Afterwards, I couldn’t sleep because my lower back was hurting like crazy and I was nauseous and having cramps below my belly button. I ended up Googling early labor signs and started timing the contractions around 3 or 4am, when I was sure they really were contractions, as well as breaking out the Blackberry and “tweeting” a few updates on what was happening. When my husband’s alarm went off around 4am, I told him he might as well call out of work, because I was in labor and we were going to have a baby today instead. I was planning on waiting until my midwife’s office opened and going there first to see if I was in labor, but the contractions were pretty steady and 3-4 minutes apart, so Billy (my husband) woke up my mom while I took a shower, and we started loading up the car to go to the hospital. Over an hour passed and they were still coming about 3 minutes apart, so we figured we’d better go ahead to the hospital (everything I’d read or been told said to do so when contractions were 5 minutes apart for over an hour, and my mom and sister both had quick labors, so we were worried about waiting too late). I was a little confused because the pain wasn’t really bad, but the timing was so close I agreed it was better to be safe, and we left for the hospital a little after 6am.
I was still feeling pretty normal when I got to the hospital, and declined a wheelchair so I could walk to my own room. They checked me and I was only dilated 1cm and 70% effaced but, because I was having regular contractions they decided to monitor me to see what was going on and decide whether to admit me or send me back home. The monitor showed regular contractions about 3½ minutes apart, so they said I should stay a while and see what happened. Part of me wishes I had went home or went out and walked, but I stayed in the hospital instead, because I worried my mom would think I was sort of nuts for wanting to leave the hospital while in labor and go hit the track instead (my original plan had been to labor at home as long as possible, walk as much as I could, and try to wait until I was at least 6-7cm before going to the hospital, but I had no real way of judging that other than relying on timing the contractions). Around 7:50am, they told me to plan on staying, so I had my husband call my doula and tell her I was in labor. He also called the film crew (we were in one of the Discovery Health shows) to let them know to be ready, which turned out the be a pain in the butt because they kept calling back all day wanting to know how far along I was, when he was going to be born, etc, so they could make it there in time but not show up too early – if that was predictable, it would’ve saved everyone involved a lot of waiting and decision making.
I was trying to walk around and move as much as possible, to dilate more, and to get the contractions to pick up – they were still pretty regular, but not very strong feeling (then again, I have a high pain tolerance, and was afraid at first I might me underestimating them, because they were close together and looked strong on the monitor). A little past 10am, my midwife showed up and checked me. I was dilated to 3cm, 75% effaced, and the contractions were coming about 2-4 minutes apart, so they decided to officially admit me to the hospital. My doula had just arrived, and I was snacking on cheese, fruit, crackers, and Propel water to give me some energy, and using the hourly “breaks” when I was stuck in bed on the fetal monitor to update my status on Twitter.
I continued trying to walk the halls as much as I could, change positions, and sit/bounce on my birthing ball, but it seemed like every time I really got into a good rhythm or pattern my “hour” was up and I had to get back in bed for the fetal monitor. After 2pm, I was still only at 3cm. Baby & I were doing well, but I was getting impatient with my lack of progress, and feeling like all the laying in bed was slowing things down and I needed to be moving more. I kept thinking I would love to be able to go for a walk at one of the nearby parks – it was the first nice Spring day, 74 degrees outside, and sunny with a slight breeze. One of the nurses was really getting on my nerves, because she kept “forgetting” about me, and trying to keep me on the monitor 30-45 minutes out of the hour, then kept mentioning how I was headed for a c-section if I didn’t progress more, which was the last thing I wanted to hear at that time (she also got pretty bossy about some other things, which led to my midwife taking her aside and talking to her – things got better after that, whatever was said). I remember being so ticked off at one point that I told my doula if I heard the word c-section one more time I was going to go home and have the baby in my living room – at the time, I was half serious.
Around 9pm, the Discovery camera crew showed up to film part of my labor for the documentary. I was back in the birth pool at this point, so I just did the interview from their (in a swimsuit top and lycra skirt, so I was covered up). I don’t really remember much of the interview, just that I was glad it was done because Billy was getting ill that they kept calling, and it made me feel like he was mad at me because I was the one who’d agreed to the whole television thing.
Around 10:30, my midwife came and checked me again, and I was still at 3cm with no real progress. She recommended trying to rest and starting over again tomorrow. I think she know how frustrated I was getting, and she even offered to stay the night at the hospital, but I thought it was best for everyone to get what sleep they could in case tomorrow was another long day. At midnight, my husband took my mom back to our house so she could sleep, then came back to the hospital because I wanted him there with me overnight. My doula stayed with me until he got back because I was still having contractions every 3 minutes, just strong enough to keep me awake. When Billy got back, we decided it was best for her to go home and get some rest as well, and we’d see everyone in the morning and hope for some progress.
I didn’t get much sleep, but I tried to relax and put myself in a more positive frame of mind. About the time I was dosing off, around 3:30am, the nurse came in to put me on the monitor – I remembered my midwife saying not to wake me up, but she’d already woken me, so I figured it was easier to let them do it than to try to argue and end up waking my husband as well (he was sleeping like a baby the whole time). My midwife came in at 7:30 and checked me again. No change, but she said that not unusual since I had been relaxing in bed all night. She said she’d be back around noon to check me again. My doula had arrived a little beforehand, and she walked with me out in the hallway some more while my husband warmed up the birth pool again. I had planned not to get in the pool until I was past 5cm originally, but at this point labor wasn’t really going to slow down much more, and the warm water was helping me relax, which I needed badly. I was having regular contractions again from the walking, but was getting so tense and sore in my lower back – I wonder if all the tension wasn’t keeping my body from relaxing enough to open up. One crazy thing that started the night before and continued all day – I kept having to pee like crazy, but never felt like my bladder was emptying – it’s like everything in my body was just claming down and refusing to let go. My doula reminded me to keep drinking water to stay hydrated, and I ate a little more fruit, cheese, and crackers for energy, because I figured I’d be put on NOP (no food/drink) soon if I hadn’t made any progress. My husband talked to me some about the baby, name choices, etc, to try to distract me, but I felt like everyone had pretty much given up on any hope of a natural birth, and it was wearing me down and keeping me from getting into my “zone”.
My midwife came around 12:15pm, and I was still only at 3cm. I was 100% effaced and baby was still at -1 station, so she asked if she could break my waters as a last attempt to get things moving (we had agreed no pitocin, cytotec, etc ahead of time – I did not want any of these medications because of risks, and she did not like using pit for large babies or “failure to progress” because she said usually there was a reason if they were taking a while to come, and the meds just ended up causing distress and more problems in those cases). Because there was meconium in the fluid, I had to be kept on the monitor until the birth. I knew that if I hadn’t made any more progress or dilated further within 2 hours, then she’d call the doctor and plan for a c-section that afternoon. My husband and doula began emptying the birth pool and putting it away to make more space in the room, and I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to have my baby in the water, but hopeful that my labor would pick up and I’d still be able to have him vaginally, because the contractions certainly hurt much worse while stuck in bed (I had no pain medications during labor, didn’t really need/want them even at this point, but it was lot more uncomfortable not having the water or as much movement to help deal with things).
While I spoke with the anesthesiologist and signed the consent forms, my husband dressed in scrubs so he could go to the OR with me, and my doula explained to him what was going to happen, and tried to prepare him as best she could. They stayed outside the doors while I got the spinal, then my husband came in to be with me, and my doula went and got my mom so she could wait with her to see the baby.
My pediatrician came in and double checked with me about what procedures we did and did not want done in the nursery, so I am very glad she stayed. I had already discussed with her, and had in my birth plan, that we were not circumcising him or getting the Hepatitis B vaccination at birth, and that we were also declining the Vitamin K shot to give oral drops instead and wanting to delay the Erythromycin (eye drops) until after he’d breastfed (I didn’t want them at all, but was under the impression that they’re required by law because of one of NC’s administrative health codes). The nursery nurse had an issue with this and, when Billy told her we were declining all of the above and he wanted the baby to see more before getting the eye drops, threatened to call social services over it. The pediatrician told me I could decline it all and, if an issue was made of it, she’d speak up on our behalf, so she went back and told the nurse we were waiving everything but the PKU (heel stick) and blood sugar check (because of his size), and that he was to be brought to my room immediately. I am so glad she was there to help stick up for us, and that my husband never let the baby out of his sight.
I was kept in the hospital the next day for recovery from the birth and surgery, and was up walking around by that morning (no catheter, so after using a bedpan once because I couldn’t get up, I made my mind up to walk to the bathroom a couple hours later). Most of that day was spent bonding with my baby and nursing him every couple hours, trying to get some rest in between. The doctor came by to check on me, the pediatrician checked the bay, and my midwife came by (on her day off) to see how we were both doing. The next morning, I was walking around and sitting up a fair amount, baby and I were both doing well, so we were released to go home. My mom stayed for a few more days, and my husband had 2 days before he had to go back to work, then I was pretty much on my own during the day time. It was overwhelming at first, because it took a lot of time and energy trying to take care of a baby and recover from surgery, but in a way I was glad to have some alone time with the baby and a chance to get some rest.