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The contractions started up at around 3pm on the 21st, four days before my due date. I was running some errands that day, stopped in to talk to my old co-workers, bought some groceries, went to Home Depot to buy some plants. I also stopped in to see Denis at work. I had started getting them by the time I dropped in on him, and I told him that I thought it was likely that I’d be going into labor that night. I just had a feeling that this was more than the normal braxton-hicks I’ve been having for so long, but at the same time since I’d been contracting so much the last few weeks I didn’t really pay it too much mind. I didn’t want to get all worked up - or get everyone else all worked up - until I knew for sure this was actually it.
I went home and put the groceries away, then tackled my garden. I planted a bunch of flowers in my front flower garden. It was what I had wanted to accomplish that day, and I was going to do it. Plus I figured being on my hands-and-knees wouldn’t hurt, I knew baby still needed to turn. Den got home to find me in the garden, pausing every once in a while for a contraction. He joined me, planting flowers in our pots. I was really thankful for his help because I was running out of steam and knew I wouldn’t have the energy to get to them that day.
We came inside, I sat at my computer a little bit, and then we headed down to our basement to watch a movie. Before we went downstairs I said, “Oh! Take belly pictures!” Den actually rolled his eyes at me. “Right now?” he said. Yes, right now. I wanted to make sure I got one last one, just in case. While I was standing posing for my belly pictures I got a contraction and leaned over, hands on knees, breathing out. Den took a picture. He thought that was hysterical. Me, not so much. (Until later, after she was born, when I saw the picture and bust out laughing.)
I actually forget which movie we turned on… The Saint, he tells me. At first I tried cuddling up to Denis, but then I got another contraction and decided I could NOT sit like that. I ended up sitting on the couch with my knees apart, leaning slightly forward with my elbows on my knees. Every 7-10 minutes I would feel another contraction coming, I’d just lean forward, rock my hips a little bit, and breathe. Den rubbed my lower back between contractions because I was feeling pressure and tightness (but not during them - I still don’t like being touched during contractions). I had a pad of paper beside me and I wrote down the time of every contraction. They were consistent but never got closer together. I was encouraged because they were getting stronger - to the point where I was missing bits of the movie to concentrate on a contraction. That should have been a nice big sign to me, but I still wasn’t convinced (duh, I say with hindsight).
We moved upstairs, Den watched some TV while I sat on my birth ball and rolled my hips. I was trying to get the baby to turn and drop. I also started writing that post. I ended up going to the bathroom a lot in those two hours, which was a positive sign. I started seeing some streaks of blood in my mucous, which was sometimes a little thick. I told Den I think I lost part of my plug. I was feeling very encouraged at that point! I took a shower, made sure the camera bag was right by the door. Den said, “You really think we’re going to the hospital tonight, don’t you.”
Den wanted to go to bed, and thinking I was in early labor I thought that was a good idea. I wanted to get rest for the long road ahead (haha). So I layed down, cuddled up to my husband (who fell asleep right away), rolled over… and realized the contractions had stopped. Like, completely. I felt disappointed. I mean, I was contracting pretty good for several hours, I really had hoped that they’d keep going, but it seemed like it was just another evening of pre-labor and I’d have to wait until another day. Everyone says labor doesn’t stop when you lay down, right? I got up to see if they’d start back up. They didn’t. I played with my nipples until I got a contraction - but just one or two, then nothing. I figured I’d just try to get the baby to turn, so I rolled my hips sitting on the birth ball, I got down on hands and knees to do cat-cow, I stretched down into some inversions. No contractions. I sighed, shrugged, and went back to bed and fell asleep.
I remember getting up a couple of times with contractions that made me have to pee - which is the same as every other night that week. I’d fall immediately back to sleep. But then around 3am I woke up with a contraction that was more than making me have to pee, it was uncomfortable. I got on my hands and knees on the bed and rocked it out. Layed down, fell asleep. Was woken up again with another one, same thing… got on hands and knees and rocked back and forth. Layed down. The third time I got up to go to the bathroom. I decided on a whim to check my cervix and things just felt so weird in there, I couldn't figure out what was what or where it was.
That’s when I woke Den up saying, honey, we need to start getting ready, we’re going to the hospital soon. We weren’t panicked at all. We were ready for this. Den got up and got in the shower. He brushed his teeth, got dressed, turned on the TV. I sat either at my desk chair or on the birth ball. I remember sitting on the birth ball, leaning forward, rocking. I kept saying to Den, if these hurt this much now, how much is it going to hurt later? I was a little scared of this “posterior” birth. At that point I had it figured that the night before had me a little effaced and that now I had finally started real labor and started dilating. I figured myself to be maybe 2 or 3cm or so. I called the Midwife to talk to her, she said I could come in if I wanted to. But I just really didn’t want to drive all the way in there and get stuck in the hospital for 24 hours in labor. I wanted to labor at home until it got hard, then I’d be well into labor and we wouldn’t have to wait long, or take the chance that it would stall out while I was at the hospital. So we stayed at home, laboring just like we had planned. It was all very peaceful. I’d say, “Ow,” once in a while. I cleaned the kitchen in between contractions, making sure the dishwasher was run and the sink was clean.
Those last couple of hours Kate got really quiet inside. She had been really active the night before during my contractions, kicking the crap out of me before and after each one. It was easy to labor like that. But when I realized that morning that she’d really slowed down and wasn’t doing that I started to get a little nervous. I’d lay back on the couch and poke around until she’d move. But that more than anything was what had me deciding to go to the hospital. I wanted to be on a fetal monitor. I told den and he started getting the truck packed, got the car out of the way, all ready to go. I just had to say the word.
It was roughly 5:30am, two and a half hours after I had woken up. I was just walking out of the kitchen after puttering a little bit more when a contraction hit hard. I gasped, grabbed the countertop and the washer and hunched over, whimpering, “Ow, ow, ow!” in that kind of voice that you use when you are truly in pain. Den jumped up frantically and ran over to me, asking if I was okay. I looked up at him with wide eyes and said, “We need to go to the hospital RIGHT NOW.” I remember that pain, I remember that low, low pressure, that feeling of wanting to crawl out of your skin and suck everything back up. It was called transition.
Den had me by the arm and lead me out the front door, down the steps, then another contraction hit and I started whimpering and writhing. I threw my arms around Den’s neck and was just gasping and nearly crying. I didn’t think I could make it to the truck, much less the hospital. I wanted to drop down and squat and knew that was a very bad sign - good for labor, bad for the fact that I was in my front yard at 5:30 in the morning. Soon as the contraction passed Den hurried me over to the truck. I told him to grab a towel from the back seat and throw it over my seat, then he got me in and we took off.
Now I was never very thrilled with this idea of driving to the hospital while having labor contractions. But I never even considered the fact that I could be driving to the hospital while having pushing contractions. Right away I knew what they were - my body was bearing down with or without me, and I did NOT want to have that baby in the vehicle. I gripped the door handle with my right hand and Den’s arm with my left hand, and every contraction had me writhing, kicking, and crying in pain. I had to bear down to make the pain tolerable, but I was trying so hard just to make “grunty pushes” like I read in the books, where you’re bearing down only a little bit and not really trying to push. I so did not want to push. Halfway through the drive I felt and heard a “pop” and there was a gush between my legs of my water breaking. In between contractions - during which time I felt fine, but could feel a lot of pressure between my legs - I called the midwife to tell her that we were coming in, I was in pain and feeling pushy and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. She said she’d meet me downstairs. Then I called my mom after the next contraction - I had promised her I’d call her when I was in labor, and when “labor” hit at 3am I didn’t want to wake her and have her sleepless for a long time (haha, again), so I’d put it off. I called, she answered, I basically blurted out that I was in labor, it’s going fast, it hurts, I’ll call you when she’s born, have to go. Mom was crying - I’m sure part out of excitement, part out of fear of another bad ending - and told me she loved me.
Den was absolutely fantastic during that drive, by the way. I’m sure he must have been absolutely ******* terrified. His hands clenched the wheel. He drove fast and aggressive, but not dangerously so. We stopped at red lights. It is a **** good thing that this all happened at 5:30am on a Saturday morning, because if there had been any traffic I don’t know if we would have made it. And the whole time Den was talking to me in this really calm, low, soothing voice. “Okay, we have 10 minutes left. 5 minutes left. Just over this bridge, we just need to go over this bridge and we’re there, okay?”
Finally we pulled up to the birthing wing’s front door. There was of course no valet parking on Saturday morning, so I got out of the truck and staggered over to the side, telling Den to “grab the black bag!” while Den gunned it into the parking lot. A nurse who was arriving for shift saw me and ran to get a wheelchair for me. I carefully sat in it, shaking. She wheeled me inside to registration while Den came running in to meet me. Now the funny part - I’m sitting in a wheelchair, gasping for air, shaking, crying out during every contraction about every 2 minutes. and the lady at registration was asking me my name, my due date, my birth date, who the pediatrician we’d chosen was. I gasped out answers to the first three and drew a complete blank on the fourth. I told Den to pull out my notebook from the black labor bag, where I had written it down.
Finally - and it must have only been 2 or 3 minutes sitting there, but it felt like an hour - someone wheeled me down to triage and into a little evaluation room - the same one I had had my NSTs in. The midwife was there and some nurses. They got me up, stripped my pants and underwear off, and helped me onto the bed. I think Den helped me strip my nightshirt off, one of the nurses draped a hospital gown over me. First thing I did was ask them to put the doppler on me, as I still hadn’t felt much movement from Kate, though of course with the contractions I was having is no wonder. They put it on me…. and there was her heartbeat. I felt about ten tons of pressure melt off of me…. I felt my body relax. Now that I knew she was still alive I felt ready to push her out. They held my legs back and open, I had them lift the bed up a little so I wasn’t laying back so far, and the midwife says, “reach down and touch your baby’s head.” She was crowning. From there it was only three or four contractions - probably around 5 minutes - of pushing. “Push push push,” the midwife said encouragingly, “you’re doing great.” I could feel the baby’s head moving down with every contraction. One nurse on my right said, “Wow, your body was made for birthing babies!” The thought crossed my mind that I should try slowing it up a little bit to prevent tearing, but then the overwhelming urge was to push as hard as I could. So I did. I felt her head come out. Then another little push and the rest of her came out. The midwife put her on my belly. I don’t even know how to describe that moment. Relief when we heard her make noise. I looked up at the clock to check the time, since no one had called it out: 6:05am (three hours after I had woken up).
They cleaned her up a little bit, cleaned her airways (she sounded a little gunky), put a blanket over us. Den got really teared up. I just held her and stared, in a very overwhelmed kind of shock and relief that I gave birth to a live baby. I held her, still attached by the umbilical cord, as they wheeled my entire bed upstairs to the LDRP rooms. I got a lot of double-takes from nurses, considering I was being admitted already holding a baby. LOL Then I got to deliver the placenta, get the cord cut, she got weighed and measured and swaddled while I got stitched up. Then they left her with us for a little while to breastfeed and cuddle and bond. It was amazing and overwhelming. That whole first day I think I was simply numb and in shock... it took me a while to look at her and realize she was MINE!