Thus far this labor has been soooo different from my previous too–ok, the whole pregnancy has. I asked my mom if it was because I was A) having a girl B) in my 30s or C) I had two kiddos on the outside to take care of; she said all of the above. Oh joy.
I’m actually writing before I’ve officially gone into labor, because I need things to do to keep my mind off the fact that I am not in labor. At this point, I had had Rowan–but I was also physically miserable thanks to sleeping on my side and not going to a chiropractor (found one this pregnancy and it’s been SO much better).
At this point everything looks “promising” at 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced (did I do a TMI warning? Well dearies, this is a birth story, TMI comes with the territories), but I’ve also been having what feels like back labor for over a week and I’m ready to be done; except that it just hit me that if I do go into labor, that would mean I would now have three children on the outside and I really don’t know if I’m ready for that (fact: you’re not pregnant if you haven’t freaked slightly about having a child to care for, even if it’s not your first).
Totally anticipated there being a one week later.. break but no! 30 minutes after I wrote the above, I laid down and started having contractions. Now, it’s really unfair that the person having labor has to decide if they’re actually in labor instead of, ya know, sleeping. I laid in bed for over an hour, having erratic contractions, before getting a snack and showering—which slowed them down—so I decided it wasn’t pressing, they weren’t painful, just uncomfortable, and went to sleep. This was around midnight. Woke up just before 4 and the contractions were at it again.
Now, we live about an hour from the hospital I was delivering at, so we don’t really “labor at home”, so I got up, started getting things together, called my mom to come to stay with the boys, and then woke up Colton (was doing the whole be-nice-and-let-the-husband-sleep thing). Colton questioned us going since I wasn’t in a crazy amount of pain (looking back, I was probably excited to get the show on the road), but my mom and I both thought it was still good to head on to the hospital.
Guess what, the two experienced laborers should have listened to the man (you may gasp).
By the time we had reached the hospital’s parking garage, my contractions had stopped. You have no idea how annoying it was to arrive and not have had a contraction for 20 minutes. So we took the stairs to the top (me going up sideways to keep my pelvis open), watched the sunrise, then went back to the car to rest because I was tired but still not back to contracting.
I napped then requested coffee. So we crossed the street to White Rhino, ordered a Snickerdoodle latte and French toast (highly recommend), played a few rounds of tic-tac-toe, and in general tried to pretend we were just enjoying a morning date. After walking down Magnolia avenue, and still no contracts, we made the call to go home. But not before an HEB stop, where we bought ice cream and I said this would mean I would go into labor before we got home and the ice cream would all melt.
Spoiler: I did not.
All the days before I had been committed to activities to help labor along and get the baby in position (the biggest factor in labor from what I’ve learned). After my false labor fiasco, I had no interest in the Miles Circuit, or curb walking, or raspberry leaf tea. I took the day to relax, sipped my coconut water and orange juice, floated in the pool, and was overall not interested in anything considered “labor prep.”
Now I had been having irregular contractions for days at this point, which was super annoying because I had never experienced that with either of the boys—I went from Braxton Hicks to BAM! real labor—but once we went to the hospital on Tuesday, they stopped. So when I headed to my chiropractor on Wednesday, and had a mild contraction on the way, I felt like labor would come that day; but I kept that to myself, because I’d already made us go to the hospital once and we did not come back with a baby on the outside.
Sometime after midnight, I got woken up by contractions. These aren’t just uncomfortable but not painful cramps, and they aren’t dull back pain; these hurt. But ya know, now I’m paranoid so better test them out. I probably had a couple before I even checked how often they were coming, and then I hopped in the shower to see if they’d stop. They didn’t, if anything they started coming faster than I predicted. I went back to bed and Colton had gotten up to settle down one of the boys—since he was already awake I told him what’s happening.
Since we’re both skeptical after the previous bout, we decide to see how many more I have. Well, after I had had 10 in less than an hour we decided this was actually go time.
Soon after Rowan woke up (because of course), Colton went to comfort him until grandma arrived and while normally he’s been grandma’s little boy, he just wanted to stay with his dada. While this was heartwarming, it was also really not the time.
Had several contractions before we left. None kept to as consistent time as when I labored with Rowan, but the intensity was there. I just kept channeling what I had learned in the Mommy Labor Nurse course to relax and breathe through my contractions; which according to Colton, I was exhaling more than I was inhaling so I did make myself slightly lightheaded but hey, I had an hour car ride to the hospital to figure it out.
I should say I had a few goals for this birth: 1) don’t deliver in the car 2) don’t break my water in the car 3) don’t tear 4) don’t get an epidural 5) don’t get a c-section
When we arrived at the hospital just after three, and I’m happy to report there was no baby delivered on the side of the road, and my water did not break (I did sit on a folded towel the whole drive just in case).
I had a contraction when we got out of the car and waited for it to pass before going inside—a nice aspect of Saint Andrew’s Women’s Hospital, is the maternity ward it right next to the car drop off area; no having to check in at the ER, just walk through the front door, have a chuckle when the front desk asks “what are you here for?” And respond with “to have a baby!” Then get buzzed into triage.
Once in Triage, the contractions were a wee bit stronger, still about 5 minutes apart but I had stopped caring to track since we’d made it to the hospital. I kept chanting “relax” or saying “raggedy Ann” and worked to breathe through them. My nurse commented on how controlled I was (thank you natural labor course!) and I was already at a 6–I didn’t want to get my hopes up but I was so relieved to be that far along (I was a 4 with both of the boys).
We got admitted at 3:45, however, apparently a whole lot of other women were delivering babies so it was well after 4 AM before we headed to our L&D room. The excitement of being in labor had started to wane and fatigue set in since I had only been asleep a couple hours and the contractions were coming 6-8 minutes apart.
I had to stay on constant monitors since once a VBAC, always a VBAC, so anytime I wanted to move around, or go to the bathroom, I had to call in the nurse. And even though it hadn’t been long since she’d checked me, I asked her to go ahead since she was in the room and the contractions had gotten stronger. It was 5:30 and I had progressed to a 7. Woohoo we are in transition! My water still hadn’t broken at this point (I had been debating having them break my water if I needed to speed things along, but I am so glad we didn’t–foreshadowing dear children) and I was having to hold back from saying “this isn’t so bad.”
Outside the room, I could hear another women screaming her head off, it was so extreme it kinda sound ridiculous, we laughed, and I told Colton to get the Bluetooth speaker out to play music so I wouldn’t be able to hear it (it was funny but scary ‘cause it kinda implied what was coming). Here’s my playlist if you want to know what I picked to encourage me through labor.
For most of the labor, to get through contractions I would stand and would rock, one hand on the counter, the other grabbing the bed, while Colton pushed my hips together. In between contractions I sat on the bed and leaned against my exercise ball, so I could rest but not have to sit down.
Then HOLY TRANSITION BATMAN! I couldn’t muster rocking anymore and just stood, one knee on the bed, and squeezed the handles on the bed. Contractions continued to progress and I was so tired, I stopped getting out of bed and just curled up, a little puddle of tired and pain and wondering if I should not worry about the whole “going natural” thing and get an epidural. I stopped having Colton squeeze my hips–there was so much pain in my abdomen and back and I couldn’t escape any of it, I just didn’t want to be touched. The best thing was having a hot compress on my back in between contractions.
I should add, at some point I was so sick of my hospital gown and the cords from the monitors getting tangled, I just chucked my gown. So when I was screaming, kneeling in my bed, facing the wall, in nothing but a beige lounge bra, I was pretty sure I looked like Gollum with a messy bun after he’d lost the ring.
I felt silly but at 6 Am I had the nurse (Madeline was amazing and exactly what we needed—nurses really are the ones who make or break your labor in my experience) check me, I was already at an 8, I was progressing much faster than she predicted. Sooo probably too late for an epidural.
At some point I managed to go to the bathroom—anytime I asked, the nurse gave a somewhat concerned look so I had to make sure I was clear, it was just to pee.
During a decent break between contractions (thank the Lord they did were not 2-3 minutes apart for much of my labor) I said it would be nice to have the baby before shift change so I wouldn’t have to get to know a new nurse right as I was delivering—this was around 6:30 and shift change happens just before 7. Madeline jokingly said, “well hurry up!”
Now by this point, I wasn’t moving to get through contractions. I had been in labor almost 6 hours, maybe two hours of sleep before, and I was exhausted. I stopped getting up, just stayed curled up on the bed, with a hot compress on my abdomen. And I wasn’t breathing through anymore because bearing down felt so much better. Our nurse did another check, I was fully effaced but not quite 10 cm yet.
Well by 6:45 I was pushing. Didn’t tell anybody, didn’t ask if it was ok, just started. My water broke with my first push. Madeline was the only hospital staff in the room, so she quickly poked her head out and called for reinforcements. With the second push I could feel Little Miss crowning—now ring of fire maybe not, but nothing should ever push against your urethra that way! I was laying on my side but flipped to being on all fours with my back to the room. I pushed a couple more times—honestly don’t know, it was one of those weird times that went by fast but also froze sort of times.
I heard a nurse (multiple actually) tell me to push hard just one more time and all I could think was, “what do you mean? I have to do more?!” But I gave another good push even though I wasn’t feeling the urge to.
Three hours after being admitted, just 3 minutes of pushing and she was out. I dropped my head down and could see her between my legs; she was dark, purple, and not responsive. More nurses were called in, the word “code” was yelled, and a flurry of activity happened.
Colton had his arms around my shoulder and I told him to pray. Seconds into the prayer, we heard the blessed sounds of our baby crying.
At that point the doctor walked in the room and took in the gaggle of nurses (please note, I’m still on my knees on the bed, facing the wall, watching this with my head dropped—the nurses asked if I wanted to lay down but I had no desire to move at that point).
The doctor very much had a “why am I here?” expression, apparently he had JUST walked in the back door of the building when the nurses called him.
It was comical meeting the on-call doctor for the first time, after I had delivered the baby, and when I was wearing nothing but a bra, strewn across a bodily fluid covered bed, and too tired to care. Literally the only option after I turned over to lay down (don’t fear dear readers, they had cleaned up the bed before I did so), was to say “hey, how’s it going?”
The nurse for our baby cooed over her blond hair. Another nurse came and told me I had done amazing. One of the nurses told the OB I had gone natural and it was a VBAC, to which he informed me, I no longer had to prove anything to anyone. The flurry of people in the room calmed. I felt conflicted because I was in pain but felt like I shouldn’t complain because it wasn’t as bad as it was earlier; but everything was a mix of burning, raw, cramping, or shaking.
The way my stomach had deflated was unreal. Colton was shockingly not a sobbing mess when he went to see our little girl under the warmer (or he was and I just was too focused on how I was feeling).
After getting cleaned up, and just one stitch (!), the discomfort of fundal rubs past, I realized I had met all my goals for her delivery. It was amazing. Recovery has been so easy compared to my previous ones.
Now that I’ve got the bragging rights of a natural birth, not sure I want to do it again.
This next is a blooper but is too good not to share!