I have tried to shorten this post for the last 24 hours, but am having a hard time cutting anything out…so I apologize for the length of this post AND the number of pictures!!
Tuesday morning I began having light cramps and didn’t feel right. I spent most of the remainder of the afternoon lying on the floor in our playroom while my son played. After a few hours of menstrual-like cramps, I realized it could be the start of labor – so I started tracking them.
For the next 12 hours, I had fairly regular, albeit light contractions that got down to 6-8 min apart. My family and midwife were all on standby. I forced myself to get into bed around 11pm Tuesday night and managed a few hours of broken sleep. Sometime around 3am (during one of my bathroom visits), I was sure that my water had broken (it was more of a slow leak).
I woke for the day around 5am (still having contractions) and finished packing the rest of my hospital bag and my sons favorite toys and books (he was going to spend time at his Grandma’s!). And then at 630am, the contractions just stopped. Literally. Stopped. I was embarrassed and bummed. Did I just spend the last 12 hours having false labor?
My midwife wanted to see me ASAP because she wanted to check if my water had broken (I would have to deliver the baby by 9pm if it had – which was ~18 hours from the time I thought it had broken). So my husband, son, and I packed up the car with our hospital and overnight bags and headed to my mom’s – she lives 4 blocks from the hospital and midwife and my husband and son would be staying there when it was time to deliver.
My midwife confirmed that my water was leaking AND that I was 3-4 cm dilated! Since she wanted me to deliver by early evening, she did a few things to try to jump start contractions again.
On the walk back to my mom’s house, I started having contractions. They were 5-6 min apart and MUCH stronger. Whatever she did to jumpstart them, definitely worked!
So I headed back to my mom’s to labor at home for a bit. My husband, son, parents, sisters, and niece were all at my mom’s – so it was easy to keep my mind off the contractions and enjoy the company!!
For the next three hours, I stayed on my feet as much as possible at my mom’s. With my first pregnancy, I found that the contractions were much more frequent and regular and I felt that I could handle the pain better when I was standing. My husband and I even went for a walk back to my the midwife’s office during that time (she wanted an update, it was gorgeous out, and I wanted to keep moving).
By 2:45pm, the contractions were 2-3 min apart and extremely intense – my cue to make my way to the hospital. My husband and I said goodbye to our son and family and walked to the hospital. Ever see a woman have a contraction as she is crossing the street? It’s pretty comical – take it from me =)
By 3:45pm, I was checked in, examined, and brought into my L&D room. The resident OB-GYN informed me that I was only 4cm. Only 4cm?? Although my plan was to not use an epidural again, I really thought I would need one at this point. I couldn’t understand how I had spent the last four hours in labor and hadn’t progressed at all. More than anything, it had messed with my mind and my determination.
After a talk with my husband, I decided to wait until after I was checked by my midwife (who was on her way to the hospital). She arrived at 4:45pm and immediately checked my progress – I was already 7cm! I felt energized and optimistic once again about not using an epidural.
One of the best parts about using a midwife was the flexibility in the labor and delivery room. I wasn’t hooked up to any machines or IV bags and was free to walk around the room during labor. My husband and I would walk from one side to the other in between contractions. When one started, I would face him, hold his hands and rock back and forth in his arms. It was extremely comforting and calming.
My family visited me briefly in the room but didn’t stay long because I was already at 9cm by 530pm. But, of course, there was time for some pictures in between contractions!
It was time to push by 6-6:15pm. My older sister was going to be in the room with us – just as she had done with my son. I loved having her with me during my first pregnancy – she had already been through childbirth and focused more on what was happening down there and giving me updates/pep talks. This allowed my husband to stay next to me, hold my hand, fan me (I was dripping with sweat). AND, the most priceless was that my sister acted as our photographer to capture my children’s first breaths of air.
The best surprise was that my mom decided to stay at the last moment. I had spent the last few weeks trying to convince her to stay to witness one of her daughters giving birth (she had said she wanted to experience it in her life). She had been concerned that she wouldn’t be able to see me in so much pain (which I totally understand now that I have children of my own). My mom delivered her four daughters naturally and drug-free so this was all familiar territory for her. Just as she were leaving the room with my other two sisters, she stopped and asked me if she should stay!! YES!!!
The 45 min or so that it took me to push were amazing. Having a room full of women (my mom, sister, midwife, two nurses, and resident doctor) – all who had children – supporting and encouraging me – was truly inspirational. One of the nurses is a family friend who was also present at my first son’s birth. Despite having just come off a long shift, she came back to be there for me!
And my husband was perfect. He was my rock. He gave me just enough support and words of encouragement without it feeling like it was overbearing or coddling. And he walked away with some pretty bad scratch marks on his hands. =)
Despite everything going on and the pain I was experiencing, I felt calm. I was surrounded by some of the most important people in my life. They gave me the strength I needed – whether it was verbal or by looking them in the eyes during each push. It’s something I will never, ever forget.
Ryan Thomas was born at 6:53pm. He entered this world being greeted by his mom, dad, grandmother, and aunt (who is his godmother)…It could not have been more special. And my other two sisters and dad were waiting just outside the L&D wing – watching my oldest son and waiting to hear the news!!