My due date was January 10th, and I had a routine 40 week doctor's appointment scheduled for the afternoon of the 12th. Since I was two days post due date, we had an ultrasound to check my fluid levels, and to take some quick measurements of the baby, just to make sure his little living space was still a comfortable and habitable place to be. The ultrasound went fine, and they estimated the baby to be around 8 pounds.
3:00 p.m.: I met with my doctor. We decided that we wouldn’t schedule an induction, but would wait it out another week, hoping that I would go into labor on my own. She checked my cervix, which was disappointingly only dilated to 1.
3:30 p.m.: After meeting with the doctor, since I was mildly contracting on my own, she ordered a non-stress test, just to make sure that the baby wasn’t in any distress as my body contracted. I completed the test, waited to be unhooked from the machine, and expected to be sent on my way.
That’s not what happened.
Instead of the NST technician coming back into the room to unhook me, it was my doctor. She said I had a “suspicious” contraction that sent my sons heart rate dipping dangerously. She wanted to make sure everything was “ok” so she was sending us up to Labor & Delivery for a more extensive test. She also told Michael and I (thank God Michael was there with me this whole time), that if the test proved that the baby was in distress, I would be induce immediately.
4:00 p.m.: When we got to Labor & Delivery, they administered the non-stress test with a little more gusto than they did in the doctors office. I was shocked when they told me they would be hooking me up to a very low dose of pitocin, to trick my body into thinking it was in labor. They needed to do this so I would have a few “good” contractions so they could accurately watch how the baby was reacting. In the back of my mind, even though I didn’t verbally express myself, I knew this was the beginning of the end.
The contractions started coming hard and fast, and oh boy, they were good. On my pain scale, I would rate them at around a “5,″ meaning I could not talk through them, and would have to carefully concentrate. At one point, I realized I was glazed over and staring at The Simpsons on TV. That’s how I knew I had entered my own world of preparing for labor. I hate that show.
6:30 p.m.: The baby and I “pass” the NST, and we are told we can head on home. Since I was contracting pretty hard through the whole test, and I’ve been known to have pretty fast labors, I asked the doctor if she could check me before I left. I didn’t want to leave the hospital if I had made a significant cervical change in a short amount of time. Getting home only to have the baby on the kitchen floor wasn’t something I was interested in experiencing.
Disappointingly, after all that hard contracting, I was only dilated now to a 2. The nurse said that pitocin has a pretty short half life, and the medication should easily be out of my system within the hour, meaning, contractions would stop completely.
7:00 p.m.: We get home, and the contractions are nowhere near stopping. In fact, they’re getting harder and faster by the minute. I decided I need to eat something, get my mind of the pain, and relax. I take a bath and eat some pizza rolls. I know, nice dinner choice.
8:30 p.m.: Contractions are painful and coming every 3.5 minutes. We call a OB doctor friend of ours and ask him for a bit of advice. He says that the pitocin should definitely be out of my system by now, and that if I’m still contracting, it’s likely the “real deal”.
We both get really nervous, and decide that we should get stuff together and head to the hospital. My very dear friend Katie comes over to sleep on our sofa, as we have already tucked the kids in bed for the night.
I call my trusty doula, Charity.
I call Casey my photographer and friend extraordinaire.
We load up and head to the hospital.
9:30 p.m.: We make it to the hospital and am ushered back into the same room I emerged from only 2 hours prior. I’m given another cervical check, and yes, within the past two hours, I’ve dilated from a 2 to a 5 and 1/2. I’m encouraged by the quick progress, as a long unmediated birth is what my literal nightmares are made out of.
We’re taken down the hall to and admitted into Room 4208, the same room as where I birthed my daughter Nola. (We think.)
10 p.m.: The contractions are pretty intense, and I’m exclusively managing them by standing up and leaning against the wall for support. I take deep breaths, hum (or more like moan) through the pain until it releases it’s grip. The main thing I concentrate on during contractions is staying relaxed, primarily in the hips legs, and ladyparts area, as I know that “clenching up” will only slow the process and make dilation take even longer.
11 p.m.: This is where my recollection starts to get fuzzy, as the pain really becomes intense. I continue in a pattern of extremely painful contractions, coming around every 5-6 minutes. When I’m not contracting, I’m perfectly fine, almost forgetting I’m even in labor.
Having been in labor since around 4pm, I had a ridiculous mental goal of having the baby before midnight. Because really, who wants to have a baby on Friday the 13th? Not this girl.
But of course, the baby and my body had their own agenda.
12 midnight: I’m checked by a nurse and I’m dilated to 7-1/2, which is not very encouraging, having only dilated 2 centimeter over the course of almost 3 hard hours. With this news, my doula and I hit the halls for a leisurely midnight stroll. We circle the floor a few times, even detouring to the nursery for a few minutes to look at all the new babies for a bit of inspiration.
1:00 a.m.: The contractions become increasingly unbearable, yet ironically slow down to 6-8 minutes apart. Between the contractions, all I feel like doing is giving up, crawling into the bed and falling fast asleep. I’m tired, and I can tell everyone in the room is getting fatigued as well.
I try contracting on a birthing ball, which I completely hate. Sitting down, even on a ball, feels insanely restrictive and horrible.
I get on my knees and lean on the back of the bed. I love this position, as I can collapse onto the mattress and rest between contractions. The contractions are intense, and I’m starting to feel defeated as I know delivery is still quite a ways off.
2:00 a.m.: The nurse comes in to check me again. I’m still at a 7.5 centimeter, even after intense laboring over the course of the last 2 hours. It’s a crushing blow, as I feel like all that work was for nothing. The doctor decides that now would be a good time to break my water. I’m scared, but I agree.
I’m scared because in the back of my mind, I know that once my water br
eaks, there is a real chance that I’ll want to start pushing immediately.
My intuition was spot on.
The doctor breaks my water, I stand up to work through another contraction, and instantly know this baby is coming. Like coming NOW.
In a “bossygirl” voice I forgot I even had, I let everyone in the room know about the developing situation. I’m typically a pretty polite gal, but at that point in my game, all pleasantries had left the building.
I manage to get myself back in bed. (Because that’s the way they like you to deliver the baby at my hospital, which I think is kinda dumb.)
The room is busy getting everything ready for delivery.
I primal scream at everyone that I’m pushing. Because really, whether or not I wanted to, my body was pushing.
I remember the feeling of being completely out of control, looking at my doula, and telling her “I can’t do this”.
I remember a nurse saying in all the commotion and excitement “his head is out, look down at your baby!”
2:38 a.m.: After one more mini-push, Paul was born.
Michael cut the cord. And cried. (He always cries.)
I held him for a few minutes until the nurses took him to the warmer to get a better look at him.
Paul had come through the birth canal so fast that he had a fair amount of fluid in his lungs, so I wasn’t able to nurse him right away.
But within just a short few moments, we were back together.
This is the story of how Paul was born.
*All these amazing birth photos were taken by Casey, who stayed by my side through the whole night. Seriously, she has talent to make anyone look pretty darn great, even while giving birth in the middle of the night. Crazy eyes and primal screams to boot. I owe her a lifetime of favors.
Emily originally posted this story on her personal blog. You can see the original, with more pictures here.