I woke at 12:47am with a contraction. Having walked stairs the night before, had a few sessions of acupuncture induction points and asked a friend for Reiki, I was hoping labor would start soon. Still, I was surprised when an hour later I had been awoken three more times, fifteen minutes apart. I woke Brian and told him I thought I was in labor. We started timing them and trying to sleep. The contractions began coming five minutes apart. By 4:00am we decided to call Julie and let her know what was happening. After talking, I got up and showered, then tried to sleep some more. At 7:35am I couldn’t remember how to do anything to manage the contractions, so we called Julie and asked her to come. Somehow that helped in itself, we got up and found our childbirth education book, tried some counterpressure and other techniques and generally got ourselves organized for the day.
Julie arrived at 9:00am and by then Brian had put on some music and the sun was shining and things were calm in the house. I know the contractions were distracting and painful, but mostly I remember the color of the light in the house as it shone through the red oak fall leaves outside and the sound of the music in the space. Over the day we used various techniques to pass the time through and between the contractions, squeezing combs, squeezing Brian’s hands, standing with my head on Brian’s chest, and a hand massage from Julie. I did spend a good deal of time laboring on the toilet. It seemed safe somehow. I did take another shower, just to have the warm water. I tried to eat and drink, but wasn’t particularly interested in food. We did have nice conversation at the dining room table though.
By 2:00pm, my contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute. I was beginning to have trouble coping with the contractions, even the time between them. And I was feeling anxious about the car trip to the hospital – could I make it there with this pain was all I could think about. I continued to labor on the toilet, hanging onto Brian. Somewhere in there I lost my mucous plug – I was surprised by how substantial it was and had Julie take a photo of it! Soon I was unable to talk during contractions and I finally said I wanted to go to the hospital at 3:00pm. Julie told me as we were getting in our cars to focus on the view out the window, that that would slow down my contractions but make it possible for me to make to the hospital. It worked.
And a good thing too, because when we arrived at the hospital, we had to walk forever to get to a working elevator due to some accident earlier in the day and I couldn’t have done that without have slowed the contractions as we did. Once into OB triage, the nurse checked me and I was 6cm dilated. They agreed I was in labor and sent us up to L&D. I don’t have too clear recollections from the hospital, certainly not in chronological order, but I know that Julie’s favorite nurse was with us until her shift ended. We declined all interventions initially. I was either on the toilet or on the birth ball laboring for the next three hours or so until my OB came to check me. At about 7:00pm I was 8cm and +1 station. The shift change happened and we got the nurse who would be with us through delivery. She turned out to be very on top of our birth plan and supportive through the whole process, thankfully. My water still hadn’t broken so my OB nicked them – only a trickle came out, I couldn’t tell if I had peed or if it was amniotic fluid! I had been on and off the monitor since being in the hospital and once I started pushing (sometime around 8:00pm), I was in the bed and monitored. I think that my OB turned the volume down though once the baby’s heart rate variables began as I don’t remember hearing them even as they were being discussed. I was put on oxygen to see if that would help the baby through contractions (the recovery after a contraction was good). By 8:30pm I was fully dilated and effaced (my OB flipped me from 9cm to 10cm) and had started pushing again. My OB insisted on a hep-lock at this point and we agreed. My OB left after that for a bit. I remember looking at Julie’s face and thinking, she isn’t sure this is going to happen naturally. I think that helped me decide to get the baby down and out, soon. I listened to what she said and tried hard to do the things to move the baby and luckily the nurse supported Julie in getting me out of bed, trying different pushing positions, doing hip circles to rotate the baby as we thought she might be posterior presentation, and generally trying to get things moving.
Once my OB returned, I was back in bed on my back with my knees up, pushing very hard, Julie on my left, Brian on my right. I couldn’t have gotten through that last stage without them. I remember pulling on Julie’s arm to get her to give me back her hand at one point between contractions. I know they were both tired. At this point they prepped me for delivery and my OB discussed a tear versus an episiotomy. Thankfully, between Brian and my OB waiting, I tore and no cutting was done. I remember the crowning and my OB talking about her cone head and the relief of passing her head finally. She came all in a rush after that. Cecelia was born! She was anterior and she was holding her cord. It was 10:13pm. They placed her on my chest and we listened to her mucus cough and loud crying. She snuggled, but didn’t seem too interested in the breast yet. My OB milked the cord, but delayed clamping. My OB had me push out the placenta but there were some retained membranes that she had to remove manually. Cecelia stayed with me with minimal cleaning for awhile, only being taken to the other side of the room with Brian to be weighed and measured. After being sewn up and cleaned, everyone left Brian and I with Cecelia for a little while. Julie took the placenta to make prints for us and said her farewells sometime before midnight. She had been with us for around fifteen hours! She and the placenta made it home just fine, but there is a good story about how that happened, but I’ll let her tell that one;-)