A very long & slightly graphically detailed birth story. Skip if you don't like all of the personal details!
I woke up around 3:30am Wednesday, November 29th, to use the restroom only to find some bloody show. I went back to bed & laid there for about an hour but I was having contractions. That, combined with knowing that labor was probably starting, made it difficult to sleep so I got up. I sat on the sofa for a bit & around 5-5:30 the contractions started to get more regular, about five minutes apart.
I got in a nice hot shower, did a nice shave of everything & then went back to the sofa. Finally around 7:20 I woke up Ray to let him know that I thought it was the day for our little girl to arrive! He wanted to know why I didn't wake him up sooner so he could be there for me. I called my midwife, Robyn, around 7:45 along with my Mom & Rach to give them all a heads up.
I went back to bed around 8 & I think I slept for about 45-60 minutes. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur. I had Ray running to the grocery store to get us some food, we ate a frozen pizza for lunch & watched Friends dvds throughout the day. I used the counter on the dvd player to time contractions.
All throughout the day my contractions stayed about 4-6 minutes apart, lasting about a minute. I called the birth center, I think around two something, to give them an update. I wanted to walk to speed things along, but they suggested I first relax in a bath & try to get a little more sleep so I'd have more energy. So, I took their advice & thankfully was able to sleep for about another 45 minutes.
Then, Ray & I went walking & my contractions definitely seemed to get worse. I sat down & timed my contractions starting around 6:30. They were pretty consistent until around 7:10 & they seemed to start to blur together with no clear ending or distance between them. I talked to Robyn around 7:30 & she said that could be a sign of false labor or that my uterus was getting tired & not working efficiently. So, she suggested some things to relax my uterus & said that if I kept contracting they were real.
I got in the bath again around 8 & was having normal regular contractions. I talked to her again to let her know & we made plans to meet her at the birth center around midnight. Ray & I laid in bed a good part of the time until then trying to get some rest.
We finished packing up our last minute items & left for the birth center around 1 am. We arrived around 1:15, started to get settled, & I had my first internal ever around 1:30 - that wasn't so fun as it seemed to bring on contractions. Robyn siad my cervix was one of the thinnest she'd seen & that I was five centimeters dilated. I think I previously mentioned that my allergies act up on the labor side of the birth center so we set up an air mattress in the exam room for my labor. Unfortunately, the mattress had a couple of small holes on the bottom that we had to tape up. We were able to keep the mattress filled but it had a tendency to deflate rather quickly.
Anyway, I labored in there for awhile & ate a bit of ice cream & had some water & gatorade. I got into the glorious tub around 2:30, I believe. The water was so heavenly. I mentioned I had some high blood pressure issues in the last 1.5 weeks of pregnancy & it was staying a bit high during labor, too. So, about every fifteen minutes Robyn had Ray give me the homeopathic remedies arnica & pulsatilla to keep it down. It was amazing how quickly it brought my bp down & kept it at a nice safe place during labor.
Ray laid on the floor in the "Dolphin Room" (where the birth tub was located) & I think he was able to doze during the fifteen minutes between my remedy dosing. I was getting so exhausted that I would doze as well in the water between contractions. I was also eating some peanut butter crackers & drinking lots of water. They have to make sure I use the bathroom every hour, but they didn't have to tell me to do that, I was drinking so much water I was getting out on my own anyway. And, it sure is true that contractions are natures enema, that happened about everytime I got up to pee, too!
The position that seemed to work for me during contractions was to get up on my hands & feet, kind of like a crab crawl or backbend position or something, & rock back & forth in the water, breathing deeply & relaxing my facial muscles. I have no idea why, but that really helped me through the contractions.
Rach called I think around 7 something to see if we needed anything. So, she made Ray some breakfast, picked me up the orange juice I was wanting, & came over around 8am. I got out of the tub when she got there & went to my labor room. Robyn gave me another internal (Rach is such a good friend to see me like that) & I was 8 centimeters dilated & my bag of waters was bulging. It didn't seem that it could be any more but a few more hours to go! Rach left & I went outside to walk around the boardwalk.
I walked it a couple of times & I think it again made my contractions worse. I went inside to labor in my room for a bit. I definitely didn't like being out of the water, & the air mattress wasn't the most comfortable as it would start to deflate as I was on it & I'd start to touch the floor (thankfully it was an auto-pump so all I had to do was get Ray to quickly inflate it for me).
I think I got back into the water around 10ish & labored in there until around 3, maybe 3:30. There were two new birth assistants in that day. In fact, one of them it was her first day of work at the birth center & the other had yet to attend a birth there. So, I was their labor guinea pig & they spent a good part of the day monitoring my vitals. The one who was there for her first day, Ruth, was still getting used to the equipment so it would take her a little while to find the babies heartbeat & then she would count the beats for a full minute. Not very comfortable for me, even in the water, because I would start to have a contraction & want to move around.
I finally got out of the water, had another internal, & was STILL 8 centimters dilated (I guess this was around 3-3:30). So, they had me go outside with Ray & walk the boardwalk around the building & told me to squat when I had a contraction. I was only able to do this for a bit - the contractions were very strong & my body was worn out from being awake for almost 36 hours straight. I went inside to my labor room & laid down on the love seat in there. Robyn came in & monitored my contractions while I laid in there for about half an hour. I was so tired that I was half asleep a good part of that time, I feel like I didnt even fully wake up for the contractions.
She took Ray out of the room to discuss options with him. I was progressing very slowly & we needed to get things to move along. So, some of my options were to have them break my water, take herbs & sit on the birth ball & do nipple stimulation, homeopathy...maybe something else, I'm not sure.
Because I tested positive for Group B Strep & I had been laboring for so long, we decided it would be best for me to get antibiotics. Robyn also said I was a bit dehydrated so she gave me a small butterfly IV with antibiotics & the fluids (my first IV ever!). My family showed up while I had the IV, I think around 6, with food for us. At this point I told them the pain was bad but not so bad that I would take drugs for it. Actually, I only had one or two fleeting moments when I felt like I could see why women would get pain relief & I thnk that was around my point of 9 centimeter dilation.
My family didn't stay too long, Rach was having them over for dinner, but they stayed long enough for Megan to get a laugh from watching me during contractions (I think that's why she was laughing anyway).
While I had the IV I went into a nice hot shower & sat on the birth ball & was given herbs to help with labor. While I was in there Erin showed up to check on me & she stayed just for a bit & we were able to chat. Another good friend!
I think I then went back to the labor room & they checked me again around 7. I may have been around 9 centimeters at this point & they went ahead & broke my water. It was more than a trickle but I think I had some gushing, too, especially when I would move around & when I threw up. I threw up four times during the day, the stronger contractions made me nauseas.
I'm not positive about the exact progression of the rest of the night. I think I got back in the tub. I was feeling a lot of rectal pressure during contractions but not he urge to bear down. I got out of the water to be checked & I was at about 9.5 centimeters.
I was on the air mattress with Robyn, Ray, and the three birth assistants in the room (the two who were newer actually got off of work at 6pm. Ruth went home, put her kids to bed, & then came back because she wanted to be there for the birth). Robyn manually stretched my cervix while at the same time I pushed in order to get to 10 centimeters. It felt good to push but having Robyn's hands inside of me hurt SO bad! It was as if the contractions wouldn't stop. I think after about 20-30 minutes of pushing like that I finally dilated to 10 centimeters.
Our next hurdle (which we knew about ahead of time) was the shape of my pelvis. It has a dip or something so, contrary to what is usually best, I had to push on my back for a little while in order to get the babies head to slip under my pelvis. During this part of pushing Robyn still had her hands inside of me & it felt like she was pushing my pelvis apart while I pushed. I think that was the worst part for me, the baby was so close to getting under my pelvis so in between contractions I had intense cramping pain very low in my abdomen. I think it took about 20 minutes of pushing to get her head under my pelvis. The bad part about pushing on the air mattress was the deflation because my back would end up touching the ground. Also, sometimes when I would push I'd pee too! Poor Robyn!
I want to mention how incredible Ray was during this. He was on the mattress with me & would help to pull my legs in & push my back up. All of the coaching was wonderful, he did such a good job & was so involved!
After getting her head under my pelvis I got up & walked to the tub (a bit of a weird feeling). From there it wasn't too bad. I got in the tub alone & Robyn was in front of me & coached me through the pushing. I was so exhausted that there were some contractions I just let slide & didn't push through so that I could rest a bit. That's one thing, I never felt an overwhleming urge to bear down even though it did feel good to push. I reached down a couple different times to feel the babies head, too.
At one point I felt a bit of a burn & asked if it was the ring of fire, lol. It was. And, just to make things a little more difficult, she was a compound presentation & had one of her hands (I think the left one) up at her face. So, there was more additional pain because Robyn had to manuever around there again since the babies head wouldn't quite slide out right with her hand there. Ray was down with Robyn the whole time. After the head came out I reached down & looked at her & touched her & said, "That's my baby!" Robyn guided Ray to help with catching the baby & I pushed her out. I guess towards the end of my pushing I reached out & grabbed the baby right as she came out & pulled her up to my chest.
It was so exhilerating!!! I held her at my chest & sat in the tub with her & Ray & I looked her over a bit while the water drained out of the tub. After a little while I finally remembered to check & see whether we really had a girl or not. Her cord was very short so I couldn't get her very high on my chest. Ray & I both got to feel it pulsing. Once it finished pulsing Ray cut the cord, about 10 minutes after she was born.
I had started cramping again shortly after delivering & was ready to deliver the placenta. So, Robyn had me push again & the placenta literally seemed to come shooting out & blood splattered all over the bottom of the tub. It looked like it could've been something out of a horror movie with all of the blood & I didn't expect the placenta to be so big! They said the blood sprayed out like that because I was such an effective pusher. When Robyn massaged my uterus a little more blood came out, more than she was comfortable with, so I got a quick shot of pitocin to stop any hemmorhaging.
I'm very glad I didn't tear (or have an episiotomy). I haven't even needed my peri bottle! But, I'm sure that delivering in the water help with that as well as the painfulness of Robyn having to manually stretch my cervix & stuff. Plus, she made sure to mjassage & stretch that area as I was pushing.
I got out of the tub & rinsed off, got dressed & went & laid on the sofa in the waiting room. About an hour after she was born we called some family & friends to let them know the news. Rach only lives 5 minutes from the center so she arrived first. I may've been nursing when she got there. My parents & sister arrived shortly after & fawned over the baby. I was drinking tons of gatorade (I hate gatorade but it sure tasted good at that time!) & eating some of my turkey sub. I also ate a spring roll my family brought for me from my favorite Vietnemese restaurant in Orlando. While my family was there we got to watch Ray put the babies first diaper on & get her dressed for the first time. It was so cute. Toward the end of my families visit Ray's mom & step-dad showed up. Everyone finally left & we got settled in. We only had to stay for about 2-4 hours but since it was so late we opted to stay the night.
I slept on the sofa with the baby snuggled on a chair pushed up next to me & Ray slept on the love seat. I think we started getting ready to go around 7-8 & left around 9am.
I am so excited about the labor & birth. It was so fabulous & calm & very much what I wanted. The reason they think my dilation was so slow was because of her compound presentation & because I had so much amniotic fluid - Robyn said I would have probably ended up with a c-section quite a bit earlier if I'd been at the hospital!
I also had expectations that it would be much worse. As I've said, it was the most painful thing I've gone through, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the horror story I've heard it made out to be. I'd say not having my expectations met in that area is definitely a good thing!