I went to bed Saturday night, July 4, around 11:00 pm. At 1:00 am, Sunday, I was making my way back to bed from the toilet when I felt liquid trickle down my leg. I went back to the toilet to figure out what was going on and noticed the liquid was pink tinged so figured I had begun leaking amniotic fluid. This really freaked me out because I had said my entire pregnancy that I didn’t want to begin labor with my water breaking. The best way for labor to begin is with contractions, then have the water break once labor is active. If the amniotic sac breaks first, there’s a chance contractions won’t begin for a while, increasing risk of problems such as infection.
I went back to bed and woke NJG up to tell him what was going on. He wanted me to call my doula or midwives but I told him the choices are to go to the hospital and most likely end up having my labor augmented, since I wasn’t contracting, or try to go back to sleep so I’d hopefully be rested when labor did begin. I spent the rest of the night trying to relax and sleep but because I was so anxious, I was sick to my stomach and couldn’t sleep. I finally ended up getting a couple hours of sleep in late morning. So I slept about 4 hours that night.
The next morning we called our doula and she confirmed I had done the right thing. I should just try to rest and wait for labor. She said that 98% of women will have contractions begin within 24 hours of membrane rupture. She also said the risk of infection doesn’t begin when the membranes rupture, but when the first vaginal exam (or other method of introducing bacteria) is performed. We decided to take my temperature every 4 hours to monitor if I was getting a fever, which would show if I was developing an infection.
I spent Sunday, July 5 trying to relax, stay hydrated, and eating light meals in case labor began. I made it to evening and still no contractions. By 7:00 pm I was really tired so I decided to go to bed early. I was in bed for an hour, not sleeping, and at 8:00 pm contractions started. I quickly became uncomfortable lying in bed so I sat on the couch for much of the night. Once contractions became more intense, a few hours later, I vomited. I continued to vomit the duration of the labor. Every time a contraction would be more intense than the last I would get nauseous and vomit. This was not good since it’s important to stay hydrated during labor and I was vomiting everything I drank. Along with the vomiting I hiccuped my way through the entire labor. Apparently it’s normal to have contractions of the diaphragm during labor too. Once the vomiting began I decided to labor in the bathroom. NJG made me a little nest of pillows to lean against. Once contractions got really strong the only place I could find relief was in the shower. I was so fatigued by this point, I put a stool in the shower so I could sit under the water and didn’t have to stand.
My doula came over around 6:00 am on Monday, July 6. She timed some of my contractions, which NJG and I had already been timing and were finding them around 5 minutes apart, lasting around a minute, for a while at this point. When the doula timed them, she said they were too close together and not lasting long enough to be good, dilating contractions. She felt I was having an “irritable uterus” where the contractions are not efficient and are only working to fatigue me. She kept saying I should try to rest. I didn’t understand how I could rest while in that much pain, but she clearly thought I should be able to and that my labor was not intense at this point. She advised NJG to go lay down and she went and lied down in our guest room. I was left alone on the couch to “rest”. I stayed there as long as I could handle it and then went and got in the shower again.
I made the decision I wanted to go to the hospital. I couldn’t stand not knowing how far along I was, and desperately wanted to be checked by my midwife. I also was unsure how much more of this I could take, since my doula thought these contractions weren’t dilating me. I was losing confidence. I told NJG what I wanted, and then my doula, when she came in. She clearly disagreed with my choice, and mentioned how they will probably give me the choice to return home or have my labor augmented. I told her I was not coming back home before having the baby. I was making the choice to go to the hospital and see what happened.
The drive to the hospital was not fun. There was more vomiting of course and the pain was intense because I was so uncomfortable. We valet parked in front of the hospital and made our way to L&D.
We got a room around 10:00 am. I was hooked up to 2 monitor belts. One monitored my contractions and one monitored the baby’s heartbeat. These would be left on until my midwife arrived and then the baby’s heartbeat would need to be monitored for 20 minutes each hour. I was also asked a ridiculous amount of questions by the nurses, trying to answer between contractions. I was asked for a urine sample and realized the extent of my dehydration when I was unable to produce. Later I finally was able to but it was really concentrated. I drank water and Gatorade and had ice chips during the entire labor but I don’t think I was ever able to get hydrated.
I already knew I needed to lie about when my water had broken, because if I told them it had already been 33 hours they might have pushed me to have antibiotics and maybe taken the baby for extra monitoring after birth. The problem was, I was so exhausted, I kept forgetting what I was telling people, and ended up telling the nurses and my midwife each a slightly different story. I think they ranged from “I don’t know” to “this morning some time”, etc.
I labored on the bed waiting and waiting for my midwife to show up. Finally, around 11:30 am, she arrived. There are 4 midwifes in the practice I use and whoever is on call is who you get in labor. My favorite midwife walked in. She checked me, which was incredibly painful, and announced that I was at 8 cm!!! I asked her if she was lying and later asked my doula if she would lie about it. I couldn’t believe I was at 8. I’m still really confused about all the comments my doula had made about the inefficiency of my labor. Being at 8 meant I was well into active labor, I should be having the baby soon, and all the contractions and pain I’d been having were getting me somewhere. I felt so much better and lost all the doubt I was feeling about if I was going to be able to make it.
Besides being at 8 cm, my midwife said the baby was still quite high up and we needed to work to get him to come down. So, even though going from 8 cm to completely dilated, pushing and done, probably normally takes 2-3 more hours, I experienced a different timeline. I spent the next hours being directed into various positions known to help lower the baby. I leaned over the back of the elevated bed while on my knees, I squatted, I sat on the birth ball, I sat on the toilet, I also stood with one foot up on a chair. She also let me get in the tub for a while, but it slowed my contractions and they got me out after a bit. Each time the midwife checked me she said I still wasn’t complete but close. At some point all I had left was a small lip of cervix that she felt she could push back as the baby came. She also had me push some, even though I wasn’t complete, to see if that would bring him down. I did everything asked of me, watching the huge digital clock on the wall just hoping all this would end soon. I felt things were getting closer when my contractions, which previously I only felt in my lower uterus, started moving to my lower back and then would radiate in my hips. I thought this would mean his head was moving through my pelvis and pressing on different nerves.
Finally it was decided I should start to push. I still did not have the urge, which I had really hoped to have before pushing. I pushed for about 40 minutes to get him out. There was a large stand mirror at the end of the bed so I was able to watch the entire birth. Once the midwife birthed his head, NJG birthed the rest of his body and placed him on my chest. I wasn’t emotional…I was really just glad it was all over. NJG then cut the cord. The midwife collected the cord blood for the hospital’s donation program, my placenta came out a few minutes later, and she said that I wouldn’t need any stitches (finally something I worried about worked in my favor). Both my placenta and the cord were on the small side.
My midwife kept saying "you did it, not many women can say that" in reference to my going natural. She and my doula kept saying how impressed they were with how I handled the birth, which they described as fairly difficult due to the extended length of time I was in advanced labor and how long I had been without sleep. They also mentioned how I never even requested drugs. The next day when one of the other midwives came by to check on me, she told me that my labor midwife had sent her a long e-mail about how impressed she was with me and how I handled the birth.
I breast fed in the delivery room and we spent some time with the baby before he was taken to the bassinet next to me to be checked by the neonatal nurses. NJG observed everything they did and then he was returned to me. Once everything was settled we headed from L&D to the postpartum floor. Here I was finally able to eat and continue to drink. I was also able to assess the damage done to my body. It wasn’t until the next afternoon that all the soreness became apparent. I was fairly uncomfortable and it hurt to move, but this only lasted the first 2 days or so.
Tuesday, July 7
Wednesday, July 8, day of discharge