As I mentioned in my last post, Baby K arrived almost a week early. This was much to our surprise, since I had prepared myself mentally to go past due as first time moms often do. Still, we were delightfully surprised and in retrospect, I’m glad that things went exactly as they did.
On March 18th, I had a ‘test’ run of labor that woke me up at about 1 a.m. My husband was on shift and I couldn’t believe that it was the real thing. I started timing the contractions after an hour and they got as close as six minutes apart – but petered out by 3 a.m. I had other symptoms when I got up the next morning, so I called the midwife and she had me come in that morning to check things out. Everything was fine and I obviously was not in labor. She did, however, inform me that the baby was low, so low that she couldn’t check for dilation (baby was already close to +1 station) – and that I could probably expect her arrival sometime in the next few days.
“It could be tonight, it could be in a couple days,” she said cheerfully and sent me home.
So, I went home and put some energy towards tidying the apartment. The nesting urges were incredible! I was exhausted, however, so I squeezed in a nap and went to bed early. I fell asleep…only to wake up with contractions at 12:30 a.m. This time, they stay consistent and by morning, we couldn’t help but feel it was the real thing, especially since I had other typical indications that my body was in labor (TMI: I lost my mucus plug!). Still, both Tyson and I worried that we were jumping the gun, so we stayed home as long as we could. By late morning, we called the hospital, texted my mom and headed out…hopefully this was the real thing!
Contractions had slowed down during the drive and I was once again worried that we’d made the trip for nothing. But we were there, so we made our way up to the birthing center and checked in. By this time it was close to noon. Our nurse, Ann, asked me what I wanted for my birth – she wanted to hear it from me rather than a piece of paper holding my birth plan. I told her I hoped to make it without any pain medication and wanted to try water/shower therapy, walking and the birth ball. We also expressed our desire to let the cord finish pulsating before it was cut and we wanted Ty to be the one to cut the cord. No pitocin or episiotomy unless medically necessary.
Ya know. The usual. 😉 I don’t think Ann believed I’d be able to make it without medication and I honestly wasn’t sure myself. Only time would tell! I also think she honestly thought we were jumping the gun and weren’t as far along in labor as we hoped – or were having false labor. I changed into an absolutely adorable (not!) hospital johnnie, then they hooked me up to monitor my contractions and the baby’s heart-rate, got my vitals and finally, Anne checked to see how much I was dilated. Ty says the look on her face was priceless – total shock – and she actually went back to check my cervix again just to be sure she was right.
“Well, you’re going to be a happy camper,” she said, laughing. “I’d say you’re about 5-6 cm dilated, fully effaced and her head is RIGHT there.”
We were definitely having a baby that day! The OB on call stopped in and was very pleased with our progress as well. She smiled and predicted that I would be holding our baby by 5 PM that night.
The contractions picked up again and intensified. My mom arrived, which was a good distraction for a bit. They got harder and harder to handle and I vocalized a lot. Another nurse told me to moan lower so I wouldn’t make myself hoarse, but honestly, I was at the point where I was just trying to cope, never-mind switching tactics.
And by mid-afternoon, I had progressed to 8 cm. We all rejoiced over that and I felt like the end was in sight. We labored for another hour and I grew more and more exhausted. They had the fetal monitor on me most of the time, since the baby’s heart-rate would drop with a contraction every now and then. When they checked my cervix again, I was still at 8 cm and I deflated. At this point, I let myself think ahead instead of staying in the moment. I thought about the last two centimeters we needed to go and all the pushing that was left and I felt discouraged. I found myself telling my husband during contractions, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I just want it to be over.” My lower back and legs ached so much from tension and I was so tired!
Since I had done a lot of reading, I knew the stages of labor and felt frustrated that we weren’t getting to the final stages. Where was transition and back to back contractions? I knew if we got to that point, we’d be close to pushing and the end of the pain. But they never arrived. Anne kept encouraging me to use the birthing ball and frequently asked if I felt the urge to bear down and push. I didn’t feel any distinct urges and that frustrated me as well. Another thing that didn’t follow all of the birth stages I’d read about.
Finally, Anne suggested that we check again and see if we’d made any progress. “Oh honey, we have good news and not so good news. The good news is you are just about there. The bad news…”
I interrupted her, “I have a cervical lip?”
She laughed. “Yes, honey that’s it.” She suggested trying to manual push it and gave it a shot. The pain was excruciating, so she gave up immediately. So, we labored on and finally, I decided that I was ready to push.
The OB arrived at this point and this is where it gets rather blurry in retrospect. Both Tyson and my mom took places at my head and supported my legs. They along with Anne and the OB coached me to push with contractions. I still had no urge to push. This was one of the hardest parts because even then I still didn’t realize how close we were. Pushing was SO hard and required so much concentration and effort! The OB kept telling me to get mad at her and put the energy into pushing. I don’t get mad easily so that didn’t quite work!
At this point, Baby K’s heart-rate started dropping with contractions. The OB decided that it was time to get this baby OUT. Everyone started screaming for me to push and although I protested that I couldn’t do it (classic laboring mother there!), I gave two huge pushes. Her entire body emerged with that final push and she went flying like a cork out of a bottle. The OB caught her, but nearly dropped her in the juggling process!
The time of her birth was 4:17 if you go by my mom’s photo of the clock at the time. She weighed 6 lbs. 9 oz. and measured 21 inches long. She had an exceptionally long cord with a true knot, something neither the OB or the nurse had ever seen before. It explained her heart-rate dropping earlier in the pregnancy (resulting in a NST at a prenatal appointment at about 34 weeks) and during labor and delivery. They gave her to me and it’s weird, but I don’t think it all sank in for a full minute of holding her. I remember saying, “Oh, my baby, my baby!” in an attempt to convince myself that she was really born!
And that’s when the rest of my life began. I became a mom when I saw the positive sign on that pregnancy test last July, over a year ago, but I didn’t know what it would really be like until I held my daughter in my arms. And even in that moment when I first held her, I hadn’t the faintest clue how much my love could or would grow with every day and month. Bonding with my little K felt slow and sweet–I found myself falling in love with her over the course of the next weeks and now?
I cannot imagine my life without her. She’s my baby and I am her mother. And that’s an incredible thing.