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On Monday, Aug. 9 I woke up feeling anxious and grumpy. It was pretty hot outside, so the kids and I were stuck in the house. I was so antsy and having trouble focusing on anything other than the fact that I was still pregnant. I decided to take the kids to McDonalds to play and to get some lunch. It was a good distraction and when we got home, I felt like I needed to do some laundry and clean up the house. When DH got home from work around 5, I left for the grocery store because I had a feeling I wouldn't get to go unless I went that night. I walked up and down all the aisles at the store, hoping to encourage labor to start. Ironcially, I saw my midwife at Kroger. She was in the frozen food aisle at the same time, and she was surprised to see me there. We both laughed because neither one of us thought I'd still be pregnant. I told her I'd see her in the morning for my appointment at 10:30, and she just said, "I don't know about that." Turns out she was right.
I got home from the store around 7. DH, the kids and I spent some time playing, and I finished up some laundry. DH gave the kids their baths and tucked them in. Around 8:15, I thought I might be having some contractions, but I decided to ignore them and eat a bowl of icrecream instead. My son got out of bed shortly after I finished my icecream. It was almost like he sensed something was going to happen. He asked if I'd rock him for awhile and sing to him like I used to when he was a baby. He never does that, so how could I say no? I rocked him for about 20 minutes and then tucked him back in. By this time it was 9, and DH decided to go to bed. I was still having contractions, so I told him I stay up for awhile and bounce on the birth ball and see if they stopped. I tried to watch a movie, but I was so distracted and having trouble focusing. I kept praying the contractions wouldn't stop, but they still weren't intense or consistent so around 10:30, I headed to bed.
Once I got into bed, I couldn't fall asleep. I was still contracting mildly, and with every contraction, it made me feel like I needed to pee. Around 11:30, I got up to go to the bathroom, and just as I made it to the bathroom, I felt a huge gush and I was sure my water had broken. I cleaned up and got DH out of bed and told him it was baby time. Then I called my mom and sister to come over, and I called my midwife. I told her I was pretty sure my water had broken, and she told me not to be in a huge rush but to get to the hospital once I had the kids situated. I tested GBS+ and because this was my third baby, she didn't want me to wait too long to head in.
I packed my bag (yes, I still hadn't done that yet) and DH gathered up all the other things we needed. My mom and sister arrived around 12:40. My sister stayed with the kids, and my mom followed DH and I to the hospital. We got there around 1:15am. The nurse did all the paperwork and I got into a gown. She hooked me up to the monitors and I was contracting about every 5 minutes by then, but they weren't uncomfortable or really strong yet. For some reason, no one really thought to check to see if my water had really broken. I guess they figured I knew what I was talking about. She did check me, though, and I was 4cm and 60% effaced. I was kind of disappointed that's all the further I was.
I decided to walk the halls to see if I could get the contractions more consistent. A major downer was when I was walking by the nurse's station, I overheard the nurse on the phone with my midwife. Her exact words: "She's contracting, but they aren't anything to write home about yet." I was upset yet determined to get labor moving. So I walked and walked and walked...I lost count of how many laps I did. I just remember repeating with each step, "Bring the baby down. Dilate." I'm not sure why I kept thinking that in my mind. I guess I was hoping the power of positive thinking would work.
After a few hours of walking, the contractions did start to intensify. The nurse hooked me back up to the monitors, and they were definitely stronger. She decided then to officially admit me and she called Susan (my midwife) and told her this was definitely it. I labored on the birth ball and bed for a few hours. Around 5:30am, everything just stopped. I had dozed off on the bed only to wake up to feeling absolutely nothing. I was so disheartened. I told the nurse, so she hooked up the monitors again, and sure enough--my contractions had really spaced out and weren't very strong at all. We decided to wait for Susan to come in to see where to go from there. I remember looking at my DH and just crying because I was so sure I was in labor.
Around 8:00am, Susan came in to check me. Much to my surprise, my bag of waters was still intact. She said that what I felt might've been my water leaking or a layer of water breaking, but the bag was still there. When she checked me, I was 5cm and about 75% effaced, so I had made some progress since I checked in. We discussed my options. I could go home. I could try a breast pump. Or she could break my water. I really wanted to avoid the AROM because I knew that would put me on a time clock to deliver. I did not want pitocin, which I knew was quite possible if I didn't progress after she broke my water. She said she'd give me some time to think about it and she'd be back. After talking about it with my mom and DH, I decided to consent to the AROM in hopes that it would unstall my labor and help me make some progress.
Susan broke my water at 8:35am, and within 15 minutes, my contractions were back and much more intense than they had been. I had to be hooked up to the monitors for 30 minutes after she broke my water. Being in the bed was pure torture. I couldn't get comfortable and I couldn't find a position that helped ease the pain. I was so relieved when the nurse unhooked me. I spent a lot of time laboring on the birthing ball and just swaying back and forth while leaning on my DH. Around 11:30, the contractions were getting extremely intense, and I opted to get into the birthing tub thinking that labor had to be ending soon.
Once I got into the tub, it was almost like an instant relief. I could still feel the contractions, but they were much less intense. I felt a renewed sense of energy and feeling like I could make it through the labor without any pain medication. After about an hour in the tub, the contractions really intensified and I was beginning to moan through the contractions. I started feeling a lot of pressure and I asked the nurse to check me. Much to my disbelief, I was only 7cm and I still had some cervix left. She offered me some Nubain, but I decided against it because I was afraid it would make me loopy or stall labor again. It was at that point when things become a bit blurry.
I continued to labor in the tub. I was afraid to get out because I thought if the contractions hurt that bad in the tub, I was afraid of how they'd feel out of the tub. Around 1pm, Susan came in and she remained in the room from then until delivery. I remember at one point begging for an epidural. My DH and Susan reminded me that's not what I wanted. With each contraction, I tried to moan/sing my way through them. I didn't try any patterned breathing. I just went with what felt natural. With each one, I tried to repeat in my mind that pain was progress and I visualized my baby coming down. Around 2pm, I told Susan I felt like I needed to push. She checked me, and I was only 9cm and still had a small piece of cervix left. For some reason, my cervix wasn't cooperating and didn't want to thin out completely. Susan told me I could try pushing with the contractions to see if that helped the cervix thin out, so I began to push. At one point in between contractions, I told Susan I had a renewed sense of energy and felt like I could do this. That feeling didn't last long, though.
I remember when I started pushing, it felt so much better. It still hurt, but pushing helped with the pain. I remember getting discouraged, though, when they couldn't see her head when I pushed. I really didn't think it would take that long once I started pushing being as it was my third baby. I told Susan to just make my labor stop and to send me home because this baby wasn't coming out on her own and I was just going to stay pregnant forever. Everyone in the room laughed but me. I just desperately wanted it to be over. With each contraction, I would moan and try to sing my way through them. I don't really know why, but that's what my body was telling me to do. In between contractions, I focused on taking deep breaths and trying to rest. I did doze between contractions because I was so exhausted by this point. As I felt a contraction begin to come on, I begin to moan and sway back and forth in the water trying to focus on something other than the pain itself. I remember when I was pushing, Susan was telling me to push the pain away so I would visualize the pain and just try to push it out. It helped immensely to hear her telling me that.
Around 2:30pm, Susan and my nurse convinced me that maybe I just needed to change positions. The thought of getting out of the tub terrified me, but somehow they managed to get me out. I don't remember getting out of the water and into the bed. I know I walked but I truly don't remember doing it. It was like an out of body experience. I got into the bed, wet bathing suit top and all, and DH held one leg while my midwife held another. I began to push with the first contraction I had after getting into bed. And that was all it took. Susan handed my leg off to the nurse and before they could really even get everything set up to deliver in the bed, Kendra began to crown. I remember the bed kind of rolling away because the wheels hadn't even gotten locked in. Apparently the trip from the tub to the bed was all I needed to get her to come down.
I can't explain what it felt like to feel her head come out. I mean, I know they don't call it the ring of fire for nothing, but it actually felt good. She was finally out. With the next contraction, the rest of her body was delivered. I remember crying and saying, "My baby, my baby." Kendra was born at exactly 2:40pm, weighing 8lbs10oz and was 21 1/4 inched long. Susan place her on my chest and the nurses started rubbing her and listening to her heart beat while I just stared at her in disbelief and cried. Susan waited until her cord stopped pulsing to cut it. Once DH cut the cord, they wrapped her up and continued to let me hold her. I ended up having a really small tear that didn't require any stitches. My bleeding was a bit heavier than Susan liked, so I got two injections of pitocin to help my uterus contract. The bleeding subsided, thankfully, and everything was okay.
I was able to hold her for a good 2 hours after birth. They did weigh her and give her the vitamin K, but they didn't do that until I was ready to and she didn't leave the room for that. I nursed her for about an hour. DH sat in bed with me and we were just in awe of our new little miracle. My mom was also in the room the while time, so after DH and I held her for awhile, my mom took a turn. About 2 hours after she was born, DH went with her to the nursery for her bath and to measure her while I took a shower and got cleaned up.
Having her was honestly the most empowering and amazing experience of my life. Of course the births of my DS and DD are very special to me, but there's something even more special about Kendra's birth and knowing that I actually did it. Depsite not having the water birth I'd hoped for and having to have an AROM, everything else went as planned. I wouldn't change a thing. I never imagined labor would be 18 hours from start to finish. I never pictured myself being so loud and vocal during labor. I'd do it all over again. It was truly my perfect birthing experience!