Almost as soon as we found out we were pregnant and that our baby would be due the middle of February, my husband was sure that the baby would be born the first week of February. Being a first time mom I was sure baby would come “late.”
Around 36 weeks I started feeling an increase in Braxton hicks contractions and light cramping. At my 35/36 week checkup I wasn’t dilated but I was almost fully effaced and baby’s head was very low. I knew that everything could stay that way for a month before I actually delivered, so I didn’t read too much into the results of that appointment.
On Wednesday, February 3, at 38 weeks 2 days, we went to maternal fetal medicine for our last ultrasound. Everything looked great and baby was measuring 7 pounds 1 ounce with “very chubby cheeks.”
Two days later I woke up with more energy and less back and hip pain than I had had my entire third trimester. I tried to ignore it but in the back of my mind I kept wondering if any of that meant anything. That evening Ben asked me if I felt up to walking around Target and picking up a few things. I told him, “absolutely!” After about an hour or so I started feeling tired and sore so we decided to get some dinner and head home. We didn’t know how many more dinners we would have together before the baby was born, so we decided to use a Groupon at one of our favorite local restaurants. I had a craving for their spicy Cajun chicken and it definitely hit the spot. I had sworn off spicy foods for much of my pregnancy because of the awful heartburn it gave me, especially at night, but I didn’t have work the next morning and I knew I didn’t have to go to bed early. And baby wanted it! 🙂 When we got home I sat on my stability ball while Ben and I watched some TV before getting ready for bed. I hopped in the shower and went to bed for the night.
At 4:47 the next morning I woke up with back and hip pain. This wasn’t uncommon in my last trimester, but this time it felt a bit worse. I went to the bathroom and stretched out a bit before trying to fall back asleep. About 5:30 I woke up again feeling even worse and as I got up I felt I felt a gush of fluid. Almost immediately I was hit with a strong contraction in my back. I was in denial but I began timing anyway. The back contractions kept coming about 5 minutes apart and I tried to keep myself busy as long as I could. About 7:30 I realized I was in real labor and woke Ben. I told him I was pretty sure my water had broken and we needed to get things ready to head to the hospital soon. He was so great about gathering the things I asked him to throw in the suitcase while I tried to breathe through the contractions which kept getting stronger. I called my sister that was at college 3 hours away so she could start making her way up to the hospital. Ben called his mom to let her know what was going on as well. His parents were already about an hour away since they were in our state for their granddaughter’s birthday party that afternoon. At one point Ben was telling me we needed to get going and I was upset and told him, “but I haven’t straightened my hair yet!” Then I had another strong contraction and all thoughts about my appearance went out the window 😉
I was finally admitted to the hospital shortly before 9:00 Saturday morning. The nurse determined my water was in fact broken, and I was about 3 cm dilated. She asked me to describe my contractions and told me that I was having that dreaded back labor which probably meant baby was positioned face up. She asked if I was going to want an epidural. I had planned to try to labor naturally but I also didn’t plan on having back labor, so that’s when my birth plan went out the window.
I was taken to my labor and delivery room and was told I could walk around and order food until I got the epidural. I was having such a hard time with the contractions and didn’t know how I was going to make it to the end. I was feeling so helpless and defeated and I knew I still had a while to go. I met the nurse that was going to be with me for the duration of my labor and delivery and looking back she was probably one of the most positive memories from the whole experience. She was so kind and encouraging! She predicted that I would progress a centimeter every hour or two, and that we would have a baby around 5:00.
The anesthesiologist came in around 10:00 (I don’t remember exactly what time it was) to insert the epidural. The epidural wasn’t as uncomfortable as I expected and began to work on my right side shortly after I received it. I noticed that I didn’t feel its effects on my left side and let the nurse know. She had me lying on my left side to encourage the medicine to spread to that side, but when she did baby’s heart rate would change and she had to turn me back. We kept trying but for some reason baby didn’t like me lying on that side! At one point one of the monitors started beeping and several nurses came in and frantically put an oxygen mask on me. Apparently my heart rate had dropped. The oxygen took care of that and we went back to breathing through contractions. We were still on pace to deliver around 5:00, but my contractions were actually TOO close together that I needed a minuscule dose of pitocin to space them out a bit more. I didn’t know it was possible to be too close together! They were right on top of each other, one right after another which prevented my labor from progressing further.
At exactly 3:00 my nurse came to check my progress. She stood up, started putting the stirrups in place and said, “let’s have a baby!” We were all in shock! No one thought I would be fully dilated by 3:00! Everyone left the room except the nurses and Ben. It was time to start pushing.
After about a half hour the nurse determined baby was still face up and not making much progress down the birth canal. After some time the midwife (whom I had never met before) came in and decided I should be lying on my side and NOT pushing for some time to try to get the baby to turn so that pushing would be easier. If you’ve ever been in labor before and had the urge to push and been told not to give in to that urge, well, you know how uncomfortable and almost impossible that is! Around the same time the midwife decided to stop the epidural so that I could feel the contractions better and push more effectively. The nurse told me that the baby would most likely be delivered before the epidural completely wore off. That was NOT the case. Because the baby was essentially “stuck,” and his heart rate would change during contractions and my water had broken so long ago, a doctor was called in to be there in the event a vacuum needed to be used to complete the delivery. Thankfully we never needed that and the doctor just stood in the room for the remainder of the pushing phase.
Baby boy was stubborn and never turned. He was born face up at 4:55 PM at 8 pounds 5 ounces after almost exactly two hours of pushing and essentially no epidural. His head was huge! Daddy was able to watch the birth and he was so excited when he saw that his little guy had hair! Mommy received a second degree tear, but it was a small price to pay for such a sweet little boy!
My birth experience wasn’t easy and wasn’t exactly what I had planned. I had wanted to labor naturally and I didn’t expect to push for two hours and no longer have an epidural by the end! I know that everything happens for a reason and God’s will is perfect. I am so in love with my little miracle, even though the road to having him wasn’t a walk in the park! He has been a dramatic little boy since before he was even born! 😊