My estimated due date was May 30th. The pregnancy was hard but as the end approached I experienced a reprieve, began feeling great- almost not even pregnant and was moving about with an ease last felt in the first trimester. I focused on enjoying the last days of E as an only child and soaking up our time together.
The early evening of May 24th we thought things were starting. I was having contractions but they were not painful. We ate dinner and carried on our nightly routine with E. We took a walk outside and chatted with some neighbors, put E to bed and continued to wait for the contractions to kick up; they were about eight minutes apart. Eventually we went to bed knowing things were far from starting. I had a rough night’s sleep and woke exhausted. A stayed home from work, as we believed things were happening. But the contractions fizzled out and I was officially experiencing prodromal labor.
Two nights later the contractions returned. This time they felt more intense and regular- coming three minutes apart. With the increased intensity, I was certain this was it. I called our doula, R to let her know. After about five hours of contractions, I also called our midwife, L. I had learned from the previous night of false labor that it would be best to rest instead of waiting for labor to kick up. So I went to bed, and when I lay down they stopped! I was so frustrated!
The next day, May 28th A, E, and I headed to the beach and spent the afternoon playing in the sand and soaking up the sun. I felt off that day, my body ached everywhere – I guess I was finally feeling like I should at full term! Earlier in the day I noticed I was starting to lose my mucus plug.
A & I were really tired and went to bed early that night. I woke at midnight feeling achy and hot. I moved to the couch to try to get some sleep; I spent the next several hours trying to sleep and when I couldn’t I’d play around on the computer. Somewhere in there I went to the bathroom and noticed I was losing more of my mucus plug and now there was also a bit of blood. The progress excited me, but I also knew this could go on for weeks. I decided to go back to our bed and try to sleep. A asked me what was going on and I told her I was achy and crampy and she rubbed my back for several minutes. Within ten minutes of crawling back into bed my water broke! It was about 3:30am.
With the gush of water I jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom, leaving a trail of water behind. It’s hard to describe the this is it feeling. There’s no questioning the start when the amniotic fluid ruptures. I took a shower to clean myself up and then got comfortable to call L. A was scurrying around, showering, changing the sheets, and preparing to leave. Around 4:30 E woke up (as he often does in the night). When he saw A all dressed he asked “why are you all ready, Mama?” She assured him the clothes she was wearing were her pajamas and got him back to sleep. I ended the call told her “L said we should get some rest”, to which she laughed.
Contractions had started but they were mild to say the least. Around 5:30 I decided I needed some rest so I lay down in bed. But my waters kept gushing so it was hard to get comfortable and sleep was impossible. I lay there and rested for a little while. Before too long I got back up and bounced on the birth ball for a while. Again, my leaking fluids prevented me from being too mobile, which was frustrating.
As the morning waned on, A went about our daily routine, feeding and dressing E, playing with him. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I watched them play in the back yard from my window. I was still very much excited and happy my contractions were starting.
There seemed to have been a misunderstanding about my parent’s role when I went into labor and they thought they were not needed until we left for the hospital. I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible; in my mind this meant they would take E as soon as I went into labor so that A was with me. There came a point where I needed A to be with me and she was just not able to do that while watching E, so even though I was not in serious labor we decided to head to the hospital so that we could labor together in peace. We left around Noon.
The drive to the hospital was challenging. It took 50 minutes and my contraction kicked up. I decided to call our doula and request she also head to the hospital. Upon arrival I was checked in and had the initial battery of questions and paperwork to complete. L checked me and I was two centimeters. Not too bad, given that I never dilated on my own with E. But we knew there was still a long way to go. A and I decided to take a walk outside; it was a beautiful day and we spent some time walking through the surrounding neighborhoods and downtown.
In the back of my head I could hear the clock ticking. The “you have to get the baby out within 24 hours of rupture” clock. I did my best to ignore it. We ate dinner, chatted with R, and I tried to rest. Sometime around 6:00pm R said she was going to prepare a hot bath with lavender so that when I was ready for it, I could just get in. Minutes later L came in and suggested I get in the tub and use the water for nipple stimulation to try to ramp up my contractions. A and I spent at least a half hour doing this, to no avail. L returned to check on us. She checked me again. Still two centimeters. Frustration set in.
I knew the clock-talk was coming and it did. L told me the pediatricians like to start antibiotics 18 hours post rupture but she’d hold it off till 24 hours. She talked about my options, which in addition to medications, included doing nothing and waiting it out. I knew one thing, I did not want an IV. Antibiotics are given intravenously. I also knew from E’s birth that my body isn’t all that handy at dilating. Cervadil was my option; a vaginal suppository that softens the cervix. It was the lowest level of intervention available to me in a hospital setting. The down side was that once inserted I would have to have fetal heart monitoring for two hours, which meant I had to lay in bed for two hours. And already laying on my back was the least comfortable position with my mild contractions.
The Cervadil was inserted at 7:21pm. A, R, & I chit chatted while music played in the background. I did my best to submit to each contraction, to remain focused and lose, and to breathe. By 8:45pm the contraction were full on, intense, and this is when I consider labor starting. Having to remain hooked up to monitors and in bed was brutal. I asked R, what if I have to use the bathroom? And this became my focus. My way out.
It was clear to all of us that I was in hard labor, and all had been fine with the baby, so I wanted to be unhooked and to labor as I wished. I called for a nurse and expressed my need to use the bathroom. She said she had to talk to L. She returned about 9pm and said she couldn’t talk to L, but it would probably be okay to take me off the monitors 20 minutes early, and she did.
I used the toilet and had one contraction and then I got back into the tub. Instead of the relief I’d felt in the water just a few hours early, it now felt horribly constricting. I tried laying back and it hurt. I think I stayed that way for three or so contractions. Then I got into a frog position. One contraction like that and I knew I had to get out of the water. When it was over I maneuvered my body out and had one more contraction on the toilet. While there I felt a little nauseous. Meanwhile, R and L were preparing the bed in a raised position for me to lean on to. I tried it, and that didn’t work for me either. But while I was there I felt the urge to vomit. Someone brought me a bucket and I emptied my stomach; I was still standing up leaning on the raised bed and the force of my vomiting pushed the Cervadil out of me, and I was so thankful that it remained out. I remember thinking, I am in transition? I am in transition?! FUCK! How can I already be in transition? It was probably 9:45pm.
R suggested I may like to get on my hands and knees. I did this on the floor while they lowered the bed. Once lowered, I kneeled on the bed and held on to the headboard. My contractions were seriously intense at this point. I was in full on labor. L checked me. “Five” she announced, “no, moving to six.” Holy crap.
A and R were to my right, L was on my left and there were two nurses. Mark Erelli was playing on the iPod.. L began rubbing my back as I rode each contraction like a wave. I did my best to keep my vocalizations low. L attended to our birthplan and lowered the lights. I remember hearing A ask R to change the music, and suggested something a little mellower, Norah Jones, Come Away With Me.
“You sound like you’re feeling the urge to push” L said; I confirmed that I was. She checked me and I was nine. L suggested I lay on my left side, crunch up my knees, and hold my right knee open to push. She gently massaged me with some sort of liquid as I began to push. The baby’s head was coming out and I heard someone say she had a lot of hair. I was out of control, the pain was overcoming me, I was pushing with no method, I just wanted the baby out and I finally understood what women mean when they say they felt like they were splitting in two. I was sure I’d be broken when it was over. I yelled out “this is way more intense than last time.”
I knew that this was going to happen really fast, that I would not push for two hours like I had with E. I centered myself, and got in the moment. I wanted her entry to be something I remembered. I could feel she was close and that she’d be here soon. I’d been pushing with contractions, and then L instructed me that I could push in their absences and I did. Not ten minutes passed before sweet Willow entered the world at 10:29pm on May 29, 2010.
As soon as she was born she was placed on my lower abdomen while we waited for her cord to stop pulsing. I held onto her in amazement. It didn’t take long for me to feel the urge to push her placenta. R later told me that the cord stopped pulsing and I immediately said I needed to push. The placenta came out easily, the cord was cut, and W was moved to my breasts, where she immediately latched on and began sucking. R said she’d never seen anything like it. She was still covered in a good amount of vernix and I loved feeling it- so think and protective. I’d incurred a very slight tear and had one stitch.
W remained on my breasts for a while. My vitals were taken, and A and I shared a PB&J sandwich that I’d ordered earlier and saved. R and L said their goodbyes, and we were left with the nurse to have W weighed, measured, and cleaned up. She weighed six pounds 14 ounces and was 19 ½ inches long. She was born with a massive amount of wavy blond hair and blue eyes.
W turned eight weeks this past weekend and it’s hard to remember a time she wasn’t with us. The transition to family of four has gone ever so smoothly; E loves her and has been amazing with her. He’s shown a little jealousy, mostly when A has W, but over all he’s stepped into his role of big brother with grace. We feel ever so blessed with our family of four. It’s been quite a journey to this place. And not a day goes by that I don’t reflect and recognize just how blessed we are.