I was thirty-nine weeks and one day pregnant when I went to my midwife appointment on Thursday morning. Katie offered to sweep my membranes and we both felt that it couldn’t hurt, since it would really only “send me over” if my body was truly ready. She checked my cervix first and found that I had dilated since the last week, from 3cm to 4cm. I was so excited! She did the sweep (which was seriously uncomfortable) and we crossed our fingers.
The kids and I got back home at noon and I hadn’t felt anything but a few Braxton hicks contractions. I had lunch and did some things around the house. At 2:15, I reclined on the sofa and took about a forty-five minute nap. I woke up to a moderately painful contraction, which gave me a tiny bit of hope that maybe something was going to happen.
For the next little while I stayed on the couch having these contractions. Because of all the Braxton hicks I’d had during the pregnancy, I wasn’t timing them, just observing. They were short: I knew they were too short to be labor contractions. And they were too close together too soon: labor contractions are supposed to get closer together over time. And finally, they were manageable: no way were these intense labor pains…more like strong menstrual cramps.
At 3:30, I started timing them. They were indeed short: 30-35 seconds long, and 3-5 minutes apart. I decided that I would call my sister just to be on the safe side since they weren’t letting up no matter which position I got into, and they were still hurting. I asked her if she would come over for dinner, that way she’d be here to stay with Maggie and Joshua if we did need to go to the hospital. I figured, if it was just a false alarm, we could still have a nice visit with her. It felt unlikely at this point, but I couldn’t ignore the nagging feeling I had that I make sure she come over. She said she could be over by 5:00.
When I got off the phone with her, I called Stephen. I didn’t want to get him too excited so I didn’t say anything about the contractions or about my sister coming over. He said he was on his way home from work, and oh was I relieved!
As I waited for them to arrive, my contractions were still the same, short and close together. I didn’t know what to do at this point. Should I take it easy or do some walking? I posted this question on my due date club message board, but as soon as I posted it, I realized that I didn’t want to wait for responses. So I popped in my Leslie Sansone power walking dvd and started walking! I fast walked (plus sidestepped, knee-lifted, and kicked), with remote in hand. Every three minutes I had to pause it, sit on the couch and breathe through the contraction. Total, I exercised for twenty-one minutes at which point I had to stop because it was getting too intense (This took me a little over forty minutes to do because of all the breaks).
Stephen got home and I told him what was going on, so he took a shower and got ready in the event that things progressed. Natalie arrived, too, and by this time I was hurting worse with each contraction, and they were more like 45 seconds long. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the most painful), they were like a 4/5. At 5:30, she left to pick up dinner for the four of them at Chick-Fil-A.
While she was gone, the pain picked up significantly and by 6:00 I was squatting/kneeling while hanging my arms from the kitchen counter. I was semi-moaning through the pain, which was now about a 6 on the pain scale.
She got back and they all ate. I had two small pieces of buttered french bread , because at that point I knew for sure that I was in labor and I would need the energy.
At 6:10, the contractions were so intense that I was instructing Stephen to load the car and saying “We need to leave NOW!!” I called the doctor’s after hours number and told them quickly what was going on. We kissed Maggie and Joshua goodbye and I assured them that this was not a false alarm and I would soon have their new little brother in my arms!
When we got in the car at 6:20, one of the midwives called me back and I told her we were on our way to the hospital. She heard me have a contraction while on the phone and I’m sure it was very evident that I was really laboring.
The ride to the hospital was both short and long; short because I was so distracted by the contractions (which were now only a minute or two apart and about a 7 on the pain scale), and long because I felt like things were happening too fast and I just wanted to be there instead of giving birth in the car! The last few contractions that I had before getting there actually made me begin to cry when they were done. That was a weird sensation because I didn’t feel sad. I guess it was an overwhelmed cry.
When we arrived at the hospital I knew for a fact that I couldn’t walk (which was interesting because I have never felt that before) so Stephen pulled up to the door, ran in and came back out with a wheelchair. He helped get me out and into the wheelchair and then went to park the car. As soon as he pulled away, another contraction hit hard and I had to brace myself with the arms of the wheelchair and moan/deep breathe through it. Humorously, when it ended I look up to see a man, looking very concerned walking toward me from a group of four people (all equally looking freaked out). I then realized how it must have looked: woman dropped off in full-blown labor, and the guy drives away! Haha. So he comes over and asks me if I’m ok and and I say “No, I’m in labor, but I will be ok. My husband has just gone to park the car.” He looks at me like he’s wondering if what I’m saying is true! Well, here comes Stephen walking toward us and I see relief on the man’s face. Lol
Stephen quickly took me into the hospital and we turned the corner to where the elevators are. Of course, there were like seven people standing there waiting for it! What?! The elevator doors opened and everyone got on. While going up three floors, I had another contraction. If I hadn’t been hurting so much (an 8 at this point on the pain scale) I might have been embarrassed – but I assure you, I was not.
So we got to the maternity floor. The doors opened and I was stunned to see that the waiting area was full of people when it was normally very light. Of course I was stared at, and then another giant contraction hit! It was like the parting of the Red Sea in there with nearly every person watching us go by! Lol
We got to the nurses station and they very quickly put us in our room which had been prepared since the midwife had called about us coming in advance. I got changed into a gown, and she checked me in between contractions. I was 8cm dilated! No wonder the pain was an 8, right?!
My arm band said we got there at 7:09 pm. I let them hook me up to the monitors but I couldn’t stay on my back for long because it was just too intense and I needed to feel like I had some control. They put the squat bar on the bed for me and I was able to kneel on the bed and grip the bar (and hang on it between contractions). One of nurses told me that I couldn’t have an epidural because of my platelet count (which I already knew), and I responded that I didn’t want one anyway. I don’t even know why she brought it up as I hadn’t asked for anything.
The contractions were now very, very close together and a 9 on the pain scale. I started having the very real thought that “I cannot do this!” Which, I then remembered reading means you are in transition and almost done!! So after each one, I would think it and then I would remember that I AM doing it and that I’m almost done.
At 7:30, my doctor checked me again and I was a 9 with an anterior lip (meaning just a tiny bit more of the cervix needs to go). I stayed in the position I was in (at the bar) for about ten more minutes and then I started feeling the need to push. I asked her to check me again because I wanted to push, but do it safely. She checked and told me to go ahead. I waited until the next contraction and pushed.
Baby’s head came down fast and it really burned, but as soon as the contraction ended, he went back up a little bit. I pushed one more time in that position, but then my legs were feeling really uncomfortable and everyone helped me onto my side. This felt much better. I grabbed the sidebar to brace myself and with the next few contractions, I pushed. I was making progress.
A few more and then my water broke. Then the doctor encouraged me to push again with the next one but to continue holding the push for longer if I could. So that’s exactly what I did. I gave it everything I had and out came baby’s head! She had to maneuver one of his shoulders a little but then she asked me to push again. The rest of Samuel came out! He was born at 8:08 pm – 59 minutes after arriving at the hospital.
The doctor placed him on me immediately following the birth. They suctioned his mouth and nose and he began to cry loudly. Stephen cut the cord. After holding him for a few minutes more, a nurse checked him over in the baby warmer with Stephen standing right there with him. I delivered the placenta (wow! was that thing big!) I had requested no episiotomy in my birth plan, and I did end up tearing; she said it was a second degree tear, so I had to get stitches. When she was finished, I got to hold Samuel again. He weighed 7lbs12oz and measured 20 inches long. I nursed him for the first time and it went great.
All in all, it couldn’t have gone much better. The timing of Stephen and my sister being there was perfect! My labor and delivery was very intense but I am so happy that I was able to have the natural childbirth that I wanted. Even at a hospital.
Samuel is eight years old now and such a sweetheart. He loves everyone so much!
updated Dec 2019