Mommy & Ezra, our 2nd day home
My labor began at 5:45am on Thursday, April 5th. Wednesday night I had been feeling pretty bad – mostly for myself, haha! – and tired of being pregnant. One of the joys of pregnancy is weakened pelvic floor muscles…which means you better build up a good supply of underpants because you’ll be peeing yourself pretty much every time you twitch. And, needless to say, after having that happen to me three times in a row, in a span of about 15 minutes, on top of everything else I was feeling, I was just done!
I say all this because when I got up to pee (for the hundredth time) at 5:45am, I did my business and, as I stood up, felt like I had just peed my pants again. But… as it turned out… that was not the case. It was my bloody show, which means I had lost my mucus plug who knows when.
I remember just standing in the bathroom, not really comprehending what was about to happen. And it was right in that moment that I decided to take it slow and purposefully savor and remember each and every moment as it was happening. I’m so glad I did that, too, because I know that’s why I remember so many of the small details.
Soon after the bloody show (like literally, a few seconds) I noticed I was having contractions. They were dull and felt more like period cramps. I woke up Alex and let him know what was going on (but told him to keep sleeping since there was no point in going to the hospital just yet) and called my mom so my family would know. Then I jumped in the shower to try to relax. I had a doctor appointment at 8:40 that morning so the plan was to wait and see what my OB said.
I didn’t get any sleep – maybe 30 minutes total – just waiting for 8:20 to roll around so I could head to the doctor’s office. I had been timing the contractions and they were 8-10 minutes apart but staying fairly dull. Finally, it was time to leave. Alex got ready to head to work in case it looked like my labor would take awhile. And I headed out to get checked!
My mom met me at the doctor’s office in case I was told to go to the hospital or if I needed anything. When the nurse called me back, I was so excited – in a matter of minutes I would know what was going on and if the day had finally come for our baby to arrive! The doctor checked me and I was 2 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. Great progress (at my appointment the week before I was 1 cm and 60%), but not enough to be admitted to the hospital. Plus, my contractions (while growing in intensity) were still 8-10 minutes apart. But, my doctor said I would have my baby within the next 24 hours so that was good news enough for me!
I immediately called Alex to let him know what was going on and he decided to head home from work. My mom went out to run some errands for me that I never got around to – namely, getting a robe, some pajamas I could bring to the hospital and more nursing tanks – and I headed home to finish up packing our hospital bags.
And then began the waiting game.
When I was timing my contractions earlier, I had been using the stopwatch app on my iPhone. Unfortunately, I cleared out all those “laps” so I started over again when I got home from the doctor’s office. As a side note, I highly recommend using stopwatch to time your contractions instead of buying an app for that purpose – each lap is a contraction and there is another timer in the upper right corner that tells you how long that lap is going on for. And the main timer keeps track of your grand total of time since first starting to time the contractions.
At home, we worked on straightening up the house… finishing packing up our bags… clearing junk out of the car… making sure the car seat base was secure… all the little stuff we didn’t get to. We were so excited! But my labor kept going on and on. The contractions were very erratic – 8 minutes apart, then 5 minutes apart, then 10 minutes, then 6. It was really frustrating. But that’s what early labor is.
By dinner time, I was getting so upset at the lack of progress. I ended up cleaning the bedroom and bathroom thoroughly, sweeping the sidewalk and deck and even testing out my breast pump. I remember praying – pleading, really! – for something to happen. Around 7pm, my parents came by our house with dinner from Panera (I ate my old standby: BBQ chopped chicken salad!). Earlier in the day, I had called my mother-in-law and sister-in-law to let them know what was going on and, around 8pm, my MIL came by our house. At that point, we decided to go to the hospital just so I could get checked. My contractions began to get a little stronger and slightly more consistent and I was really hoping I was dilated to a 3 or 4.
Alex grabbed this picture before we headed to the hospital – that night it was a full moon! Who knows if the full moon played a part in bringing on my early labor… but several people have told me they think that’s what did it.
When we got to the hospital, we headed to Labor & Delivery Triage. Alex had called our doula so she was on her way to meet us there. The doula we had originally chosen was, unfortunately, out of town so her backup was tending to us. We hadn’t had the chance to introduce ourselves to one another yet, so the first time we met was there in L&D. She was just as wonderful as our doula we’d hired, though, and I am so thankful and happy she was with us.
The L&D nurse, Candee, checked me and……… I was still 2 centimeters! I was so disappointed. After hours and hours of contractions, I had made zero progress. The nurse called my OB who instructed me to walk around for an hour and get re-checked. So, off to walk we went.
After walking for an hour, my contractions definitely were increasing in intensity. I was no longer timing them, so I wasn’t sure how far apart they were but it seemed like 4 or 5 minutes. BUT when I got re-checked after all that walking, I was between 2-3 centimeters. Again, major disappointment!
Candee called my OB who said I could try walking again but I was so exhausted. It was 11:30pm by then and I’d been up since 5:45am. My feet were killing me from the walking, I was in pain from the contractions and just wanted to be in my own bed. We decided to go home. We got home around midnight and I crawled into bed, disheartened.
But, as things tend to go, as soon as we got home it was like the pressure was taken off and whatever had been holding my labor back disappeared. My contractions immediately picked up the moment my head hit my pillow. I broke out the stopwatch again and had Alex lap them. They were consistently 4 minutes apart and were becoming increasingly unbearable. Alex suggested I take a hot shower to help with the pain. We were reluctant to go back in to the hospital since we had just gotten home, and we wanted to be 200% sure I was officially in active labor.
The hour I spent in the shower was easily the most pain I’d ever been in, while also experiencing intense feelings of relaxation. If I ever find myself pregnant again, I want to do a water birth. The power of water during labor is seriously amazing. I wish I could describe the pain from the contractions – I remember it was unbearable and awful – but I seriously cannot remember what it felt like. Labor amnesia is real, people!
At 2:30am I got out of the shower and declared it was hospital time. I could barely talk during a contraction, let alone walk. For some reason, I thought I could blow dry my hair. So after blow drying my hair and getting some clothes on, we loaded the car back up and headed back to the hospital. We decided to not call anyone until we were officially admitted to a room.
Candee was still on duty so she checked me again in L&D triage – I was a solid 4 centimeters! We were so overjoyed! We were admitted to a room right away and began to settle in.
At this point, it was 3:30am on Friday, April 6th. I had been awake for almost 24 hours. With the contractions growing in intensity, I was at a breaking point. Originally, I had wanted to go through my labor completely med-free but I didn’t see how it was feasible anymore. I felt like if I continued on, I wouldn’t have the energy to push when the time came. And, above all, I didn’t want a c-section simply because I no longer had the energy to push. So, I asked for an epidural.
I felt really guilty, like I was betraying myself and what I wanted but… quite honestly… I just needed to rest! I was so thankful Alex was with me, to help me feel secure in my decision. At that point, I was nervous to call our doula because I felt like she would be upset with us for choosing the epidural, but she was supportive and so helpful that I was worrying for absolutely no reason. I got the epidural around 5:30am – just 15 minutes shy of having been awake (and laboring) for 24 hours straight (!!).
Alex called the doula and our families to let them know we had been admitted. He brought in our bags and we settled into our room to wait for me to dilate to 10 centimeters. In the pic above, you can see my monitor I was hooked up to. The number on the right tracked my contractions – and watching that number go up to sometimes as high as the 200s confirmed in my mind even more I made the right choice to get an epidural. It was pretty crazy.
As a side note, if you’re pregnant and wondering about epidurals… I can honestly say it was a lifesaver. For as guilty as I felt, it truly enabled me to enjoy my labor experience. It was not painful having it administered (though it was a little disturbing knowing a needle was being inserted into my spine!) and the anesthesiologist who take care of me did such an amazing job that I was still able to control my legs. By the time labor rolled around several hours later, the medicine had worn off enough that I could feel the contractions and push effectively. It was awesome!
And now I’m going to take a break – this post is getting long. Check out Part 2 here!