I’ve been trying and meaning to write this post for the past two and a half weeks! The day after my last post, the one where I said I really needed one more week to get everything done and REST, I went into labor. I think I did jinx myself by spelling out my birth plan and declaring how much I needed sleep. Our incredibly precious baby boy, Shepard Blair was born early Saturday morning, April 21st at 5:09 – here’s my story…
Thursday morning, the 19th, I went to my 39 week appointment with Dr.Gonzalez. I was still only at 1cm dilated but my cervix was 75% effaced which was progress but the baby was still very high up in my belly. He hadn’t dropped so I was to continue my daily walks to get things moving. After, I went to Macy’s then Target for some last minute stuff, pushing a heavy cart around, loading and unloading the car. Maybe that did it?
That night Alan and I had a lovely, healthy dinner from Real Food Daily that Suzy sent us. We were just watching TV, relaxing. I was looking forward to turning in early. Sleep had gotten very uncomfortable with my ginormous belly. I knew I’d have to get up several times in the night to pee but with the right combo of body pillows I could still get some good rest. Just before 10pm I felt the first jolt of pain. Alan was in the other room and I didn’t want to admit it even to myself. I thought these pains may be indigestion or probably the ‘false labor’ I had heard about where you get some contractions but then they stop. The last week I had felt a few contractions in the middle of the night but not in any regular intervals. I knew this was different and began to track the pattern – every 7 minutes I’d have another “rush” of pain that would last from 30-60 seconds. I was using the BabyBump contraction counter app on my iPhone. I put “rush” in quotes because that’s what they all call contractions in Spiritual Midwifery, my favorite pregnancy book.
At around 11 I told Alan what was going on. There was nothing for him to do about it unless I wanted to go to the hospital, which I did not, so I told him to go to sleep. No amount of reading prepares you for labor pains. I’ve never even had menstrual cramps! Once they start I didn’t realize how relentless the pain would be. Yes, they were every 6- 7 minutes but if the contraction lasted a minute I’d only have about 5 minutes of rest before the next wave. I decided to call my doula, Jenny at about 1:30am. Even though she said it’s okay to wake her up, I felt guilty but the pain was getting more intense and closer together. She asked if I could handle the pain overnight and I said I think so. She said try to relax and rest between contractions even if it’s 4-5 minutes. It was a rough night. I tried unsuccessfully to sleep in between. I tried to get on all fours, bounce on my ball, get in the bath – nothing offered much relief. I was scared and not ready. I just needed a good night’s sleep!
Thankfully Jenny lives right down the street from us. She came over at 7am to help me and would stay with me for the next almost 24 hours. She was awesome. She got me to eat a little something, which was very difficult because I felt so nauseous. Once you get to the hospital they don’t let you eat anything. She got me to relax into the pain as best I could by relaxing my jaw and shoulders. I found that kneeling or standing over the ball gave me relief – not sitting on it. We took a walk – to the corner and back! I had visions of taking a slow but leisurely walk on the beach during labor and yes, maybe sitting on a bench during the rushes. I had to stop three times, bend over and moan – to the corner and back!. It wasn’t pretty so we decided it might be better just to walk around my own yard. Dr.Gonzalez said to call her when my contractions were 5 minutes apart for 2 hours. I called her at 8:30am. She said she’d call St. John’s and tell them I’d be coming in. By 10:30am I’d been in labor for a little over 12 hours and the pain was pretty unbearable. It was time to go to the hospital. I kept telling myself “You are strong. You are strong. You are strong.” But I didn’t realize it would hurt this much.
I had packed a few things but I always imagined carrying on as usual when I went into labor. In fact I wanted to leave myself a few things to do, like pack my hospital bag. My friend, Courtney said when she went into labor she and her husband took a trip to Blockbuster, picked out a fun movie, drove home and watched it. My childbirth teacher, Penny said, go shopping! Go to Bed, Bath and Beyond and look around. You’ll only be 15 minutes from St. John’s. Even Jenny, the doula said, get a mani/pedi when you go into labor! I felt like I was in the ring with Mike Tyson. Shopping, movies and mani/pedis were absolutely out of the question!
The ride to the hospital was brutal. Every turn, every tap of the brakes sent daggers into my uterus. I decided to walk to the Labor & Delivery ward instead of taking the wheel chair because I know the more I can be vertical the better. Let gravity do the work. It was the longest walk of my life! Once I checked in the “hospital experience” began. The nurses took over and have me change into the green hospital gown. They put me in the bed and say I have to stay there for two hours while they check everything. I was crestfallen to learn I was only at 2cm dilated, my water bag was securely sealed and the baby was still floating high but I was now 100% effaced so something was happening. For the amount of pain I was in I thought they were going to tell me I was 5 or 6 cm dilated. Since I was going for a non-medicated birth they said I could go home if nothing had changed in 2 hours. I really didn’t want that – ugh, the ride home again – lugging my suitcase and pillows back. I couldn’t face it. After they did the fetal monitoring for 45 minutes I could be detached and walk around. Thank god for Jenny. Without her I never would’ve walked so much. It was the last thing I felt like doing. After the two hours I was at 4cm so I got to stay! I was so relieved – momentarily – because since I was staying meant I had to get the Hep lock and have blood drawn. I was more scared about this than pushing out a baby! I had my face in Alan’s chest while the nurse had my arm. I started crying and was saying “Ow ow ow!” Not my finest moment but it did take a long time. The nurse was so nice and I’m sure I was throwing her off with my crazy howling. She covered the tube in my vein with gauze so I didn’t have to see it.
By now it was close to 2pm. I was free to move around. I took another walk, used the ball, switched positions as much as I could. I was just so incredibly tired and the pain was terrible. I felt delirious. The nurse kept saying “I respect what you’re doing but I can’t imagine the pain. With my kids I got the epidural as soon as I could.” God it was tempting. The pain is just relentless! Every 4-5 minutes a 60-90 second stabbing pain. I was losing it – swearing, crying. When Dr.G came to check me and I was still only 4cm I began to bargain. I started to ask about pain management.
To be continued…