Monday, November 19th 10pm
Ryan was already asleep, but I just couldn’t get comfortable enough to actually sleep. My hips hurt, which wasn’t unusual at this point, but that night they felt like there was a ton of pressure on them.
We’d had tacos that night, so I thought the seasoning had created some stomach cramps, and I probably just needed to use the bathroom. That was a no-go, pun intended, so since it felt better to walk around the house and sway my hips, I tried that for awhile. I also sat on the exercise ball for awhile and tried to roll out the pressure I continued to feel in my hips.
Tuesday, November 20th
After trying all this for the next five hours, I finally became comfortable enough to lay back down and squeeze in a couple hours of sleep before I got up to make breakfast. I laid back down for another two hours after Ryan left for work and woke up again at 8am with the same pressure in my hips and what felt like diarrhea cramps. I remembered my sister-in-law saying that’s what contractions felt like sometimes, but I was like No, this couldn’t be labor. I’d know if I was in labor, wouldn’t I?
I called my mom (a former OB nurse, lucky me!) and told her it felt like someone had blown a ton of air into my hips, i.e. pressure, but I guess that description made no sense to someone who can’t feel it. She told me she’d be over in an hour or two to check on me and see if we needed to run by the doctor’s office. Around 10am, I called her back and said she might want to stop what she was doing and come on over to my house because I didn’t think gas pain came in surges that lasted a minute and then stopped. Also, my legs were shaking and I wasn’t cold (watching the Dr. Quinn episode where Sully has to deliver their daughter had taught me that was a sign of labor…and they say TV teaches you nothing.)
She was already on her way over here, mother’s intuition I guess. She listened to me during two of the surges and told me later that she could tell I was in active labor by the way I was breathing when I talked to her, but she wisely didn’t mention that on the phone. She instructed me to lay on left side and continue breathing through each surge. In between surges, I quickly threw some outfits for me and the baby into a duffle bag and grabbed my prepacked (thank God) toiletry bag and shoved that in there too.
I called Ryan and told him to come home. We’d call him back if we headed to the hospital. Mom arrived quickly and helped me get myself and my bag into her car, and I told her how to get to the hospital. I will say she has an incredible poker face because I had no idea that I might actually be in labor. I called Ryan back and told him to meet us at the hospital.
I’d called ahead to the hospital while Mom was on her way to my house, so they were expecting us. By noon, I was in a hospital gown and in the room where I’d later deliver. My midwife arrived pretty quickly and checked me. I was dilated to 7cm already. I couldn’t believe it.
The surges were getting a little stronger now, and my mom said I was in transition. I was like, “This is transition?” Now, don’t get me wrong, every contraction hurt, but they were also pretty efficient I guess because I’d get a two minute respite after each one concluded. I felt pretty darn good during those two minutes because I had some relief from the pressure and pain, so I was joking around with Mom and the nurses. I remember saying to Mom, “If this is how transition feels, maybe I can do natural childbirth after all.” One of the nurses looked at me and said, “Honey, you’re already doing it.”
They’d ask me earlier what I wanted to pain medication, and I’d said nothing. Not that I have a high pain threshold (at least I didn’t think I did) or that I’m some kind of martyr, but it honestly didn’t occur to me that I needed pain meds at that point. I think I was probably still in denial that I was even having the baby that day.
Ryan finally arrived. Since he’d heard in Lamaze that most first labors last 12-24 hours, he stopped at the house to shower so he wouldn’t smell like the machines he works with. (My sense of smell had been really heightened during pregnancy, so believe me, he was doing me a favor). He also installed the car seat in my car and drove that to the hospital, even though he told me later, he was sure I was not in labor.
He sat down near my head and held my hand. I closed my eyes and breathed through another intense contraction while I listened to Mom fill him in on what was going on. I remember him asking her if labors normally went this fast, and she said that this was unusual. Ryan found my Labor Playlist on my iPhone, and I listened to that through the next several contractions. It’s amazing to me that I still remember which songs played during the labor. It was all very surreal.
Once my water broke in the bed, I told my midwife I had the urge to push. She rechecked me and I was only an 8, so I’d have to blow out some breaths through the next several contractions to prevent myself from pushing. Honestly, this was by far the worst part of labor, even more so than actually pushing which I found to be a relief.
Mom and Ryan breathed with me through a few contractions where I thought if I didn’t push I might explode, but every time I reached my breaking point, the contraction was over. At least twice, I just couldn’t hold back and my body pushed involuntarily. I could hear Ryan telling me what a good job I was doing and that he was proud of me, so that helped me feel like I could conquer each phase of the rest of labor.
Finally, I reached a safe point in which I was allowed to push. This felt like I was finally getting some relief from the pressure on my hips (I found out later, the pressure was Finn’s position on my pelvic area). I had heard from several people that when the baby crowned, it felt like a ring of fire down there, so until Johnny Cash’s voice started singing that song in my head, I knew with each push that I wasn’t there yet.
Have you ever tried to hold your breath and then exert force? Well, that’s what pushing was like. I managed to push four times with each contraction, sucking in a breath and bearing down until I thought I’d pass out from lack of oxygen. Then I’d get a “breather” literally in between contractions. The midwife asked if I wanted to feel the top of Finn’s head. I really thought I might freak out if I realized there was actually a head coming out, so I declined. After 30 minutes of this 4-push a contraction cycle, ‘ole Johnny started singing the chorus, and I knew I’d see my baby in just a matter of moments. One last push got out his shoulders and the rest of his little body. Finally, our baby was here!
They laid him on my chest, and he started crying. After all this time, we finally heard his little voice. Ryan and I looked at each other and said I love you (Gag! I know!), but I couldn’t have done it without him encouraging me along the way. Obviously, my mom was a huge help as well…there were a few times, I couldn’t remember how to breathe and she coached me right through it.
So, there it is…our birth story…in one giant, oversized nutshell.