It’s taken a few days of adjusting to the idea that we are parents since Ben’s birth happened so quickly! Maybe if I had a marathon 28 hour labor, we wouldn’t have been so shocked!
I started having different contractions than normal around 1:30 pm on Wednesday, September 19. My BH contractions were strong and effective since I had already been dilated to 5 cm for a week without active labor contractions but these contractions were noticeably different. They wrapped around my lower back and shot pain through my hips. I immediately started sweating like a pig. Since my OB’s policy was that I had to be having labor contractions for an hour before going into L&D, I figured it was perfect since my next OB appointment was at 2:30 and the doctor there could give me the news and send my records ahead to the hospital at the same time.
B had a meeting until 2 and was then going to drive me to my 39 week OB appointment across town. We had arranged it that way since I wasn’t too confident in my ability to drive there and back since I had felt for several days that something was going to happen. He got home and I let him know that we needed to throw the last few things in our hospital bag and put it and the car seat in the car. This had become common practice for us in the last few weeks if both of us were out of the house together since we knew that if my water broke, we’d have a one way ticket to L&D. The contractions were definitely stronger but I was having problems timing them since I had just reformatted my phone and lost my tracking app plus the back pain was riding through from contraction to contraction so I couldn’t figure out when they stopped or started. All I knew was that they hurt a ton!
About halfway to the OB’s office, I got a phone call from their receptionist telling me that the doctor I was supposed to see that afternoon had gotten called out for a delivery and wasn’t going to be able to see me. I informed them that we were coming anyway since we were most of the way there and I was pretty certain I was in labor (but fully expecting to be sent home after being told that I was wrong). They agreed that I should come in and they would pull one of the docs working GYN in for the exam.
Because the doctor was gone, we had to wait an extra long time in the waiting room. I think we sat there for 40 minutes so I didn’t get into the exam room with a doctor until 3:15. I couldn’t sit down because the pain in my hips was so bad. I explained to the doctor what I had been feeling but since I couldn’t tell him how often and long the contractions were, he wasn’t too sure L&D would want to keep me. My water hadn’t broken yet and I was dilated to “about 6” so he figured I could take the chance that they’d admit me and break my water there to get things moving.
We were glad to take that chance but didn’t want to tell anyone we were headed to the hospital, just in case they sent us home. We got to the hospital at 3:45, walked to L&D (9th floor, way far away from the parking garage) and explained the situation to the triage nurse. The OB I was supposed to see had just finished delivering a baby and was close to the desk when we walked in. She was very excited to see that I had made progress (she was the one who I saw at my 38 week appointment). We were walked to a delivery room and I was left to strip down to nothing and put on the most awkwardly shaped hospital gown ever invented. My contractions were strong enough and frequent enough that I wasn’t able to completely strip before the nurse came in to start asking questions and figuring out what the action plan was going to be. She did a quick cervical check and decided to call in the resident OB to take a peek. He decided we could go ahead with an epidural if that is what I wanted (it was) and then they would break my water. My OB okayed the decision and we starting moving forward!
I had to get a certain amount of fluids via IV before getting the epidural and all the while, the contractions were getting much, much stronger. I felt like I was going to crush B’s arm every time I squeezed during the contractions! He told me later that I was barely squeezing at all and I must have been imagining this. Finally, around 5:15 I had gotten enough from the IV for the anesthesiologist to come in. By that point, when she had sterilized my back and numbed the area for the epi cath, she had to tell me to stay still but I couldn’t because my contractions were too close together and there wasn’t enough time in between. It occurred to me at that point that I was making real progress, probably faster than the OB that saw me in the office thought. B, for the sake of his consciousness, took the time for getting the epidural to make a run to the car for the hospital bag and his camera gear. Getting the epidural didn’t hurt at all, which surprised me.
I am very thankful for the epidural for many reasons but the first is that our stress level went from 10 to about a 2 once the meds kicked in. B and I were both able to relax and enjoy being in the hospital and having our baby before the day was over. I could still feel intense amounts of pressure during the contractions but the pain had relaxed a great deal. I wasn’t so numb that I couldn’t feel my legs though. The resident OB checked my cervix again and in the amount of time that it had taken to get the IV fluids and epi, I had dilated from 6 to 9+! I was amazed and kept thinking THAT was why the contractions hurt more and more every time. The doctor broke my water (a very odd experience when you have very little feeling in that area) and was told to relax, maybe even nap, while I could since at some point, I would feel the need to start pushing.
B and I had just settled in with our mobile devices to spread the word that the baby was on his way when the nurse popped in to check why the fetal heart monitor stuck to my belly wasn’t getting a good signal. She couldn’t make it any better so she started looking at other vital signs and decided it was time to call in the resident OB, my OB, the baby’s nurse and her assistant. In a matter of 2 minutes, our room filled with people and the doctor was coaching me on how to push. I pushed through 2 contractions in sets of three (push, push, push, rest and repeat) and kept hearing that I was doing great. Between the first and second contractions, the team told me they could see his head and started guessing if he would have blond or red hair (B is blonde, I am very red). I am still thrilled that our choices for this birth gave us the opportunity to laugh and joke around while trying to birth a small being into the world. I pushed once for the third contraction and on the second push, Benjamin Alfred arrived at 7:48 pm! We had been in the hospital a total of 4 hours and now had a baby!
I didn’t cry then; I was too amazed at what had just happened, but I’m tearing up now just thinking about how cool of an experience it was. I came through the labor with a level 2 vaginal tear (tissue and muscle) so I required sutures that are still quite painful but not impossible to live with. Other than the fact that my belly is round and squishy and am feeling pain from the healing sutures, I’d have a hard time believing I had a baby only a few days ago.