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On my 24th birthday, DH took me to the mall to choose my own birthday present. Before we made it to the mall we stopped at IHOP for a nice lunch. My father called while we were there and said he would be at my grandmother's house, in case we wanted to stop by. He also mentioned there was a strawberry pie! We finished eating and went over to the mall. After walking around for about an hour, we decided to head back to our home town. The mall was too stressful for me! There we went to WalMart and walked around for probably another hour while I selected my birthday gifts from DH. We returned home and relaxed for a while.
At 8pm, I began having labor contractions. They were strong, insistent and would not ease with any positioning I tried. I also had quite a bit of back pain with these contractions, so I was concerned my little one was sunny side up. I tried to sleep through the night, but I was unable to get more than a few minutes of rest. The contractions began about 10 minutes apart and by 2:30a they were about 6 minutes apart. Sometime during the night I tried to do pelvic rocks on my exercise ball in order to encourage the baby to turn if he was indeed sunny side up, but the pain on the first contraction was so bad that I gave up on that idea.
DH had been sleeping from around 9pm on. It was a Sunday night, so I did not want to wake him without cause because he had to be up for work on Monday. At 2:30am I called our midwife because I could not get comfortable. We discussed things for a bit and agreed that we would wait to see until I was truly convinced. She said she was sure I would be convinced that it was true labor within an hour. She also suggested returning to the exercise ball. She said the first two or three contractions would be worse on the ball, but only because the baby would be turning. I stuck it out through five contractions on the ball and sure enough the last 2 were easier.
I woke DH by 3:15 and told him to get up and shower because we were going in to the doctor's office. I called our midwife at 3:20 and she agreed to meet us in the office to do a check. After the previous incidents during my pregnancy, I did not want to make any assumptions and head into the hospital, so we were doing a check in the office. I was fully effaced and dilated to four centimeters. I had been at 2 a week before. We were definitely going to have our baby soon. Because of the back pain, our midwife wanted to do a quick ultrasound to see if he was in the correct position. She left the room to prep the ultrasound room and I when went to get off the exam table, my water broke. It was exactly 4am. Initially it was a small gush and then it was undeniably my water breaking. We cleaned up and went off to the ultrasound room.
Our baby was positioned well, his head was to one side. Most likely it had twisted a bit when I did the exercise ball and it would now be ok. He would most likely finish rotating his head during delivery. And now we were off to delivery!
Because I had tested positive for Group B Strep, we had to have the baby within 24 hours of my water breaking. I also had to have an IV of antibiotics every 4 hours during labor to ensure that despite the baby's exposure to it he would be able to fight off any infection and would not develop pneumonia or sepsis.
DH and I went out to the car and drove around to the entrance of the hospital. We had to go through the Emergency Room. When we walked in, there was a couple sitting at the admitting desk. Since our midwife had called and was already prepping our room, the nurses came to take me up to Labor and Delivery while DH had to wait in line for admitting. Unfortunately, the couple there decided to argue with the admitting people because of some inane reason I don't remember now. It took DH a while to get upstairs.
Once in the OB department I was checked into my room. They connected the external fetal monitors to do an initial baseline reading so that we could switch to intermittent monitoring. While connected to the monitor, my contractions had increased to 5 minutes apart (really more like 4 1/2) and our midwife was attempting to put the IV site in my hand. I began sweating. Not just any sweating, but the nasty flop sweating that covers your entire body with an insistent sheen of moisture. I was burning up and the contractions were forcing me to pay attention. It was suspected that I would have the baby soon because of this reaction. It seemed like I was in transition. My contractions became harder, more insistent and more frequent. However, it was just because of the stress of having the needle inserted for the site that caused all of this reaction. It was nearly impossible to tape the site onto my hand and it would have to be re-taped several times. It was actually strapped on more than taped on because they would wrap the tape around as much as possible to keep it on my hand.
By 6am I had progressed to 5 cm dilated. By 10am I had progressed to 6 cm dilated. We continued this way until 2pm when I had progressed to 8 cm dilated and had reached a plateau. I had been in labor for 16 hours and was very tired. We decided that it was time for some action. Our midwife offered us the options of using a breast pump for nipple stimulation, tincture of black and blue cohosh or Pitocin. DH and I discussed the options and the risks of each choice. We decided to opt for the Pitocin because we knew it would be effective within a reasonable amount of time whereas the other two options, even when used together, could result in no change or a very slow change.
Shortly thereafter the first dose of Pitocin was administered. Once it began working, I do not remember much else. I spent some of my time in labor on a birth ball looking out the window at the small garden and fountain on the hospital property. It was peaceful and relaxing and I really enjoyed the view. Our midwife stayed with us for almost the entire time -- DH said she left the room a few times to return phone calls from other patients.
While the details are fuzzy for me in this time period, I can tell you that DH told me I was not mean. At one point I did grab his shirt (and his chest hair), twisted my wrist and pulled him close to me. DH was an immense help. He worked with me on our relaxation techniques and he was my rock. I know we joked back and forth for a while until I was no longer interested in joking. He helped me through labor the entire way and I could not ask for more. I also spent some time in labor on the toilet. Because the toilets were ADA regulation size, it took me some positioning to hop up on it (yay for being short) and it was not pleasant to get off of it either, so I refused. Finally I think they said they tricked me to get off of it. I remember also spending some time in labor on the floor near the bed. I remember squatting too, but when our midwife checked I still had some cervix remaining. Eventually somehow I made it onto the bed.
There was still a rim of cervix and our midwife told me I would just push through it. She assisted by moving it out of the way when I pushed and finally the baby was ready. At first I attempted to push in classic position, but I was exhausted. My pushes were ineffective more often than they were effective, so the nurse kept trying to convince me to use the sidelying position to push. She kept saying that the baby would do the work and I misunderstood thinking she meant I would not push then. I did not like that because I had an unmistakably overwhelming urge to push.
Finally I stopped arguing and switched to my side. For the first contraction, I did not push because I thought that was what they were telling me to do. They explained I should push with the next contraction and I was relieved. One person held one of my legs in the air while I pushed and I think someone else held my other leg. I grabbed onto the railing of the bed and pulled with all my might as I pushed with each contraction. After an hour and a half of pushing, my son Dalton was born.
I will never forget that moment. DH caught our baby as he made his way into this world and I saw him as he took in his first eye-full of the world. He was gloriously purple and his umbilical cord was brightly colored with such a strong pulse. He began crying at 8:07, his official time of birth and did not stop until after 9. I had spent 24 hours in labor, had received Piticon every half hour since 2:30 with a dosage that was increased 6 times over that time and I did not request from our midwife any medication. I did mention to DH once, but that was when I knew she was not around because I needed his support and reassurance that I could do it. That moment also told him I was in transition and that the baby would be here soon, so it helped him as he was supporting me. I did not have an episiotomy and I did not experience any tearing. I lost very little blood (normal loss is 300 mL, I lost 50 mL) and did not have any clotting. DH saw our baby's head turn as he was coming out and he even pulled the baby's legs out under our midwife's supervision. He also saw the infant heimlich maneuver and our baby did not need to be aspirated at all. His first BM of meconium was also witnessed - he pooped on me as DH was catching him.
I will never forget the awe and wonder I experienced as I delivered our child. I have already forgotten exactly how the contractions felt, how the pain was and all the negative aspects. Our baby is beautiful and healthy. He did develop jaundice from blood incompatibility because I am O+, but he was better in a week and we had him on the billiblanket only until he was a week old. My love and my husband was the most amazing support I could ever imagine and knowing that he was the first person our son saw and the first person to touch our son was an incredible feeling.
And that is the birth day of Dalton James.
__________________ Joanna wife, mother, blogger, support group leader, perpetually behind on laundry