I figured I would go past forty weeks, but still felt a little disappointed when my due date came and went. There were a few signs of labor, but nothing that meant it would be happening quickly. I had been having tons of annoying Braxton-hicks contractions, lots of colostrum, and the day before my due date I started seeing a lot of mucus and a tiny bit of bloody show.
Thursday, as I was driving out to my appointment with Dr. Tate (the day after my due date), I started noticing I was having mild contractions every 12-14 minutes. Dr. Tate checked me and I was 2cm/ 60% effaced/-2 station. Earlier that day I told my best friend, Hilkka, (a L&D nurse) that I thought I would be 2cm/ 70% effaced / -2 station. So, I wasn’t off by much. I asked him to not strip membranes, out of fear of repeating previous mistakes. He teased me a little but seem to understand my desire to be patient. The contractions continued through out the day, but petered off during the night.
Friday night, we got into bed about 11pm and I tried to sleep. At about 1:30am I woke up unable to sleep through the contractions anymore. I was dealing with them well, and sent my husband to another room to sleep so that I could move around our room and deal with the contractions on my own. I was perfectly content to be on my own. I watched some shows on the computer, sat on the birth ball and used my iphone to time contractions. They were coming pretty regularly at about 6-8 minutes apart. I did not feel any urgency and tried to relax through the contractions and visualize my cervix opening.
Saturday, September 19, 2009, 4:45am - I ate a bowl of cereal and then took a bath. I got a little rest in the tub and then back in the bed. The bath seemed to slow things down a bit and I rested until about 6:30am, when Dan came to check on me. I didn’t want to go to the hospital during the night. It would have been too difficult to work out the logistics with the kids and was perfectly happy to get through the night. Dan and I lay in bed together, talking and timing contractions for a bit. Surprisingly, time went by quickly.
9am - I decided to call Dr. Tate, since I was suppose to call when contractions were 6-8 minutes apart and that had been the case most of the night. It was Rosh Hashanah and I felt a little guilty calling, but then after talking to him, I felt guilty for not calling sooner. So, we talked and he asked about the baby’s movement and well, she had definitely slowed down, so he suggested we go the hospital and check on her. It took a bit to get out of here. My in-laws had to come from Alpharetta and we had to get the boys ready. I showered, put on my laboring clothes and felt pretty good. Still no urgency to go to the hospital, but wanted to check on our baby.
10:30am - My in-laws arrive for Oliver and Benton. After lots of kisses from my boys they left for Alpharetta in our truck.
11am - We arrived at the hospital. The lobby was completely quiet and we filled out paperwork and headed to triage. We met our awesome triage nurse, Tamar and got settled. She gets me on the monitor and checks me during a contraction. She is positive and says I did well at home. I am now 3cm/ 80% effaced/ -2 station. Not that much progress, but considering, I never got past 2cm on pitocin during my last VBAC attempt (not w/ Dr.T), I felt good about it. She calls Tate and comes back with a plan. She wants me to walk for an hour and come back for monitoring. So off we go. I felt pretty good and really worked on relaxing my body and face through each contraction. I think I was even saying “relax” out loud through some of them. I remembered something from Ina May’s book about how a relaxed face means a relaxed cervix.
12:45pm - Back on the monitor for 20 minutes and Tamar says Tate wants my contractions to be closer together before he admits me. Tamar doesn’t think I’ll be going home and that I need to walk again for an hour. So off we go again. Things are definitely picking up during this round of walking. I call my doula again and tell her I am ready for some additional support.
2:30ish - Back to the monitor and another cervix check. Now I’m 4.5cm and contractions are 2-3 minutes apart. Yea! progress and Tamar is excited for us too. She tells the nurses at the station and talks to Tate again and he agrees to admit me. Somehow, time continues to go quickly and by the time Tamar takes me off the monitor to move to an L&D room, it is almost 3pm. I stand up for the next contraction and POP, my water breaks. It is nice and clear and after a little clean up, my doula arrives. With a towel between my legs we move to the L&D room. Back on the monitor, I continue to work through contractions, but experience some nausea and vomiting. Dan heads back to the truck to get the birth ball. Between contractions, I find the image of Dan walking through the hospital carrying that ball kind of funny.
4pm – after being on the monitor for a while, I comment that the contractions are getting harder to deal with while sitting. Tamar has stayed with us until my L&D nurse is available. Dan leaves to get some food and his fleece pullover from his office nearby. Over the next ½ hour, things get rough. Dan is gone and I find myself unable to relax through the contractions. I try the ball, standing, sitting again, going to the bathroom, but can’t. At some point I find myself sobbing through a few contractions. I tell Jenny, my doula, I don’t think I can do this for very long. She calls Dan, who is almost back. I tell Jenny that I need to find out if I am making progress. I pretty much decided if I am only at 6 or 7cm, I am asking for an epidural. I work through a few more and tell Jenny that I think the baby is going to bust out of me. Jenny goes and talks to my nurse, Leisel. Dan and Leisel come in at the same time.
4:30pm – Leisel checks me and says “let’s have a baby!” I’m stunned. I ask if I’m complete, as Leisel is walking out to call Dr. Tate. So, in come a handful of nurses, 2 residents and Leisel. Tamar is setting up the baby area and I’m told Dr. Tate is on his way. Leisel seems to be in charge and is getting everything ready. I’m pretty sure I asked about Dr. Tate again and I am a starting to freak out.
4:45pm – The pushing begins. Again, I ask “Where’s Dr. Tate?” Someone gets a mirror and I am briefly distracted by what I see. It feels like there are a dozen women in the room, all giving me directions. I know I am not pushing right yet and I hear myself apologizing about it. This is the point I realize there is no way out, but to keep pushing. I also realize I am just this side of hysterical and need to calm down. I think I said that out loud too. Then I look at the clock and I think there is no way I am pushing for hours. I need to figure out how to do this right. During contractions, I try listening to Jenny, my doula, but someone is counting and several people are telling me to hold my breath. So, I end up doing that. Between contractions, I start talking to our little girl and telling her it is time to come on out. Leisel says Dr. Tate is in the building and wants me to breath through the contractions until he gets there. I said “Breathe? Is he crazy?” but I try to do it. I try to look at Dan, because I am curious what he thinks about all this. He is being super supportive and sweet, of course. I also wonder if he is videotaping everything and think about how embarrassed I’ll be later to hear all my ramblings.
4:55pm – Dr. Tate is here! He rearranges things, adjusts the table, etc. He probably said something comforting to me, but I was just happy to see his face. Now, I feel like someone is really in charge. His offers some guidance about pushing and I feel like we are really making progress. I can see more and more of her little head. Then comes the infamous “ring of fire.” You can’t miss it. It was seriously intense and motivating!
5:05pm - Official birth time - Her head comes out and the next contraction, the rest of her came out. She had a true knot in her cord. Dan cut the cord. The nurses wipe her off and handed her to me. Dr. Tate said I had a 2nd degree tear, probably more from her shoulders than her head and talks with the resident about stitching me up. The placenta came out easily and I asked to see it. Tate gave me little tour then went to work on stitching me up. That was not so pleasant, but our daughter distracted me. I held her right away, and then they did a little extra suctioning. They put her on the scale and I am shocked. She weighed 10lbs 5oz! I didn’t even gain 10 pounds during this pregnancy.
For some reason, I decided it would be easier to snuggle with her, if I took my top off. I was hot anyway. So, I ended up practically naked and nursing our little one. Eventually someone brought me a sheet. I was totally on a VBA2C high at that point and so was Dan. What a wonderfully different experience for us.
Linnea latched on perfectly the first time. She barely came off during the first 24 hours and by then I had some milk for her.
This birth made me truly believe in my body. Left alone, my body did everything it needed to do. My labor seemed natural and easy, until the last hour. :) I pushed out my biggest baby yet, and had milk available for her so quickly. I felt 100 times better after this birth than my previous c-sections. I had no idea having a baby could feel so good!