I’d been having crampy contractions off and on started on the 29th of February, though I was trying not to make a big deal out of it since I knew it could stretch for quite a while. Thursday (the 1st), I didn’t have many, but Friday they lasted much of the day. Still, they weren’t intense or building, so I went to bed just figuring the time was coming sooner or later.
I woke up at 5am Saturday morning when, in my sleep, I stretched…and my water broke.
Ironically, it wasn’t the massive, soaking gush that it was a few weeks earlier that took us into the hospital – more of a plop – so I just got up and puttered around for a while. A tablespoon an hour, the midwife had said, and a continuing trickle were the things to look for. I was having crampy contractions every 5 minutes or so, not very strong, so I did a few things on the computer, had breakfast, and otherwise wasted time. The one thing that stood out to me, however, was that this time my water, or discharge, or whatever it was wasn’t clear…it was a dark yellow to brown color. This bothered me, but when I called the (very sleepy, slightly grumpy) nurse on call, she told me it could just be my mucus plug, “but if you think your water broke, then you should go to the hospital, but if you think it didn’t break, you shouldn’t.”
Well, that was helpful.
By about 6:30 I’d realized two things: yes, my water had broken, and yes, things were progressing right along. The contractions were starting to speed up and strengthen on me, the trickle of fluid had continued, and it was time to go! I made sure John was on board, got some things ready for our friend who would be watching the boys, put in a load of laundry, emptied the dish washer… Really, puttered around the house occupying myself and trying not to dwell on what the color of my water meant. I’d heard of meconium before – where the baby poops in the amniotic fluid before birth – but other than the fact that Danny had had some, I wasn’t sure what it meant in a more practical fashion.
We were off around 7:30, Eric awake and Danny still asleep (probably a good thing, that!), swung through a drive thru to get me a smoothie and John some breakfast, and made it to the hospital around 8. I stopped in the bathroom to discover my water now had a green tinge to the brown color, and that I had some bloody show as well…so I was progressing somewhat at least! We went upstairs and got me checked in as I labored, breathing a little heavy through the contractions but not dying for them. I found some positions better than others to be in to make it through the contractions. When they checked me, though, I was only 3cm dilated – which surprised me, considering I made it to 5cm with Eric with less pain and my water still intact! It definitely hit me then that having that water intact can really help manage the pain. They also confirmed that there was definitely meconium going, thick and nasty. We started my IV to do a dose of Group B Strep antibiotics (since I had tested positive for it in early pregnancy), and we waited.
But not for long.
It wasn’t too long in that we discovered labor was going to be…interesting. While the baby’s heart rate wasn’t decelerating (except at the peak of contractions), it wasn’t accelerating either – he was looking very “flat” when they like to see peaks and valleys. I also realized that I hadn’t really felt him move much at all in over 24 hours at that point. To keep a better eye on him, they placed a monitor on his head, and when that confirmed that he wasn’t varying his heart rate much, we started playing with different positions that might liven him up.
We discovered that if I laid on my side – especially on my right side, but either side would do – he would perk up a little. He still didn’t look great, but he looked better than when I was sitting up and leaning forward. The good news was that he was looking better, healthier, more stable. The bad news is that laying my side hurt like crazy during contractions. Now, that’s one thing if the contractions are doing much, but mine…weren’t. The nurse comments that compared to the levels they see on most women, mine were pretty weak, and my slow progress was a show of that. That wasn’t overly disturbing to me, looking at how slowly things went with Eric, but the fact that each one was bringing down his heart rate a little more bugged me.
I went ahead and got the epidural around that point; it was clear that my baby needed me in the more painful positions to manage labor better, and the pain relief really helped me focus on not freaking out. (Because believe me, at this point I wanted to freak out about baby not looking shiny on the monitors!) We entered a holding pattern then, making slow progress, picking and choosing what side I would lay on based on how well baby’s heart rate looked while I was in that position, and hoping something picked up – the speed of my labor, baby’s heart variability, anything – before anything went from “kind of concerning” to a real problem.
Honestly, in the back of my mind, I was preparing myself for a c-section. The way his heart rate was, not looking great and dropping during contractions, they weren’t willing to put me on pitocin, and they didn’t want me to labor indefinitely either if I kept barely making progress. The nurse was willing to stretch me out a couple times she did checks to help me along, but she didn’t want to cheat too much. They also did a trick where they pumped some fluid back into my uterus, sort of like an IV drip only through the monitor they had up there, and it seemed to help make the contractions more effective for me.
Around 2, I still had plenty of dilating to do and nothing had changed much with how my labor was progressing. John slipped out to get something to eat. A half hour later, the nurse checked me again – I’d gone from a “big 7″ to “about an 8,” massive progress – and suggested I try laying on my left side sort of forward, half laying on my stomach and half laying on my side really, with a pillow under my belly and one leg to support me. It was the most comfortable position I’d been in all day, very close to how I had been sleeping every night, so I settled in and contemplated taking a nap.
A couple minutes later, I felt a contraction. Then another, quick and fast and hard. I hit my epidural button, grumbling, and watched the monitors since they were right in front of me. The monitor for contractions showed them definitely getting more intense – and the one for baby’s heart rate was dipping lower and lower at the peak of every one.
John came in about 15 minutes after I’d started feeling the contractions, and they were still building. I had him hit my epidural button again, and I freaked out to him about the heart rate dipping. It had gone from dipping into the 140′s during contractions to dipping down to about 110. 105. 100. 96. Erm. He poked his nose out to ask the nurse, who assured him (then came in to assure me) that they were watching it, and yes he was dipping, but between contractions he was looking better than he had the entire labor.
That’s about when the contractions started to hit me so hard I was whimpering through them. I told her so, and she asked if I’d hit my epidural button. Um, yes. Twice. So she checked me. “Oh! You’re complete!”
Right about then, another contraction hit, and I realized part of the pain I was feeling was the desperate need to push.
Of course, the nurse wanted a doctor in the room, and kept telling me to pant and breathe through them. I countered with a not very rational “I don’t know how to not push!” Let me just say, not pushing hurts like crazy. Seriously. I was clinging to the rail of the bed, desperate to push, trying not to, feeling the kid moving down anyway and trying not to cry from the pain of it. I’m pretty sure I started begging her to get anyone, I didn’t care who, in there to catch the baby so I could push… I know I had a brief exchange with John telling him I didn’t want to ask him to catch, but he just might have to anyway. I wasn’t telling myself to push, I wasn’t trying to push, it was just happening.
The doctor on call (my doctor’s partner in the practice, I wasn’t lucky enough to get MY doc on call for the weekend) arrived at 3:23. She puttered around, put on a gown, asked for a different size of gloves, and I was like – really? Seriously? Grab a freaking towel and catch this baby, I want to push!
And finally, green light go. Pushing felt awesome. And then the head got to the bottom of the birth canal, and I cursed myself and my husband for making big headed babies as the doctor massaged me through a couple of contractions to help get the little guy out. With maybe 4 contractions worth of pushing, out came the head…and his shoulders got stuck. I remember telling them to get the darn kid OUT of me already, and one more push later, he was out. Ohthankgod. (Come to find out later, when the head came out, the cord was around his neck, and when I started to push again, his heart rate took a dive – so she did a quick episiotomy and just got him.)
And lo, Andrew Taylor was born at 3:29pm on March 3, 7lb 6oz and 21 inches long. The doctor got to mess with my after birth – which included the cord trying to detach from the placenta, so she had to reach up there and get it – and as she washed me up we came to the mutual agreement that my epidural had pretty much stopped working the second baby started to descend. (This included me nearly cursing at her as she went to stitch me up. Whoops.) Andrew, meanwhile, was getting suctioned like crazy and had to be intubated to get all the meconium out of him, and they were explaining to John that he had some bruising because he’d come down the birth canal so quickly his head hadn’t bothered to mold, it just slammed right on through. He was healthy, though, and once all was said and done I got to nurse him a little, as well as both of us getting plenty of cuddle time with him before they finally took him to the nursery to be checked out.
Once there, however, his oxygen saturation took a bit of a drop – so they put him on some O2 and monitored him for a bit before letting him come up to my new room. They also requested I let him stay in the nursery overnight (coming out to me every 3 hours or when he was showing hunger signs) so they could monitor him in case it dropped again while I was asleep. He made the night just fine, though, and by morning was pink, healthy, and ready to rock and roll.
He just needed a little time in the spotlight, I guess – little dramatic guy.
We have been home for a few days now. Eric is thrilled, Danny is…undecided, but not causing issues, and we are a little tired and sleep deprived but overall doing well.
(*This post may be edited at some point or other depending on whether John pings me upside the head and makes me realize I got something wrong. I was not in the best frame of mine to make solid memories, ha!)