At last!! I'm back to blogging!! This is the first time in 3 weeks when I've had the time and ability to write. I have either had visitors at my house, been way too exhausted to think, had a baby in my arms, or all of the above at the same time. Whew! Having some time to write is really nice!!
Please don't misunderstand me...I loved all the family and friends who came visiting for days on end and I LOVE the hours I spend tending to all my new baby's needs, no matter how tired it makes me, but having a few quiet minutes to reflect and write about the experience I've been through, i.e. LABOR AND DELIVERY, is important to me.
From the beginning, I have planned on trying to go unmedicated and I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible with the assistance of a doula who has 26 years experience working with laboring women. Ideally we wanted to arrive at the hospital just prior to pushing. This is our story...
Tuesday, August 10th
For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, maybe you'll remember where I was when I got the call from my RE's office informing us that our second IVF was successful and that I was pregnant...Walmart. Yup, well as luck would have it, that's where I was...that same exact store... when the Braxton Hicks contractions I'd been having for weeks turned into labor pains. It's not like I even go to Walmart that often...wtf!?!?! Anyway, at the time I remember the contractions being strong enough that they would stop me in my tracks in the isles, but by that time in my pregnancy (39 weeks 6 days) I was so used to the frequency of the Braxton Hicks that I didn't think too much about it other than, "wow that one hurt!"
When we got home from the notorious Walmart I was exhausted and decided to lay down for a nap. (This will be the last time I get any rest for literally a week!) As I'm laying in bed a couple more of those painful BH contractions come and at this point I start watching the clock. "Hmmm, they are coming ever 10 minutes...that's different." We have dinner that night and go about the evening normally all the while these intense BH contractions keep coming. Ben and I go to bed.
Wednesday, August 11th
I tossed and turned in restless sleep and finally at 2AM the contractions have gotten too intense to stay in bed. (This is the time we officially start counting the beginning of my labor.) I would start to drift off then be awoken at the height of the pain during another contraction. It was terrible to be caught off guard by the pain....I'd wake up screaming because I wasn't prepared. The pain would paralyze me if it caught me while I was still on my back. Sometimes I would be able to scramble to my feet just prior to the peak and I would slump over my bed in agony....but still standing was WAY better than laying down. It really sucked to woken up like this repeatedly so I chose to stay awake since by now I KNEW this was not just painful BH contractions....this was LABOR. I wanted to be conscious so that I could feel the onset of another contraction and prepare myself for the pain. This made them bearable as I could concentrate and breath through them.
We were both excited. It was our official due date and something was really happening. I was aware that we might have a ways to go since some of my contractions were still 10 minutes apart, but I was encouraged that some would come as close as 5 minutes. I knew that the early stages of labor can sometime take hours (especially for first time mamas) for contractions to get consistently close together, so I knew I needed to be patient and just ride them out. A call to my doula at 8:30AM confirmed this. She encouraged us to just keep doing what we were doing and call her if they got 3-5 minutes apart for an hour straight. The morning quickly turned into the afternoon as we timed each contraction using the contraction master website. Since we already had our regularly scheduled weekly OB appt that afternoon at 1PM we decided to just go see my doc instead of calling him. We loaded up the car with all our hospital bags just in case he sent us straight there. By now my contractions had gotten closer together but still not consistent, every 5-8 minutes, but were definitely picking up in intensity. I was eager to have my doc check me to see how much I had dilated now that I'd been having really painful contractions for almost 12 hours.
When we got there I was aware the other women in the waiting room were probably thinking, "uh, lady, you go to the hospital when you're in labor not the doctor's office!" as I was clearly having to focus intensely on each breath when contractions came. I'm sure I looked crazy, but I didn't care. Soon we were escorted back to the exam room. My doctor looked pleased when he came in and half-jokingly said, "So I hear you're having some contractions...a delivery tonight would be great timing for me!" He proceeded to check my cervix...
Only 1 cm and about 75% effaced. I was really disappointed. No change since my appointment last week and I'd suffered through 12 hours already?? ugh!! He told me not to get discouraged....that sometime early labor just takes a long time. "Boo!! It's already been a long time!!" We were sent home to labor some more and instructed to call him if my water broke or if my contractions get to be consistently under 5 minutes apart.
On our way home at 3PM we called our doula again to give her an update and we learned that she was already at another birth. Great. She told me to stay in touch and she could send her backup if necessary, but the mama she was with was close to pushing so she didn't think she'd be too much longer.
We got home and the routine continued. I contracted sporadically, every 5-8 minutes, and each one seemed to hurt worse then the prior one. It wasn't able to eat much and I certainly was NOT able to sleep. Our doula called us at 6PM to tell us that she was home and HAD to sleep for at least 4 hours since she had been up 24 straight. She gave me the number of her backup, but I was not planning on calling a person to my house whom I had never met. I was on the fence about hiring a doula in the first place, but Ben convinced me that having an experienced coach there would be good for both of us...well fine, I like the one we hired, but I wasn't prepared to have to try to get to know and trust someone else in my current condition.
This update I posted seems to sum up the night pretty well:
"It's 3:30 AM....I'm still home, still laboring, and still no doula. It's been 25.5 straight hours of contractions and I'm exhausted. My body is shaking and nauseous from the pain that has gotten close to unbearable. I'm starting to think that it's time to go to the hospital...so I'm gonna call and wake up our doula to see what she says. My contractions are still wavering between 5 and 8 minutes apart, but they last more than 60 seconds and I'm barely able to make it through them..."
We called our doula at 4AM and I told her that I needed her now. I couldn't wait any longer. She was appreciative that I waited so long so that she could get some sleep. She arrived an hour later. Her presence brought a calming vibe over our house. I felt re-empowered to keep going despite my exhaustion and the raw pain of it all. For hours I'd been going back and forth from the birthing ball to standing using Ben's shoulders for support. When I was on the ball I could sway or bounce my hips to help ease the pain and I envisioned each movement helping to bring my baby down closer to coming out. The rhythm of my movements and intensity of the contractions put me into the trace-like state. My sunglasses helped dim the world around me and helped me focus more inward. Since I already looked a little goofy, my doula thought it would be funny if I put on the special party hat that my hostess made for me for my shower and took a picture while I labored. She was right...I'm glad to have this picture now. (Since I'm smiling, this pic was clearly taken between contractions...)
I held on to this strength and positivity for a couple of hours as I allowed the contractions to crash over me. Welcoming their intensity and force, they were the power that was going to bring me my baby. I chose to work with them and not fight it. I became comfortable with the deep sounds that were instinctively coming out of me. I made peace with this primal version of myself that needed to appear for this labor to happen. I was determined not to loose control of myself and in order for that to happen I had to let my instincts take over. I had to let go of my conscious mind and let my body do the work.
I really thought we were getting close to when my doula would say, "Ok, it's time we head out to the hospital. I think you're very close to the end!"
It turns out, not so much...
All morning my doula kept asking if I'd had any bloody show and I hadn't, but I did tell her that I'd noticed my cervix plug passed earlier in the morning before she's arrived. My contractions were STILL just 5 minutes apart...no closer, and my water hadn't ruptured. These were all signs to her that I wasn't as far along as I thought that I was. (HUGE MISCOMMUNICATION....wish I could turn back time and fix this one.)
Throughout the morning my doula had been answering her cell and stepping out of the room...I hadn't thought much about it until at 10:30 AM when she asked me if it would be alright if she left for a couple hours to help another mama who was on her way to the hospital and feeling the urge to push already. She told me that she was sure I still had plenty of hours and that she'd be back before I knew it.....I was totally stunned!!!
"You're leaving me and I still have a long way to go? WHAT??"
There I was sitting on my birthing ball groaning my way through each horrid contraction thinking I was getting very close to having my baby and the doula I'd hired felt comfortable enough to leave me! Really?!?!
I agreed for her to leave since I didn't want to make a scene and I only had a couple minutes before I had to prepare for another gut wrenching contraction. I didn't have the ability to communicate verbal thoughts...I just had to stay inside myself to focus on the pain at hand or I was going to loose control.
Out the door she went....
Leaving me behind...
I totally lost it...Tears and more tears compounded by hideous contractions. It was one of the lowest moments of my life. I was ready to give up. I was exhausted, DONE, and I really didn't believe I could get though one more contraction...
Little did I know, it would still be another 23 hours before Morgan was delivered.