Unfortunately, my ability to move freely and untethered by monitors didn’t last long. At my next check my blood pressure had gone back up and my doctor was pushing for internal monitoring. Lorrie fought hard for me and was able to persuade my doctor that internal monitoring wasn’t necessary. I still had to stay in bed, but Lorrie had me try a few different positions that would help the baby move into a better position and move labor along. I was beginning to near transition and found it most comfortable to sit on the edge of the bed with Seth providing counter pressure on my knees and Dana providing counter pressure on my lower back.
About 4:30pm I took a bathroom break and then sat against the raised back of the bed. My contractions seemed to space out a little and I was able to rest in between contractions. After a little while I began to get very uncomfortable and again needed to support of Seth and Dana. I was checked periodically and with each check I was progressing, however to me it seemed that time was moving so slowly and I just wanted to be able to push. With Dana’s encouragement I decided to squat through some contractions. After doing this through a few of them I was checked and was nearly 9cm. I decided to squat through a few more even though it was incredibly intense and difficult to hold back the urge to push. I really wanted to meet my baby! After squatting a bit more I decided I was ready to be checked again as the urge to push was so, so strong. I was checked and the nurse said I was still at a 9. Dana told her I was having the urge to push and she said that I shouldn’t because I was going to swell my cervix. She then said to me that she had noticed how I was breathing (long, deep breaths) and suggested I try taking shorter breaths. Had I not been in the middle to some very intense labor I would have told her what I was thinking, which was: This is how I have been managing my pain through nearly 36 hours of labor…I’m not changing it up now! As soon as she left the room, Dana told me to continue to breathe however I wanted.
At this point I was feeling discouraged that I was still not to 10cm and therefore not ready to push. I decided to squat some more and try to wait longer before requesting another check. I really couldn’t bear to ask them to check me just to hear that I was still at a 9. I think it was at this point I voiced thinking I would not be able to do this, and Dana reminded me when you’re at that point it usually means you are almost there. Not long after my check a new round of staff came in as it was 7pm. My doctor also stopped by to see how I was doing. Much to my relief my doctor said that she wanted to check to see how dilated I was. She checked and said that I was almost there and suggested I push through some contractions.
Finally, I thought, now I can do something. What I didn’t prepare for was how exhausted I was and now I had to do the work of pushing. It took me a bit to get the coordination I needed to push, be in a good position, and remember to breathe! I tried using the squat bar through a couple contractions but it was so exhausting. I could hardly hold my body up, let alone push. As I would push I kept thinking about how anxious I was to meet my little girl and desperately wanting to feel the ‘ring of fire’ because then I would know that she was almost here. I also remember wanting to keep pushing even after a contraction had come and gone. I just wanted to be done so badly. The hardest part was making myself rest in between contractions because I just wanted to be pushing. Even while I was pushing I continued to hold onto my comb until Grace was very nearly here. I also remember looking up at my feet at one point and thinking they did not look as swollen as they had earlier in the day.
Apparently (per my doula-I had no sense of time) after an hour and ten minutes of pushing the delivery team was gathered. All I knew is that my doctor was back in the room so that had to be a sign we were getting close. She asked if she could inject some local anesthetic as I was likely going to tear and I agreed. After pushing about 15 more minutes (again, per my doula) my little girl emerged! I remember the nurse telling me to look at her and I leaned up to look but my belly was in the way and it took way too much strength to try to lean up any further. Within seconds Gracie was placed on my chest. My first reaction was that she was so cute in the classic baby way-round head, perfect little nose and chin. I was in love. I also remember being slightly confused because I hadn’t felt the ring of fire. Of course later I realized this was due to the local anesthetic that was administered. Duh. Gracie was very alert as she laid on my chest and I was very thirsty. Dana had a couple gatorades on hand which I downed in a matter of seconds. Seth was by my head and had been feeding me ice chips throughout labor. I know was taking ice chips by the mouthful and couldn’t get enough. Gracie tried holding her head up to look at my face, reached her hands for my face and opened her eyes to look up at me. I was so in love.
I sat up abruptly after the second contraction and as I sat up I felt a gush. I told Dana, “I think my water just broke” and when I stood up I was certain of it as I had soaked through my clothes. I went upstairs to change but decided to let Seth continue to rest instead of telling him that my water had broke. I went back downstairs and Dana was packing her bag for the hospital. I confessed to her that up until my water broke I was really thinking that labor was going to taper off and I would have to go to work. Dana laughed and told me that she knew a long time ago that wasn’t going to happen. I walked through the next few contractions since it was now more painful to sit on the birth ball since I didn’t have that extra “cushion.” I decided that perhaps it would be a good idea to go upstairs and lay down in my own bed one last time.
Around 5:45 am I decided that Dana needed to come up for some hands on help. She used heat from a rice pack (semi-helpful but kind of awkward since the pain was all in my belly and we wanted to avoid overheating the baby), massage and hip squeezes. The hip squeeze was no fun. It made the pain worse. I also held a small comb in my hand that gave me a different pain to focus on through contractions. That comb ended up staying with me throughout the rest of my labor-right up to when I started pushing. After a while I got on the exercise ball and sat next to the bed. Dana sat behind me and when I would have contractions she would press on pressure points in the small of my back. I in turn would push back against her and this was extremely helpful.
Shortly after 7 am I decided that we should head to the hospital, but I needed a granola bar and a chocolate milkshake first. Seth went out to get breakfast and my milkshake. When Seth returned he started loading up the car and I gave him instructions about last minute things that I wanted packed. We ended up leaving around 8 am.
Throughout my pregnancy the part of labor I was dreading the most was the car ride to the hospital. I was really worried about how I would be able to be remotely comfortable through contractions while in a moving vehicle. My contractions slowed some while we were in the car which was a needed relief. As it turned out riding in the car was a nice distraction and on the occasion we would hit a bump while I was having a contraction it felt really good. I sipped my milkshake and continued to squeeze the comb during the drive. We arrived at OSF around 9 am. We opted not to use the valet and went ahead and walked up to the labor and delivery floor. We also opted not to use the complimentary shuttles in the hospital. I remembered as we walked down the very long hallway telling Dana how scary they were because they went so fast. I can’t imagine if I would have had a contraction while I was on on of those!
Once up at labor and delivery I was placed in triage since there were no beds available. I grumpily thought to myself that they were probably full of people having scheduled indictions and c-sections and was extremely annoyed. In triage, I was literally put in a corner and there was barely any room for me and Seth, let alone Dana and all of our stuff. The nurse practitioner was extremely rude and was incredulous when I told her that my water had broken. She explained that they had to test me to be sure that my water had in fact broken and perform an exam to see how dilated/effaced I was. The exam was terrible and it felt like she was digging around inside of me. She announced that I was 2-3 cm. I found this very discouraging since I was 1-2 at my doctor’s appointment 3 days before and I had now been in labor for over a day! I also remember telling her that I had a birth plan and she seemed very annoyed by my having a birth plan. However, after she read it she said it sounded “reasonable.” Once she was done with the tests and I was taken off the monitor I got off the bed. While we were moving around in a very tight confined area Seth accidentally stepped on my right foot. I screamed and told him that it hurt worse than a contraction! With the swelling in my feet it definitely did. At this point another couple was in triage and on the other side of the curtain I heard a nurse come in and tel them that their scheduled c-section was going to be pushed back a little because the doctor had to do an emergency c-section, but their baby would still be here by noon. I was again annoyed that yet someone else was making the choice to be in the hospital and thought that I had better get to a room before them since I was actually in labor.
Around 11 am I was moved to a labor and delivery room. The nurse practitioner never did actually confirm that my water had broken, but since we were moved to a room I guess that was my water that broke and I had not just peed myself. One of my labor and delivery nurses was Lorrie Harmon, and she was truly the best nurse I could have asked for. She was extremely supportive of me and my birth plan. She had to do some external monitoring of the baby and then take my blood pressure before I would be allowed to be out of bed. She and another nurse, Lynne, asked me more questions to get me admitted. They both laughed when I told them the last thing I had eaten was a chocolate milkshake. I had to sign some various forms and I distinctly remember NOT signing the form that allowed them to give me an epidural. (I strongly advise this for anyone who desires to have an unmedicated labor, because I was so “in the zone” at the point when I would have wanted an epidural that signing a piece of paper was not going to happen.) Right about the time she took my blood pressure there was a random doctor? med student? who came in and asked me how I was doing with my pain and reminded me that having an epidural was an option. I remember thinking and wondering if the rest of my labor was going to go on like this, with doctors coming in and “offering” me medication. Thankfully, Lorrie informed him that I desired to have an unmedicated labor but just him asking was enough to send my blood pressure up. Dana got out some lavender essential oil and Lorrie took my blood pressure again. It had come down enough that I would be allowed to walk around freely.
The morning of my due date I woke up about 6 am to what I was sure were contractions. They felt like cramps in the very bottom of my belly. I tried to go back to sleep and sort of succeeded. Around 8 am I decided to start timing my contractions and they were about 7 minutes apart. Around 9:30 am I texted Dana to let her know that I was having contractions. I decided I should probably get up and shower since I wasn’t sure when I would have the chance to do so again. And, let’s be honest, I wanted to look good while I was in labor. Ha!
After I showered I noticed that my contractions were spacing out. I was also hungry so I had Seth cut up the pineapple that Dana had instructed him to buy the night before. (Pineapple is supposed to be a labor inducing food…) After literally eating almost a whole pineapple I decided that I should finish getting ready for the day and take my weekly belly photo. I was trying to think of anything that would be stressing me since I knew that stress could kill labor. Since it was already past noon I was expecting people to start texting me since I hadn’t posted my weekly picture to Facebook and since we had skipped church that morning as well. I had already received a text from my boss which stated “today is your due date. how is it going?” Once I got my picture posted I started to feel a bit better. I posted it with the caption, “I’m still pregnant!” and ironically many people commented with suggestions of things to do while I waited for labor to begin.
Seth and I spent much of the afternoon on the couch watching football and I dutifully sipped on my red raspberry tea. I continued to stay in contact with Dana to let her know what my contractions were doing. Around 3:30pm we decided that I was nearing active labor and agreed that she should head over to our house. Around that time Seth left to go to the grocery store to jump a friend’s car who had died. I remember that I was still watching the football game on tv. While I was in labor was probably the only time I ever truly watched a football game because I needed something else to focus on besides my contractions.
Dana arrived around 4:30pm and we worked on some pressure points to help encourage labor. She encouraged me to eat again if I was able and I decided that I would like to have macaroni and cheese. Seth made me some and I ate nearly the whole box. I remember being very annoyed that Seth had liberally peppered my mac n cheese and was ruining the pure taste of Kraft that I was craving. Labor was still going slow (or so it seemed) and in the back of my mind I thought that it was just going to taper off and I would end up going to work the next day. I tried some other labor inducing techniques to see if they would help and they seemed to. Dana left around 10pm to tie up some loose ends.
At this point I told Seth that he needed to start timing my contractions because knowing how much space was in between them was producing A LOT of anxiety for me. (Seth later told me that they got so close together he almost called Dana to tell her to hurry back.) Dana returned around 11 pm and we all decided to get some rest and the three of us spread out on our sectional sofa. At some point Seth went upstairs to sleep and I was thankful to have more room to stretch out. Around 3 am my centurions really started to pick up in frequency and intensity. Around 3:30 am I had two particularly long and strong contractions…
My 39 week appointment was on 11/22/13, just two days before my due date of 11/24/13. It was a friday afternoon and Seth went with me to my appointment so we could indulge in some Chick-Fil-A afterwards. As soon as we arrived at the doctor’s office I was informed by the receptionist that my doctor had just left for a delivery but was planning on returning to the office. She informed me that if I wanted I could reschedule my appointment. I, of course, said no and that we would wait. Inside I was dying to know if I had progressed and if my baby was any closer to making her debut. After an hour of waiting they asked me if I would like to see a nurse practitioner, as it did not appear my doctor would be making it back to the office before 5 pm. I said that was fine and soon after was seen by the NP. Much to my discouragement she informed me that I was dilated between 1-2cm and 60% effaced. Since my last appointment I had not effaced anymore and had (maybe) dilated from 1 cm. However, she said that she wanted me to be seen tuesday or wednesday the following week and then stated that she doubted that I would make it to my appointment because she thought I would have the baby by then. She advised lots of walking.
Seth and I went to Chick-Fil-A for supper and I swear the cashier was looking *right* at my baby bump when she asked me if I wanted to upsize my meal. (For the record, that is the only time I have ever been asked at CFA if I want to upsize my meal.) We enjoyed our supper and then went to the mall to walk around per the NP’s instructions. While we moseyed around the mall I texted my doula, Dana, to let her know how the appointment was and she offered to come over and do some massage and talk about other ways to get labor started.
We drove home and Dana arrived about 8:30pm. She set me up with some red raspberry leaf tea and also did some massage so that we could get comfortable with each other before labor. I started drinking that tea like it was my job and by saturday morning I was starting to pass my mucous plug (sorry, but I have no filter since giving birth!). I of course, texted Dana to let her know this and she asked me to keep her posted and offered to come over that night if I would like. She said that she wanted to do some pressure points and see if we could really get labor started now. I continued to chug on my tea all day long. I also downloaded a contraction timer app for my phone…just in case.
I can’t believe I only have a week to go. Well, unless she’s early–or late. Looking forward to meeting you, baby girl!
The last of the parties has happened. The diapers are put away. We can finally hang her name on her wall. Yes, this means we are getting down to the wire!
This picture definitely needs a disclaimer because it makes my belly look much smaller than it really is.