My labor started on the morning of Tuesday March 8th. A big contraction woke me up right at 4:30am and the first thought I had was, “oh yeah. I remember how these feel.” Kinda dreading it but excited at the same time. I was hoping that I had labored through the night without knowing it and now I was starting active labor. I woke up, had a snack, checked facebook, but the ctx were only coming every 20-30min so I went back to bed. I had a regular day with the kids- they played at Grandma Simonson’s house while I had my appt with my midwife, Ramona, and when I got back we went for a walk around the block to keep the ctx going. Ramona was excited to hear about my ctx and said she hoped to see me later that day.
Mark went to his mom’s house to study with strict instructions to keep his phone nearby. I got reflexology done on my feet around 1:30, then met up with my kids and MIL at the mall to see Tangled at the dollar theater, but it was only showing in 3D (didn’t think the kids would really go for that) so we walked around the mall instead. All through this the contractions got stronger and stronger, but still really far apart. Each one made me stop and concentrate on relaxing through the pain. I used my hypnobirthing techniques and visualized my cervix opening.
That night we went to dinner at Sweet Tomatoes around 5. I was a little nervous about what I ate, hoping I didn’t end up throwing it up in transition a short time later. At one point I had a strong contraction at the table and I felt the need to lean forward and let my belly sort of hang between my legs. I folded my arms and rested them on the table, and since I had my eyes closed, I looked like I was praying. When I was done, Hannah folded her arms and closed her eyes and imitated my slow, deep breathing. It was pretty hilarious.
During dinner some of the ctx were only 5 mins apart and still getting more intense, so when we got home I went in my room, turned on Pandora to a relaxing music station, and labored on the ball for a while. Mark put the kids to bed and I expressed my worry that my labor was stalling because they had gotten further apart, back to 20-30mins. He suggested I get some rest, so I lay down around 10 and fell asleep. I was jolted awake at 11:30pm with the most intense contraction so far. It was quite painful and I tensed up. Mark reminded me to relax (he hadn’t gone to bed yet) and helped me focus. Then I had two more just like it 2 minutes later, then another 3 minutes later. My gut told me it was time to go!
We called my mom and as we waited for her we grabbed the last minute things for the bag and made it downstairs. She arrived and we drove to Mercy Gilbert over surface streets because I knew I would need to stop when I had contractions. Any laboring woman can attest that bumps during labor are not fun! Sure enough, we had two ctx on the way and luckily both times we were at a red light. Mark had called Ramona and let her know I was starting to feel like I was in transition—I felt nauseous and hot and sweaty during contractions. She called triage to let them know I would be a direct admit. I’m so glad because I really hate triage. I was shown right to a L&D room and was greeted by the most awesome nurse ever, Aly. She checked me and I was at a 7 and 100% effaced. Hallelujah!
The crazy thing was that the ctx were STILL far apart! They were averaging about 10-15 minutes apart, but once they came, it took every speck of my will power and hypnobirthing practice to get through them. The lights were off in the room which was very relaxing to me, and it was very quiet. I’ve never liked to listen to music while in heavy labor. Mark kept falling asleep because I wasn’t making any noise during ctx, just would close my eyes and breathe deeply, imagining each contraction pulling my cervix more open and bringing my baby a little closer to me. I asked him to help me visualize the baby (images of her wet, slippery body right after delivery were really helpful) as well as rub my back during ctx. Aly, the nurse, came in once in a while and we would chat about all sorts of different things (lots of time betw ctx if you recall). I learned that she also had two little girls at home, a little younger than mine. She and I hit it off great and I enjoyed chatting.
So all this was taking FOREVER. The ctx had gotten extremely intense and I threw up a few times. It was about 2:30am (I had arrived at 12am) when I got another cervical check, and this time I was at a 9 with a bulging bag of waters. This encouraged me greatly and it gave me the strength I needed to get through the next while—every contraction I pictured my water breaking (which it never did). The nurse flipped on the baby warming unit which made me excited as well. Ramona expected me to deliver within the next half hour or so. Finally at about 4, Aly suggested they break my water. Ramona also thought it would be a good idea.
I gave it some thought. I was pretty exhausted at this point and knew that once my water was broken, labor would get even more intense and soon would be the “ring of fire” etc that comes along with the actual crowning and birth.
All at once I needed to turn around. I did not want to deliver like that anymore. So everyone helped me turn and I settled into the classic semi-reclined, legs up position. It just felt familiar and comfortable at that point, and I was ok with it. I started to lose control and yelled a couple of times. I’m always surprised at the sound that comes out of me at that point—it’s like I am listening from far away and don’t recognize my voice. Mark informed me of some of my comments: “This is the worst experience EVER!” and “I’m never having any more kids!” Things like that. I am sure he imagined those things because I don’t remember saying them!
Time seemed to slow down and stop during the pushing/moving down. I threw up again. I felt like I was far away within another world and everyone else was very distant. Suddenly I felt the ring of fire and was afraid and tried to reverse the process. Then I reminded myself that I was almost done, that the baby was about to be born and I would finally get to meet my precious darling Emily. She crowned and I reached down and felt her head. Ramona said, “slow pushes, slow pushes,” so I breathed in and out deeply and gave some small pushes as she helped me stretch. She said, “one more push and she’ll be out!” I gathered my courage one more time and gave a slow, controlled push and felt the head come out, then the shoulders, and rest of her. I was soooo happy! It was 4:31am, exactly 24 hours since the first contraction. Later I was told that the time elapsed from being completely dilated to the birth was 6 minutes! To me it felt like hours.
They placed her right on my bare chest while they suctioned her nose and mouth and rubbed her to get her to cry more. I sighed with relief, shed a few tears, and Mark and I stroked her little arms and legs. They flipped on the light to see how pink she was for her Apgar, and they all exclaimed at how wonderfully pink she looked. She ended up with 9 and 9 for her Apgar score. She gave a couple of strong cries which satisfied the nurse and Ramona. I had requested to leave the cord attached for a little while so once I started to feel the ctx that were to push out the placenta Ramona had Mark cut the cord. It was hard to muster the energy to give one more push, but I did and it came out. I always like to see it, so Ramona held it up and showed me the side that was attached to me, and the part that had the bag holding the baby. Simply amazing. Ramona informed me that I did not have any tearing so she would not have to stitch me up. I was thrilled!
They left us all alone with her on my chest for more than an hour. We were covered by warm blankets and I tried nursing. She latched right on! None of my babies have done that yet. She nursed for 15 or 20 minutes and I felt like we really bonded during that skin to skin time. Poor Mark hadn’t gotten to hold her yet but he was able to touch her and look at her during that time. It was really special. She was very alert and we all gazed at each other for what seemed to be the longest time.
Finally it was time to move to the other room. I was starving so I ate a couple of snacks that we had brought with us. They weighed her and found her to be 8lbs, 1oz. She had pooped and peed on me during the time she was laying on my chest , but also nursed so I figure it was pretty evened out. J I asked them to not give her a bath so her skin could absorb the vernix. She was actually pretty clean and I loved the way she smelled right out of the womb.
After we got to our post partum room (which I walked to, by the way), we both fell asleep for a couple of hours, from about 6:45 till 9. I woke up once in a while and looked at the clock wondering when my nurse was going to come in, and I was also starving and wanted breakfast. I finally called for it and decided while I was waiting that I was going to try to use the bathroom. I had felt several gushes down there while lying on the bed but figured it was normal post partum bleeding. Mark took the baby from me and I slowly got up from the bed. I was surprised to see that there was a big puddle of blood where I had been resting. Luckily the bathroom was only a few short steps away because I felt light headed and the room started spinning and I knew I was going to pass out. My goal was to reach the toilet and arrive there was the last thing I remember.
I woke up to find myself looking at a lot of faces and hearing lots of noise. I found out later that Mark had held me up with his knee and pulled the help cord. Waking up felt like pulling myself out of a deep sleep which I did not want to leave. One nurse was holding a stinky thing under my nose (found out later it was a packet of ammonia-so strong it’s supposed to keep you from fainting again) and she kept saying with a big smile, “keep your eyes open!” “Look at me!” It was sooo hard to keep my eyes open. Someone pushed on my belly and I heard a ton of clots fall into the toilet. The same nurse who was holding the ammonia asked me if there was ringing in my ears. There wasn’t, but a minute later there was some definite ringing as well as a muted feeling as if my ears were being covered. I pointed to my ears and said, “my ears….” and passed out again. Mark said this time I was out for a few minutes.
When I came to again the world felt a little clearer and I could vaguely follow what was going on. They needed to get me back to my bed, so they brought in a people mover to get me there. It was this contraption that I stood on and it provided me support on all sides while they wheeled me to my bed, opened the back, and let me sit down. They covered me with blankets as they took my vitals and the only thing I wanted was to go to sleep. My blood pressure was really low, 85 over 50-something. They started an IV with pitocin to get my uterus to contract more rapidly. They measured how much blood I had lost and called the OB. He said I did not need a transfusion and that they needed to get a nurse from L&D to come clear out any more clots from my uterus. I had to get that done after Hannah was born and I knew what it was like. NOT FUN!! So sure enough, here comes a nurse who felt around and said she could feel a big clot just out of reach. She tried several times to get it out. It hurt SO BAD!! It was just awful, worse than labor for sure.
Finally she said to call the dr because she could not reach it. He said he would be there in 15 minutes but I swear it was shorter than that. Meanwhile they gave me pain meds in hopes that they would kick in before he arrived but nope. It still hurt. He was able to remove whatever was in there, and it was finally over. My blood pressure was back to normal and I got some breakfast. It gave me some badly needed energy. They cleaned me up and changed my bedding and I was able to rest.
The res t of the hospital stay was uneventful and we went home the next day. My recovery has been a dream thanks to an intact perineum. And although I never want to have my uterus cleaned out again, I have hardly had any post partum bleeding. A nice side effect of an awful experience.
Overall I am quite pleased with the way the birth turned out. Everything went exactly how I visualized it and the people involved were so wonderful, especially Mark. He is a fabulous labor companion. Giving birth is a beautiful thing and I am so grateful that my body is healthy and normal and able to accomplish it. I am also thrilled with our new little spirit and have been soaking up every moment with her.