Friday, March 28th
I'd had a feeling we were getting close for a few days. The Braxton-Hicks contractions were becoming stronger, more frequent, and suddenly started to include a feeling of downward pressure; and I suddenly had the energy and desire to cook homemade meals again (hello, nesting!). My original plan had been to work until I was actually in labor, but after a few conversations with family, friends, and co-workers I began to see the wisdom in taking a gamble and starting my leave on a specified date. I informed my superiors that I would begin my leave the following Wednesday and that I was going to go ahead and tie up as many loose ends as I possibly could just in case I delivered over the weekend.
Saturday, March 29th
Had spotting which started in the early morning and continued throughout the day. It was super rainy all day and after grabbing breakfast at our favorite place, Hubs and I had grand plans to have Thai for lunch, walk the mall, and have Indian food for dinner. We only managed to do the mall walking, but I guess that was enough! Walking around seemed to slow the contractions down a bit but certainly didn't stop them. I think they were averaging about 15 minutes apart at this point, but they were fairly inconsistent.
We stopped by the grocery store on the way home and then took a nap. Later that night I made a caprese salad (c'mon, basil!) while keeping an eye on the contraction timing. By 11:30 pm they were strong enough that I needed to use my breathing and relaxation techniques and they were 6-7 minutes apart. The contractions felt like very strong menstrual cramps, but instead of hurting constantly, they came in fairly predictable waves. I called the midwife to give her a heads up and she said to keep timing them and to come in when they were 4 minutes apart or when my water broke ( I was GBS positive and would need to get IV antibiotics right away). We tried to go to bed and get as much rest as we could, but between the contractions and the neighbors throwing a party in the next room, it didn't happen.
Sunday, March 30th
I kept waiting for the contractions to come in consistent intervals, but they never did. By 2 am they were stronger and coming anywhere from 5 to 2.5 minutes apart (whoops!). I called the midwife and told her we were on our way. When we arrived I was quickly examined while Hubs brought the bags in from the car - 5-6 cm dilated and 90% effaced!! Score!! We settled into the birthing room and I was hooked up to the antibiotics while laboring on a birthing ball and sipping on some chocolate almond milk. With each contraction Hubs would apply counter-pressure, read one of the birth affirmations we had written and coach me on relaxing through it. He was incredible. I don't know what I would have done without him. :)
Once the antibiotics were done, they filled up the tub for me. That hot water was MERCIFUL. I was so grateful to be at the birthing center where laboring in a tub was an option!! After laboring this way for a while, the midwife checked me again and I was just over 6 cm. Not feeling as encouraged now. She suggested switching up the position and I moved between the tub, the bed, a birthing ball, and even the toilet for a several hours. I remember commenting to her that the labor wasn't as hard as I thought it would be because my mind kind of "reset" in between contractions. When a contraction ended I was able to totally relax and turn my attention to other things and it was like the slate was wiped clean - so it was much easier to take it one contraction at a time than I had anticipated.
It's all a little blurry, but I had a second dose of antibiotics around 6:30 am, got sick twice shortly after that. They checked again at about 8 am and I was almost fully dilated with just a little lip on one side. I was surprised to hear that because I had been dreading the transition stage of labor and I had evidently already gone through it!! That lifted my spirits a bit! Again, the midwife coached me through some different laboring positions and I was totally dilated and effaced by about 10:30 am. The midwife smiled and announced that I was ready to push! Hubs and I were relieved and excited that we may have a baby by lunch time and be back home again that evening! So I had another dose of antibiotics and I pushed, and I pushed, and I pushed ... in the tub, on the ball, on the bed, on the toilet ... for hours. The midwife checked to see where the baby was and he hadn't descended at all since I was fully dilated. We tried a few more positions and techniques. I remember at one point I was in the tub and she said, "Let's go for a walk outside." My immediate thought was, "Woman, you have lost your marbles if you think I'm getting up and going anywhere!" - but she is an excellent midwife and I trusted her judgement, so she and Hubs helped me out of the tub, into a dress, and then helped me waddle outside. I can't tell you how good the breeze and the sunlight felt. I was so exhausted I could barely keep my eyes open at this point (I'm guessing about 2 or 3 pm) but I saw the family walking outside. My mom and mother-in-law came by to encourage us a little bit while my dad and father in law hung back. I had a small breakdown then. I had been laboring naturally since the night before with very little sleep and very little food. I was exhausted and I didn't understand why the baby wasn't descending. I was crying pretty hard when I looked up and realized that Hubs was watching me and crying too. He was also exhausted, had been by my side coaching me the entire time, and was doing all he could to help me and the baby. I remember saying "I'm okay. I'm okay, I'm just tired" in between sobs and him nodding in agreement.
We moved back inside after a few minutes and checked again - still no progress. That's when the midwife said she thought it was time for us to transfer to the hospital. That was the last thing we had wanted to do, but Bugs just wouldn't budge and we needed to get him out fairly soon. Again, we trusted her judgement and began to get everything together for the transfer while she called the hospital and told them we were on the way. They put a piddle pad down on the back seat and my father-in-law drove us to the hospital while Hubs sat in back with me. Right as we were driving through downtown Jacksonville I had a strong contraction, felt a big gush, and my water came spilling out onto the seat and the floor boards. When we finally pulled up to the hospital they put me in a wheel chair and rushed me up to L&D. For a couple of minutes it looked like we may have to wait and fill out some paperwork, but the midwife had followed us there and advocated to get us in as soon as possible and they pushed us through very quickly.
They got me set up in the delivery room, hooked me up to multiple monitors, and we began to go over my options. 1) Epidural - this would allow me to have a little bit of rest and may help me to relax and possibly allow the baby to descend. They were about 75% sure that the baby's shoulders were the problem, in which case his head might emerge but then he could get stuck - essentially trapping him in a half-in/half-out position, strangling him and restricting blood flow to the brain. 2) C-Section - Let's get this baby out already! My midwife asked several questions to help us make sure they had exhausted every option and after a lot of discussion with the her and the doctors, Hubs and I were given a minute to talk and we decided to get an epidural. Bring on the paperwork ...
Getting the epidural wasn't painful, it was just scary because my contractions were right on top of each other and I knew that I needed to perfectly still. Once it kicked in I was finally able to relax and give my system a little bit of rest. I was extremely thankful for that. They checked to see where Bugs was and he had descended a little bit, so they brought the risk for the shoulder issue down to down to 25%. We decided to give it about 45 minutes of pushing with the epidural to see if we could make any more progress. When he didn't budge in the next hour of pushing we decided we needed to bite the bullet and get a C-section.
So there I was being wheeled into the OR when I had hoped for a peaceful, unmedicated water birth. It felt like it took forever for them to let Hubs in to be with me during the procedure. Once he came in I felt much more comfortable and able to take my mind off the procedure and all the tugging I felt by talking with him about the fact that we were finally about to meet our son! A few minutes later I heard a doctor announce his arrival from behind the curtain and saw the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen lifted up so I could see him. He was pink, perfect, and let out a strong cry that instantly made me cry with joy and relief to finally have him out. Hubs went with him while he was checked and measured and I heard him yell over, "Hey love, he's blonde!" He brought him back to me as soon as he could and laid him on my chest where I was able to touch, smell, and kiss him. Hubs and I prayed and thanked God for bringing us our son safely while they sewed me up.
If you liked this birth story, check out the story of L's unmedicated VBAC birth.