Wednesday night, 6/23 I started having some signs that labor might be near, maybe the next 24-48 hours. I asked David if he could work from home just in case and his boss was supportive. The next morning I had a regular OB check up (on my due date, 6/24). My doctor said I was 2 cm dilated and 60% effaced and agreed that with the other signs I was seeing labor was probably near, but when she couldn’t say. She encouraged me to walk, walk, walk and told me she was on call all weekend, starting Friday at 7:30am. Out of my 4 OB’s she’s the one I most wanted to deliver with so I was definitely hoping labor was on it’s way!
That day I made some extra meals, got thank you notes caught up, and waited for David to get off work so we could walk the mall together, since it was a little too warm to walk outside. Around 5:30 we headed for the mall and walked around for two hours. My contractions were stronger than they had been, but nothing time-able or painful so, thinking I might be waiting another day we headed home. Around 10pm I started having some labor signs that concerned me so I called my OB’s office and she agreed that I should be checked. So we went into labor and delivery, found out all was fine, but that I was now 3cms and 80% effaced. She had me walk the halls for an hour to see if that made any change. When it didn’t, I asked to go home since I wanted to do most of my laboring there if possible. She encouraged me to take an ambien to sleep since my contractions were a little too strong to sleep through (we compromised on 2 tylenol PM instead).
With the Tylenol I was able to sleep in between contractions from 12am-4am, but after that they were uncomfortable enough I was just ready to get up. I went and ate a light breakfast, poured a glass of water and focused on staying relaxed as I went about my morning routine (quietly, as I didn’t want to wake David yet). My contractions were 10-12 minutes apart and I suspected it was definitely early labor, but I wanted to wait until more active labor to let family know. David got up around 6:30 and asked what he should do about work that day. I asked him not to work, but stay with me. So from 6:30-8:30 he read to me (A Walk In the Woods, by Bill Bryson was my request) and timed my contractions as I labored (leaning on the couch, in the tub, walking around). Finally, by 8:30, my contractions were still 8 minutes apart and I was feeling pretty discouraged. I had no idea early labor would hurt sooo much!
I called my mother in law, a labor and delivery nurse, for some encouragement. I really wanted an unmedicated delivery, but if I was hurting this much already I couldn’t imagine how much I’d want an epidural by the end! She encouraged me that early labor is the longest and that whatever I chose to do at the end would be fine. Not 10 minutes after we hung up, around 9am, my contractions jumped from 8 minutes apart “need to concentrate on breathing and relaxing” pain to 3 minutes apart, “can’t breath without my husband breathing with me, need to “slow dance” through the contraction” pain. After 20 minutes of that I told David it was Time. To. Go. He was a little skeptical and asked if we shouldn’t wait for them to be that way for an hour first. To which I replied, “That was when they were supposed to be 5 minutes apart!”
So I called the OB office, David frantically finished packing the bag (sandwiches, cell chargers, etc) while helping me breathe every 3 minutes. By the time the office picked up and the suitcase was packed I had been 3 minutes apart for 45 minutes. Just as we went to walk down the stairs, my water broke. In the car my contractions paused for 6 minutes, causing David to wonder even more if perhaps we’d left to early. By the time we hit downtown though, they were 3 minutes apart again. So we “slow danced” through them in the parking lot, in the hallway, and in the elevator until we finally reached labor and delivery. It was a busy weekend for babies to arrive so the only room they had open was a triage room. I’ll never forget the nurse’s words as she checked to see how dilated I was, “Oh girl. OH GIRL. You are 5, 6, 7, EIGHT centimeters dilated!” I had walked to labor and delivery in transition. I cried a few tears of joy. I’d been so worried they were going to tell me I was only 4-5 cms, instead I was close to being ready to push!
The nurse quickly had a patient who’d already delivered moved into a recovery room and I moved into a labor and delivery room. I still had a tiny bit of cervix that hadn’t fully effaced on my right side, so the nurse had me lay on my right side. The contractions were really intense at this point. I found it impossible to breathe/relax through the peak, but fortunately that only lasted a few seconds, during which time I usually said something like “I can’t do this” to which the nurse replied, “You ARE doing this!” which was tremendously encouraging. David was holding my hand the whole time and didn’t even begrudge me when I head butted him at the peak of one of the worst contractions. After about 30-45 minutes of these really intense contractions I suddenly NEEDED TO PUSH!
Fortunately my OB had arrived by then (and teased me saying, “When you asked me what time my shift started I didn’t realize you meant you’d be in just a few hours after that!”). I remember telling her, “I am so sorry, I HAVE to push.” I was just sure it couldn’t really be time to push yet, I’d only been in the hospital just over an hour! They had just put me on IV fluids a few minutes before! However a quick peek from my doctor and I was cleared to push. After just a few pushes they could see his head appearing and 30 minutes later he was born. I couldn’t believe how naturally it came. David was an amazing coach. He counted each push for me and was my cheerleader the whole way.
Afterwards I can say, I’ve never been so exhausted in my life! All my muscles felt like jelly, but holding him in my arms for the first time ever was the most amazing feeling ever. With him on my chest, I barely felt the stitches my OB was giving me for a tiny (2cm) tear.
Because of how quickly everything went once we reached the hospital we didn’t get to let many people know in advance that he was coming (my own parents, in fact, found out I was in labor about 10 minutes before he arrived!). I still can’t believe how amazingly it all went. God is so good.
And the result of all that effort: