**First, a disclaimer...I used to work maternity, so I freely pratter on about mucus plugs, pooping, placentas and the like. As I live in a family of nurses, such talk is dinner table fodder around here. If such talk bothers you, you may want to skip this one. I haven't even started writing it yet....I just know myself. :)
Also, before you are impressed with my super memory powers, you should know that I was actually keeping a journal during most of my labor....otherwise I would have forgotten most of it I'm sure. Because of all the detail, I'm sure this will be pretty long...but hey, it was three days, after all.
May 26, 9:30pm- I'm reading Prince Caspian to Maria when strong contractions start. I've been having Braxton-Hicks contractions every night for weeks but are were different. They're so strong I was having trouble reading through them. I say nothing to Maria because I don't want her to get all wound up and not sleep.
10:20pm- Maria's in bed and so John and I start timing contractions. They're 6-8 minutes apart and still stronger than any BH contractions I've had.
11:30pm- We decide to lay down and try to sleep. We're both tired and if this is it than we need some rest. With the BH contractions laying down always made them stop, but this time they keep going strong.
May 27, 12:15am- I can't sleep a bit...too wound up now. We decide to get ready to go. John loads the car with our considerable baggage...we have to pack for the kids to stay at my parents for several days, as well as all of our own gear. I clean the kitchen, bag up the trash for the curb, call the midwife and my mom, and make hotel reservations. We know my labors are very long, but we want to be close to the birthing center just in case and it is 2 hours away...my mom's house is very tiny, especially when my three kids are in it...hence the reason for the hotel reservations. It's a place to spend early labor.
1:30am- We load up the kids, trying to keep things sedate and quiet so that they will sleep on the way up. Haha! As if! They're excited and all wound up. My contractions have faded away, but once I am situated in the car they start up again. They are strong enough to make the car ride uncomfortable, and I'm glad we didn't wait.
3:00am- We arrive at my mom's with three wound up, wide awake kids. My Jackie sits on her couch looking very bewildered. I've never left him for anything close to this long before. He handles it ok, but I cry after leaving him, my big 3yo baby.
4:00am- We check into the hotel after some issues...the person at the desk has no record of our call for a reservation. The only room they have available is a smoking room. It stinks. And my cell phone won't work here. And I can't get the room phone to work either. So I'm irritated. We try to sleep.
7:00am- Contractions wake me up and I'm really disoriented and groggy. They must have puttered out some for me to be able to sleep this long. Still can't use the phone. I time some contractions. They are still 7-8 minutes apart. I pass some mucus plug though, and that is motivating. John is still asleep, but I'm awake and wired, and vaguely nauseous from the cig smell.
12:00pm- I managed to sleep some more after all, and the contractions have puttered out...supreme irritation. We have to make a decision about whether to check out from the hotel and stay another night. We decide to leave. We can always come back, hopefully to a nonsmoking room. We go to my mom's to hang out with the gang.
5pm- Contractions JUST NOW coming back. ARGGGHHH! While at my mom's I managed a very brief nap. The kids and John all had a good nap. Now we are rechecking into the hotel. It's obvious we have a long way to go still.
8pm- We had dinner in the hotel room, guacamole burgers from Sparky's, don't tell my raw foods vegan midwife, she'll probably fire me. We talk to John's parents by phone, and they want to know if we are considering a c/section. Sheesh! Why on earth would we do that? I mean, I know the waiting and all is irritating, but hardly reason for major surgery! I am having very strong contractions, strong enough to breath through, strong enough to make John rub my lower back, and I passed some more mucus plug. Progress!! Come on baby!!
May 28th 5am- Had contractions off and on all night, but not too strong. Now they are picking up again and I can't sleep anymore. I take a shower and send John out for some breakfast and coffee. I pass a TON of mucus plug while he's gone. Seriously, holy cow. I've never passed one before, you see...with Maria and Jack, my water broke very early, and I guess the mucus plug came out with that. So, it was kind of surprising, and impressive, I thought. I save it to show John when he gets back. I figured he'd be interested, you know, professionally...he's not. In fact, he's kind of grossed out. Whatever. Some people just can't appreciate the miracle of birth. While I'm sharing personal information, you should know that I am exceedingly constipated...have been during this whole time. I feel like the baby must have dropped down and be, like, blocking progress or something, you know?
7am- Contractions are 4-5 minutes apart, praise God, and stronger. I feel like TODAY'S THE DAY!
9am- We went to the birthing center to get checked by Becky, my midwife. She says I am a couple of centimeters dilated, very thin and soft cervix, but we still have a lot of work to do. She tells us to go walk, stay on my feet. I'm disappointed there wasn't more progress, but that's ok. I feel pretty good.
11am- We have been walking the walmart supercenter. This is a very small town, there's not a lot of places to go. So...I literally walked up and down every single aisle of this place. Walking *does* make the contractions stronger, and I have to stop walking with each contraction. Luckily the store isn't crowded. I see these little girly 4th of July baby outfits for $5 and wish I knew what I was having. I do find this book and buy it for the baby. We consider going back to my mom's but decide that might upset Jack. Ironically, my mom had called the birthing center (still no cell phone service) and found out that we had been sent to walk. She knows to head to the supercenter, and she and Maria find us there, which was pretty funny. I also buy some glycerin suppositories. My new theory is that I had it all backwards earlier...the *poo* is blocking the *baby*. (Ok, it sounds stupid now, but at the time it seemed rational.)
12:30pm- We go to lunch at Myrtie Mae's. This time I decide to be good and eat lightly from the salad and soup bar...I hope to be working hard soon. The contractions are so good that I have to time my trips to the bar so that I don't have a contraction on the way because I absolutely cannot walk with them at all. They are 2-3 minutes apart now. And I'm at Myrtie Mae's. Eating Italian Wedding soup. Come on, you gotta love natural childbirth. Tell me this doesn't beat the heck out of lying in bed hooked up to fetal monitors!
2:00pm- We are at the local library. It's very tiny, but in a neat old historical building. I used to live in this town, and once upon a time Maria was a toddler and I used to bring her here. I feel all nostalgic. I gather a handful of back issues of Mothering and sit down in a rocking chair. The contractions are still hard and 2-3 minutes apart, and weird to manage in such tight, quiet quarters. I realize that being in labor in public is kinda like being stoned in public (yeah, yeah...I wasn't always the saintly person you know today, big shocker, right?). You feel all paranoid like "everyone knows"...not that being in labor is a terrible illegal thing, like being high and driving to Whataburger at 2am...but still, most people would be kinda alarmed to find out that you are in *actual labor* right there next to them. I hold the magazine up high and kind of hide my face with it during the contractions. We are now leaving to go back to the birthing center to be checked again. I could stay here longer, it's comfortable and I'm enjoying the magazines, but our parking spot is only good for an hour. And I used the glycerin suppositories...nothing! ARGH!
5:00pm - I'm completely in despair. I was only 3-4 centimeters along and was sent back to the hotel. I cried all the way here. This feels like it is never going to happen. John is doing great at keeping things positive, but I am sinking. Thank God for his attitude, because if his was as lousy as mine we'd be in trouble. He leaves to get dinner. I decide the hell with eating lightly, this baby is obviously NEVER COMING ANYWAY and order a sausage and green pepper sub. Hah! Take that!
8:00pm- The contractions are HARD and fast. John has been sleeping, and I dozed a little, but then I got up and started laboring alone while he slept.... which sounds terrible, but it was good, actually. I mean, I could have woken him up if I wanted to, but it was actually very peaceful, just pacing back and forth in the dark hotel room by the light of the TV, leaning against the wall or the sink for the contractions...I feel very centered and calm now. I decide to call Becky and tell her I think she should check me one more time before we settle in for the night.
**My notes stop here...this is from memory...as you'll see, even though things have been so slow getting going, once they start, things happen FAST...***
She checked me around 8:30pm, and I was around 5 cm. dilated. She told us to stay. The reason she held us off so long is that by law she can only keep us under her direct care for so many hours before she has to refer us to the hospital for "failure to progress". So she was holding off as long as possible. I am unprepared for this and decide we need to replace some things that we have used up in the hotel rooms, mostly water and juice bottles. So, we run to walmart (again) for these. While there I decide we need some fruit. And some gum. John gets Almond Joys, and I scold him because Becky will chastise us for the sugar and tell him they are just for him, not for *me*. We also call my mom and tell her we are staying at the center now and hopefully there will be some news in the morning.
When we get back and settle in Becky tells us she's called the other midwife that will assist her and she'll be there in about an hour, and that we should go walk. The birthing center is next door to the hospital, so we cross the street and walk slowly around the outside of it. It's a very sticky, humid night and I am uncomfortable and sweaty, and my back has a low, dull ache all through it, but I know it is being on my feet that has brought my progress this far, so we keep going, stopping for contractions. It takes us a good 45 minutes to walk there, around the hospital, and back. When we get back, I decide I want to take a shower and change clothes. While sitting on the toilet before getting into the shower, I feel a big pop and goosh...my water broke! I yelled a little with surprise, which brought John to the door, but I assured John I was ok and getting into the shower.
After I cleaned up I lay down in bed with John. This felt great...my back was aching and I was tired...but the midwife warned me I should get up and walk some more. At this point the other midwife showed up and we introduced ourselves. I got back up and started passing around the center. This place is really just a house. The biggest bedroom is the only birthing room. We walked a loop through the kitchen and living room for, I don't know, maybe 20 minutes or so. My contractions were 2 minutes apart and changed during this time. The midwives heard the change...I started involuntarily grunting and moaning with each one.
I got back in bed and they checked me again...and I was shocked to find out I was 8centimeters! Things happened quickly after that and are kind of a blur for me. I had a some contractions in bed. I remember asking for a bowl as the dry heaves came (nope, I didn't actually throw up any sausage and pepper sub, surprisingly), and I got the shakes so bad my knees knocked together, and I thought, "Ah yes, hello transitional labor, my old friend,". The nurse in me actually announced this, "I'm in transition," and I remember one of the midwives laughing and saying, "OK." She was probably thinking, "Duh!, You think?" I was gone at this point, deep inside my own head and only vaguely aware of what was going on around me. John called my mom and told her it was time to head over with Maria. She was really shocked...it was around midnight at this point and we had just called her at 8:30 and told her we were going to walmart. The midwives were rushing around to finish setting up, and at one point I vaguely heard the loud, violent hissing noise of the oxygen tank along with alarmed voices as the midwives and John rushed out of the room. Apparently one of the nozzles had broken off the tank or something and the oxygen was leaking out. I just remember being surprised at being alone for a few contractions while they tried to fix the tank, gave up, and brought in a back up tank. Maria and my mom showed up, and I could hear them behind my shoulder. I was told later that Maria was a little white,,,I'm sure it was intimidating to walk into that scene. I was working really hard at that point and very withdrawn. I remember hearing my mom tell Maria that it was ok, she could go give me a hug, and I heard her say she didn't want to, and I could picture perfectly the expression she would have on her face, feeling kind of embarrassed and shy...I wanted to say something reassuring to her, I think I did say something, but I couldn't quite bring myself around to focusing on her. My mom took her into the other room until it was time to push.
Becky checked me again and said I had a just a lip left...that damned cervical lip. I'd had that with Jack. It's like pushing through broken glass. She asked me if I wanted to try pushing with her holding the lip out of the way, and I said absolutely not. I'd tried that with Jack and it was horrible. I just wanted to push past it when the time came. She encouraged me to get up and walk some more...my progress was stalling. I wanted to, because it did feel like it would be better that way, but I couldn't move, I felt inert and indecisive. I finally did sit up and had a couple of contractions on the side of the bed, holding onto John, and that was better. I got up and had a couple holding onto the wall, and that was better still.
I decided I needed to poo and moved into the bathroom to do so. Sitting on the toilet felt great and I started pushing. Becky expressed concern, but I told her I really just needed to poo. After a couple more pushes, she encouraged me to get back to bed in case this was the baby coming. I insisted I really just needed to poo and told her I had been constipated. I really didn't feel like going into my "poo blocking the baby theory" at that point, but I really believed I just needed to poo! A couple of pushes later, and suddenly I could feel that baby's head moving down. "Ok," I said, "I guess it's not just poo." There was a big commotion to get me off the toilet and back into bed. I wanted no part of this at first, I was quite happy to stay right there, but they convinced me I didn't really want to have my baby in the toilet. With what has been, to this point, the single most physically difficult task I have ever performed, I got on my feet and allowed John to half-drag me back to the bed as I shuffled and groaned with the sheer effort of trying to walk during such a time. I lay back down and immediately wished I was back on my feet. I felt too flat and awkward and couldn't get well-positioned, and it was too late to try to do much, the baby was coming whether I was comfortable or not and I was past articulating what I wanted. Maria and my mom came back into the room as I pushed a several more times. Pushing with this baby was definitely much more difficult than with the others. The pushing stage seemed to take longer and take so much more effort. The baby finally crowned, and the midwife had me gently push the head out, and then it took two more pushes to get the shoulders out. Tess was sluggish and purply at first...I'm sure it was all a lot of exhausting work for her too...and the midwife rubbed her down and suctioned her at my perineum until she started breathing on her own. My mom called out that it was a girl, and Maria was elated. Maria, btw, had done just fine with watching the baby being born...it was just the intensity of that transition stage that shocked her some. Then Becky plopped the baby, all hot and slippery, on my now empty belly. This was the first baby I actually got to hold right away,,,it was wonderful. I was still laying at an awkward angle and couldn't see her very well, but I rubbed her slick head and felt her plump legs as I tried to crane my head around. I was soon able to bring her up to my breast for her to try nursing. The angle was difficult, but she latched on for a bit and I got to stare into her swollen, red, beautiful face. Soon after that it was time to push the placenta out and John got to cut the cord. Becky announced proudly that I didn't even tear. Then she took Tess for a second to dry her off some more, wrap her in dry blankets, and put a hat on her, then she handed her back to me. I got some more pillows propped behind me and nursed a bit more. Then I passed her around to eagerly waiting family while I got up out of bed and cleaned up a bit. The midwives had everyone guess her weight. I guessed 8 1/2 pounds. Wishful thinking, I guess, on my part...that's the weight I was hoping for. Jack was 9'14, and I was hoping for anything smaller than him! She announced her weight,,,,10'15, and I was shocked. She didn't look that big to me. I don't know why, Jack looked huge, I immediately knew he was big, but Tess didn't look that big to me. Becky wanted me to eat and have some juice, so I did that, and then I dressed Tess in a gown and diaper. I marveled again at getting to have my baby with me the whole time and not taken away to a nursery.
Anyway, that's the story. She was born at 1:35am. My mom and Maria left soon after, and John, Tess, and I settled down in the king sized bed to sleep. I didn't sleep much. I was sweating like crazy and it was hard getting used to sleeping with a baby again. At one point I got up and slept in the rocking chair with Tess, with my feet on an ottoman, and that was easier than the bed. Later in the morning my mom came back with my dad and all the kids. We marveled at all her hair, and I decided to wash it and comb the goop out,,,she still hadn't had a bath. We were so surprised to see her hair, once wet, spring into dark curls!
We left the birthing center around 3 that afternoon, and I was very glad to be home in my own bed that night.