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I had just gone to see my OB for what I thought was the last time on Wednesday, and had gotten an ultrasound. I told her that I would be leaving her because of insurance issues (which was true, though deeper than the insurance issues was the ideology difference we seemed to have). She was disappointed, gave us a copy of some things in our files and told me to have my midwife's office call hers for other documents to be faxed before my next appointment. The ironic thing is that I had an appointment with the midwife scheduled at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, and I had asked the question, "I know this is me just being paranoid, but what happens if I go into labor between my appointment with Dr. Carol and my appointment with you ... who is responsible for my care if I have left her but have not yet gotten to you?" She told me until I was in their system at the Birth Center, that Dr. Carol would be responsible. Looks like it wasn't such a paranoid question after all.
Well, at midnight that evening, I had bloody show, thin streaks of red blood in with mucous, though not a big glob of mucous. At 4:30 a.m., I was awakened by a contraction, and my water either broke then or just before. It was not much water, maybe two cups, so I really was not sure it was my water until I started peeing about every three minutes. There was never a big gush of water after the bit in my bed. I tried to rest and sleep, but I was way too anxious for that -- some because I was excited, some because we didn't have any bags packed and most stuff not bought because she was 19 days early. For instance, we don't have a printer, and I had not printed a copy of my birth plan, so I had to write it all out by hand while I was in the early first stages of labor. I needed to pack a bag for baby and a bag for Rob and me, make a list of things we needed and didn't have, etc.
About five hours into labor, my contractions were about 10 minutes apart, and not any more painful than menstrual cramps. We decided to head for the hospital. During the ride there, my contractions developed a rhythm and were six-to-nine minutes apart. We arrived at the hospital right about 11 a.m. and I allowed them to check for dilation, and I was at 5 centimeters. I'd had mixed feelings about being checked for dilation, and the nurses were made aware of that. I asked *to* be checked but never was asked if they could or told that they had to. At 3 p.m., I had progressed to 7 centimeters and was fully effaced. At 5 p.m., my contractions suddenly became much more intense, lasted longer, and were about three minutes apart. I had not noticed much back pain up to that point, but it set in then. My friend Pat (our pastor's wife and an RN), was there with me also, and used her cold hand to put pressure on the area of my back that hurt the most, and it was exactly the relief I needed during the contractions. Rob was busy helping me focus and relax and brushing the hair from my face and being tender
About 5:30 p.m. I requested to be checked for dilation because of the dramatic change in my contractions. I was found to be at 9 centimeters. I continued to labor like this for another hour or so, and asked to be checked again, and was found to be very nearly fully dilated except for a part of the lip of the cervix. I finally began to feel the urge to push, and I was examined by my OB, who confirmed that I was ready to push. We began a series of pushing for three sets of 10 seconds apiece every time I had a contraction (still three minutes apart). For a while I was told to push, then for a while I was told to just relax. Eventually we got to a point where I was told to push every time, and I think that lasted for about 20 minutes.
I was in pretty rough shape at that point. I had been tired all day and had not wanted to get up and walk to help labor progress any faster and at that point I'm glad I'd done that, because I felt like I didn't have any energy to push at all. I cried and moaned and tried my best to relax between contractions, and every time another one would come, I would wish I'd had more time to rest between them. Pushing was a series of one step forward, two steps back, My OB, Rob and the nurses could see Grace's head come up and go back, crown and then go back in. Finally, Rob convinced me to look in the mirror they had set up so I could see Grace crowning, and that gave me my last bit of incentive to push her out. I gave several primal, groaning deep screams during the last several times to push, simply because that's what it took to get the drive to push her out. It was as if every cell in my body had to become involved in the pushing for me to really do it. It was indeed a whole body experience!
Grace was born with the umbilical cord tied around her neck once. Dr. Carol quickly unlooped it after telling me to stop pushing for a second. Her Apgar scores were first 8 and then 9, mostly because she wasn't quite pink enough the first time because of the cord. She cried almost immediately after being born, as far as I can remember, though I do think they did some suctioning on her with the little ball suction thing. I had requested that they wait to cut the cord until after it stopped pulsing, and it took no time at all for the placenta to deliver. My uterus seemed to continue to contract and the placenta sort of pushed its way out spontaneously with little help from me.
The OB and hospital staff paid close attention to my birth plan and were able to give us the birth we had hoped for, and we are very blessed and fortunate! The hospital stay was not great.. too many interruptions at night and too many restrictions about rooming in and stuff. Also bad feeding/scheduling advice from the nursery workers!!! Was glad to get home!
Grace weighed 7 lbs 5 oz and was 19 3/4 inches long, born at 37 weeks 2 days.
She is doing great as of her two-week checkup, has already gained a pound and is breastfeeding like a pro.