7.0 lb, 20 in
On Wednesday, October 19, I woke up around 4:30 am to some pains in my lower abdomen. The menstrual-like pangs came in waves as I wondered if they might be contractions. I stayed in bed for a bit, trying to fall back to sleep, but feeling nervous and excited at the same time. After a bit, I got up to send my doula an update email.
So, it's 5:15am and I've been awake for about 30-40 minutes feeling what might be contractions... (I think that's my biggest fear - not knowing when things are getting started!). Right now, it just kind of feels like a mix between menstrual cramps and gas pains really low in my abdomen, mostly in the front but sometimes in the back, too.At my prenatal last week (10/10), my doctor could feel Elly's head and told me I had started effacing, but not dilating.I have another prenatal this afternoon at 1:30, so I'll give you a call to let you know what's going on at that point.Trying to go back to sleep before my alarm goes off in an hour...
I tried sleeping some more, but couldn't really fall back to sleep. I finally got out of bed and ready for work. I packed my bags and put them in the car, just in case! I told Eric and my family that this could be the start of labor, but I didn't want to get mine or anyone else's hopes up!
The contractions kept coming consistently all day, so I made sure I had my sub plans prepared for the next 8 days that I was supposed to still be working. I told the sub coordinator that I'd call her after my appointment that afternoon to let her know if I'd be coming in the next day.
At my appointment, my doctor checked me and said I was 100% effaced and 1 cm dilated. She hooked me up to the NST monitor and confirmed that my contractions were about 4 minutes apart. Since I wanted a very natural birth, she told me to go home and then head to the hospital when I felt like the pains were close enough and long enough that I couldn't really tolerate them anymore.
As the afternoon and evening wore on, Eric continued to check in with Tara, my doula, to see when she thought I should go to the hospital. I had nothing to compare this to, so I had no idea!
We decided to drive to the hospital around 9:30 pm. I got checked in and they sent me to triage to determine how far along I was. When the doctor finally came by, I was still only 1 cm dilated, so Eric, Tara, and I walked around the halls for an hour. I was rechecked just after midnight and was 2-3 cm dilated. That meant I was staying!
It took another hour or so before a labor and delivery room was ready for me - it's a busy hospital! My nurse took us to the room, read my birth plan, and got us set up for the evening. They only made me get on the monitor for 20 minutes with an hour break in between, so that was good. However, that also meant getting strapped up every hour! I didn't really sleep much, though, since the contractions continued to worsen.
Around 7:00 am, I was 4 cm dilated. We went walking again and I had some ice and a popsicle. Some time between 9:00 and 9:30 I reached 5 cm, so the doctor broke my water. That's when the contractions really started to become painful! Up until that point, I was able to use my hypnobirthing and breathing strategies to fairly easily get through each contraction. Now, however, the pain was much sharper and took a serious amount of concentration to make it through each wave.
These very intense contractions continued until around 1:30 pm. It felt like it took forever and that this would never end! I also felt discouraged at times because it seemed like nothing was happening. When I was checked again at 12:30, I was only 7-8 cm, which the nurse said was excellent, but made me feel like I couldn't get through the next 3 cm. I definitely made a lot of noise, but Eric and Tara were both great about keeping me focused and breathing through it. I absolutely would not have been able to do this without them. I remember at one point telling Eric to put the phone away and just hold my hand. He was so excited about updating people on my progress, but I needed him to be there with me at the moment!
Tara told me that I'd know I was close to the end when I started feeling strong urges to poop. That's an understatement if I ever heard one! By the time I was 10 cm, there was nothing I could do but bear down on that urge. I don't know if the contractions continued at that point, because I could no longer feel them. All of my energy was focused on moving Elly down and out.
The nurse called the doctor to tell her I was through transition and ready to push. The doctor was in an emergency c-section at the time and told the nurse to have me stop pushing. I remember her saying in response: "I really don't think she can!" After getting off the phone, Amy (the nurse) told me to just keep doing what my body wanted to do, and she would call the doctor on stand-by in case the other was still in surgery.
As I pushed, I really tried to work on breathing out to make sure plenty of oxygen was making it to her. Ididn't want to hold my breath, which was my instinct, and slow down her progress. I could only push about 3 times before having to stop and rest for a bit. As soon as that urge came back, though, I couldn't stop myself, despite the pain!
Tara was great about explaining what was happening with the baby and the purpose of the pushing at this point, which was to stretch out the muscles and tissue to allow room for her. I got frustrated at times because it felt like the pushing wasn't actually doing anything. It seriously felt like I was taking the biggest poop imaginable, but nothing was coming out.
Near the end, Amy asked me if I wanted a mirror. Nope, I definitely did not want a mirror at the time! The stand-by doctor, Dr. McLeod, was the one that ended up coming in for the delivery. They broke down the bed as I continued to work on pushing Elly out.
Tara and Amy both told me to open my eyes and look down. Elly's head was halfway out! I couldn't believe I had actually made it that far. Seeing her there gave me the motivation to keep going. No more breaks! It was time to meet my baby! It took about 6 or 7 more pushes to get her all the way out, and then she was there on my chest. The pain was gone, I was able to breathe, and I was holding a most amazing creature, my baby Elly.
It was absolutely surreal. I had a hard time putting together everything that had just happened. I had just been through 34 hours of labor without a drop of pain medication! Eric cut the umbilical cord and Amy and Tara helped me figure out how to nurse Elly while the doctor stitched me up. Eric went to go get our moms and my brother Chris, who were waiting in the lobby. Everything was kind of a blur at that point. I had Elly and survived the experience.
After about an hour, they took her to check her weight and do the other newborn things... eye ointment, etc. I was taken in to the bathroom to pee and get somewhat cleaned up. I got a "fancy" new set of undies with a big pad :)
Then the grandmas (Oma and Nana) and Uncle Chris got their turns.
When I came out, I was put on a stretcher and we went to my postpartum room. It was actually much smaller than the delivery room, but very quiet.
Papa came up the following day to meet his sweet granddaughter.
We decided to pack up and go home that evening, since we were both doing fine and the bed really wasn't that comfortable for me. Isn't she a doll?
My love for her is overwhelming and wonderful. I can't imagine not having her in my life!