I woke up at 3:10 in the morning with a contraction. My first thought was that I had slept a long time before needing to get up to use the bathroom. Then I realized it wasn’t a full bladder that had woken me up, but a contraction. That had never happened before, and so I knew right off something was up. After the contraction ended, I got up, used the bathroom, and went back to bed. Just started drifting off to sleep when another contraction hit. Looked at the clock – it was 3:20. Still fairly mild, so I just waited for it to end and tried to go back to sleep. Another, stronger contraction came just a few minutes later, and they quickly picked up in regularity and strength. By 4, they were coming 3 minutes apart and needed my energy to cope.
So I woke up Darrin, and asked him if it was a good day to have a baby. He just said “What?” and rolled over. I shook him again and said “I’ve been having contractions, Darrin” he just mumbled “OK” and didn’t quite seem to get it until I said “I’m in labor!” I decided to get in the shower both to help with the contractions and to get ready to go to the hospital. In the bathroom before getting in the shower, I thought we might not even make it out of the house. Several very strong contractions, accompanied by strong nausea and rectal pressure, came one right after the other. But after I was able to have several bowel movements, it eased off & I got in the shower. I’d had recurring dreams during my pregnancy that I was in the shower and suddenly found myself crowning, and so I couldn’t really relax in the shower thinking it might happen, so I quickly got out and we called Darrin’s mom to come be with the kids and paged Linda to meet us at the hospital. By this time, the contractions were 2 minutes apart if I was standing or moving about, a little more spaced out if I sat down. Darrin was massaging my back and I was moaning through them.
We left for the hospital about 5:00, and I was surprised to see snow on the ground as we left. Fortunately, the roads were clear, and it was a mercifully quick trip there. Linda met us at the door & we went directly to a room. I think we got there around 5:30. I was checked and found to be 5 cm, 100% effaced and at a 0 or -1 station. That was about what I had expected. We did a 20 minute strip on the monitor with Darrin straddling the bed behind me rubbing my back as I leaned against him. (Wish I’d had him shave, because I kept wanting to rub my cheek on his, but he was too scruffy!) and Linda rubbing my feet and ankles. As soon as the strip was over, I got in the tub. I think it was around 6 am at this point. I tried lying on my back in the tub, but it became very obvious very quickly that wasn’t going to work, and I flipped into a side lying position. At first, I flipped the wrong way so I was facing Darrin, and he couldn’t reach my back to rub it like I wanted. So after that contraction ended, I flipped over again, this time facing away from him so he could rub my back. The only problem with this was that I was facing the wall and couldn’t make eye contact with anyone. But Darrin was good about keeping one hand firmly on my shoulder and talking to me the whole time so that I could feel connected. Darrin & Linda poured water over me & kept me relaxed. I could tell things were progressing quickly as the contractions picked up once again in intensity and I started feeling lots of pressure in my lower back. Before long, with each contraction all I could do was go totally limp and moan deeply. I needed lots of pressure on my back, and Darrin pressed on my sacrum while Linda reached across and pressed my knees. I also could not keep my legs together, as it really hurt my pelvis, so Linda supported my upper leg through each contraction. Darrin also had to keep my head above water as I wouldn’t do it myself. During each contraction, I could really see and feel my belly changing shape. My belly got narrower and longer. Brynn also seemed to be trying to dive her way out of there by planting her feet at the fundus and stretching out full length, which really hurt. She kept doing it during contractions. At this point, I just kept thinking “I don’t want to do this part anymore, I just want to skip to nursing her!” The jets were really irritating me, as they kept hitting right on my nipples, and the sensation was driving me crazy. (The next day as I got in the shower, I had a major “DUH!” moment as I realized that the nipple stimulation could have been part of the reason why it was so intense.) After about an hour in the tub, I was feeling the whole classic transition signs, nausea, burping, shivering, etc. but I couldn’t believe it yet, because it seemed so fast. Then the urge to push came, and suddenly I HATED the water. With the next contraction, I tried to get up on hands & knees, but Darrin started counterpressure before I could get my knees under me and I slipped down into the water again, so we resorted to the position we had been doing before.
After that contraction, I got out and was sitting on the toilet drying off, and the urge to push was incredibly strong. I pushed through a contraction there, and then asked for another exam since I was still in denial. I was complete, but with a small lip, so I just decided to do what felt right. A sidelying position similar to what we’d done in the the tub worked really well at first, and I pushed for a few contractions that way. But then the urge to push went away completely, and I didn’t want to be on my side anymore. But I didn’t know what I wanted to do. They checked me again, and found the lip had swollen a bit. Tried to hold it out of the way during a contraction, but that was horrible & I told them to stop. I decided to try hands & knees, but a contraction hit before they could get the end of the bed up, and I just knelt there demanding something to lean on NOW! A quick thinking nurse grabbed my birth ball for me & I was able to cope better once I was draped over it. Darrin was doing a sacral lift which helped tremendously, and I found myself doing a sort of pelvic tilt pivoting against the heel of his hand during contractions. Got through several more contractions this way, but then the worst one hit. An incredibly long one, lasting through what seemed like three contraction lengths, but never letting up much. It peaked three times. Once I stopped moaning to moisten my mouth, and Darrin stopped pressing & Linda stopped rubbing my leg, because they thought it was over. I made it very clear that it wasn’t & we just kept dealing with it. It was the most difficult point in the whole labor for me. But after that contraction, the urge to push returned, so it must have been just what I needed to get rid of that lip. I tried pushing in that position, but it just wasn’t working, so I went back to the sidelying position that had worked so well for me so far. That was definitely better, and with the next contraction, my water broke. But it was a high leak, and there was still a pocket in front of Brynn’s head. Kept pushing, but I wasn’t feeling her move down as I had with my earlier labor. But as Linda kept reminding me, with every contraction I kept asking for counterpressure at a lower and lower place, so she was definitely moving down. I started to feel intense pressure on my pubic bone, and I knew I had to push her past it, so I wanted to move my lower leg, but Darrin was in the way & I couldn’t make the words during that contraction. After the contraction, I repositioned my leg and it helped tremendously. In the very next contraction, I felt her slip past it and suddenly felt the sensations of crowning. Linda asked if I wanted the bulging bag broken, and I did, just wanting to be done. She did, and as it popped, it suddenly felt as though Brynn’s head slipped down an inch and doubled in size. I wanted to know where she was, so I reached down and could feel the top of her head just inside. After the next contraction, which I could tell had moved her a lot, I reached down again and her head was bulging through quite a bit, almost to the tips of her ears. The next few contractions were tough, as I just tried to ease her head out and not push too hard. Finally during the third contraction this way, her head came out.
During the next contraction, her shoulders were a bit slow, because her cord was around her neck. It went from her belly button up around her neck and back down the front of her again. Darrin said it sort of looked like an Olympic medal around her neck. Linda just moved it aside and then had me finish catching my daughter. I brought her up on my belly as I rolled over to my back a bit. She was so small! She lifted up her head and looked at me, then laid down again. I started rubbing her back and the nurses started drying her off, and suddenly she peed all over me! It made me laugh. Once the cord stopped pulsating, I cut it and then was able to move Brynn around to better look at her. She is just beautiful! Fuzzy reddish hair, fair skin, big eyes! I held her for about 2 and a half hours before letting anyone else have a chance at her. I put her within range of nursing to see if she wanted to, but she just wanted to lick and taste a bit. Later, when I was talking to Darrin and not paying attention, she just latched herself on beautifully and nursed for nearly an hour. When I was needing to get up and empty my bladder, Darrin took her and helped with the bath & newborn assessment, all of which was done bedside. She never left my sight the whole time we were there. I had a very small tear, didn’t even need to be sewn.
She was born at exactly 8 am, weighed 6 pounds, 5 ounces and was 20 inches long. We left the hospital about 6:30 that evening and Brynn & I spent most of the day snuggled up skin to skin on my chest.
Brynn is in high school now, and I find it hard to believe that my baby is growing up! She loves to be on stage, either in plays or singing in the madrigal and a capella choirs.