Need to catch up?
The false water breaking alarm motivated Ish and I to get everything packed to go to the Birth Center for when I actually do go into labor. I had been procrastinating doing this earlier because Little Ish was born 6 days late. I kind of figured I would at least make it to 40 weeks with this baby.
Aside from getting things ready, the next few days were filled with some major mental struggles for me. I would start to have fairly regular contractions and then I would think, “What if the baby has flipped back into the breech position?” As soon as I would start to think the baby might be breech again my contractions would spread themselves further apart or disappear for hours at a time.
On November 3rd, Little Ish had a play date planned. My friend M and her son were coming to visit. Little Ish and J were going to play while M and I could catch up and I could get help deciphering a knitting pattern. During the playdate my contractions were getting closer together. I recall telling M that if I was going to be having contractions, it’d be nice if they were actually doing something.
Around 5, M and her son head home and Ish’s mother comes to pick up the little guy; she is watching him so we can attend our final childbirth refresher course. When we arrive at childbirth class, P, the nurse teaching the course, congratulates me on having a head down baby. I respond by saying that I keep thinking that the baby has flipped back into a breech position and that I am pretty sure that this line of thinking is preventing me from going into labor. P sends Ish downstairs to ask if one of the midwives can check the position of the baby after class--it’s a go! K will check me when class is done.
Class begins by practicing relaxation techniques. As the other couples practice breathing through pretend contractions, I am not practicing at all--I am having real contractions and breathing through them is a must. Ish helps me relax. Though I am aware that my contractions are fairly intense, I am not having any back labor so they are far less staggering than any of the contractions I had when I was in labor with Little Ish. As class progresses, I am still in denial that I could be in real labor--the other couples seem far more sure that I am in labor than I am; they all wish me good luck as they leave.
I hang out in the waiting room for a few minutes before someone decides that I should go on the monitor to see how far apart my contractions are. Aside from baby being quite adept at kicking the monitors off, this is fairly uneventful. It turns out my contractions are already 3-5 minutes apart. After the NST, K checks me to see where the baby is positioned. She is head down and I am 4+ centimeters dilated. I am a bit shocked to find that I am in active labor; it feels nothing like it did with Little Ish.
Now that I am in labor it is time to decide on a game plan. I decide I want to go home to, if nothing else, get my bags and eat some dinner. I was already past due to eat and ideally I would labor at home for a little while. K asks if she can bind my belly before I go so that the baby doesn’t have a chance to flip again. I am all for keeping my little one head down so K wraps my belly with cloth and safety pins me in.
The drive home makes my contractions feel painful. If there is anything about labor that I truly hate, it is having contractions in the car. Not being able to move with a contraction is wretched. The drive home is hampered by traffic thanks to construction on the interstate; I wonder if the people in charge of the construction know how hellish it is to labor in a car--conclusion, probably not. I distract myself by calling and texting family and friends to let them know that I am in labor.
When we arrive home, Ish makes me a chocolate peanut butter tortilla and a glass of milk as I go about our house gathering up anything else that needed to be packed (until going up and down the stairs becomes too troublesome). At some point, Ish calls his parents to let them know that child birth class has turned into child birth. They will be watching Little Ish.
By the time everything is packed and I have eaten, contractions are intense enough that I want to go back to the birth center. I call K to let her know that we are headed back. She mentions that it is a good thing since I have Group B Strep and need to start the antibiotics. She also asks if I mind if J, the student nurse at the birth center, observes my labor and birth. I am fine with this proposition. [ fun side note: J happens to be the fiancée of a friend and coworker from college].
When we arrive at the birth center, we head to the water birth suite. K gets me set up with antibiotics. She is having trouble getting an IV into my arm and the needle goes through my vein twice. Ever seen your arm fill with saline solution? It’s gross. After a couple of failed attempts she starts a line in my hand with no problem. As the antibiotics are being administered K fills the birthing tub. Remembering how soothing it was during my labor with Little Ish, I want to hop in the water as soon a possible. The antibiotics finish, but the tub is still filling so I dance through contractions. At this point I am still chatty and the contractions, although intense, are not that bad.
Finally, it is time to get in the water. From here on out time starts to blur. I labor in the tub for a long time. I am fairly relaxed and able to chat with everyone in between contractions. I even manage to eat some almonds and a fudgesicle. I remember P, one of the nurses, coming in saying she was going to take a nap. I remember saying that I didn’t think she’d get much of a nap in before I needed to push. How wrong I was!
After a while, I started feeling a lot of pressure in my butt, and assumed that I was starting to feel kind of pushy. Not so! It turns out this baby, much like her brother, wanted to spend most of labor in an OP position. Enter back labor. Around the time I started having back labor, my contractions started spacing out as well. I get out of the tub. K checks me. Progress is slower than I anticipated. After a short discussion, we decide that I should try laboring out of the tub for a while to let gravity help me dilate more. Ish is providing counter pressure as I dance, bounce on the birth ball, labor on the birthing stool, and even labor on the toilet.
Shifts change and S is the midwife taking over. Since there is another Momma in labor, I actually end up having every single midwife in the birth center attend some portion of my labor--even the one who no longer attends labors and births! Because of this I did spend sometime trying to bear down when I wasn’t ready to push which probably aided in my 20th hour of labour meltdown, but in retrospect I am charmed that I got to share my labor and birth with so many wonderful women.
Time is blurring. Back labor makes the order of things impossible to remember. I do remember spending a lot of time in the bed on my side trying to get the baby to turn. At one point my sugars were starting to drop and I had Ish applying counter pressure, S massaging my legs and feet, while J was trying to get me to drink some hot tea with milk and sugar. As I breathe and moan through contractions, I desperately want my mom to be there. Not moving through the contractions is agony and I know my mom would have the right words to encourage me. Instead of focusing on my mom being several states away, I try to think about what she would say. I can’t remember what I settled on, but it helped.
After a long time on the bed with no luck in turning the baby, S encourages me to labor
in the shower. Ish gets into his bathing suit and gets in the shower with me. He holds me up, applies counter pressure, whispers words of encouragement, and puts up with my demanding labor personality. Soon, standing is too much and I have to pee anyway.
After peeing, I labor on the toilet. I am exhausted, frustrated and sick of being in labor. I melt down and tell everyone that I want a hospital transport. S suggests checking my progress and then rupturing my membranes to get this baby down and out. I am still insisting that I cannot possibly keep laboring and need relief. S gives me and Ish time to talk it out. I beg and plead with him telling him that I need to go to the hospital and that I need him to back me up. Thankfully I have a husband who is supportive, but also knows how pissed I would be if I actually took a hospital transport. He realizes that I am talking crazy talk and that I just want some pain relief. Ish asks S if there is any sort of IV pain relief that she can give me; there is but it can cause breathing troubles in the baby if administered too close to delivery.
We decide to let S check my progress and then rupture my membranes. When she checks, I am almost fully dilated. Out comes the crochet hook for the AROM. There is amniotic fluid gushing out in waves and within minutes it feels like a bowling ball is trying to rocket itself through my backside. I am on my hands and knees with pillows supporting my front half. It is finally time to push!
With each contraction, I can feel the baby moving downward. After each contraction I sink into the pillows for a moment to regain my strength. S asks me if I want to move to my side; “I don’t want to move. I just want to push this baby out”, I manage to pant. I start to get a terrible burning sensation and I announce it to the room. Everyone encourages me to keep going. I bear down with everything I have left and with a few more pushes and the head is out followed by a warm squirmy flourish of baby body slipping out after.
“Reach down and pick up your baby,” S says. I use the rest of my energy to pick up my sweet baby. When I let Ish check for the baby’s gender, he says “It looks like we have an Oliver”*. “Try again,” S says. We have a Liliana. A perfectly sweet 6 lb 5oz little girl.