I was feeling quite discouraged as my due date loomed and my latent labor showed no signs of turning into active labor. I spent each day working out, taking a long power walk, sitting on my birth ball, reading while soaking in the bathtub and praying I would go into labor before having to discuss induction options with my doctor at my appointment on my due date. I had always wanted an un-medicated labor/birth, but I was starting to feel desperate. Little did I know my little guy was just planning on being punctual.
I was woken up by slightly stronger contractions on Tuesday, October 15th. It was 8:20 a.m. and I was walking into my kitchen to grab some breakfast when I felt this big gush of fluid. I high-tailed it to the bathroom only to find the fluid would not stop its steady trickle no matter what I did and the flow would increase during contractions. My contractions also immediately increased in intensity, although they were nowhere near unbearable. I shot a text to Jon who had just gotten to work and called my doctor who confirmed that my water had broken.
Jon rushed home, but relaxed while I ate, showered, packed my hospital bag, and rested while my contractions weren’t too painful. The doctor told me I could head to the hospital whenever I chose, but wisely pointed out the longer I waited the more painful my car ride would be. Jon and I were admitted to Swedish Hospital in Denver at 10:35 a.m. We were put in Room 15 in Labor and Delivery, which was fitting since it was the 15th, and met our wonderful labor nurse who would accompany us on our journey. Jon and I settled in and made ourselves comfortable. We flipped on “Friends” and watched Phoebe give birth to triplets–man, I was glad I only had one baby’s birth ahead of me.
However, there was a hitch to our idea of a perfect labor and birth: I was at risk of hemorrhaging. At the beginning of my 3rd trimester, my doctor tested my platelet levels and they were at 93. He did give me a heads up that an epidural might not be an option due to my platelet levels, which the nurses would take once I was admitted to the hospital. So my platelet level upon checking in was 73. I was informed by the anesthesiologist that the cut off for an epidural was 80, as well as for a spinal tap. The doctor knew I wanted to go medication free, but her concern was what my options were should I need an emergency C-section, or should I hemorrhage after birth. I signed
consent form after consent form, and we decided I’d be intubated in either circumstance because we couldn’t risk spinal injury and bleeding with the other alternatives. Our OB also called and let us know that they’d give me a whole bag of Pitocin immediately after birth in order to shrink my uterus quickly and reduce the risk of bleeding. So with our plans in place, I labored on.
Jon did some work remotely on his computer, we ordered lunch (yes they let me eat, and I was ecstatic), and just spent time bonding and trying to relax as my contractions increased. I used my full repertoire of labor positions over the next few hours. I walked, sat on the ball, had Jon put pressure on my back, etc. The contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes, which didn’t give me much of a chance for rest. Shawna, our nurse, checked me every two hours and told Jon and me that depending on how far dilated I was at 3 p.m. they may have to start me on Pitocin, per my OB’s request. I was experiencing very strong contractions and the thought of Pitocin scared me, since I have heard horror stories about the intensity of labor after using the drug. Luckily, the doctor was pleased with my progress and let me labor on my own.
Shortly after 3 p.m., I asked Shawna if I could have something for the pain. I was in a lot of pain, but not enough to consider an epidural (should it have been an option). I didn’t feel like a failure asking for something to help me labor. Our nurse gave me something that starts with an F (I honestly cannot remember the name) in order to ‘take the edge off’ of my contractions. It only lasts for 10 minutes. I wouldn’t say in took the edge off of anything, but it did help me relax during my contractions. I had 3 rounds of this medication (one each hour) and was grateful for the small respite. Despite being in increasing pain, I never once felt afraid or uncertain. I felt strong and confident that I was doing what my body was made to do and I felt empowered.
My mom was on her way from California, due to land at 4:10 p.m., and I was hoping baby would hold out until then. As my contractions continued to increase, Jon was an amazing husband. He was so supportive; he kept telling me I was doing a good job, that I was strong. By 6:30 p.m. my mom had arrived at the hospital. She popped her head in to say hi and then ran to the cafeteria to grab some food before they closed.
My cervix was checked at 7:10 p.m. and I was 6-7cm and 90 percent effaced. Shawna suggested I take a turn in the shower for a change of scenery. She told Jon and me to call her if I felt the urge to push or unbelievable pressure on my low back, which had been killing me all throughout labor. The moment I stepped in the shower my contractions hit me like a ton of bricks in the back. I could barely stand, I couldn’t speak, and poor Jon didn’t know what to do to console me. I had barely a minute between each contraction and it took every ounce of willpower to get back to the bed to call the nurse. Shawna came back in to check on us around the same time as my mom at 7:20 p.m. and without even knowing what I was doing I yelled, “I need to push NOW.” Mom said hi and bye and went to wait for the arrival of her grandson in the waiting room. Shawna told me to resist as long as I could and I flat out refused. She called the deck doctor who came in and checked me reporting that I was 10 cm and 100 percent effaced and ready to go. A nurse ran to call my doctor who said he needed 20 minutes to get there, yet hadn’t arrived since my progression up until that point had been so linear.
I felt so separated from everyone else in the room at this point, but so focused on my body I knew we would have our baby soon. I was completely immobilized by each contraction, and the only thing that felt right was to push. Shortly into pushing, Shawna came up by my head and told me very calmly that she didn’t want me to be alarmed, but the room would soon be filled with nurses because I needed oxygen and they couldn’t find baby’s vitals anymore. Oddly enough, I didn’t feel panicked in the slightest. Somehow I knew everything would be okay.
They hooked an electrode (probably not the right medical term) to baby’s head, found his vitals, and got me going on oxygen. I didn’t know how oxygen deprived I was, but I was working very hard. The nurses and Jon held my legs when I pushed during contractions and they laid me on my side in between. Apparently the side lying position is what made baby happiest. I am so thankful for those nurses who helped Baby and me in a time when I was not in control of myself.
About halfway through pushing, my doctor arrived. He was a very welcome sight. He apologized for being late; he was busy celebrating his daughter’s 11th birthday. Jon and I told our doctor to thank his daughter for sharing him with us on her birthday! Between Jon, Shawna, and our doctor’s words of encouragement, the pushing progressed quite quickly. I remember asking him how long it would take to get baby out. He responded, “That is pretty much up to you.” I looked him dead in the eye and said, “Well okay, let’s do this.” And away we went.
Between each push I kept asking Jon if he could see baby’s head. Once he said yes to my persistent questioning, I had to ask if he had hair. Everyone looked at me quite surprised and said, “Dark hair!” Once I knew my baby was in sight I was even more motivated. However, I really couldn’t push outside of my contractions. No matter how much Shawna prompted me, I told her I would push when I needed to. Thankfully our doctor just waited patiently and even laughed at me when I announced to everyone I was taking a break. He looked at me and said, “You must not feel pain to stop pushing right now.” I know I have a high pain threshold, but I guess childbirth will show your true colors.
After only 45 minutes of pushing, Ronan Jon Matula was born at 8:10 p.m. He weighed a healthy 7lbs 3.6oz and was 19.5 inches long. When they put him on my stomach, I knew my world would never be the same. I was given my enormous dose of Pitocin, our doc did tests on Ronan, and declared that both mom and baby were very healthy. After just over 24 hours in the hospital, we were discharged and began our journey of becoming a family.
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