After 16 days on bed rest, I was starting to go really stir crazy. I was on a twice a week schedule with the OB. Every Monday and Thursday I got an ultrasound to check the baby’s fluid, an NST (non-stress test) to check the baby, and Monday’s included a cervical exam to check my progress. On the Monday before the birth, I was 1 cm dilated and 80 effaced. This was the same as the week before and I was so frustrated that I had not made any progress!Tuesday evening I did not feel super great and remember my legs not working for awhile before bed. I was not having any contractions or any other signs of labor. I went to bed at midnight. I was up to pee at 2 am, 4 am, and again at 6 am. I felt fine as I walked to the bathroom at 6 am and as soon as I turned around to sit, but before I got my PJs down, my water broke in a big gush. I remember thinking “Oh my God, my water is breaking! Oh my God, it’s STILL breaking! I am definitely not peeing myself, my water is actually breaking!”
After I finally did get to pee, I woke Todd up and told him my water broke. He got up faster than I’ve ever seen and asked what we needed to do. I had him call the doctor. I wanted to take a shower and wash my hair before we went to the hospital and Todd asked the doctor if we had time. She asked if this was my first, he said yes, and she said we had plenty of time. I knew we had time, but knew labor would go quick so still hurried.
While I was in the shower, Todd called my Mom and our Doula, Janel. As I was showering I started having contractions. They were about an minute apart from the get go! My bag was already packed and in the car (and had been for a few weeks) and we were at the hospital around 7:15 am. I had pre-registered so I was in my room pretty quickly. Around 8 am Mom and Janel arrived and stayed in the room for the whole labor and delivery. Janel brought me coconut water and I drank it during the whole labor. I was very disappointed to find out that my doctor, Dr. Begley, was not in that day. It would be either Dr. Eastman-Gallo or Dr. Roos.
They decided it would be Dr. Eastman-Gallo because she was the one on call that night…even though I told them it would be a short labor and that I’d deliver early that afternoon. I said early that day that I thought I’d deliver between 1pm and 2pm, but closer to 2. I had also predicted that I’d delivery about 3 weeks early (I delivered 3.5 weeks early, so pretty close) and that my labor would start with my water breaking (and that I would not need to be induced).
My contractions were still about a minute apart but were getting a little stronger. I had my first cervical check around 9 am and I was 2 cm and 90% effaced. I sat on the birthing ball some but was mostly in the rocker that was in the room. When I was in the rocker I could focus on Long’s peak which was beautifully snow capped.
I was able to stay very calm and focused and relaxed through the contractions. I never felt anything I’d call pain during contractions, it was just hard work. The closest I can come to describing the sensation was just a tightening, like holding an ab crunch. It was exhausting, but not painful.
The contractions were still a minute or so apart and lasting longer and getting more intense and while I was still not in any pain, I asked for an epidural around 9:30 to get a break. I was worried that I’d run out of steam and wouldn’t have the energy to push when it was time.
The anesthesiologist was in a c-section and not available. I kept on laboring and just waited. I was now getting worried that he wouldn’t be available in time. Around 10 am, I had another cervical check and I was 5 cm and totally effaced! Progressing quickly!!!
He finally made it around 11 am. Everyone except for Todd was kicked out of the room. It took 4 tries to get the epidural in!!! The anesthesiologist had to call in the other anesthesiologist to help. Apparently he was using too small of a needle for the catheter. The whole epidural experience was not a good one and one I regret…especially since I did not want it for pain. Along with the epidural I had to get an IV for fluids and a foley catheter.
The epidural was finally in after an hour and Mom and Janel were let back in the room. Another cervical check around noon and I was 10 cm!! Despite the 4 tries, even once it was in, the epidural never took. Thank goodness I didn’t need it for pain!! I started needing to push around noon and got into bed, from the rocker.
I felt so hot and Todd kept cool wash clothes on my forehead and Janel gave me latex gloves filled with ice to hold. I remember thinking that the ice in my hands felt a lot like the cold sponges they handed out on the course during my half ironman. I kept wanting the coconut water, which was heaven and I don’t think I could have don’t labor without it!! I pushed and pushed with every contraction. Mom held one leg and Janel held the other. Todd stayed at my head with the cool clothes.
The contractions were right on top of each other and sometimes there was no break between them. None of my contractions ever had that build up, peak and wind down I kept hearing about. They were either 100% or not at all. This became especially exhausting during pushing. I needed to get a breath and hold it when I pushed and they came on so strong and suddenly that I did not have time to take a big breath to hold which made the first push of each contraction pretty useless. The second one was the “good” one.
After about 30 min of pushing, Sue, my awesome nurse (who had been a midwife in the UK) suggested that I push on my side. The baby’s head was not tucked and needed to reposition a bit so he could come out. After awhile I was back on my back, pushing. Still no pain, just lots of pressure! I could feel the baby coming down and that was some serious pressure.
Around 1 pm, Dr. Eastman-Gallo came in to stay – she had been in an out before this time. I kept pushing with every contraction and was getting tired, but keep going. The only pain I felt during the whole labor and pushing was when the Dr. had her hands in around the baby’s head. I remember telling her to “get your hands out!” Baby head was moving down and finally crowned. Dr. had me do half pushes while he came out to the delivery was very controlled. I remember thinking, when the head was out “wow, this should hurt more! I can feel everything very distinctly, but it doesn’t hurt!”
Thatcher was delivered right to my chest at 1:37 pm. He had a very pronounced cone head from the nearly 2 hours of pushing but was just perfect. He cried just a teeny bit and was very calm. He had a look like “hey, where am I and what is happening?” He is perfect!!
Thatcher stayed on my chest for about an hour. During this time I delivered the placenta (about 5 min after Thatcher) and the Dr. repaired the 3rd degree tear I got. I remember her saying “good thing you got the epidural so I could do this repair!” I kept telling her that it didn’t take and that I could still feel everything. I felt every pull, needle pierce and thread pull.
When all the repairs were done and I’d had an hour of bonding time with Thatcher, he was taken across the room to get weighed, measured, his vitamin K shot, eye ointment and first bath. We all looked on in shock as he rolled over completely onto his side on the bassinette!! He was so relaxed and calm and didn’t cry at all! 7 lbs, 13 oz and 20.5 inches long…pretty huge for a preemie!! His apgar was 8, which was great. Apparently, a 9 is a perfect score in Colorado because of the altitude (harder for babies to get oxygen so hands and feet don’t pink up right away). He would have had a 9, but his suck reflex was missing.
When he was all cleaned up, he got some bonding time with Dad and I got cleaned up. The nurse walked me to the bathroom and showed me how to use the bidet bottle that I’d need to use for the next few weeks. Apparently, my legs should have been a little wobbly from the epidural…they were not even a little wobbly. Further evidence that the epidural did not take at all! She also gave me a huge maxi pad and a baby diaper filled with ice (worn like a pad) for my lovely hospital issue disposable mesh panties. Those ice diapers where the greatest thing ever for the next 2 days…no pain at all!
As soon as I was out of the bathroom, we got packed up and moved to our post-partum room. It was my first wheel chair ride ever! Thatcher, like all the babies at Exempla, roomed in the whole stay, which was super!