My firstborn, Dot the Dotter, was birthed in a hosptial, by an Ob-gyn, in the Seattle area. Her dad and I were anxious, nervous, over-the-moon excited [unwed, basically poor] first-time parents. I went into early labor in the evening, two days past my due date. This is my account of early labor, written while I was in early labor:
I am so in labor. It started at exactly 7:38pm last night when I decided to began keeping track of the “cramping” I was having. For the next couple hours I had contraction every 8-10 minutes…but they were really short, like fifteen to thirty seconds.
I slept from eleven or so until just after midnight, when I awoke and announced to Tony “I don’t think I’ll be getting much more sleep.” From then the contractions seemed to space out but get longer and more intense.
I played Tetris off and on for a few hours, had a snack, was pissed my internet wasn’t working, tried to lay down but my mind was racing, you know normal early labor stuff. I finally fell asleep again around four and woke up at six-fifteen VERY happy to have slept and feeling pretty refreshed. I dozed for the next hour or so.
About seven-thirty I got up and had a piece of toast with half a glass of milk. I sat in the bath for awhile. Made some phone calls (not in the bath). Tony and I went on a walk around ten or ten-thirty. We were supposed to have a doctor’s appointment at eleven, but I called and asked if we could just skip it and go into L&D when we were ready, which they said was fine.
After our walk, we sat in the backyard for awhile, cooling our feet in the pool and watching all the bird-drama we have around here. Then we came in and I had a sandwich for lunch. I didn’t even think I was hungry, then realized I was starving!
This whole time I’m having really varied contraction (sometimes six minutes apart, sometimes twenty). They seemed shorter and less intense then the ones I’d had overnight. After lunch we watched some bonus features on the Project Runway DVD. I played more Tetris (seriously, it’s the perfect game to pass time and engage you enough to stop thinking!) while Tony called his Grandma for help filling out Dot’s baby book. While we were sitting there I was have forty-five second to minute-long contractions every six to seven minutes.
Then we went on another walk, this time to get some bubble tea It’s really hot out today. It was supposed to be just over seventy, the coolest of this week but I’m sure it’s eighty plus.
By this point Tony has me keeping track of my contractions, as well as the time elapsing between, on his iPod’s stopwatch. Unlike our previous walk, I maintained contractions while walking around. We then lounged in the pool again and read through the mail. Now it’s coming up on four o-clock and about twenty hours of consistent labor. We’re thinking we may go to the hospital within the next couple of hours; hopefully this stopwatch gives us the go ahead. Neither of us wants to jump the gun.
The following account of my actual birth (birthing?) was written nine days postpartum. I have been meaning to dig it out and post it for awhile (and hopefully give myself a little nudge toward writing M&M’s birth story down before it fades too much) so Mother’s Day seemed the perfect opportunity.
Warning: It’s long. It’s rather graphic. And it’s edited for our privacy.
We went to the hospital in the midst of rush hour and it took us 40 minutes. Ugh. We checked into triage and found out I was only 3cm dilated. That was at 7:30pm. We walked for an hour. Really walked. Like, I immediately headed for the steepest hill in the vicinity. At that point I was ready and did not want to go home.
When we went back to triage I was struggling a bit more, but nothing like was soon to come. I was still only dilated to 3cm though and was given the choice of walking again or going home. Since I had slept 3-4 hours in the past two days, I was exhausted. The walking was miserable, mostly because it just made me feel like I had to pee, and apparently wasn’t helping anyway. So I opted to go home.
I ask when I should come back. If my doc said to come when contractions were five minutes apart, and they were, and I wasn’t ready, then how do I know I am? The nurse said something about it being my first time and taking longer…I don’t really remember. I do know she said that when I came back I would be crying. Which was so helpful and positive!
We leave triage and there is drama trying to meet up with family members coming into town for seriously an hour. In the meantime my contractions are getting more and more intense, at I am getting more and more tired. At some point I go lay down in the bedroom. I’m not sure how long I was in there, it felt like forever. I hear family arriving and Tony playing host.
My contractions were a minute to a minute-and-a-half long at that point, sometimes with less than a minute between, sometimes with up to two-and-a-half minutes. It’s hard not to cry out because they’ve definitely grown in intensity. I remember getting very mad that Tony was out with everyone else and not in helping me.
Eventually I got up and tried to fill the bath tub (not so simple because ours doesn’t stop right so the water constantly leaks out and eventually you run out of hot water). After awhile Tony comes in and checks on me (later he tells me he thought it was my sister taking a bath) and by that point I’m almost crying. Though less from the pain and more just emotions, I think. The bath helps a lot but, due to technical difficulties, is short-lived.
I really want to go back to the hospital (for the tub there alone) but am terrified to be again turned away, especially after what the nurse said. This is where I started having to breathe through the contractions and hold Tony’s hand. We went back to the bedroom and he called triage to see what to do. He wanted them to guarantee we could stay if we came back in but, of course, they couldn’t do that without checking me (though I love him for trying!).
They told him to get me to drink water because I might be dehydrated and that could be causing the contractions. This must of been when I started feeling nauseous, because I wouldn’t drink water. I said it was going to make me throw up. We struggled through some more contractions and then he called back to say we were coming (which, he reasoned with me, we might as well if I couldn’t/wouldn’t drink the water…I wanted to go back but was still worried about being wrong and “looking dumb”).
I got dressed and went out, said ‘Hi” to my mom, got a plastic bag in case I needed to puke in the car (I was NOT looking forward to the twenty minute drive) and we left. I think we left almost exactly at midnight. This time I was having a much rougher time in triage (couldn’t talk during a contraction, more serious, everything our birth class instructor said would happen during active labor).
The same nurse checked my progress and, bless the Lord, I was 4-5cm! I was so relieved we were going to stay and very much looking forward to getting into the tub. Next the lab girl came to draw blood and put in my heplock (basically an open needle in case I need an IV later). She struggled with my “non-existent” veins, rooting around for what seemed like forever before giving up and saying she’d need to call the anesthesiologist.
Next thing we know our nurse lady is barging on in to “give it her best shot.” Again, sticking the needle in followed by a lot of rooting around. She, however, was successful (my hand was bruised for a week). This whole time I’m having contractions, an increasing need to constantly pee, and nausea to the point I’ve requested a “puke bag.”
Finally our nurse comes to take us to our room. Tony’s first question is, “Does it have a tub?” and she says she’s not sure, but when we get there it does and I am super relieved.
Of course first I have to wait to be checked by the doc and to get a “good amount” of baby heart rate and contraction data. So I have to lie on the bed and wait. It was probably somewhere between one-thirty and two that the doc (not my doc, some random on-call one) checked me and announced I was “more like 6cm.”
Somewhere around here is where it’s decided Dot is not being “perky” enough, therefore I have to stay monitored and can’t go in the tub. They bring the birthing ball in but I’m not interested in sitting on it. I am constantly feeling like I have to pee and would prefer to just sit on the toilet, but can’t really pee there (or in that position) so even that doesn’t solve the problem.
I also feel an overwhelming urge to puke during every contraction but can’t heave without pushing and, at this point, pushing, in any way or form, sounds like the worst possible idea. Eventually I do get on the birth ball and lean over the bed with Tony behind me and it’s definitely the most comfortable position I’ve been in all night. Tony kneads my back and it seems like some of the pressure is taken off my bladder. Best (or perhaps worst) of all, I finally puke a mess of water and bile into a plastic bag marked Personal Belongings. Something about the ball underneath me, made the “pushing” part of throwing up not so bad.
The nurse keeps clucking about Dots heartrate and eventually makes me get up and lay on the bed. This is where things start to go downhill–all I feel is this intense need to pee and poop and, during every contraction, puke. But I don’t want to let myself heave because I’m scared of “pushing” and I can’t go to the bathroom whenever I please because I’m hooked up to all these machines.
At one point I beg to just be allowed to go sit on the toilet. She tries to tell me I can’t because I need to be monitored but I get up anyway and say “just for six minutes.” Lol, I have no idea why six minutes!
My water still hasn’t broken, though the doc wanted to break it during his earlier check I wasn’t ready for him to. I was barely handling the contractions then and didn’t want them to intensify, even if it would make everything go faster. Probably somewhere in this time is when I start yelling. Mostly “I can’t do it” and “I’m gonna throw up.”
I tell Tony I want to be checked again, I need to know how far I am to know how much further I need to go and if I can do it. The doc gets called and when he comes I am throwing up into another plastic bag. He orders a saline drip immediately (which I understand, at that point even I knew I was dehydrated), checks me, breaks my water (which I didn’t ask for but don’t care anymore), and says I’m dilated to 7cm.
Now things are pretty blurry. I’m not sure what time it is…maybe 4am? But I start not being able to handle it anymore. I’m crying to Tony during contractions, yelling at him to rub my back “right” when I don’t even know what that means. I still can’t get up and am still needing to puke constantly. And I am getting louder with each contraction. I’m not sure how much time elapsed between my water being broken and me deciding I wanted the epidural…maybe twenty or thirty minutes? I feel very badly for Tony during that time.
Eventually, I ask for the drugs. I was feeling somewhat defeated about it, but still, once I decided I wanted it, I wanted it right now! It was probably 15-20 minutes before the anesthesiologist was woken up and got down there. Which, any other time in my life would have been plenty fast.
Then he has all this info to go through with me, to which I cry “I know everything about it!” And he says, “Well, I don’t know anything about you” and I have to give all my personal info and allergies and the like. Then I sit on the edge of the bed in this weird scrunched over position so he can get at my spine. And he says, “Now, if you can just stay like that for five minutes.” I kind of think he’s joking…of course I can’t, that’s why he’s here right?!?! The last hour of contractions have had me writhing and screaming. Tony jumps in, very protectively, with something along the lines of “What the @*%$?” Somehow I do manage to stay very calm and still the whole time.
I didn’t feel immediate relief, more like each contraction faded a bit more. I started getting the shakes real bad with each one, which was strange once I could no longer feel them…but a good indicator that I was having one. Maybe half an hour after getting the epi, about 5am, the nurse checks me and I’m nine and a half centimeters dilated.
At this point I’m feeling good; I’m happy, I’m apologizing to Tony, I’m asking about our families. I don’t regret getting the epidural. I’m glad I labored as much as I did and I avoided a lot of the side effects some people experience (usually because they get it too early). Some time before six my mom, younger sister, and mother-in-law came in. Ten or fifteen minutes after six I started pushing.
Tony was the perfect labor partner all along, but it was in the pushing phase that he really shined. He was super positive and encouraging and just so, so excited. Only the nurse was in there directing the pushing, for about a half an hour. She kept thinking Dot was really struggling during this time and had me wearing an oxygen mask and roll over on my side a lot.
When Tony first saw the head he told my there was a lot of hair and I did not believe him. I asked him if he was sure that wasn’t my hair! Neither him nor I had a lot of hair when we were born so I didn’t expect Dot to either.
The doc was called in probably less than ten minutes before Dot was born. I seriously pushed with him, like, twice. He was all about doing the “I told you so” about the epidural–he had been pushing one from the beginning. Anyway, Dot’s head comes out and he tells me to stop and he maneuvers her body out.
Immediately she screams and screams! The first two things I noticed were A) she was tiny (I seriously expected at least eight pounds and possibly nine) and B) she looked just like Tony. My placenta came out, like, two minutes later. I got a couple sutures, but didn’t even really tear. Where I needed them was on the across area versus the typical vertical tearing (or, worse, cutting).
My first born little girl came into the world at 6:49am. She was 7lbs, 3oz. and 19.5 inches long. She was prefect. We were thrilled. And I became a Mommy.