Based on my experience when I gave birth to Claire, I spent this entire pregnancy worried that I was going to labor too fast and not make it to the hospital in time. I also planned on another unmedicated labor.
I started spotting on Monday, December 26th. I didn't think much about it until that evening before bed and decided if it kept up that night, I would call the OB in the morning. I woke up the next morning at 5 am with a dull backache and the thought "today is the day!" running through my head. I couldn't go back to sleep and so I got up and got ready, finished the laundry, cleaned the bathrooms, and put the "last minute" items into our hospital bags. When 9 am finally rolled around I called my OB's office and left a message for the nurse telling her that I'd had a little bit of spotting since the day before and that it was now bright red. She called back around 10:30 and recommended that I head to L&D to be checked out and to monitor the baby. Ben and I arrived at AF Hospital labor and delivery around noon. When the nurse at the hospital checked me I was 3 cm dilated and 90% effaced, which I had been at my 37 week prenatal appointment the Wednesday before, and she didn't see any obvious signs of bleeding. They strapped me to the baby heart rate and contraction monitors for an hour. By the end of that hour of monitoring I was dilated to 4 cm. The nurse also asked me how I was handling my contractions. I said, "oh I just a had a few braxton hicks", but apparently (according to the monitors and nurse) I was having regular contractions that were 3 to 5 minutes apart the entire time. So after speaking over the phone with the on-call OB, the nurse came back to tell me that they wanted to monitor me for another hour. I continued to have regular contractions during the second hour as well, but there was no change in my cervix. The nurse offered to check me in, but I declined, even though she expressed concern that if I left I may not make it back in time because of my history of fast labor. I worried too, but didn't want to stick around the hospital all day!
So we left the hospital at 3pm. My sister, Noelle, was at our house with our girls and her 10 wk old baby girl. I had regular contractions the whole way home, sometimes they were 3 1/2 min apart and sometimes they were 6. They weren't painful yet, but making me catch my breath. I was really wondering what to do. I didn't want to wait too long because what if things pick up speed? The hospital is 20 minutes away and there was all sorts of road construction. I worried about getting to AF during rush hour. We got home and I ate some leftover pizza from the night before. We just hung out for awhile and timed contractions with an app on my iPod Touch. Noelle went home for a bit to pack an overnight bag for herself and Coco in case we decided to go back to the hospital. Her sweet baby just hung out in the swing while she was gone.
At 6 pm I decided to take a warm shower and lie down to see if contractions would slow down or go away. If anything they got more intense (but not closer together). So we decided to go back to the hospital if only to see if I was actually making any progress. On the way there my contractions seemed less regular so right before the turn to the hospital I told Ben to take me to Red Mango in American Fork instead. We sat there for about an hour eating our yogurt and smoothie respectively and timing contractions. I still wasn't sure what was going on with them, so we decided to go walk around at the Target across the street. I thought more walking might help. We spent about an hour there just browsing but the contractions don’t get any more painful or regular. We didn’t buy anything. I wasn't sure what to do but figured we might as well go to the hospital to get checked again. I didn’t want to have to stay for an hour of monitoring so I asked if they’d just check my cervix since I was already there that afternoon, but the nurse said that I had to be monitored. I was still at a 4 when they checked me and my contractions were regular during the hour of monitoring after which the nurse said I made “some” progress, but she didn’t want to officially check me in yet since I was going unmedicated. She and I agreed that I should roam the halls of the hospital for an hour and then she’d check me again. So Ben and I went to an unpopulated wing of the maternity floor, and I paced and timed contractions while Ben tried to rest on a bench. Poor guy was pretty sick with a sinus infection (he was also sick when I was in labor with Claire) and I secretly wondered if he was trying to steal some attention away from me.
After an hour the nurse came to find me and I went back to triage to get checked. By now Ben had fallen asleep so I didn’t wake him for this part. I had dilated to a 5 and my contractions had gotten more intense so we decided that I should be admitted. I woke Ben and the nurse led us to our L&D room. It was midnight. The on-call OB, Dr. Cloward, (our regular OB was on a post-Christmas week long vacation with his family) came in to talk to us, and she suggested breaking my water to speed things up. I wasn't against that idea but I wanted to wait a little longer. I worried that if we did that too early I’d have a long labor of really painful contractions. The OB left to go sleep in the docs sleeping quarters and said she’d come back when we were ready. Ben and I started walking laps around the nursing station. We had to stop every half hour to monitor the baby’s heart rate for 5 minutes. Intermittent monitoring is one of the best things about unmedicated labor. There's no monitoring contractions, no iv, no continuous fetal monitoring. I had a heploc in case of an emergency. At 2 o’clock I was getting tired of walking and I asked the nurse when the doctor planned to come back. She said the OB was planning on checking in on me at 3am but that she could go wake her if I was ready for her to break my water. I decided to wait until 3. Ben slept on the couch in the L&D room and I spent the next hour walking by myself. By 3 am the contractions had definitely gotten more intense and I was really feeling the lack of sleep. The nurse checked me and said I was at a 6+. The OB came in a little after 3 and we decided it was time to speed things up. I woke Ben to tell him to get ready because I was really going to need his help now. I warned him that the contractions were going to get painful quick once the water broke. I could remember that from my quick labor with Claire. Dr. Cloward broke my water then and it took a couple of tries because, according to her, my bag of water was really "tough”. It seemed as though my contractions stopped completely for about 5 minutes after that which gave me a little time to clean up and get ready. The OB left and said she’d be right down the hall. She predicted that it wouldn’t be long and joked that she wouldn’t be surprised if the nurse called her back in right after walking out the door. Soon after that the contractions really picked up and it was probably only 15 minutes before I was clearly uncomfortable.
I wasn't laying in the bed, but I was gushing amniotic fluid with every contraction so I stayed near my bed to lean on it and stand over some towels the nurse had laid out on the floor. The nurse soon suggested the birth ball or birthing bar and I told her I’d like to try the birth ball. She brought it in and laid a small towel across it for me to sit on. Again, I was at the side of the bed so that I could lean forward on it during the contractions and rock back and forth on the ball. It helped a lot. I asked Ben to do some counter-pressure on my back, remembering that when I was in labor with Claire that that really helped when the midwife did it. I ended up yelling at him not to touch me though because it felt all wrong and made it hurt more, and when the contraction subsided I asked him to go look up the technique in the Birth Partner book and try again. He came back a couple of contractions later and got it right that time although it didn’t seem to be as much as a relief as with my last labor. Soon I was feeling quite a bit of pressure and felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet for a couple of contractions. I honestly don't know if I ever went to the bathroom, but I was feeling even more pressure. I told the nurse that I thought I was ready to push and then climbed up on the bed to be checked. She said I was at a 9+ and called the OB in. They started prepping the room although I honestly have no idea what was happening around me at this point because I was lying on my right side in the bed, trying to stay relaxed between contractions that were right on top of each other. Ben was there doing counter pressure I know because he was pushing on my back and I was lying on my side holding on to the bed rails. I was pulling myself up the bed (it wasn't flat) with my arms while simultaneously pushing into Ben’s hands with my back. He was basically holding me up on the bed and I remember having to scoot up the bed at one point to avoid falling off completely.
The OB checked and said I was complete and I turned over on my back to start pushing. Pushing didn’t take long. I felt the ring (rim?) of fire this time, which I didn’t feel with Claire, and unlike last time pushing didn’t feel like as much of a relief compared to contractions. Also unlike last time no one had to remind me how to push. In fact they told me to stop pushing. He was coming too fast. It felt almost impossible to stop pushing, but I tried. Nonetheless, 3 min. after I began pushing, our baby boy was born. It was less than an hour since my water broke.
He was covered in vernix, and looked like a little white alien to me. I got to hold him right away. Ben cut the cord while I snuggled our newborn, and soon the nurses asked me if they could take him for a moment while I delivered the placenta and the OB stitched up one small lateral tear. When they were done with our baby (and the OB was done with me) they gave him back to me. We nursed for the first time and he did well. It took him awhile to latch on but he eventually did. We got to hold and snuggle him in the delivery room for 2 whole hours before they moved us and took him for his first bath. I felt so lucky! Just me and Ben and our baby. It was shift change time, so we didn’t even have any interruptions. And I was feeling pretty good so when it did come time to move us, I asked to go to the nursery too, to watch Grant’s first bath.
After all that worrying about too quick of a labor, I had my longest labor yet. Once my water breaks though, watch out! I feel so blessed that things went so smoothly, especially after a full day of uncertainty and slow progression. I didn't get to have my friend/doula there as planned (she was out of town for Christmas), but once again Ben was an amazing birth partner. Giving birth truly has to be one of life's greatest experiences.
Two hour cuddle session with mom
In the nursery for his first bath