birth story, part 2: active labor

See part 1 here

Monday night Carlos and I attempted to go to sleep at our normal time around 10pm. I was still contracting every so often, just often enough that I couldn’t quite get to sleep before the next one came. They weren’t terribly uncomfortable or painful and I had no trouble breathing through them. I spent the first hour in bed breathing, visualizing, and opening my body up through them, then I propped my back up and listened to my early labor Hypnobabies track. With that, I actually got some rest it seemed and woke up as the track ended. Carlos was sleeping next to me and I really felt the contractions had picked up in intensity and frequency. It was about 1:00 am at this point on Tuesday,Oct 22 at 41w2d pregant.

I started timing my contractions in a very archaic way – on my iPhone notes app. I kind of hated doing this as it went against my coping mechanism which was to relax and breathe through it (and repeat to myself various hypnobabies prompts peace, open, release, etc). Instead I had to grab my phone, hastily type the time, then release through it. It just felt wrong to me to time them and analyze them instead of just going with it.

contraction timing

contraction timing

After over an hour of this, I woke Carlos up and told him I thought they were getting more regular and asked him if we should call our doula. He knew I was having regular contractions the night before and wanted to time them for another half hour before calling. I was fine with that. The contractions continued and were getting closer together, so he agreed and we called Michelle, our doula. Michelle answered half-asleep of course as it was about 2 am at this point. She asked us how long the contractions were lasting, I had no idea. I didn’t think they were very long, maybe a half a minute at most, but I happened to have one while Carlos was talking to her and they were well over a minute long. (Evidence that my strategies were working with getting through contractions!). She counseled us to download one of the contraction apps, time with that for an hour and call her back if they continued.

Carlos downloaded an app on his phone to make timing contractions easier and we set to monitor them from 2:30 on. I told him when they began and ended and he tracked them. I much preferred this to trying to type them myself, it gave me freedom to move however I wanted, though I didn’t really like announcing contractions. After we finished timing the hour, Carlos found a way to email the history to me, which I thought was silly at the time but now I kind of adore that email in my inbox.  Below is the contraction chart.

My contraction history is below :

StartTime Duration
Oct 22, 2013
3:47 AM
00:48 06:27
Oct 22, 2013
3:41 AM
00:57 11:04
Moved around a bit right after the last one.
Oct 22, 2013
3:30 AM
00:56 07:39
This one felt stronger than most of the previous.
Oct 22, 2013
3:22 AM
01:00 06:46
Oct 22, 2013
3:15 AM
00:54 01:20
Got some tightness immediately after this because I laid down, but didn’t track it.
Oct 22, 2013
3:14 AM
00:53 04:39
Got up to pee and then this happened
Oct 22, 2013
3:09 AM
01:12 03:49
“Here’s one, I guess” before it started.
Oct 22, 2013
3:05 AM
00:41 05:37
Oct 22, 2013
3:00 AM
01:10 02:39
Oct 22, 2013
2:57 AM
00:30 03:18
This one is weird.
Oct 22, 2013
2:54 AM
00:54 07:10
Oct 22, 2013
2:47 AM
01:20 08:42
Oct 22, 2013
2:38 AM
01:16 00:00

We called our doula back and let her know contractions were continuing and both her and my husband were on the fence on whether it was time to go to the hospital or not. While they were on the phone going back and forth, the contractions were getting more intense and I started feeling sick to my stomach. At this point I felt like it was time to go in to get checked out. Carlos and the doula were both okay with that and Michelle asked us to call back after we were checked in and let her know how things were progressing. We were fine with that plan, even if this was labor I figured it was still early and we would be lucky to have the baby that day with the way things progressed (or didn’t progress) with my son’s birth.

At this point, Carlos called his Mom to have her come over and care for Leopold that day so we could head over to the hospital. Carlos showered, took the dog out and did other last minute things to get ready to go. I didn’t shower, I figured there would be no point. I was still feeling sick and I almost didn’t even bother brushing my teeth I felt like I was going to vomit. I did and I didn’t immediately puke. I washed my face, put on some yoga pants and we headed out the door when Carlos’ mom showed up right around 4:15. I cried on our way out the door that I would miss Leopold, and nothing would be the same for our little family after that. I felt bad leaving Leopold without saying goodbye and knowing that things would never be the same after that.

We started the 40 minute drive in our mini-van off right, with Carlos stopping before we even made it out of the neighborhood so I could puke in the grass, haha. I wasn’t in a lot of pain, just felt sick to my stomach. I was afraid our trip would be full of stops so I could puke, but thankfully the rest of the trip was uneventful. I continued having contractions and breathing through them. I didn’t like not being able to move and sway with them, but it definitely wasn’t horrible. Carlos called the hospital and let them know we were on our way. It was a quick trip in and we made it there around 5 am.

We valeted the car, I waved off the wheelchair and headed up to L&D triage. They put the monitors right on and I promptly had a mondo contraction that caused lady baby’s heart rate to drop down to 100. Suddenly there was oxygen on my mouth and I was instructed to lie on my left side to see if her heartrate would come back up. Thankfully it did and the rest of the contractions were tolerated just fine by lady baby. I answered a million other questions through the oxygen mask and would pause and stop answering during a contraction. An IV was placed – after a miss on my left arm, it ended up in my right hand which was a bit annoying.

One of the nurses checked me and I was 3-4 cm and 90% effaced. This was good progress, though of course I wished I was further along. The contractions kept coming (I was always scared I’d show up at L&D and they would suddenly stop) but they kept on coming regularly. I was moved down to a room in L&D, got a new nurse, and placed in a much more comfortable bed there. At 7 am, we met our new day nurse, Amanda. She was young and had liquid eyeliner on at 7 in the morning. I kind of thought she was going to be a obnoxious but I ended up really liking her, she was very easy going, supportive of a med-free labor, and just let me do my thing. I wasn’t hooked up to the wireless monitors yet, so I had to stay in bed, but I was fairly comfortable laboring there for a while. She set up my IV antibiotics since I tested Group B strep positive. I could feel them burn a tiny bit going in, but it wasn’t bad. I labored in bed until the antibiotics were through.

My doctor came by to check me around 8 am and I was amazed when he said I was already at 7 cm! He made a joke to the nurse that she might be the one to catch a baby that day. The doctor went ahead and broke my water then, unfortunately there was meconium in it as often happens with overdue babies (41w2d), so he let me know that the NICU team would be there when I delivered to evaluate the baby and many of the things we planned to do right after birth were off the table (delayed cord clamping, Carlos cutting the cord, immediate skin to skin, etc). I was bummed that we had another thing to deal with, but kept calm that we were in good hands and all would be okay.

My doula still hadn’t shown up, I think she like us figured that things would go a lot more slowly for me based on the way things went with Leopold’s birth (induction, 3 cm dilation in over 24 hrs, c-section). Carlos texted her as soon as we heard I was at a 7 and she said she was on her way. My nurse set me up with the wireless fetal heart rate and contraction monitor at this point and I hopped on the birthing ball. I was managing well, relaxing and breathing through the contractions. Michelle, our doula, arrived around 9. I told her I was feeling labor a lot in my back and she suggested I get in the shower. (The monitors were also waterproof). We paged the nurse who covered up my IV (I had fluids going in) and I hopped in the shower with my back towards the jets. During each contraction, I would sway back and forth so the jets sprayed on my back just right. The alarm on my IV pole kept going off if I angled my hand a certain way, so I had to focus on keeping my hand down so the fluids could keep going in. The fetal monitor also slid off a few times and I had to hold that in place.

I’m not sure how long I was in the shower, but suddenly the water went from feeling amazing to intolerable. My legs felt like jello and the heat was too stuffy and I had to get out of there. Carlos was there to help me dry off and get my gown on again. I had a few contractions during this where I just leaned on Carlos to get through them and my legs simply didn’t want to work anymore. I didn’t say much during this, except to tell Carlos to dry off my hair that kept dripping down my back.

I went back into the room and got back on the birthing ball, Michelle showed Carlos how to massage my back with a tennis ball (which felt awesome). I stayed there for a while, then made my way to the bed where I was sitting bent forward so he could massage my back. Around 10:30-10:45 I think, my nurse came back again to check me and start the second dose of IV antibiotics. I was at 9.5 but with a bit of a lip. They said a few more contractions and let the antibiotics run through, then I could start pushing. I couldn’t believe we were so close meeting our daughter!


2 thoughts on “birth story, part 2: active labor

  1. I had to giggle at your old school ctx timer – I had actually downloaded an app on my phone prior to go-time, but when I used it, I was sure I was doing it wrong since it showed ctxs only 3 min apart so I quit using it after awhile. Denial is a funny thing. 🙂

    It’s so cool that your body progressed and DID IT this time. Yay!!

  2. Pingback: birth story, part 4: reunited | Mellow in the Midwest

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