* Brace yourselves, this is a long one, but I want to remember everything that happened that day!
It all started on a Thursday morning (12/2), at roughly 8:30 am, when I went in for my 39 week doctor’s visit. I had been slightly dilated since week 36 – 1 cm, 0% effaced at 36 weeks; 2 cm, 50% effaced at 37 weeks; and 3 cm, 70% effaced at 38 weeks – so we already knew that no matter what my progress was at this appointment my doctor was going to go ahead and strip my membranes. She checked me and I was still at 3 cm, but was now about 80% effaced. So some progress had been made during the week, but not very much so I was admittedly slightly disappointed. My doctor then proceeded to strip my membranes as we had discussed. I was prepared for this to be extremely painful (from what I had heard from other people) and, honestly, it really wasn’t that bad. It literally took about 10 seconds and just felt like a really strong menstrual cramp. As soon as my doctor stripped my membranes I immediately started bleeding a little to which my doctor looked at me and the husband and said, “That’s generally a sign that it’s going to work. I suggest lots of walking.”
So off to the first mall of the day (yes, you read that correctly) we went, but not before scheduling an induction date for the following Wednesday just in case. We walked around Green Hills twice and then headed out to Cool Springs where we walked some more - we finally got home around 5:30. At this point there were no signs of labor (I had a few cramps throughout the day, but nothing out of the ordinary) and I was beginning to get a little disappointed; although, the husband kept reminding me that everything we read said it usually takes about 10-12 hours after the membranes are stripped for anything to happen.
Around 6:30 some very mild contractions started and we began to get a little excited. They were pretty regular coming every 15 minutes and lasting about 30 seconds a piece, but they didn’t hurt at all. I even thought to myself, “If this is what contractions are like, this isn’t bad at all. I don't know what the big deal is.” Little did I know that this was NOT how contractions during active labor would actually feel. These mild contractions lasted until around 8 pm and then stopped. I looked at the husband and we decided that Abby was going to be difficult and make us wait and that she wasn’t going to come that night after all. We were both pretty disappointed at this point - me especially since that meant I would have to go back to work the next morning. So I went downstairs to fix a grilled cheese (comfort food – yummy), and get ready for bed.
Around 9:15 (I was watching Grey’s Anatomy), I felt one of the worst pains I had ever felt in my entire life (it completely took my breath away and forced me down on all fours and burying my face in a pillow so I wouldn’t scream) – a real contraction. It lasted about a minute and the next one came immediately three minutes later. However, they were all isolated to below my belly button so I wasn’t totally convinced that they were contractions, but instead started to worry that there was something wrong. Meanwhile, the husband was downstairs doing I have no idea what so he didn't know what was going on upstairs. He finally appeared upstairs about 15 minutes later and found me down on all fours crying. He started timing for me and they were now coming every 2-3 minutes and were lasting at least a minute a piece, but, again, because the pain was not in my entire uterus I still wasn’t convinced so we called the doctor. She ensured us that this was normal for a lot of people, but that I still had to wait until they lasted for an hour to come to the hospital - an hour, REALLY? I'm pretty sure I'm dying, lady!).
At this point, I was in a significant amount of pain (because I was in active labor - I skipped right on over the transitional phase) and the contractions were coming so quickly that there was very little time for me do anything in between them. I had heard from other people that hot showers sometimes help, and I was willing to do anything to even experience just a little bit of relief, so off to the shower I went and the husband started packing the car. That shower was the greatest thing to ever happen to me (well up until 4.5 hours later when I finally got my epidural) and I didn’t want to get out because it was the only thing that had taken the edge off. The husband eventually came in to hurry me along because now my contractions were every two minutes and he was getting slightly concerned because we live about 20 minutes from the hospital. I regretfully got out and got ready to go, but not before taking one last bump-picture (don’t judge, I was doing good to get my hair dried and put clothes on – there was definitely no makeup or hair straightening being done for this picture)
and off we went to the hospital.
39 weeks, 5 days (12.2.10)
Those next 20 minutes really sucked. For me, the only thing more uncomfortable than being in a sitting position was lying down, so the entire car ride was pure torture. By the time we got to the hospital I was seriously questioning whether or not I was going to survive this night.
We got to Baptist around 11:30, were checked in super fast (thank God there was no one else there), and were wheeled down to triage to confirm that I was indeed in labor (seriously, for me this might have been an unnecessary step considering in the 10 minutes it took us to get checked in and to the room, I had about 7 contractions, but whatever they were just doing there job).
In triage, I got changed, peed in a cup (for what I can only assume was to confirm that I was actually pregnant (again, is this really a necessary step – please see above bump picture), was forced to get in bed so they could check me, and asked for my epidural (note: this was about 11:45 pm). For the record, someone once told me (I think it was in our childbirth class) that being checked during a contraction really doesn’t hurt that bad. If anyone ever tells you this, don’t believe them – it’s a big, fat lie! I was 100 effaced and 6 cm dilated. We were definitely having a baby sometime in the near future, so off to Labor & Delivery we went.
We got to our room, met our nurse for the night, I got hooked up to all the necessary monitors, got my IV, and was again forced to get in bed (still pure hell!!!). The next 2.5 hours were the longest of my life (seriously, why does it take so long to get an epidural after you’ve asked for it)! With every contraction (that were now about 1.5 minutes apart and were still lasting about a minute = about 30 seconds pain-free every 2.5 minutes) the only thing I could do was hold on to the bed rail so hard that I seriously thought I was going to break it (I actually think this was my goal – I failed, btw) and plead with (there were definitely tears at this point) the husband and my nurse to please make them hurry up with my epidural because I didn't think I could do this anymore.
Let me just take a quick break to say how great the husband was during this entire process – there were definitely times that I probably wasn’t super nice to him, but he never missed a beat when it came to doing whatever I asked him to. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner!
Finally, around 2 am the nurse anesthetist showed up to do my epidural. Thank God! Whoever finally came up with this medical marvel is my hero! After 5 hours and 15 minutes of natural childbirth I truly don’t understand why anyone would want to do that to themselves (I have nothing against you if this is what you choose, but it definitely wasn’t for me)! Around 2:40 a feeling of pure bliss rushed over me as my epidural took effect and I could no longer feel any pain whatsoever – it was pure heaven! But let me just say that those 30 minutes it took to get everything ready and actually place my epidural (because we had to stop so many times since my contractions were so strong that I couldn’t be still during them) were awful!
|Again, don't judge - me around 2:45am once the epidural kicked in|
Once I couldn't feel anything, my nurse checked me and I was now at 8 cm. I was progressing so quickly that everyone thought that Abby would arrive sometime in the next 2 hours and that there was no hope of my actual doctor delivering her (of course she wasn’t on call that night). A few minutes later I vomited, but felt fine immediately afterwards and never got sick again (apparently, it’s pretty common for people who get an epidural to vomit right around the 8 cm mark, although no one’s sure exactly why). My nurse advised us to try to get a little rest so I would have energy for pushing, so we tried, but I was so happy to not be in any pain that sleep was the farthest thing from my mind! I Facebooked, blogged, and visited with the husband’s family (who had all arrived at the hospital around midnight). Around 3 or 3:30 the on-call doctor from my practice showed up to check me and I was still at 8 cm, but we all still thought we would be having a baby soon. However, she decided to forgo breaking my water so I could possibly get some rest and maybe even make it to morning so my doctor could deliver me. I finally agreed to the rest and the husband and I both went to sleep for a few hours.
Around 6am, the Friday on-call doctor from my practice showed up to check my progress. I was still at 8 cm four hours later. My water still hadn’t broken on its own, so she decided to go ahead and break it as well as start a little Pitocin because I had “fallen off the labor curve.” No one was entirely sure why I had progressed so quickly and then just stopped, but they were fairly sure that breaking my water and the Pitocin would get things going again. Back to sleep I went and an hour or so later my nurse came to check me. Still no progress, so the Pitocin was upped. This continued for a few hours (I think by the end my Pitocin was at a 7).
My doctor (yay, the husband and I LOVE her) showed up around 10am and I had finally progressed to 9 cm. We were getting close and thought for sure that we would be pushing around 11. At 11, my nurse came to check me and I had finally progressed to a 10, but Abby hadn’t really moved any farther down the birth canal so my doctor wanted us to wait another hour or so to push in the hopes that she would drop a little more.
By this point, I was beginning to get a little restless and agitated – my grilled cheese from the night before was definitely gone and the ice chips weren’t doing it for me anymore either – I was hungry and anxious to get this going and to meet our little girl. At noon, I was checked again and Abby had dropped a little bit, but not significantly; however, we all decided that at around 12:30 we would start pushing and just see what happened. I think we actually started pushing around 12:45 or 1 by the time we got everything ready.
***Warning: If you’re easily grossed out by this stuff you may want to skip this next paragraph.***
Some of you may cringe at this, but I decided that since I couldn’t feel anything at all from the waist down that I wanted to use the mirror the entire time I was pushing because it helped me to push if I could see what was going on (until this moment, I didn’t think I wanted to watch, but I’m so glad I did because it made it so much more real and it was truly amazing to witness first hand what your body can do). During each contraction I would push and we could gradually start to see the top of her head, or so we thought. But in between pushes, she would move back a little bit so we weren’t making a whole lot of progress. Around 1:30, my doctor came in and we determined that Abby was progressing forehead first instead of top of the head first, and was getting hung on my pelvic bone. Since I had decided not to back off on my epidural and still couldn’t feel anything at all, my doctor manually turned her. This was the only time after I received my epidural that I felt even the slightest amount of discomfort and while it didn't actually hurt I could feel so much pulling and pressure that I can only imagine what it would have felt like if I had decided to try a natural childbirth – I’m pretty sure I would have passed out from the pain. After she was turned, Abby decided one more time to show us her stubborn streak and rotated right back to the position she was in before so my doctor had to turn her one more time. This time, Abby gave in and within 2 contractions we watched the most amazing thing ever happen – at 2:13pm on December 3rd, 2010, after 17 hours of labor, Abigail “Abby” Marie was born weighing 7 lbs, 1 oz and measuring 19.5 inches long.
Because of her slightly traumatic entrance into the world, she was breathing at about 100 breaths a minute so they laid her on my chest briefly after the husband cut the cord and then whisked her over to the nursery bed to give her some oxygen and to monitor her (she was still in the room with me so I could see her, I just couldn’t hold her quite yet). I was also pretty torn up from her having to be manually turned twice (4th degree tearing) so it took about 45 minutes for me to be “repaired.” After Abby was cleared and I was all fixed up, they brought her back and the 3 of us got to hang out as a family for an hour or so before the rest of the family came to visit.
1st family photo
Labor is definitely the best and most difficult thing I’ve ever been through and I wouldn’t have changed a single thing about Abby’s birth, no matter how painful it was. It was an amazing experience that brought us the best thing in the whole world and we can’t imagine life without her!