhile then went to take a nap since clearly I still had some time.
Throughout the night my contractions continued to grow in strength and my outlook was still good. As 6 a.m. rolled around, a full 24 hours after my water broke; the contractions were still strong and about 2 to 3 minutes apart. At this point Anne strongly recommended we start Pitocin, just enough to get things moving a little faster. They’d hooked me up to the monitor again and the contractions were no more than 30 seconds long. My cervix was thin and soft, but only at 4 cm. I asked the nurse to go tell my best friend, Erica, that I was stuck like she had been when she had her son. It turns out, Erica was asleep in the car and my sisters were able to go and get her. The timing turned out to be perfect. Chad had stepped out of the room briefly to talk to Anne about the Pitocin.
Anne and the nurse came in with the Pitocin. At this point, I felt like I was losing it. The contractions felt very strong; I was exhausted from lack of sleep, and I was terrified of Pitocin. Erica started to calm me down a little bit. I was telling them just to give me an epidural, I gave up. Chad started to get a little confused. He hated seeing me in so much pain. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want them to give me Pitocin. I was afraid of it. Anne explained that my uterus wasn’t dilating my cervix enough and I was so exhausted that it was unlikely to progress well on its own. She told Chad in the hallway that she was worried my uterus would just stop working (now I know a tired muscle will take a break, then start working again—this goes for the uterus like any other). Chad and Erica told me I should let them give me the Pitocin. They wouldn’t give me much, just enough to make the contractions longer. They did.
I started basically crying and begging for an epidural. I said I couldn’t do it anymore, I was just too tired. I said the pain was too much and it was never going to end. I demanded they get rid of the Pitocin, which I was blaming for everything bad that I felt. Chad was getting really upset at how I was feeling and went in the hallway to talk to Anne telling her to remove the Pitocin because it was too much for me. Anne told him it was not the Pitocin that was bothering me; it was transition. She told him the dose of Pitocin was very low and really had not kicked in yet. My contractions were now a minute long and 2 minutes apart, exactly what we needed. Things were back on track. All this seemed to take place over HOURS to me. Later, Chad told me it was about 20 to 25 minutes.
Although Anne suggested that the Pitocin remain in place, Chad asked her to at least come check me to see if my cervix had made progress. The contractions were horrible now. Erica and Chad were wonderful, trying to get me to relax, but I found I was incapable of relaxing. The contractions felt so different at this point. They hurt very badly and I felt the need to DO something, not just lie there. Everyone kept telling me I was SO close and I accused them all of lying, which I truly believed. I told them I hated them for not giving me any drugs (which Chad refused on my behalf, much to my dismay). Anne told me I was saying I hated them because I was in transition. I cried a little and told them I didn’t hate them. I still did not believe them that I was close. Anne checked me and I was about 9 cm. I went from 4 cm to complete dilation in what I think was less than an hour. As it was, the Pitocin didn’t even have a chance to work so I hadn’t really needed it.
I asked Anne if that meant I could push and she said sure. I was lying on my side and she said to stay that way just a little bit to make sure everything opened up. I asked them to fill the tub (I’d been in and out of it twice already) and Chad walked me to the bathroom. I had several pushing contractions on the toilet. I asked the nurse if she should check my temperature, because I felt really flushed and wanted to make sure I didn’t have a fever. She said, “Her brain is back!” Transition was OVER! It’s amazing that even though Chad and I read everything for our class about the stages of labor and felt extremely prepared, transition still bowled us over. I stayed completely freaked out through the whole thing, but once Anne told Chad what was going on he got back down to business. He and Erica, with Anne’s help, really pulled me through.
I got off the toilet and we got in the tub. I started pushing and got longer rests between contractions, which was WONDERFUL. I felt like ME again. I was no longer begging for drugs (Anne told me later that it would have been pointless to give me drugs when I started asking for them; she knew I’d be pushing before they even kicked in). I was making jokes between contractions and working hard at pushing out that giant head. Other nurses were coming in and out; I didn’t even notice.
I’d push really hard and the head would come partway out, then retract. This happened a LOT. Anne said she was surprised at how big that head was! I think it helped my perenium a lot, how long it took to get her head out. Finally I had had enough! I wanted that baby out of there. I pushed really, really hard, then when the urge passed I kept right on bearing down. It was so difficult, because the urge wasn’t there and I wanted to rest. But that head was NOT GOING BACK! I just kept bearing down until another contraction came and I pushed like hell. Finally, finally, finally, out came the head! Chad and Anne both caught her as the rest of her was born—the body was so easy.
Chad and Anne brought her up from the water and put her on my chest. She took a big breath and let out a little cry right away. She was the most beautiful baby ever! I yelled for Erica to go get my family, hurry! If I’d been thinking about anything but labor I’d have had her get them for the entire pushing stage, but I wasn’t thinking about anyone else. They came in and everyone was crying except me. I just couldn’t believe it. I was holding this baby, this little person that came out of my body and Chad was kissing her and telling me how wonderful I was. We sat in the water for awhile even though it was NOT clean at that point-waiting for the cord to stop pulsating. It did, and she clamped and Chad cut it.
I got out of the tub and went to the bed. I was holding the baby with my legs in stirrups while Anne checked me for tears. I had a little one that needed a few stitches and some almost-tears that she said didn’t need stitches but would burn for a few days. The stitches hurt going in but after the rest of it, I survived easily.
The most bizarre thing about the experience was that my transition was so textbook, but not only did I not recognize it at ALL, Chad almost got so freaked out by my pain that he almost missed it too. Anne was absolutely wonderful and perfect. Erica felt like a seasoned doula as she worked me through every contraction. I cannot imagine having done this without any one of them. It was the most painful, scariest thing I have ever done … yet 2 days later the memories have faded and the intensity seems so far away. I thought I would NEVER forget how it all felt but I can see that within a few weeks I probably won’t remember much about the actual feelings at all. Nature is a genius.