It was Saturday, December 30, 2006. The night before my mother had made tacos and jokingly hoped that it would stir up labor to start. I doubted that possibility since I was still two weeks away from my due date!
I had been running to the bathroom with diarrhea every hour starting around midnight. I was soooo NOT excited because two weeks prior I had the stomach flu. Who knew a pregnant woman could loose 15 pounds at the end of her pregnancy! I did! And I thought I was entering round two of the flu. By 5 am I was running to the bathroom every 20 minutes, and by 6 am I was running to the bathroom every 8-10 minutes, but by this point I was flushed clean and nothing was coming out. (Gross, I know, but this is real life here folks!)
I had the feeling that this wasn't the flu, that perhaps this was labor. I didn't want to believe it up until that point because I was still 2 weeks away from my due date. My birth class instructor had told us to shower and that if it was false labor it would probably go away. I asked my husband, who was sleeping, to keep track of how far apart my contractions were (I told him I would just holler from the shower when one started and stopped). Yea.... when I got out of a shower there was a long line drifting down the page because he had fallen back to sleep. (He deserved a little extra rest because at the time he was a full time student trying to finish his bachelors degree, and working 40+ hours a week doing construction.)
The contractions continued, yes I began calling them contractions because I no longer was running to the toilet and they kept coming. I wrapped a towel around myself and decided to do a load of laundry - might as well have a clean house. I wasn't in any discomfort at this point. But when I was walking to the washing machine I had a pretty noticeably trickle/gush of fluid. I wondered if that was my water, but it seemed like such a little amount that I thought it was perhaps pee (don't judge, sometimes pregnant momma's leak - although I have never leaked THAT much.) Because I was GBS positive, I knew I needed to take note of that.
By 9 am I was having consistent contractions coming every 5-6 minutes and lasting for about 45 seconds. I was leaning over our kitchen table, My mom arrived and shared her excitement and her peace. My husband cleaned house like the president was going to arrive and made a feast of a breakfast, which I wanted none of - it was quite hilarious and cute!
I figured this was the real deal and I should call my midwife. She suggested that I come in and determine if my water had truly broken. I arrived to the birth center around noon. And at this point, I was moving very slow and I was in a lot of discomfort. It felt like something was sitting on my tailbone.
After being checked and found to have ruptured my membranes, everyone helped me into the shower. The warm water was GLORIOUS! I even began singing through my contractions as a way to regulate my breathing.
But then... then they wanted to get me out of the shower to administer antibiotics for the GBS, do my initial and monitor the baby. I practically fell to the floor after my first contraction out of the shower. I didn't realize the water had made such a big difference in my pain tolerance. I was led to the bed and when I laid down I was squirming like a fish out of water. I did NOT want to be on my back, it was so painful.
This is when I had a realization... I needed a doula - at this point in time I didn't know what a doula was - but I needed someone to help me. My husband was at a loss because he was was feeling anxiety over the pain I was in. I had thought a midwife would sit there and rub my back and coach me, but this wasn't in her gift mix. (I have personally seen other midwives who do actively assist in labor comfort measures at births, so don't get me wrong, some may operate using comfort measures, but not this one. And honestly, I have never even met with this particular midwife prenatally, only her partners, so we had no relational background.)
After being checked, I got the worst news ever, I was only 3 cm dilated. Not what I wanted to hear. At the same time all this was happening, the nurse tried 6 times to get a needle into my arm. I was ready to punch someone.
At one point my midiwfe said "You need to calm down or else you will end up with a csection." Not the right thing to say to THIS laboring mom. I could see how that might help someone else find control, but in me, it caused fear.
I looked at the clock at it said 12:45pm. and I thought to myself, HOW HAVE I ONLY BEEN HERE FOR 45 MINUTES - it felt like it had been hours.
Then I was asked if I wanted an epidural. What I wanted was back in the SHOWER! But that wasn't an option, they needed to monitor the baby and I couldn't settle down enough for them to get a good read. So I transferred to labor and delivery for an epidural. At that moment, someone came in and took the clock off the wall... SHE CHANGED THE BATTERY and now the clock said 6pm. So it turns outI HAD BEEN DOING THIS FOR HOURS! What a mind game folks! I always look back and think, if I had known I had been doing that for such a long time maybe I would have pushed through and found a way to calm down - but I can't change history.
I got the epidural. My husband, who had sweat dripping from him, took a shower and ate some dinner. I got in a nap. And then I began shaking. I felt the need to open my legs wider. I knew it was time to push.
I was complete and it was 7pm and time to push. So I pushed, and pushed, and pushed some more. Pushing is not the easiest thing when you have an epidural and can't feel. But then we learned something, my baby girl was posterior. So no wonder it was harder to find her heartbeat earlier - it wasn't all my fault. No wonder I was flopping like a fish, she really was putting a lot of pressure on my tailbone, and causing extreme back pain.
But finally progress what being made, until it wasn't being made any longer. My baby's head was born and her shoulders were stuck. The midwife rotated my baby, I literally saw her limbs spin on my belly, it was the weirdest thing. Then my baby girls feet found my ribs and she pushed off of them, and we heard a loud pop and Nevaeh was here, with a major splash of fluid. Immediately she was taken to the warming pad to be cared for and this is when I first learned the word should dystocia.
There are lots of small details that took place following, many of them are a blur. But when I finally got to hold my sweet baby girl, I was overwhelmed with how much I loved her! The hormones were giving me all the feels. She latched really well - thank the Lord for that blessing! Before leaving the hospital she did have a n X-ray and it was determined her shoulder did not break during delivery, but she was sore and sensitive when being picked up or held around her shoulder area.
My precious Nevaeh loved to be snuggled up with me and she made the most adorable cooing sounds. The first two weeks after giving birth were pretty tough, but not horrible. When my milk came in, I was positive I was drowning her!
I became a mom!
So in a snap shot...
My early labor was about 12 hours (midnight until noon).
My active labor was about 6.5 hours (noon-6:30pm).
My transition was 30 minutes (6:30pm - 7:00pm).
I pushed for 2.5 hours (7pm- 9:31pm).
Baby was persistently posterior - major back labor.
I would consider this labor more painful than normal - in relation to my other birth experiences.
I wanted to share this birth story because every birth is unique! Eventually I will share my 3 other birth stories and you will see how vastly different each birth can be from the other. Having an understanding of how labors vary can help prepare mothers for the unexpected. I wish you all the best in your upcoming birth!
I am a birth doula, childbirth educator, wife to an amazing man, and mother to four beautiful girls. I love serving families as they bring new life into the world!
Serving Virginia's Shenandoah Valley & West Virginia's Panhandle
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Doula // Childbirth Educator // Placenta Encapsulation Specialist