I probably woke up a little before 5:00 am on June 16. I used the bathroom and then went back to bed. I laid awake in bed for a while, knowing that something felt different, but trying to go back to sleep. Eventually I got out of bed; it was 5:30. When I got up, I felt a little gush, but I assumed it was urine. I wasted some time on the internet and played around with timing contractions. I couldn’t always tell when they ended, which made me think they were just Braxton-Hicks. Still, they were pretty consistent and somewhere between 5-7 minutes apart.
Per my Bradley training, I ate breakfast, drank water, and took a shower. I figured the lying in bed earlier qualified as taking a nap. A walk was the logical next step. I decided to wake Mike up around 8:00. I told him I thought I was in labor and wanted him to go for a walk with me. It took him a while to wake up and understand what I was saying, but then he was ready to go!
I was excited but didn’t want to get too excited – I still thought it might just be “false” labor. Still, I wanted to give Bethany (our doula) some notice since I figured she would be heading to church at some point and would have to make the hour drive if this was the real thing. I felt like I didn’t “know” it was the real thing, so I thought it might not be, and I didn’t want to get everyone worked up for nothing. Mike and I even discussed going to church ourselves, but I wanted to do the walk first to see what would happen.
We called Bethany and told her what was going on. She was going to take a nap, having just gotten home from another birth. I felt a little bad. We agreed to keep her updated following the walk.
Mike and I walked around the block a couple times. I had contractions that were definitely more intense than they had been previously, and they were getting closer together. I preferred to not talk during the contractions, although I probably could’ve if necessary. I found that anything that required some brain power and effort was difficult, including making the decision to stop walking.
After the walk, I thought the contractions might be bad enough to qualify as labor. I texted and then talked to Bethany. I had to stop talking during one of my contractions, and we agreed that Bethany should head our direction. After I got off the phone, I did some tailor sitting and some side lying. Contractions slowed down considerably. I was disappointed. Maybe this wasn’t the real thing after all. Bethany showed up and I was lying behind the chair, feeling like a fool for making her drive that far for nothing. She suggested a change in position, so we decided to go on a walk. Contractions picked up again.
When we got home, I sat on the ball and ate some yogurt, even though I wasn’t hungry. I continued drinking water. The ball wasn’t firm enough and Mike somehow managed to find the pump.
From this point until the car ride to the hospital, my memory is kind of fuzzy. I remember lying in bed, but I started leaking badly (I had been leaking a bit all day, but it wasn’t continuous and never very much, so Bethany had suggested it was just mucus) and didn’t want to get the bed all gross, so I got back up. I remember lying outside. I remember using the bathroom a lot. I remember being so uncomfortable. The pain was still tolerable. Apparently I laid in bed again – I don’t remember that at all.
At one point Bethany asked if I was ready to head to the hospital. I didn’t know how far along I was; I didn’t know if that was a good idea or not. I was bent over the recliner, sitting on the floor. We decided to go to the hospital. I know Mike was running around getting things together, but everything was fuzzy.
We got to the car. I guess I had two contractions between the living room and the garage. We were going to wait until the end of the contraction to start the journey, but Bethany and Mike decided to just drive. At that point, I didn’t really care where I was. I wanted to be done.
We got to the hospital. The car ride sucked – I’m glad it was only three minutes long. Mike tried to drop me off at the door, but I didn’t want him to leave me. We argued briefly, but he agreed to park in a spot. I didn’t know if I would make it from the parking lot to the building. I leaned on Mike through contractions in the parking lot and the elevator. By the time we made it to the third floor, I just wanted to be somewhere other than where I was. I think we were stopping during contractions at first, but we eventually just kept walking through them. No one was in the reception area. We were stopped in the hallway – it seemed so long. I remember thinking I was loud and wondered why no one was coming to check on us. Mike and Bethany guided me down the hall. We passed some people, but I couldn’t register who they were.
We got to a room. There was a lot of activity. I didn’t know what to do with myself. The nurse asked me about checking fetal tones. I didn’t really care what she did. I ended up on my hands and knees on the bed. Dr. Lipinski came in and checked me. I was at 7 cm. I didn’t know if I could go another 3. People said things to me; I have no idea what. Somehow I ended up in the tub. I didn’t really care what happened to me anymore. The pain was awful. I tried to claw my way up the tub wall. I was switching back and forth between hands and knees and sitting back on my legs, but there wasn’t any position that felt good, only pain. The one thing I had in mind (which was also true earlier in the day) was to keep my vocalizations low. This was a tip Bethany had shared in one of our prenatal meetings, and one of the things I found most useful in labor. I know I lost control at least once in the tub and started screaming, but I tried hard to focus on staying low.
I guess it was time to get out of the tub. I couldn’t make it anywhere. I fell to my hands and knees. I crawled to the bed – I had to get there for some reason. I was totally out of it. I don’t know how high the bed was, but they made me wait until they lowered it. I think I got on my hands and knees again. Dr. Lipinski checked me again. I was at 9 cm, and I heard something about an anterior lip. I couldn’t believe I wasn’t there – I needed to push. I needed the pain to go away.
Dr. Lipinski must have left. The midwife came in and asked if she could help if Dr. Lipinski couldn’t make it back. I didn’t care who got the baby out. I was on my knees clutching the back of the bed, which was raised. I know I lost control screaming at least once more, but I was still trying to keep my vocalizations low. It was so hard. I heard the midwife say I was in the perfect position to get the lip out of the way. I knew I was pushing – I couldn’t stop it. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be.
Dr. Lipinski said I needed to flip over if I wanted the baby on my chest after the delivery. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get there, but I wanted that immediate skin-to-skin with the baby. I have no idea how I got onto my back. I was sitting upright against the top half of the bed. I remembered to put my chin against my chest and that I should be grunting. I thought the baby should be almost out, but it wasn’t even close. Dr. Lipinski asked if I wanted to feel the head. I reached down and couldn’t believe how far I had to go – I couldn’t even tell for sure that it was a head. There was so much pressure. All I felt was pressure and pain. I didn’t want the baby to go backward. I couldn’t consciously tell when the contractions were anymore, but I think I knew when to push somehow anyway. I felt like the baby was right there for so long. Why wasn’t it out yet? Dr. Lipinski said she thought it would be out with one more contraction. That was mostly meaningless to me, but I knew it meant soon. I think it ended up taking one extra. Maybe it was that one; I have no idea.
They caught the baby and put her right on my chest. They had to check – it was a girl. She was crying and purple-ish. We had a baby! There was still a lot of pressure. They said it was the placenta. It didn’t seem to take that much longer to come out, and it wasn’t nearly as hard as delivering a baby. I didn’t really have to do anything at all. After the placenta came out, they said the umbilical cord wasn’t doing anything and asked to cut it. Mike did the honors.
Everything was still kind of blurry. We couldn’t get the baby to feed. They took the baby away for measurements. Dr. Lipinski stitched me up – only a small tear with one (running) stitch. She said I didn’t need Pitocin; I was relieved.
They monitored me every 15 minutes for two hours. Bethany left and we got to hold our daughter. After the two hours were up, I got to get in the tub. I never wanted to get out. I got Mike to join me in the bathroom with our daughter. We discussed names; neither of us wanted to make the decision. We decided to name her Sydney; I didn’t think our other name choice fit. I figured I should get out of the tub. I was sore but it was bearable.
The rest of the hospital stay is a blur of loving and learning. We learned techniques for breastfeeding, bathing, and otherwise caring for Sydney. We cuddled her. I cannot believe how quickly the time flew by. We really had the most amazing birth experience. It was so painful, but it was so worth it. The pain fades, and you’re just left with the “worth it.”