If you follow this blog at all you may remember my complaint about pre-labor for most of a week starting on Monday, Oct. 30. Well this continued in the same fashion through the birthday on Wednesday, November 7. The only change in the pattern was that on Monday the contractions were slightly stronger and by Tuesday they were of the same intensity that I had the day before L was born. They were 10-30 minutes apart for most of the day and stopped when I went to bed around 11pm. To be honest, I expected to be woken up in labor the next morning. It just seemed like it would happen. Here is the play-by-play:
4:30 AM- I woke up to the strongest contraction yet and thought, “This could be it!” I decided to try to get some sleep after getting up to use the bathroom. I managed to doze and noticed another contraction come about 20 minutes later. This was not quite what happened with L’s birth. With her I woke up with them consistently every ten minutes. I dozed and had strange dreams about election results and being in labor while the stronger-than-I-had-been-having-in-nine-days-of-pre-labor contractions were 20-30 minutes apart until M’s alarm went off around 6.
6:00 AM- I told M what had been happening. We decided that I should get up and take a shower and see if things intensified or seemed like my typical pre-labor days.
7:00 AM- The contractions had been just as strong and were happening every five minutes at this point. M decided to cancel his classes for the day so that I could have some help with the kids.
7:30 AM- They were still five-ish minutes apart. I could still walk through them and talk through them. I decided to call my parents and tell them to get ready to come to town. They had a nine hour drive ahead of them and I figured the sooner they left the better it would be for the kids.
8:30 AM-Things were still going as they had before with fairly regular strong contractions, but I could still walk and talk. I decided to do some of my weekly house chores that had not yet been done. I got ready to mop the floors. When the mopping was finished and I was still having the contractions we decided to look into getting the kids set up with the friends who were planning on watching them while I was in labor. M got together things for them and started making phone calls. We also started timing the contractions.
9:30 AM-The timing of the contractions was not going well. For some reason timing contractions with precision stresses me out, and stress makes my labors slow down and even putter out. I started getting really anxious that this was not labor and that M had canceled class for no reason and that my parents were going to come and stay for a week and there would be no baby. I just felt a lot of (probably unreasonable) pressure to know I was in labor and stay in labor. Further I was anxious about the kids’ childcare since we had not yet been able to line up someone who could watch them all day.
10:00 AM- The kids things were packed, my suitcase was mostly packed. The contractions were more like 10 minutes apart and not very strong anymore. M got a hold of one of our friends who had offered to watch the kids and being a stay-at-home home schooling mom she was able to have them over all day until dinner time. Another family was going to have the girls for dinner and then if I was still in labor the mother would put the girls to bed at our house and wait the arrival of my parents. As soon as things lined up I had a massive contraction. My stress about the kids had been making it harder for me to relax and allow labor to happen.
10:30 AM- M took the girls to our friends house and of course I started to miss them. My parents called to tell me that they were leaving St. Louis. I started feeling anxious again since my contractions were now 10-20 minutes apart and still not as strong as they had been. I had the occasional super strong one, but still nothing super regular.
11:30 AM- M and I took a walk (maybe .5 miles?) and I started having stronger, more regular contractions on the walk. When we got back home and I sat down, they still were not super regular. I started worrying if it was labor at all still. I did some reading and sitting around and trying not to focus on if it was labor.
1:00 PM- We were hungry for lunch and my contractions were picking up again, so M went out and got us some Jimmy John’s subs. I had a roast beef sandwhich. It was delicious and took me until 2:00 PM to eat. During that time we ordered L’s birthday presents and the Christmas presents for the kids online.
2:00 PM-More active contractions were setting in, and I decided to take a bath and see how things went. The bath was nice, but not nice enough to mask the pain of stronger, regular contractions. They seemed about 5 minutes apart and sometimes only 3 minutes apart.
3:30 PM- With the contractions 3-5 minutes apart and intensifying, I decided to call the “maternity care center” at St. Joseph’s hospital and see if they thought I should come in. My reason for getting to the hospital sooner was so that I could have a round of antibiotics to take care of my positive beta-strep results. I also wanted to be settled in the hospital before transition. I had arrived during transition with L and things were rushed, crazy and not exactly relaxing at all. The nurse thought it would be good to come in given that it was my third delivery.
4:00 PM- We were in the car heading for the hospital. I sent out texts to family to let them know, and called the grandparents to give more details. M said that he could tell by my voice when I was having contractions, so things were definitely progressing.
4:10 PM- We parked and went in the main hospital entrance and then were given directions for a pretty long trek to the maternity care center. I guess they want to make it hard for random people to walk in on that part of the hospital (and run off with the babies?). I had to stop a couple of times because of contractions.
4:20 PM- We made it to the maternity care and were brought to a room. I gave them the sample they needed and threw on the hospital gown to make monitoring easier. Then we started talking with our nurse Julie. She was in her first year at maternity care and had a more experienced nurse, Maggie, helping her and giving advice. The nurses were both super friendly and we chatted about my other two births and how things went then and how things were progressing with this labor. She hooked me up to the monitor to check on contractions and the baby’s heartrate, and then put the IV line in my arm (yuck!).
4:45 PM- While we were waiting for the monitoring we got on facebook to ask for prayers for the labor. The contractions which had slowed down slightly when we got to the room were picking up again.
5:00 PM- After successful monitoring the nurses decided to check the dilation and station of the baby. They measured me at 4 cm. I do not remember the station. Things were continuing to progress like normal labor. I decided to put my own shirt back on since it seemed like it would be a few hours before I was ready to deliver.
5:15 PM- They got the antibiotics started.
5:45 PM- It was time to monitor the baby again, which we did in the rocking chair in the room. Julie suggested we order dinner before the cafeteria closed in case labor went long.
6:00-7:00 PM- They were having trouble getting clear readings and had me move to the bed to get better access to my abdomen.
Sometime in here they decided the baby’s heartrate was dropping too low during contractions and they had me use and oxygen mask. This also happened with G’s delivery. My strong long contractions are strong and long I guess.
Dinner came sometime before 7:00 PM and I had a few sips of milk and then lost my appetite.
I was taken off oxygen when they were able to see what was going on with the baby better.
7:00 PM-They checked me again, and I was measuring at 6-7cm with an intact bulging bag of waters. Maggie mentioned that as soon as my water broke I would probably at 10 cm and ready to push. They called Dr. K to come to the hospital. The baby warmer was brought into the room.
I was in the midst of the most intense transition of all three of my totally natural births (besides the antibiotics). Every contraction was long and crazy intense. I had thoughts about never wanting to do this again and mentioned to M that I was not sure if I could manage the pushing after the transition. The pressure of the baby descending plus the bag of waters was always present. I just laid on my side and let those contractions do their thing. Which is all one can do with labor.
7:25 PM- Dr. K arrived in the room and checked on things. Transition was still in high gear. I think I asked her about the Bible study at our parish between contractions. I was supposed to be there that night.
7:35 PM- My water broke. Gush went the bag. SLAM went the head. I informed the room as it happened. I had a couple more contractions before the urge to push was imminent.
7:40ish PM- Pushing contractions were at hand. I was planning on easing into them so as to avoid a tear this time. I turned from my side to inclined on my back and breathed through the first pushing contractions. The seconds between the pushing contractions were blissfully relaxing compared to the intensity of transition.
The baby’s head was starting to crown even with the lack of pushing, so I decided to push a little with the next contraction. With that push the head came halfway out. M described this to me. They urged me to continue to push to get the head out the rest of the way and then the shoulders. It felt like one long continuous pushing contraction until the whole body was out.
7:49 PM-Dr. K announced that we had a daughter and she was placed on my stomach. When the cord stopped pulsing it was clamped and then cut. F stayed on my belly and I was propped up a bit to try nursing her. She was not really interested so I just held her while we waiting for the placenta to come out.
The placenta seemed to be taking longer than Dr. K thought it should, so she did a little uterine massaging. We decided to have M hold F so I could focus on pushing out the placenta. It came out all in one piece. This might be TMI, but I had a very small tear which only needed a few stitches. It is a huge difference in recovering than even my small one with L, not to mention the 4th degree with G. Anyway…
They noticed some heavy bleeding. One of the things they do at St. Joseph’s in St. Paul is weigh the pads to see the exact amount of blood the mother is losing after delivery. 500 ml is considered to be a hemorrhage. I bled 1.5 L in two hours after delivery. So, they were fairly concerned. Pitocen and some other pill which caused cramping were administered. The bleeding slowed to normal eventually. My favorite story about the bleeding was when I called my brother to talk to him about his goddaughter and mentioned the bleeding, asking for prayers. He asked me to let him know when the bleeding stops. So, in a couple of weeks he will be getting a random text message. To resolve the bleeding issue, they found my hemoglobin levels to be way above that of an average pregnant woman at 13.8 a few hours after delivery. They were holding strong at 12.5 the next morning. Apparently I bleed a lot after delivery and my body can handle it. Because of the bleeding I was not allowed to get off the bed until 5 hours after delivery. I managed just fine without any faintness.
While I was waiting to get up, Julie was clearing some equipment out of the room. She invited M to touch the placenta. He, being the way he is, was totally willing and they did a thorough examination of the placenta and the chorion and amnion. I think that is the most intimate experience he wants to have with that organ, but if you ask him he will tell you how much fun he had checking it out. Julie decided that he was cool enough to be her friend. Before she went off duty she told us how she had found the birth beautiful. She was a great nurse to have for birthing. 🙂
1:00 AM- After being allowed to get out of bed the night nurse came in and gave F her first bath, weighed and measured her. At some point we got to go to sleep.
I loved that at this hospital we got to hold our baby for 5 hours after delivery before they even bothered to record a birth weight. She did not leave our room until she was 24 hours old to go for a hearing screening, heart screening, and blood draw. M went with her to do that. While I can’t really stand being in a hospital for very long, this was by far the best hospital experience. The nurses were totally cool with our natural birth plan and very supportive of everything being as we wished. Dr. K was also awesome. We were able to check out 25 hours after her birth and get home after the other kids were in bed. I was really glad I was able to say good morning to them at home right after they woke up the next morning.
We feel so blessed by the arrival of our third daughter and once I lose the memories of the-most-intense-transition-ever I could consider having another birth at that hospital.
However, M says that he would be willing to deliver the next baby at home now that he has witnessed three deliveries…