The little one is asleep and the husband is off enjoying his first Black Friday shopping adventure not as a retail employee so I think I will try to write out the story of how Alex entered the world. (This will be very detailed. I wish I had heard more detailed stories for other women and I wanted to remember the details down the road myself.)
Alex had measured big for all of my last trimester so when we hit that magical 37 weeks and “full term” we started working to encourage little Alex to get out before he got too much bigger. Philip and I went walking around the neighborhood every night and I added in some walking and sets of squats at work. At my last prenatal doctor’s appointment, I was 37 weeks 4 days and dilated to one centimeter and about 75% effaced. The doc tried to manually stretch my cervix to see how ripe it was. It didn’t move, but he was very encouraging that the effacement was a good sign. We made the appointment for the next week but doc said he wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t see me then.
Well, we kept up the walking and squatting and I ate as much spicy food as my heartburn would let me. The nesting instinct hit hard soon after that. I wanted to clean everything and get everything organized. I could hardly sleep or concentrate on anything because I had such a long list of things I wanted to get done. (Most of which were still waiting when the three of us got home.)
Thursday the first I started having contractions while we were out running errands. Nothing too bad, but they were noticeable. I called the on call doctor after about two hours of contractions and he said that it didn’t seem like enough. Well, they kept coming so I called Labor and Delivery. The nurse advised me to try to make them go away instead of working to keep them going. That was more effective at seeing if it was real labor or not. Well, they went away.
Friday night I had some more contractions with one or two being a bit painful. However, I could make them go away by drinking water or resting for a bit.
Early Saturday morning, right around 3 am I got up to use the bathroom and feed the cat (just like I had done at 3 am every morning since about 25 weeks). While I was up I felt a pretty strong contraction so I decided I would put up some of the clean dishes and see what happened. The contractions continued and were rather uncomfortable, though not quite painful and kept up for about forty-five minutes or so. I remembered the nurse’s advice and went to lay back down in bed and see if the contractions kept up. After laying there for about fifteen minutes there were no more contractions, but I needed to pee again. So around 4 or 4:15, I decide that I will go to the bathroom then try to get some more sleep. After all, this could be my last Saturday to sleep in…
I get to just outside the bathroom door and gush! This was no trickle. There was no mistaking it for peeing on myself. My water broke in true movie style. For once I was glad for our ugly concrete floors. I grabbed a towel for the floor and put another between my legs as I walked over to the bed and woke Philip up. We were packed and ready to go in no time. I sent a text to family letting them know that we were headed to the hospital to see if this was the real deal but that I was pretty certain and I called L&D to let them know we were on our way.
We get to the hospital and I change into the lovely gown that I will be wearing for the next two days. When the nurse goes to do the amniotic fluid test, she takes a quick look and says that she’s pretty sure I’m ruptured. Well, I was. I was also about 90% effaced at this point though no more dilated. They admit me and we fill out all the fun paperwork. I also find out that my doctor is not on call this weekend at all and I would be starting with the doctor that I had left because I didn’t like his personality.
I give the nurse my birth plan and we get started with all the fun wires and tubes. I get hooked up to the monitors. I also get an IV for the routine fluids to keep me hydrated. I also get started on antibiotics as I was group B strep positive.
The doctor then comes in to check on me and discuss the birth plan. My water broke but I wasn’t in active labor. We discussed the timeline that this put us on. The longer you labor with your water broken the higher the chances for infection, prolapsed cord, and other not-so-good stuff. Dr. B said that he would feel comfortable with me trying to get labor started on my own for 24 hours before we needed to start Pitocin. That was all I needed to hear. I would get labor going within 24 hours come hell or high water! He checked my cervix. Due to the group B strep he checked my cervix rectally. This was extremely uncomfortable, and he said, not very accurate. Well, he said I was at about a 2 and because I wasn’t in active labor, he would let me get up and walk around off the monitors for periods of 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes though I had to get on the monitors for the nurse to check the heart rate.
Well, we keep up the 15 minute schedule for about an hour and half, maybe two. Then the nurse said I had to stay in bed. At each check my blood pressure had been taken and apparently it was getting pretty high and concerning. She wanted me to stay in bed and try to relax, perhaps being up and moving so much was just pushing it too far. Then Dr. B came in. Apparently my blood pressure wasn’t getting any better and was raising some rather big red flags. The traditional, normal treatment is Magnesium. Dr. B said that normally he would just go with the Mag, but if he started the Magnesium it would likely stop my labor. Then we’d have to start Pitocin and doing so this early into the labor process gave me a high chance of a c-section. Dr. B says that there was another option. We could do a half-dose of demerol (half of what they normally give you for labor pain). He said that he understood that I didn’t want pain medication but that the demerol would lower my pulse and blood pressure and could help stop the escalation he was seeing. Demerol it was. Oh, and I had to stay in bed on my left side with the exception of getting up to use the restroom.
Fast forward a bit. Family got into town around 6 or so Saturday night. Around the same time, my labor started getting more intense. Normally in hospitals, you get your cervix checked pretty frequently, but because of the strep, they weren’t checking me unless I asked them to do so. This just meant that I had no clue how I was progressing for much of the time. At the same time, they stopped telling me what my blood pressure readings were. My blood pressure was checked automatically every 15 minutes and at first the nurse or Philip would read me the number. Then it started just being, “It’s pretty high” and “That one wasn’t so bad.”
That night gets rather fuzzy to me. I went into active labor sometime Saturday evening though I’m not sure when. I just know that eventually it went from kind of uncomfortable to noticeable painful with each contraction. We did do another half dose of demerol and then later a full dose closer to transition. Philip and the nurse became more and more strict about getting up just to go to the restroom and then getting right back into the bed. I would rest for a second when I sat up, and the contractions were a lot easier to deal with when sitting, but I had to be quick. What they weren’t telling me, or what I wasn’t understanding at the time, was that my blood pressure was reaching very dangerous levels every time I sat up. We’re talking 200/100+.
I do remember the 2:00 hour Sunday morning as we took note that the clock wound itself back for Daylight Savings Time. By that point and for some time previously, the contractions were very, very painful. I would grab hold of the railing to the bed with one hand and took Philip’s hand in the other. I thought for sure I would rip the railing off that bed or break Philip’s fingers. Both ended up making it out okay.
At one point I looked at the nurse (who was staying in the room most of the time) and told her that I felt like I needed to push. When she had checked me last I had been at about an 8, now I just had a tiny bit of cervix left. I knew in my mind that I needed to wait until that last bit of cervix was gone or pushing could do more harm than good, but I really wanted to. Finally she said it was gone and it was time to start pushing some. As this was my first, we would do some “practice” pushes before the doctor got there and another nurse came in to help. During this time I experienced something that nearly every laboring woman does, but no one talks about: I had several bowel movements while pushing. It’s the same muscle group and feels about the same. Everyone does it, the nurses are used to, but no one talks about it. Now you know. Well, after some time of pushing the nurses told me to stop pushing or I would have the baby without the doctor being there.
If you’ve never given birth, here’s something they don’t always tell you and that you can’t properly describe: When you get to that point of the delivery process when the baby is right there, to not push is like trying to hold your own head underwater and not breathe. It is so completely against your instincts and feels like you will literally die if you don’t push and anyone telling you to stop must be completely off their rocker.
Well, Dr. G gets there (Dr. B was no longer on call) and they let me start pushing again as she’s getting suited up. A whole bunch of other people come in too, but I’m too busy to notice. Dr. G introduces herself and proceeds to say that she knew I had a birth plan, but she didn’t get to read it yet and then asks me how I feel about an episiotomy. Keep in mind, I am pushing a baby out right now. We agree to an episiotomy as she thinks a short cut will help his head come right out, and it does. His head came out just seconds after the cut. Next came his shoulders and the rest of him just slipped right now. To be honest, once the head was out the rest just seemed to slide out almost on it’s own.
At 6:21 am on November 4th, I heard his first little cry. It was a little gurgled and not too loud, but had a good hearty sound to it. They pick him up and I see his little face and his flailing body. Philip gets to cut the cord and they give him a quick rub down. I wanted skin to skin time as soon as possible and I ripped off that gown. (Modesty just got completely forgotten for the next several hours.) After the cord was cut, they handed me my little boy. He just wiggled for a second then he settled down and snuggled into my neck. I was in awe of him, just in complete awe. Here was this tiny little person who just minutes ago had been inside of me.
During that time I delivered the placenta. After a little bit, they took Alex to the warmer off to the side of the room to be checked out and Philip went over there with him. Dr. G then tells me that I have a fourth degree tear. Externally, there was only a third degree tear, but internally I tore a lot worse. His head had fit with the episiotomy, but his shoulders had caused most of the tear. The tear went through the vagina, perineum, and rectum. The sphincter wasn’t torn which was the good news. Dr. G did a three layer repair and reinforced the sphincter just to be sure. She finished her repair and explained the recovery briefly while the nursery worker finished with Alex.
And then, just as quickly as it seemed everyone had swarmed into the room, they were all gone. It was just me and Philip and the nurse. Soon, Philip went and got the family and they got to meet little Alex. I felt rather good afterwards. I had to keep having my blood pressure monitored and was still stuck to the IV as they had started Magnesium some time during transition. I would stay on the Mag for 24 hours after the birth to ensure that I didn’t have any seizures. It probably took a day or so for me to feel like there was anything physically “wrong” or like my body was recovering from anything.
And that’s how I became a mother.