I guess the best place to start is Friday afternoon, May 5th. Baby was 5 days late, and I had a doctor appointment at 2:15. Dr. Tashjian checked me and said I was 3 cm and baby’s head was “right there.” She did a membrane sweep and warned me that when labor starts I shouldn’t wait too long before heading to the hospital. I really wish I had taken her advice. Since I was past due, she had me do an NST (nonstress test) to make sure baby was okay. She told me to schedule another NST and an ultrasound for early the following week if I hadn’t delivered yet. I set up appointments for Monday, hoping I wouldn’t actually need them.
That evening I wanted to take a walk to try to get things going. The whole family came, and the kids splashed in puddles along the way. Later that night my stomach kept tightening. It wasn’t painful, but it was consistent. I started timing the tightening and saw it was happening about every 2 minutes. I called my doctor and she said “I usually recommend women wait until they have contractions every 3-4 minutes and they kind of take your breath away. That doesn’t sound like that’s what’s happening here. Sometimes if you lay down it will go away, so you can either try that or you can head in to get checked out.” I decided to lay down and try to get some sleep. Before I knew it, it was morning and nothing had happened. I was slightly disappointment, but I had a feeling it was coming soon. I was right.
As soon as I got out of bed contractions started. This time they were slightly painful and definitely felt different from the night before. I immediately opened my contraction counter app to keep track of how long they lasted and how close together they were. They lasted anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute and were about 5-10 minutes apart right off the bat. They were slightly painful, but nothing I couldn’t tolerate. As the morning went on, the contractions were becoming more painful and started getting closer together. Now they were every 1-3 minutes. I still wasn’t 100% convinced this was the real deal (although in hindsight it’s pretty clear it was), but around noon we decided to let Ron’s parents know this might be it and that they should head over to our house to watch the kids.
We got on the road at 12:45. I said, “Well I guess it’s either going to be today or tomorrow. I really hope we get admitted.”
When we walked into triage I said, “Hi, I think I’m in labor.”
The woman replied “But you’re smiling…”
The triage nurses weren’t very friendly this time around and it was obvious they didn’t think I was actually in labor.
By the time we got into the room to get checked out and I got into my hospital gown, it was 1:30. I didn’t call my doctor ahead of time to let him know I was coming in, so he had left for the day. The nurses made sure to let me know that “next time you should really call before you come.”
They had another doctor check me and he said I was 5 cm and definitely in labor. “Wanna stay and have a baby?”
Now it was time for the lovely nurse to get me hooked up to an IV. Getting an IV while you’re having contractions is unpleasant to say the least…especially when the nurse keeps messing up. “Ugh that one infiltrated.”
“No it’s not ok. I’m sorry. I’ll have to try the other arm. I’m usually a really good stick. I’m the one they come to when they can’t get it. It’s these catheters. They’re horrible.”
Whatever lady…just do what you have to do.
So then she tried on my other arm and ruined that vein too. She decided to give up and said someone else will try when we get to the labor and delivery room.
As Ron and I were waiting to switch rooms I had to brace myself to get through each contraction. They were rapidly becoming more and more intense. I said to him “I need an epidural. I feel stupid getting one so soon, but it hurts so bad.” I knew things were progressing quickly.
We finally headed to the delivery room around 2:00. It was during this time things became unbearable. They asked if I needed a wheelchair, but I stupidly declined. I very slowly followed the nurse down the hallway and had to stop every 5 seconds to try to get through the next contraction. They were becoming SO intense and the pain was radiating through my lower back. I’ve never experienced back labor before, but from what I’ve read I knew this meant baby was posterior, and that might make delivery more difficult. Wonderful.
The next hour is a little hazy. Everything seemed to move on fast-forward. I had to sit in the bed so they could attempt an IV for the third time. Failed again. I was becoming really frustrated. “Why do I even need an IV?! Can we just skip it?”
“No because when you have an epidural it can affect your blood pressure, so you really need to have an IV.”
Eventually they got it on the 4th try.
By now I was delirious from the pain. I remember saying, “I think I’m dying” several times. I realize that sounds overly dramatic, but at the time I literally felt like I was going to die. The nurses reassured me that I would be okay and one even said, “at least you’re getting a little break in between contractions.”
I thought to myself, umm… what break are you talking about?
I looked over and saw Ron smiling and promised him I’d punch him in the face if he smiled again. LOL.
Seconds, not minutes, would pass between contractions and I could feel my entire body convulse with the tension – toes twitching, hands clinging to the bedrails … hanging on for dear life. I didn’t know what position to try to get into because nothing made it feel any better. I just stood there on the verge of tears saying “I don’t know what to do.” I was scared. Really scared. The pain was unbearable and it was all happening so quickly that I felt out of control. I asked about the epidural, and they said they were working on it. I knew in the back of my mind I wasn’t going to get it in time.
I asked if I could push or if they could check me. The nurse did and said I was “about an 8. Your waters way down low and is probably causing the pressure you’re feeling. I don’t want to break it.”
2 minutes later there was an unbearable urge to push. I literally couldn’t help it. I was sitting on the edge of the bed and said “I’m pushing!” The nurse told me to lay down and I cried “I can’t!” She said “If you’re telling me you need to push, then you have to lay down.”
I managed to get on the bed and kept yelling “I have to push! I’m pushing!” I could feel my stomach bear down and push involuntarily. I had no control over it. I had an epidural with Chloe and Miles because my biggest fear was pushing. But now that I didn’t have one, pushing actually made it feel better. It finally gave me some control and something I could do to manage the pain.
My doctor still wasn’t back at the hospital, so the nurses called a midwife in to deliver the baby. I gave one big push and my water exploded. That’s when Ron and I both stopped looking lol. She kept telling me to “Slow down! Let your body do the work for you.”
“I’m gonna throw up!” I said.
The nurse told Ron to grab a bucket from the shelf. It took every bit of self-control I had to stop myself from pushing. I braced myself for the “ring of fire” I heard people talk about, but it never came. What I did feel was a TON of pressure, and then a pop.
I heard the midwife say “There’s the head!” She was born with her hand on her face.
Oh my God. I can’t believe I’m actually doing this right now. I’m delivering naturally and there’s no turning back.
She told me I could give a little push, and then the shoulders came out. I don’t remember exactly what it felt like, and I have no idea what I was looking at because I don’t remember seeing the birth at all. Maybe I had my eyes closed? Who knows..
Then I heard her say “Look down! Here’s your baby!”
I yelled “I don’t want to!” lol I felt disconnected at that moment. It was such a traumatic delivery, I guess I forgot I was getting a baby at the end of all of this.
As soon as she was born the pain instantly went away. They put her on my chest and I was sobbing. I kept saying “I’m so happy that’s over!” Then I felt the need to apologize for anything I might have said to the nurses during my mental breakdown.
They said “Are you kidding? You did better without an epidural than most women do with one!”
The next two hours were complete bliss. Quiet. Peaceful. Just me and the love of my life bonding with our brand new baby girl. The feeling of her warm body against mine made it all worth it.
Welcome to the world, Isla! You sure know how to make a grand entrance.