In hindsight, I probably should have left for the hospital much earlier. I also should have paid closer attention to the irregularly paced ‘Braxton Hicks’. But, my previous labors were on the lower end of 11 or 12 hours. It made sense to me that this one would be the same.
I love a good birth story. It’s amazing to me how no birth is the same. There is always something new to discover, something new to see. This delivery was no different.
I should have known something was up. Saturday, August 3rd was just…annoying. It was ridiculously hot even by Virginia August standards. I was carrying the baby fairly low and was pretty uncomfortable and easily irritated. Today, we were in the local gym for Bug’s basketball game. It was hot, sticky, and humid inside but I hadn’t missed a single game in this pregnancy and was not about that day.
Bug had a really good game, delivering a crucial steal and garnering some self-confidence in the process. I was so proud of him. His little sister A. on the other hand…. That girl had been clingy and whiny all afternoon. She was so clingy that I remember saying aloud that the baby must be coming soon because she was acting so out of sorts. I didn’t really believe that of course. I thought I would go on August 5th or 6th. I was definitely wrong on that one.
The calm before the storm
Bug and his team won the basketball game and were now headed to the playoffs scheduled for the next Saturday. Per our usual, Bug and S. went over basketball techniques and post-game discussions for about twenty minutes. Afterwards, we left and grabbed a bite to eat.
We returned home and A. was still very clingy and ridiculously cranky. S. took her upstairs for an early downtime and the family settled in for a movie before bedtime. After the movie, Bug and S. left to assist my father in love with the family business for a few hours. I went to bed knowing they’d return soon.
‘Was that a contraction?’
For some reason, I couldn’t get comfortable. I kept feeling tiny menstrual-like cramps but they were not painful nor in any recognizable pattern. I’d had them several times throughout the week and figured to monitor them on my Full Term contraction app just to see if there was something to these. I started monitoring at 1:40 a.m., not too long before my husband and son returned from helping my father in love.
I told S. that the baby would probably be born that day and that he should try to get some sleep since the contractions weren’t that consistent. My plan was to labor at home for a bit before heading to the hospital since we always have plenty of time in labors.
“Still, I admit that these contractions seemed a lot more painful than my previous labor”. I have since learned this was birth denial 🙂
Full Term had now recorded my contractions at an average of 3-4 minutes apart, BUT the number was misleading. Some times the contractions were recording at three minutes. Other times, I was recording a seven minute occurrence. There didn’t seem to be the consistent 4-1-1 contraction pattern I’d always been told to look for.
A shift in contractions
About 3:30 a.m., I noticed that I had to really concentrate on breathing through my contractions. I could still walk and talk through them, so I figured I had plenty of time and was still in early labor. S. noticed my breathing process and asked if I was okay. I told him I was just fine and truly thought this was the case. I’d returned to bed and was tossing and turning rather uncomfortably for a bit before realizing that I needed to get up.
“You know what? I need to get up”
Resigned to the fact that I wasn’t going to get much sleep tonight, I got up and went to the shower. I noticed that my husband also got up and started making the bed. He told me later that he realized “sleep wasn’t going to happen” and decided to pack his hospital bag. He was doing that when I went in the bathroom when the shift happened. I got up from the toilet and noticed bloody show in the toilet bowl. Alarm bells went off. CRAP!!!! Bloody show, for me, usually means that I need to call the doctor because delivery will be there soon. I grabbed a quick shower and then made the call. By now, it was getting very difficult to talk to the contractions.
My OB had given me her cell number to dial her in the event I went into labor as she expected that I would go quick. Her instructions had been to call as soon as I couldn’t speak through them. When I dialed the number she’d given me, I was connected to the on-call physician–the same doctor who delivered baby A. two years over. However, I was in so much pain that I didn’t register that the voice I was speaking to wasn’t the female voice of my OB, but the male voice of the on-call. As such, every answer to every question asked of me I ended in “ma’am”. I couldn’t tell it was a man at all because of the pain.
The doctor on the line asked how far in pregnancy I was, how long the contractions had been occurring, which pregnancy it was for me, and noted that I had to stop talking several times due to painful contractions. He told me to come in to Labor and Delivery to be checked and that he would see me there. Guys, I honestly had no idea how limited in time we were.
I knew I was in trouble…
I hung up the phone and managed to get dressed while deeply vocalizing through contractions. My husband, by this time, was in the shower going through his regular wellness routine. I don’t know if he heard the loud “Hurry up!” that I yelled through the door. I don’t even know if what was in my head to yell actually made it out my mouth to him, but there he was and we were moving.
I am struck that he may not have detected the urgency in my voice (especially if I didn’t actually scream the hurry up portion), but it seemed like forever for him to come downstairs. In reality, it was less than a minute with him letting our teen son know we were headed to the hospital. Getting down those stairs seemed awfully hard and I knew I was in trouble.
Decisions, decisions (aka just pick one)
Downstairs, S. asked which vehicle we were going to take to the hospital. I chose the SUV since it was higher off the ground than the sedan and I’m so thankful I did, but truthfully…it could have been a Flintstones vehicle powered by feet and I would not have cared. We needed to get to the hospital and fast! Unfortunately, I don’t think S. got that concept as we were on the cusp of leaving the neighborhood when he realized he’d left the wi-fi speaker we were going to use to play worship music during labor. He turned the car around to retrieve it and the voice in my head was yelling that we didn’t have time for this.
I kept trying to get my mind to relax, to stop fighting, and to keep the growing panic at bay, but couldn’t. This labor was not like my previous ones and something was off with the timing of the contractions. Something was wrong.
After hitting EVERY pothole between here and the hospital (okay, it felt like every pothole), we reached the emergency room and S. rushed in to tell them his wife was laboring and needed a wheelchair. As the nurse walked out to the car with the wheelchair, I had a particularly hard contraction with low growl vocalization. I swore I felt the baby move down the birth canal with that one. Immediately, I started to feel very nauseous and very shaky. Once again, confirmation that I was in trouble. During labor, I only get nauseous and shaky in transition. This was happening way too fast.
By now my contractions were rolling one into the other and it was getting difficult for me to focus on anything other than panic. The nurse who wheeled me to Labor and Delivery completely bypassed Triage. She told the admitting nurse that I’d had three hard contractions in the time it had taken her to walk me from Emergency to Labor and Delivery. She also mentioned my level of pain and said something that didn’t quite register with me… “I don’t think there’s time”.
Once wheeled to the laboring room, a new nurse appeared and gave me a cervical check where she announced I was 8 centimeters dilated. (SAY WHAT?!!) Then she shook her head, said she was mistaken and I was only at a 6. Before I could discuss the discrepancy, I immediately became very nauseous again and asked for a bag, which came quickly. At once, I was vomiting nonstop (a bad sign for me at that time and I knew it). After voiding my stomach contents, I asked every one for an epidural ASAP. Unfortunately, my hospital requires you to intake a HUGE bag of intravenous fluids along with a blood draw before an epidural can be administered. The nurses, bless their hearts, tried to insert an IV.
I do not remember this part, but my husband told me later the first nurse who attempted to insert the IV did so three times and failed each time. Apparently, I asked her to stop after the third attempt and asked for a new nurse to insert the IV needle because the failures hurt so much. This nurse attempted and was successful on her first try. Again, I don’t remember this at all.
I do remember that once the IV drip was started, I tried desperately to lean into my husband. He tried very hard to will me his strength, pressing his forehead to mine. I have to honor my husband here because I really put him through the paces unintentionally. He would hold my hand or rub my arm and I’d snapped that I didn’t want to be touched. He would move off to the side to respect that request and I would panic asking where he was going and why he wasn’t touching me or there. I finally looked at him and admitted that I didn’t think it would be getting an epidural.
It was at that statement that my pain reached a level I’d never previously experienced. I couldn’t stop the pain. I also couldn’t stop screaming and shaking. Everything was pain and suddenly I had the INTENSE needed to POOP!!
The nurse performs another cervical check at this crazy burst of pain and said, “Oh Honey. Yeah, you’re complete”. In 12 minutes, I had gone from 6cm to 10cm…12 minutes! I weakly asked if this meant I couldn’t get the epidural (after all I knew others who were able to get something even at the late stage of the game). The nurse confirmed there would be no meds for me and I broke down in tears. There was no way I could do this naturally.
Baby Comes Quick
By now, I am screaming…absolutely screaming bloody murder without a care in the world as to who hears me. I tried negotiating with the nurses for something…anything…to take the pain away. Shoot, anything to take it away. The nurses said there was nothing they could give me. This was the abbreviated version of the conversation. The nurses told me I would be risking the baby’s health and then laughed when I said I was willing to take the risk and sign off on it. They didn’t realize I was serious. S. told me that I had a full blown argument with one nurse in particular. I asked that she move to the side. I don’t remember any of this at all!
I do remember that the nurses tried their best to calm me including the one I can’t remember asking to move to the side. They told me that I would have to focus. Bump a focus. The nurse said it would feel better when I pushed. It absolutely did not. The pain was torturous. I remember asking God what I did to allow such pain. It was SO intense and suddenly the urge to bear down was overwhelming. In my pain and delirium, I didn’t realized my amniotic sac had ruptured. I followed my body said to do and bore down heavily. When I did so, my amniotic sac burse EVERYWHERE. The nurse said there was “thick mec”. I asked her if I heard her say there was meconium in the rupture. She looked at me and nodded.
Well, crud. As much pain as I was in, that added some clarity to the situation. I knew I needed to get my baby out and immediately. S. informed me that the baby’s head was out. He actually said the baby was out, but I knew what he meant. (This was despite the same nurse I’d argued with correcting him. That was not the time. Come to think of it…in hindsight, she wasn’t really that nice.)
The doctor was in front of me and I heard him instruct me to push. I was already there. One fierce and crazy yell accompanied by one giant push and out came my baby.
It’s A Boy!
Now, here is the thing. I was so exhausted and in such shock that, while I knew baby was out, I didn’t really care whether was a boy or girl. I just assumed it was a girl and wanted a moment to rest. One of the nurses said, “let her husband turn the baby”. He did so and we saw a penis. Our baby was a BOY! The nurses rushed him over to the islet and the NICU team checked him over. I was worried he would have to leave with them, but thank God, he was fine!
We arrived at our hospital at 6 a.m. and were admitted to Labor and Delivery by 6:20 a.m. Our son was born at 7:25 a.m. He was a healthy 6 pounds, 12 ounces, and 21 inches long. He is the smallest baby that I have ever birthed and by far the quickest delivery that I have ever experienced.
Despite the craziness of the morning, I did not tear nor did I require any stitches. He was given to Dad to hold, if I remember correctly while the doctor helped me expel the placenta. Incidentally, the doctor asked me to push the placenta out and I, in my fatigue, answered that I’d done all the pushing that I was going to do that day and he’d have to get it out if it was coming lol. I was super exhausted at that point, but I do remember the doctor congratulating me on a very great delivery and fiving me Fentanyl via the IV, which worked immediately.
Without a doubt, this birth was seriously the most intense birth that I have ever had. I am thankful that the baby is here and is healthy. Throughout this pregnancy, I often played with the idea of maybe wanting to try natural birthing. I always backed out and convinced myself epidurals were the way to go for me. I guess God had other plans and I am so glad He allowed me to see that I had the strength to do it.
So there you are. The super intense and unintentionally natural birth of our son Jeremiah.
Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. We appreciate them and you very much.