I can’t say I was totally patient that last week of pregnancy, but I was trying! I certainly enjoyed the alone time with my daughter, before she was promoted to big sister. A week before I actually went into labor, I had prodromal labor for 8 hours. It started at 4 pm, with contractions 10 minutes apart, slowly increasing in intensity. Not enough to move me from the couch, so I just tried to rest. I eventually fell asleep around midnight, and they went away. I had a prenatal appointment the next day, declined the vaginal check, because I didn’t want to be disappointed, and we all know it doesn’t mean anything anyhow. Days went by, still having contractions here and there, but nothing exciting.
Monday, April 2nd, I decided to carry on with life, and go out in public. (even though I HATE being harassed by people and their stupid pregnant belly comments) I went and splurged on an Easter dress for the baby, and had lunch with my sweet Ginny in the food court, the got harassed by some lady in the parking lot that yelled “When’s that baby coming out? I bet you’re hoping soon!” I just ignored her and continued loading my toddler into the car. We came home, and took a nap. Around 5pm, I noticed some contractions again, but continued picking up and doing laundry. An hour had passed, and they seemed somewhat regular, so I decided to time them. I’m not sure what it is about the end of pregnancy, but the closer you get to going into labor, the less you think its actually going to happen! The contractions were 6-7 minutes apart, and a little crampy feeling. I text my doula and a couple friends to give them a heads up. They continued to be regular, and I tried to rest. Around 8 pm, they became more intense, and I decided I couldn’t lay down any longer. I went and did my hair and put on my birth clothes. (black nursing sports bra, tank top and skirt) I messaged my husband (who was drinking a beer and finishing some work in his garage office) and told him things were picking up. He came in to see what that meant.
Things started to really pick up, and I decided to get in the bathtub to see if that helped the back pain. Dan was following me around, timing the contractions, finishing packing his bag, and getting things around. I had a few contractions in the tub, that were manageable, but I didn’t feel like I could move much, and I just got really hot really fast, so I decided to get out. Overall, the tub sucked. Every time I got up to walk, I had another contraction, regardless if I had just had one or not. I think they were 4-5 minutes apart at this time, but Dan was so busy running around, he wasn’t timing too many of them. He did tell me a few times that “you shouldn’t be having another contraction, you just had one.” Thanks babe, you tell that uterus what to do.
After getting out of the tub, we set up to labor in the living room. I felt like an animal trying to find a safe place to labor. I remember watching my cat in labor when I was about 8 years old, I followed it all over the house, waiting for those kittens to be born, and she just kept searching until she found the right spot. (behind the couch much to my moms dismay) I leaned on the birthing ball and put on Super Troopers. (what else is there to do in labor, right?) Actually, I heard that laughter can help labor progress faster, so I though I’d give it a try. But I can’t say I laughed much, or watched much T.V.
During contractions Dan would rub my back to lessen the pain, and I started to moan a little through contractions. All I kept thinking was that this was more tiring than I thought it would be, that I really have to do this now, and that I just wanted to find a comfortable position so I could sleep. (I can dream!) During the contractions, I kept repeating to myself “open open open”, “you just need to get through one contraction at a time”, and “your contractions cannot be stronger that you, because they are you.” All of it seemed to help, along with Dan rubbing my back. All of a sudden, I couldn’t be leaning on the birthing ball anymore. I really couldn’t feel comfortable anywhere. I got up to go pee (another instant contraction) and when I wiped, I saw pink. It was that moment I realized we were having a baby! Dan got a little worried, and asked our doula (Nikki) to come over. She said she would be there in about 30 minutes. It was about 10pm. Back to the living room we went. I leaned on Dan for a contraction, then sat on the birthing ball pinned up to the couch, and leaned on Dan who sat in front of me. I was getting pretty loud at this point, but it was helping me feel better, so I kept on doing it!
After only a few contractions on the birthing ball, I felt the need to get up again, and thought I would give standing in the shower a try. I got up to walk to the bathroom, had another contraction of course, then sat down on the toilet because I felt like I had to poop. I passed gas, felt better, and thought that it must have been that burrito I ate! I got in the shower, feeling a little shaky, and leaned my head against the wall. With the next contraction, my body pushed. I didn’t, but my body did. I yelled out for Dan and told him what happened, and to call my friend and neighbor Kelly over to watch Ginny and to call Nikki. (This was only about 2 hours after the uncomfortable contractions started)
It took some effort to get out of the shower, and get dried off. Dan helped me put some clothes on, and I went back and sat on the toilet. I kept pushing/trying not to push through contractions. Kelly arrived during the bustle while Dan was loading the car, and asked me how I was doing. I was mid contraction at the time and moaning and pushing pretty loudly and trying to answer her questions without being a total bitch. (poor kelly) We ran out the door, well, as much as someone having contractions every 2 minutes can run.
The drive to the hospital was about 20 minutes. Dan set the cruise control at 80 and prayed we wouldn’t get pulled over. I sat in the back, holding the “o shit” handle. At least thats what my dad calls it. In between contractions I tried to rest. I was thinking of how scary this had to be for Dan and told him that it sounded worse that it was. (I had moved on to quite the guttural moan and pushing sounds at this point.) I tried checking to see where the baby was, and felt the bulging bag of water. My biggest worry at this point was how the hell I was going to get into the hospital. It sounded like so much work.
Once we arrived at the hospital Dan ran to get a wheelchair. I didn’t feel like I could walk. There was some lady asking me questions while I was mid contractions/pushing. Dan brought out the wheelchair and I threw a towel at him and said I wasn’t sitting straight on that chair since I wasn’t wearing any underwear. He wheeled me in past the lady, into the waiting room. I had about 15 seconds of a contraction before they moved me to check in. (that’s how fast things move when you’re pushing in the waiting room) They asked numerous questions, and all I muttered was, “ask him!” Turns out there were talking to him, not me. I had at least 3 contractions in five minutes, so they were trying to hurry. My doula found us in check in. And that’s when Dan remembered to take a picture of me in labor. (one picture is better than none!) As soon as he did, I had another contraction. I was whisked up to labor and delivery
Finally! In a hospital bed! The midwife checked me and said the words I loved hearing “she’s complete and at a +1.” (With my first birth I never made it past a -2 even with 2 1/2 hours of pushing.) They asked me if I wanted to put on a hospital gown. Um, heck no! My water was still intact, and I declined them breaking it. So, I started pushing, freely, thank God! I pushed on my back, on all fours, and ended up in some weird side laying position. My water broke after pushing for about 20 minutes. I was sweating to death. My doula thought to get a wash cloth. That helped a lot! After an hour, I felt like I wasn’t really making progress. Everyone assured me I was. They said she had long dark hair. Once I got her pushed under the pubic bone, everything hurt like hell. A whole new pain! Ring of fire is right, I just had no idea it could last for 20+ minutes. At this point, epidural still had not crossed my mind, but episiotomy had. I just wanted it to be over. I started yelling with pushing saying things like, “shit, shit shit”, “I can’t do it” or “get it out” with contractions. I never thought I couldn’t do it, I just wanted everyone there to understand how bad this part hurt and how much it sucked! But finally, after an hour and 1/2 of active pushing, I got her head out. I tore, and I felt every second of that. (It reminded me of the movie knocked up where she yells “I feel EVERYTHING” , yeah, its just like that.) One more push and out came the rest of her. Sweet relief. She was out!
Dan helped pull her out, and laid her on my chest. We waited some time before we clamped and cut the cord and we also waited on all the newborn care. We just sat there and basked in awe at our new baby, and everything that had happened! I got some juice and gold fish crackers and got stitched up. (I tore upward and required some stitches, but apparently have a very strong perineum!) I was very shaky after delivery, so I had Dan hold her during the stitching. She was calm and quiet, and still is.
Well. There it is. My VBAC story. The longest short birth story I’ve ever read. Only about 4 hours from start to finish. I still can’t believe that I vaginally birthed my baby. Without medication or a heplock. I even avoided having the fetal monitor hooked up fully. (Our wonderful nurse just held it there off and on.) I never even wore a hospital gown! Hattie’s birth went better than I ever could have dreamed. Birth never goes as we plan or as we imagine, and I wouldn’t have planned Ginnys birth to end in a cesarean. But without her birth ending how it did, I wouldn’t have wanted or worked so hard for a natural birth this time. I wouldn’t be volunteering for ICAN. I wouldn’t be the co-leader of the Phoenix ICAN chapter. I wouldn’t have such a passion for natural birth. I wouldn’t be as educated on childbirth. I just wouldn’t be the same person I am today. And for that, I have to thank both of my beautiful daughters, my amazingly supportive husband, and my family and friends.