Hi Everyone! Home from the hospital today. I don't think I've slept more than about five hours total since about noon on Monday, but I guess the adrenaline is keeping me going for now.
I began regular contractions at about two in the afternoon on Monday, and labored at home until about 3:30 Tuesday morning. We headed to the hospital, and I took a shower while the tub was being filled. When we got there I was four cm (starting from two), fully effaced, and she was at zero station. I was a little nervous about making it into a tub room (one of two, out of six l&d rooms at our birth center/hospital), but we got there at a good time. Apparently the previous few days and the next couple of days were quite busy.
The tub was great, but after a few hours I found that I had a little easier of a time focusing and finding a rhythm on dry land. With the ipod playing, I spent most of the hours from six-seven to ten cm walking around the room, finding my husband when I felt a contraction coming on, leaning into his arms, and just letting my torso, arms, and neck go completely limp. During contractions I would find the rhythm of the music and breathe with it, letting out increasingly loud and strong moans/grunts as they got stronger. The baby was rotated with her back facing my right side, and I had a moderate amount (I'm guessing) of back pain throughout labor. I was so glad to have a close friend there as labor support along with my husband. She was able to apply strong counter pressure on my lower back while my husband and I swayed during contractions, and that really helped. I'm not sure I would have made it without her.
When I got out of the tub at about nine Tuesday morning, I asked the midwife to check my progress. It was the only time during the first stage of labor that I felt like I might not be able to keep going without pain relief. I told her "if this is a five, I'm not sure how much longer I can keep doing this." I was nearly at seven cm, and she was pressing right on my cervix. I was feeling more motivated after being checked.
Transition was difficult. Luckily the rhythm I had established continued to work for me, I just need to amp up my focus and get really vocal. By about three in the afternoon (about 12 hours after arriving at the hospital, about 24 hours after labor really began) I was at ten cm. I got a bit of a break from the contractions, and decided to get back in the tub after a little snack.
Things started to get a little unpredictable after transition. I expected to begin the pushing stage with the next contraction. My contractions (both in and, later, back out of the tub) slowed to five-seven minutes apart and were far less intense. I felt no urge to push. After about an hour, the midwife was frank: I could get in the tub with my husband and try nipple stimulation, and if that didn't work, we would need to discuss pitocin to get my contractions strong enough to begin pushing. We got in the tub, but the nipple stimulation didn't seem to be doing much after about another 45 minutes. The midwife became more serious about the pitocin, and I started to worry a little. Contractions were still about five minutes apart, not super strong, and I had no increasing urge. While she gave me some time to think about how to continue, I decided to sit on the toilet and begin to bear down with each contraction anyway.
I began to get really discouraged after I spent some time pushing on my own. I just didn't feel like it was doing anything, I was confused about what the urge was supposed to feel like, and I was beginning to doubt whether I could do it. I felt my water break at that point. I wasn't sure that it hadn't happened prior to this point, but once it broke, I was sure. The nurse asked if I wanted her to check me, and I agreed. She told me to feel for myself, and I was so glad to be able to feel her head about halfway down. That was really the motivation I needed to keep going. I think along with my water breaking, my mood improving really helped the labor. After I was able to feel her head, my contractions got stronger, closer together, and I was beginning to feel a real, involuntary pushing urge. My husband and I got back in the tub.
I tried a few different positions, but what ended up feeling best was pushing while floating on my back in the tub, with my husband behind me and my feet against the inside of the tub, hold my knees apart during contractions. My husband was great at whispering to me what a good job I was doing, how proud he was of me, and how close we were to being done.
Feeling her head move down with every contraction was amazing. After we got back in the tub I pushed for about another hour. From the time her head began to crown, it took about seven contractions for her to be born. Pushing, especially crowning, really sucked. It was just...painful, no way around it. But I understand now what some women say about the pain being more manageable because you know it's accomplishing your goal. I was surprised and really kind of delighted at how quickly I seemed to stretch around her and how quickly the pain dulled between each round of pushing. But then the next round came, and the next. The midwives and nurses, my husband and my labor support were so, so great at keeping me working hard. After her head came out, I pushed harder than I ever had right at the end of my contraction and out she came into the water.
Pulling her to my chest was the most amazing moment of my life so far. It was such a feeling of surreal disbelief...that she was here, that she was real, that the labor was over, finally.
Matilda Louise was born on October 25 at 6:47 pm, weighing 9 lbs, 2 oz, and was 21.5 inches.
Her cord stopped pulsating rather quickly, which I was thankful for, since it was quite short and I was beginning to get uncomfortable. My husband cut the cord in the water and I moved to the bed to deliver the placenta.
This is when things got a little scary...the placenta was not coming as easily or as quickly as they wanted. My husband left the room to talk to my mom. They had me go to the toilet and try to pee, to make more room to encourage the placenta to come out, but I was just too tense after the delivery to urinate. After about 25 minutes things started to get serious, as my cervix was closing. I was given a catheter to empty my bladder, which was kind of uncomfortable but not as bad as I thought it might be. I was in kind of a fog at this point and wasn't totally sure what was happening. A doctor entered and began to massage my abdomen so vigorously I thought I might vomit. That part was honestly worse than a ten cm contraction.
When the placenta finally came out, I lost more than a liter of blood along with it. I felt it gush out of me, but didn't really know it wasn't normal until the midwives and nurses began to move more quickly. They told me what they were going to do (which I don't remember) and asked if I wanted pain meds for this part, and hell yes I did. I was really nervous but trying to remain calm. They started an IV and gave me a dose of fentanyl. I started to feel the meds working, but the poking and prodding was still painful and very scary.
My husband came back in the room right after the placenta was delivered, and his face went white. He said it looked like a war zone, and the mood was completely different from when he left to talk to my mom. He held our daughter in a rocking chair near my head and we stared at each other, him trying not to show how freaked out he was.
The midwives began to remove remaining pieces of tissue from the inside of my uterus (I swear one had her entire hand in there), and began discussing a blood transfusion. Luckily, they determined the hemorrhage had stopped quickly enough that I didn't need one. When the bleeding stopped, the mood in the room much improved. But really, what did I know, at that point I was pretty out of it.
They cleaned me up and saw that I had a diagonal, internal first degree tear and a couple of "skid marks" near my urethra. I got a couple of lidocaine shots for the repair. I don't remember when in the process they stitched me up.
The midwives congratulated me on my first baby being over nine lbs. and only having a first degree tear. I actually did feel pretty proud.
I'm so happy to have my little girl here, to have the labor behind me, and to not be pregnant anymore! And I'm so glad I decided to go drug free, and that I stuck with my plan. Mainly, I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it, that my body "was not a lemon," and to experience it as fully as I could.
I made it through, and I feel so much more confident in my body now, and really, more confident in general.