"I have always been terrified I would be that person that shows up at the hospital thinking I'm in labor only to be told to go back home."
I figured that I would know for certain that it was time to go when my water broke, so imagine my dismay when I learned that most women’s water doesn’t break until well into labor. Thanks, TV, for shattering my view of how labor is supposed to work!
Just over one week before the big due date, I spent the day at work, scratching all the must-do items off my to do list. After work, I decided to run a few errands and go to the grocery store. We hadn’t had a meal at home in awhile and we were in desperate need of some food in the house. When I got there, it suddenly hit me that the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having throughout the afternoon were picking up in intensity and getting closer together. When a particularly powerful contraction had me doubled over in the frozen food aisle, I figured maybe it was time to head home. But I knew that as soon as I got home the contractions would most likely stop, so I grabbed the closest frozen meal and headed to the checkout. The cashier took one look at my (rather large) belly and asked when I was due. I said, “Tuesday”—meaning Tuesday of the next week—but she thought I meant the next day. She told me that her CPR certification was expired, so I had better head home—she was not planning to deliver a baby! I took her advice and headed out with my groceries.
Once I was in the car, I realized that it had gotten late and I hadn’t heard from my husband. I gave him a call and he was still at work. I told him that he might want to start heading home because I thought I was in labor. Once we both got home, I started timing my contractions and my husband decided that if we were going to have a baby, he better pay the bills before we go. So I lay on the bed timing contractions while he paid all the bills. After the bills were paid, I had been having regular contractions 5 minutes apart for over an hour. This was when I was supposed to call the doctor, but I still wasn’t totally convinced that I was in labor.
I suddenly felt kind of funny, so I headed to the bathroom. Then I tried to leave, but realized that I still needed to go. After repeating this scenario a few times, I realized that either my water had broken or I had totally lost all control of my bladder. After debating this for a few minutes, I decided that my water had definitely broken. I got my wish and had a clear reason to call the doctor! The doctor said that we should head on to the hospital, so we finished packing our bags, took a picture, and excitedly headed off to the hospital.
On the way, my husband realized that the car was almost out of gas. So we stopped for gas and the first gas pump was broken. He was a bit flustered at this point, but we finally got gas in the car and headed out again. Then we realized that in all the bill-paying, contraction-timing, water-breaking fun we had never eaten dinner. Knowing that once we got to the hospital I wouldn’t be able to eat or drink anything, we decided to hit the Chick-fil-A drive thru and split a combo meal. I was really too excited to eat, but waffle fries are always a wise decision!
We finally made it to the hospital. We had pre-registered, so we were expecting to be taken back right away, at least that was the impression that we got on the hospital tour. Instead, we stood around in the lobby for 30 minutes or so. This is not a fun activity when your water has broken! We were finally admitted to the triage area to be assessed, where they confirmed that my water had indeed broken. Good thing, because if that wasn’t what had happened, I was in serious trouble! The fact that my water had broken was the good news. The bad news was that I had made little progress and the contractions weren’t really doing the job on their own. The doctor said that I would be in labor for quite awhile and not to expect to have the baby before the next morning.
So, we called our families and gave them the green light to come since they all live several hours away. However, we told them to drive to our house to spend the night and then they would just be a few minutes away from the hospital if anything changed. Being the type of parents that refuse to listen to everything that their children tell them, they all showed up at the hospital around 1 in the morning and refused to leave.
At some point around 2 a.m., the doctor decided that I needed Pitocin to help get things moving. By the way the nurse talked about the Pitocin, I should have taken the hint that I should also go ahead and get the epidural. However, I had vague notions of having a natural childbirth and really wanted to wait and see how bad it got before I invoked the code word for “I need drugs now!” So the Pitocin got started and was increased every 20 minutes. The contractions got very strong very quickly. I, however, continued to refuse pain medicine and instead tried my best to bend the sides of the hospital bed in two with every contraction. At some point around 6 a.m. I had had enough and asked for an epidural. When I was told that it would probably take about an hour, I just about lost it. The nurse said I needed another bag of IV fluid, to which I politely explained that I had been on IV fluid since I checked into the hospital several hours before and surely they could go ahead with the epidural. At this point, the nurse took mercy on me and turned up the fluid and turned off the pitocin and hurried the anesthesiologist along. All I saw of the anesthesiologist was his shoes, but after I made it through trying to sit still through the contractions, the relief was immediate. I have never been so grateful for anything as I was for the relief in that moment!
Before the epidural I was only at 5 cm but immediately after the epidural I was at 10 cm! I was so tense because of the pain that my body couldn’t relax and once I was able to get some relief, my body was suddenly ready to go. Of course, as soon as I was ready to go, the doctor wasn’t. She checked me and said, “Why don’t you rest for a few minutes and regain your strength and let the baby drop a little further down. I have to run go do a quick procedure and I will be back in about 30 minutes to deliver the baby.” Well, the quick procedure turned out to be a 2-hour hysterectomy. My mom was none too pleased that it was taking so long, but I was quite content to rest for a bit (although I wasn’t too happy about the breakfast biscuits that everyone was eating in front of me).
The doctor finally returned and it was time to push. This is a tricky request to grant when you have no idea what you are doing and are pretty numb from the waist down. The doctor and my husband had a nice time joking around between contractions while I did all the hard work, but after what seemed like forever, our sweet and perfect baby boy finally emerged.
At that moment, I felt such an amazing sense of overwhelming love for my new son and my husband. We were now a family of three and nothing felt more right.
Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!