I had gone a few days past my due date and while I wasn’t growing anxious about the situation, I was beginning to wonder if things would start happening soon. I kept the house tidy, went walking with my husband each morning and evening, and basically tried to relax as I waited for my life to change forever.
April 19th, 2011 – Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, on one of my many trips to the bathroom, I noticed a little more fluid than usual. I was instantly sure that my water had started leaking, but I went back to bed without waking Christopher because (as all of the birth class instructors will tell you) if you can sleep, sleep. In the morning, Christopher and I went for a nice long walk to see if things would start moving along. I hadn’t had any contractions yet.
Half way through the walk my water really, really broke, really. So we hurried home and I showered up. We called the midwife, Simona and she told us to come in so she could check things out. I called my parents at this point to let them know that they should get on the road, since there was no turning back now.
The midwives confirmed the water breakage (duh), and said they didn’t want to check to see if I was dilated because it could introduce infection. Since I wasn’t having contractions yet, they told me to head home and walk around until things started happening. Simona also told me that if I didn’t start having contractions by the evening to take some Castor Oil, gag.
We took care of a few things at the office, and then headed to the mall to walk. My parents arrived and we headed to dinner. Still no contractions. During dinner, a small twinge, maybe a contraction? After dinner we walked around Target, still no contractions. Before bed, I took the dreaded Castor Oil, disgusting.
Everyone was in bed and I was just dozing off to sleep and I felt a cramp. Ugh. Ok, well that was nothing, I can get some sleep before it gets worse. About 12 minutes later another cramp. Oof. That’s cool, I can catnap in 10 minute bursts. Then they started coming 8 minutes apart and lasting about a minute long. I started timing them with my contraction timing app on my phone. After about 10 contractions, the app told me that I needed to upgrade to the paid version…HELLO?? Is this not the worst time in the freaking world to try to upsell me??? Let me just say that after everything was over I wrote a scathing review of that app.
By this point, I had woken Christopher with my moaning, so he got up to help me. The next 10 hours are something of a blur so here is what I do remember (in no particular order): The contractions were about 6 minutes apart and a minute long for most of my labor. While the contractions began in my abdomen, at some point I started to have back labor. I tried to several positions to get comfortable for my contractions, but what worked the best for me was standing and swaying, or leaning forward on the bed or table. My hypnobabies techniques actually did work very well for about an hour sometime in the middle that I was able to concentrate on my relaxation. I wished I would have practiced a lot more. I think my mom and Christopher took shifts caring for me. We called Simona and she told me to come in at 9 a.m. I ran down the water heater twice in the glorious shower, which was the best part of labor. At some point, I ended up in the back yard. I basically wandered around moaning and breathing deeply for what seemed like days. I think they put on the movie “Up” while we were getting ready to go to the birth center in the morning.
In the car, I surrounded myself with pillows, put the seat back and tried to relax. Time enters another dimension when you are in labor. Sometimes the seconds drag on, other times you look up and hours have passed. Simona was wonderfully supportive, she coached me through a few contractions and told me how well I was doing. When she checked me for dilation, I was still at one centimeter. One. 10 hours of labor and I hadn’t dilated any more than I had been the week before. I was quite disappointed. This was exactly what I had feared would happen.
Simona told me to go relax in the birthing suite, but to try to stay active and she would check me again in an hour. This was when I really started to notice the back pain. I couldn’t get comfortable sitting. So I wandered around the birthing suite for an hour and a half and she checked me again. No change. She told us to go home and come back at 4 in the afternoon.
We went home, I tried to rest in between contractions, but it was really no use, they were still 6 minutes apart and 1 minute long. I was really getting tired. At 4pm, we headed back to the birth center and Simona checked me again. No change. I asked her what we should do. She said since I wasn’t progressing and it had been more than 24 hours since my water broke, we should probably go to the hospital and try a little Pitocin. I asked her if she thought that was the best thing to do. She said (you have to imagine her awesome Romanian accent), “You have been laboring for a while and not dilating and this is not a small baby.” I was shocked by that last part. She smiled and pointed to my belly, “No more water in there, that’s all baby.” So off we went to the hospital.
Simona met us in the E.R. and we quickly went back to a desk where I signed my name just once and then I was in a room. Everyone seemed to know the drill with Simona and they all sprang into action when we got there. Since they were starting the Pitocin, I had to be on a monitor, which meant I had to lay down. On my back. My contracting back. Oi. I took one look at the bed and knew that I was not going to be able to manage the contractions laying down. I had been standing for nearly every contraction for the past 20 hours. At that point, I understood the true challenge of labor was not the pain but the ability to endure through the exhaustion that overtakes a long labor. I asked for some pain relief.
Simona suggested a shot of Nubain, which took the edge off enough that I could lay in the bed, but it made me very dizzy. Once I got the meds, she told me she was going to go home to eat dinner and come back in a couple of hours and that she would be there for the night.
I kept my eyes closed most of the time and tried to relax. Christopher and my Mom took turns feeding me ice chips, which I wanted endlessly. There were not enough ice chips in the world. I also kept asking Christopher to put chapstick on my lips. After a couple of hours, the Nubain started to wear off and I noticed that the contractions were stronger, longer and much closer together. They were upping the Pitocin every half hour and things were getting intense.
I reached a crisis point when I realized the contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and were the strongest I had experienced yet. “That was another one, wasn’t’ it?? That was 2 within 5 minutes!!” Pitocin was not my friend. I began to question the nurses.
“Can I have another shot of Nubain?”
“No, we don’t think that would be a good idea.”
“Can we turn the Pitocin down?”
“No, that would make you lose any progress we’ve made.”
“Can you check me and see if we’ve made any progress?”
“No, we need to wait for Simona.”
“When is Simona coming back?”
“We’ll find out.”
After some very intense waiting, Simona showed up and checked me for progress. Two centimeters. Two. Two? “Maybe two and a half”, she conceded. I told her that the Pitocin was too much and I couldn’t handle the contractions so close together when I still had so long to go. I asked if I could have an epidural and was told the anesthesiologist was in a crash C-section and wouldn’t be out for at least half an hour, and I knew it would take at least another half an hour to start getting relief. I knew I was going to have to make a key decision about how to go forward, but with so little time between contractions and my mounting exhaustion, I could barely come up with two brain cells to rub together. I asked Simona, “Can we please stop the Pitocin??” She reiterated that we might lose the progress we had made. But I was adamant, “Look, I need you to turn it off so I can think and talk to you about what we are going to do.” They obliged and my contractions quickly spaced back out to 6 minutes apart, what a relief!
Simona laid out my options. I could continue to labor on the Pitocin, but since my water had been broken for nearly 40 hours, they would start getting concerned about infection and fetal distress. Or I could have a c-section. I really didn’t want a c-section, but Simona pointed out that right now the baby was still doing fine and it might be better to do it now before we put the baby through additional stress of augmented labor. I also knew that refusing a c-section now might mean that I just had one later and possibly an emergency c-section. I talked it all through aloud, just to make sure what I was thinking made sense. My mom was nodding vigorously, I know she knew exactly what I was going through. I took a few minutes to make sure this was the right thing to do. I didn’t want to ever look back on this moment and think I was pressured into it. And then I said yes. I labored, I did well, I wanted to see my baby.
At that moment, 3 nurses swarmed on me to get me prepped for surgery in record time. This was the worst. I was flat on my back getting poked and prodded very which way and they made me drink something really nasty. Finally, I was being wheeled along to the O.R. I was still contracting, but it was much better without the Pitocin.
They took Christopher to get into scrubs and took me in to get prepped. I sat on the table leaning forward onto Simona’s shoulder and another little scrub nurse. They held onto me and patted my shoulders while the anesthesiologist poked around giving me my spinal. He missed once, twice, he apologized and said if he missed again, he could call someone else to try. I reassured him that I was fine. I was the most comfortable I had been since I had gotten to the hospital, sitting upright was wonderful after spending so much time on my back. Third time was the charm and my legs instantly began to tingle. They laid me down and that’s when Christopher showed up again. He sat by my head, camera in hand ready for the big moment. I was quickly numb and quite happy about it. I had trouble staying awake through the whole thing. Finally, on April 20th, 2011 at 11:55pm, my little boy was born. Christopher followed the baby and took some photos. He showed me some on the camera while they were closing me back up. “Aww” I said, “He looks like me.” We laughed. They brought him over to me and I fell in love. Our baby. Our little family. I haven’t stopped falling yet.