I had been having contractions for WEEKS. Mostly just Braxton Hicks, but they were regular, time-able, keeping me up at night (though not terribly painful) and doing NOTHING FOR MY CERVIX.
Then at my 37 week appointment, finally some progress: 3cm dilated! Cervix looked ‘awesome’ (a direct quote from the doctor, by the way. A very odd compliment.) I was told to get my bag packed and be ready to go- it would be most likely within a week. I pretty much thought the doctor was nuts and this baby was never coming out and when I came next week for my 38 week appointment, I would punch him square in the face for lying to me.
But. I packed my bags anyway, just in case.
We had a busy weekend with relatives in from out of town, so that helped keep my mind off of The Waiting. Even though I wasn’t overdue yet, I felt like I was. I was so tired and huge and achy and just ready to be done. Not just physically, but mentally. I wanted to meet our baby! So having the distraction was nice, even if it was a crazy few days. Sunday night after everyone left our house (Steeler party!), I crashed in bed at 9:30.
Then at 12:30am, I woke up with contractions. NOTHING NEW HERE. I timed them and waited, they were about 6 minutes apart for most of the night, very rhythmic and steady. I got a shower around 4am which caught Dan’s attention from the bedroom and I told him we might be headed to the hospital today. Maybe. So he took Maggie to school and worked from home, just in case we needed to make a quick exit.
We didn’t. Even after a long walk through the neighborhood that morning, and more timing of far-apart contractions, nothing was really happening. So I took a nap and when I woke up, things were quiet.
The next morning I decided that I would be focusing on spending the day with Maggie at home. It was going to be a gorgeous day so I thought we’d head outside and I’d do more walking, see if that stirred anything up. But I was going to quit obsessing and try to just enjoy the day without wondering if EVERY. SINGLE. TWITCH. was labor.
Ten minutes later, as I was putting my makeup on, I was hit with a chest pain. A painful one, starting on my left shoulder then moving to the center of my chest. My heart rate didn’t change, and I could breath just fine, but MAN it hurt.
Needless to say, this caused a scene: me laying on the bed, Dan getting me my phone and some water and a snack, me calling the doctor and waiting for a call back. While we waited, I had 3 contractions- the 2nd one was 6 minutes after the first, then 4 minutes, then 3 minutes. And each time I contracted, the chest pain stopped. Um…? What? And then after about 10 or 15 minutes, the chest pain was gone.
Apparently the doctor was as puzzled as we were, so we were told to come down to labor and delivery. We called my mom to come and take care of Maggie for us, we packed the car and off we went. I was certain we would only be there for a few hours before being sent home.
I didn’t have any more chest pains on the way to the hospital, but I did have more contractions. Same story as always- 6-10 minutes apart, not really painful, just kind of hanging around. When we got to triage around 9am Tuesday morning, they checked my vitals and asked me questions about the chest pains. No official diagnosis on what it all was, but nothing seemed wrong then so they moved on to the contractions. Still just 3cm dilated, about 60% effaced, baby was at -2 station. Monitor was trapped on and we waited. And waited. And waited some more.
They checked me again a few times, and by that afternoon, I was maybe 3 1/2 cm dilated, a little more effaced, but nothing else had changed. But since I was still having regular contractions and had the chest pain episode, they decided to admit me to the hospital.
We were having our baby today! YAY! AND ALSO: HOLY CRAP!
We got settled into the delivery room around 4pm and the doctor broke my water. After about 30 minutes, she checked me again for progress- I was about 4cm by this point, but the contractions weren’t picking up. So we decided to start a very low drip of Pitocin to get things moving. Initially I was very Anti-Pitocin (I had it with Maggie and WOOBOY! does it get things humming and OUCH.) but the doctor was open to seeing what a super-low dose would do. Very thankful for open-minded doctors!
Most of that late afternoon was spent waiting around, checking in on Twitter, sneaking bites of granola bar that Dan smuggled in for me (sssshhh, don’t tell!), munching on ice chips (YUM.) Then around 6pm or so, the contractions started getting more intense. I felt like I wanted to get up out of bed, so the nurse and Dan helped me get situated on the birthing ball (which is fun when you’re attached to two monitors and two IV tubes, heh) and that helped for a while. I started needing to concentrate on each contraction and breathe and close my eyes and OMG THAT HURTS! rather than just ‘oh hey! A contraction!’. In between contractions, we watched a re-run of Friday Night Lights. Multitasking! I even do it while in labor! (I clearly have a problem.)
Eventually around 8pm, I decided it was time for an epidural. I went into this labor with the same mentality as with Maggie- not opposed to the epidural at all (hello! no medals are handed out for drug-free deliveries!) but curious to see how long I could go without it. This time, I was at 6cm and ready for some relief.
And OOOOH THE RELIEF. I’d forgotten what it felt like to have all that tension from the contractions out of my body. I could still feel them coming, but mostly just on the right side, and it wasn’t pain, just pressure. I tried to enjoy the break and rest a bit before it was time push- whenever that would be.
The next few hours went really quickly. The doctor increased my Pitocin to something like 5 times the amount it had been before the epidural and by 11pm that night, I could feel things changing. I started shaking all over, even though I wasn’t feeling cold. Then I noticed the contractions VERY close together- like a minute or two. I wondered for a moment if I was going through transition. Turns out I was- a quick check from the doctor and I was 10cm and ready to push.
It took about 20 minutes for the nurse to get the room prepped for delivery. Then Dan and the nurse talked me through pushing during three contractions- three pushes per contraction. Then the nurse was all STOP! Time to get the doctor! Apparently the baby was RIGHT! THERE! and I could feel her head pushing on my pelvis. Such a strange sensation, especially with most everything else being numb from the epidural. Another contraction came while the doctor was getting ready- they had me stop pushing during this one. Then the doctor was ready, another contraction came, I pushed three times and…
Audrey was born.
They laid her on my stomach and I just remember saying, “SERIOUSLY? She’s OUT ALREADY??” I couldn’t believe how fast and relaxed it all was. The only bad part of the whole experience was the shakes that continued for about an hour after she was born, but honestly I was so distracted by trying to see her over in the bed thingy with the nurses and Dan taking pictures that I barely noticed the shaking.
Audrey was doing great (8 and 9 APGAR scores!) Her weight was the exact same as Maggie’s at birth- 6lbs 11oz. I nursed her about an hour or so after she was born. MUCH different experience this time around (a whole post on that coming soon!) and she latched right away. We took pictures and oohed and aahed over her super-long toes and fingers, her thick, dark hair, and overall deliciousness. We decided on her name. Since it was the middle of the night, no one was there at the hospital with us so we texted and called our parents. After a few hours, I was able to feel my legs again so we were moved into the post-partum room. I think was 4am before we were settled.
And I slept with Audrey on my chest until morning.