Hannah was due Wednesday January 6th, but when we went to the doctor that afternoon I was only 2-3 centimeters dilated, so we didn’t figure she’d be coming soon. We even scheduled an induction for Tuesday January 12th, my mom’s birthday. We went home, had pizza and hung out.
I woke up at 2:30am and was having cramps. I’d been having them for the past couple weeks, especially the few days before, but usually they didn’t wake me, or I could fall back asleep easy. These were happening more often. I wasn’t too uncomfortable, so I laid in bed and found a few iphone applications that track contractions and downloaded them. For about half hour I tried to time the cramps, but I couldn’t really tell when they stopped or started, so I figured it wasn’t really contractions. I hadn’t had any braxton hicks, and I’d asked the doctor that afternoon if contractions felt like cramps and she said no. I figured this wasn’t the real thing, but since I couldn’t sleep I decided to take a shower. Then blow dried my hair. I still wasn’t terribly uncomfortable.
I came out to the living room and sat on the yoga ball and watched greys anatomy on netflix. I figured Adam would be getting up at 5am to bike before work, so I thought I’d wait till 4 to wake him, that way if it was a false alarm he’d only have missed an hour of sleep before having to work all day. At 4 I went and laid next to him in bed and said, “hey babe, I think I might be in labor.” He woke up and asked if my water had broken and I said no. Then he asked how far apart the contractions were and I showed him the iphone application I using. He came out to hang out on the couch with me while I watched tv. Then we decided he should probably finish packing his part of the hospital bag (he needed to pack a change of clothes and laptop, etc, stuff we didn’t want to leave in a bag for the last few weeks). He was going to do that and then hang out, but by the time he was done packing, like 4:20ish, he looked at the timer and decided it was time to page the doctor. We paged her and were supposed to wait 20 minutes for a reply, and then call if she didn’t call.
The doc hadn’t called back by 4:50 so Adam called and told her what had been happening and she told us to go to the hospital. I wanted to wait till 5am to call my mom, so Adam put the bags in the car. We tried to call my mom between contractions, but Adam was so tired he accidentally dialed his mom, who was very groggy and confused when she answered, and my contraction started so I just handed the phone to Adam. Hopefully he told her what was up and we’d call her later. Then we called my mom, it was funny because she answered the phone immediately and sounded like she’d been up for hours. We told her we were headed to the hospital and she said she’d meet us there.
I was getting more uncomfortable;e during the contractions, and we’d figured out that if I sat on the yoga ball and Adam pushed on my lower back really hard it helped a lot. I had one contraction in the car on the way to the hospital, that wasn’t fun at all, but Adam made some jokes to keep me distracted.
When we got there we had to park a ways from the elevator, but Adam very nicely carried our bags and let me waddle slowly. When we got to the info desk the guy working there just took one look at us and called labor and delivery, I think maybe he asked Adam something about us calling ahead and he said we did. We went over to the lobby couches to wait, but quickly a woman from admitting came and told us she’d take us to labor and delivery. She asked if I wanted a wheelchair and seemed surprised when I said no. I knew sitting would make me really uncomfortable. We made it to labor and delivery quickly but there weren’t any nurses at the nurses station, so the admitting woman just put us in a room in the triage unit. I guess that is where they check everyone before they get an actual room, to confirm they really are in labor.
She took some more information, I signed some consent to treat forms. At some point she left and a really nice nurse came in, and I got changed into a gown. The nurse had a bunch more questions about my medical history, then she got my hooked up to some monitors so she could track my contractions and Hannah’s heartbeat. It was hard because I had to lay in the bed for a little bit while they recorded several sets of contractions, and they hurt worse laying down. Adam kept rubbing my back which helped a lot. Laying down was rough and made me feel sick, but I felt better when I got to get up and move around. Eventually they’d recorded enough, and checked me and I was already dilated 4 centimeters, so 1 or 2 more than the doctors visit the day before. We were pretty excited about that.. The nurse helped us walk to our room in labor and delivery. My parents were there waiting outside the room, so they joined us in our new room.
I was uncomfortable during contractions, but not miserable, and still feeling pretty good between them. Mom and Dad took pictures and we all chatted. The nurse found a yoga ball for me, the first one was too soft, but they quickly found a firmer one. I’d sit on the yoga ball and Adam sat on a rolly stool, he’d put his arm on his knee and I’d squeeze it, and with his other hand he’d rub my back really hard. We did this for tons of contractions, I walked around in between, did a few contractions standing and rocking. My dad headed off to work. I don’t remember why, but I had to lay down again in the new room, maybe to get checked or get monitored. This time it made me feel even worse, I threw up a few times. I still had some of my sense of humor left so we laughed about how I’d made it ten years, and through an entire pregnancy without barfing. I have always had a bit of vomit phobia, working in the res halls helped since there was a lot of barfing drunk freshman so I had some more exposure to it. I’ve always gotten really upset and cried in the past when I’ve barfed, but not this time. It wasn’t a big deal at all. So kinda nice to have that realization.
My OB came through on rounds before she needed to go to work. It was maybe 5:45am when I got checked in triage and was 4 centimeters, it wasn’t even 8 am when my doc checked me and I was already 7 centimeters. Horay! She laughed about how she wasn’t going to get to head to work and come back later, so she left to call the office and tell them she’d be staying at the hospital until I delivered. We giggled about how we’d had our appointments rescheduled because she was delivering other peoples babies, so this was payback. She broke my water and said that should help things move along pretty fast. I couldn’t feel anything when she broke it, just the fluid coming out. It was clear which was super important, means the baby hadn’t pooped, and it also meant that they wouldn’t need to have special neonatal nurses there or take her away right after birth.
The labor was starting to be hard work, so I wasn’t so chatty anymore. It didn’t hurt between contractions, but I was pretty tired. I was alternating between doing contractions on the yoga ball, or on my hands and knees on the bed. Adam said I even fell asleep between one set of contractions, which were only like 30 seconds apart, he said I even snored for a couple seconds. I just remember a contraction starting and Adam giggling and asking if I had a good nap. During some of the really hard contractions Adam would start talking about Hannah to distract me. He’d talk about how excited we were to meet her, and wonder about what she’d be like and things she’d like doing. It really helped take my mind off the pain and put it back where it belonged, on getting Hannah into our arms.
I guess the last couple centimeters usually go a lot quicker than mine, mine took a couple of hours. My mom and the nurse were fantastic to offer suggestions for different positions we could try to help things move along. I tried having a few contractions in the shower, they had a little stool for me to sit on, and mom used the shower sprayer to put hot water on my back. I got the shakes pretty bad in the shower. It was really helpful having my mom and the nurse there because every time something happened they’d remind me how it was all a part of the process and that meant things were progressing just as they should be. A weird reality where barfing and shaking are encouraged and celebrated.
I tried doing some contractions squatting, Adam helped support me. I walked through a ton of contractions, that really helped with the cramping pain, but made the back pain worse, so I alternated that with being on my hands and knees on the bed. They made me a pillow tower to lean on. The nurse had gotten me a little portable fan, so Adam or my mom would point it on me for a few seconds and then I’d be good. I got really hot during contractions and cold between, so mom and Adam were constantly helping me put the robe on and take it off.
I was working pretty hard and got good at saying what I needed with just a few words. I would tell Adam to move his hand up or down or press harder or softer, say hot or cold if I needed the fan or robe. Then my mom would also just know things to offer without me even thinking of them. She got me juice, and water and even chapstick, which was perfect since I was panting and making my lips dry. She even figured out to run the water in the bathroom to help me start peeing when I needed to.
At some point I realized that I’d made it past the point where medication was a possibility, instead of freaking me out I was happy and proud. I really wanted to do it without meds, and now I knew that I would.
I’m usually pretty modest, and we’d learned in our Bradley class that modesty fades as you labor. I wasn’t sure how that would work for me, but it definitely was true. I was wearing a sports bra and half the time just wandering around in it and didn’t care at all since I was busy working hard. I mostly had my eyes closed since I was so tired, I remember people talking, but was too tired to open my eyes to see who was saying what. It was just mom, Adam, and the nurse most of the time. My doctor came and went a few times. She was great about checking my progress without making my lay down again since that was so uncomfortable. Then another nurse came in and they introduced her as the nurse for the baby.
The nurse had an idea that having me do some contractions on my sides would help Hannah move down and rotate, maybe help me dilate the last little bit. She help my leg between contractions and then during the contraction I’d pull my leg in really hard. We did this for a few contractions on both sides and it helped. The doc came and confirmed that I was fully dilated (10 centimeters). They were asking if I had an urge to push, I told them I didn’t know what that felt like, but didn’t think so. I was starting to realize that my labor experience was different that others, since the contractions never really felt like a squeezing from the top of my abdomen down like people say, and I never really felt an urge to push.
Someone asked if I wanted to try pushing and I said yes. I was tired, but excited that we were to the part where we’d be meeting Hannah soon. I had put in my birth plan that I’d like to try squatting for part of the delivery, so they hooked up this bar to the end of the bed so I could rest my armpit on it and take some of the weight off my legs while I squatted. I did this for a few contractions, but got too tired. I tried a contraction on my side, but that wasn’t comfortable. I tried some on my hands and knees but didn’t like that either. Eventually we found a good spot with me curled up like a C, sitting on my bottom with my feet up on the squat bar. During contractions I would pull my legs towards me and Adam and the nurse would help hold them in, then between contractions I could rest them on the squat bar.
I ended up pushing for about 2 hours. It was really hard work, but didn’t hurt between contractions. I had just enough time to pant a little and catch my breath before I’d curl up and push again. It was hard because she’d come down so far during each set of pushes, but then when I’d relax between contractions she’d go back up a little. They had gotten me a mirror so I could see her head when I was pushing, the doc was laughing about how much hair she had. That was the first thing we knew about Hannah.
It reminded me of a swim meet, every got all excited and was being super encouraging, like a cheerleading squad. No one was yelling push or breath, just really positive things like, “that’s perfect, just like that!” or, “you can do it, a little more!” The nurse had really good advice, she’d say to push the baby up towards the ceiling, and other specific advise. I would try and get a full breath between pushes so I could hold it in a bear down, but sometimes I’d forget, or be super tired and just get a small breath and then not be able to push very hard. I figured out that when a contraction was starting I could open my eyes and look at Adam and he would remind me to take a really big breath. It worked perfectly to have him right there reminding me what to do. After the delivery the doc mentioned how cool it was to watch us communicate, how clear it was that I trusted him and would listen and do whatever he suggested.
I was getting pretty exhausted and the doc suggested using a vacuum to help move things along. I turned and asked my mom what she thought. Adam and I really wanted to avoid any extra medical interventions, hence not using meds. I was worried the vacuum would hurt her head. Mom said that she trusted the doctor to do a good job and she wouldn’t have suggested it if it wasn’t safe. She also said it wouldn’t give Hannah a funny shaped head. Mom reminded me that I’d still have to do all the work pushing, it wouldn’t just pull Hannah out. They got the vacuum and showed it to me. It’s just a little suction cup with a little plastic cord attached to a hand ratchet devise that can pull the suction cup a little tighter. I was expecting them to roll in a huge shop vac with a giant hose, so I was relieved. During the next set of pushes she put the suction cup on Hannah put when she trie to pull a little it popped right off, Hannah’s hair made it so her head was super slippery. They put it back on, and things moved a lot faster from there.
I’m not sure how many pushes later, but the next thing I remember is feeling her crowning, the biggest part of her head passing through. It hurt, so I knew we were making progress, the pushing hadn’t really hurt until then, just been a lot of work. The pain of feeling her crown (we learned it was called the “ring of fire” in birth class, and that was a pretty good description) was the perfect motivation to push harder. Usually I’d get in 3 or 4 pushes per contraction, but once she started crowning I didn’t stop pushing. The cheerleading got really loud, they were all saying that she was coming, and I could do it, and she was almost here. It didn’t feel like very long before her head was out. I was looking down and could see it in the mirror, and see the doc clearing out her mouth and turning her. We had learned in birth class that some women have a huge urge to push and during this part they have to work really hard not to push so the doctor can clear the babies mouth and turn the shoulders to deliver the body, but I didn’t want to push at all. I was so excited that the hardest part was done. Pretty soon the doc said to give another push and her body slid right out and they immediately pulled up my sports bra and put her on my chest.
Adam and I got to just be and enjoy Hannah. It was so cool to finally see her. She had so much hair!!!!! The nurses helped wipe her off, and at some point at clip was put on her cord. Adam and I held her fingers and talked to her, she wasn’t crying, just looking at us. It felt so unreal, that she was here, and ours. We just kept telling each other good job. I was so proud of us, for doing it without meds, for being able to just love each other through the labor and delivery. I was so thankful for Adam being such an amazing husband, and for my mom being there to help and knowing what to do and say.
I wasn’t paying too much attention to what was going on down south, I was pretty busy enjoying Hannah. At some point I noticed the doc was still just sitting there, they were waiting for the placenta to dis-attach so I could delivery it. It was taking a lot longer than normal. A nurse came and massaged my abdomen to try and help it come out. They started talking about giving me pitocin to try and move things along, I really wanted to avoid it since I’d made it that far without meds and the pitocin would cause contractions. The nurse thought I was worried about the shot, I told her I don’t mind needles, just wanted to try to avoid pitocin. We were really blessed then, and covered in prayers, the placenta finally came unattached and out. I don’t remember having to push, but maybe I did.
Then the doc said she needed to give me some shots of local anesthetic to stitch up my tear. She was saying how it would sting a little and I giggled, pain had a new perspective for me. I remember some tugging as she was sewing, and I still had my legs up on the squat bar so she could work, but I was enjoying Hannah.
At some point after Hannah was born my dad came in to meet her. It was so fun to see my parents meet her. Plus no one ever tried to take her, she just laid on my chest as we all got to know her. Eventually the doc was done taking care of my nether region and I was able to put down my legs and get some sheets.
Then Adam got to take her to get weighed and washed. They had the scale in the room, so they just went a few feet from my bed and I got to watch. I couldn’t believe she weighed 8 pounds 9 ounces! She was 20.5 inches long. The nurse got Adam a warm wet washcloth and he cleaned her up, they had her in a bassinet under a warmer so she wouldn’t get cold while he was doing it. Then the nurse held her head under the sink faucet and washed her hair. The nurse said she didn’t want to scrub too hard since her head might be a little sensitive from the vacuum, so she just washed gently.
Lorna was working in labor and delivery and just finished helping with a c-section so she came in and met Hannah. My mom and dad got to hold her. Mom helped me take a shower and get ready to move to the Mother/Baby unit where we’d be spending the night. It was shift change, so we stayed in labor and delivery a little longer, then a little after 3pm we moved to Mother/Baby. The nurse pushed me in a wheelchair and I held Hannah, she didn’t ever really fuss that I can remember.
Max and Annette brought Adam and I milkshakes, and met Hannah. They got some cute pictures of Hannah and Henry. Then mom, dada, Max and Annette headed out and it was just Adam and I and Hannah. They brought me dinner, and I’d ordered a ton since they had me fill out a menu right after delivery and I was starving, so Adam and I shared the food. Nurses came and checked on us periodically, and around 11pm we tried sleeping, but ended up just laying there in the dark talking, we were both still so excited from the day. Adam had a headache, and finally went to 7-11 around 1am to get some Tylenol. We took turns sleeping with Hannah, she’d cry a little and I’d feed her. Adam did all the diapers changes that night. We didn’t get much sleep, but I was still running on endorphins and didn’t feel terribly tired on Friday.
We’d mentioned in our birth plan that we might like to leave early so the staff was on top of things. She got her hearing test during the night Thursday night; she also got her hep shot, and her billirubin screen. Her billirubin level was a little high for the fact that she was only 12 hours old when they did it. The next day our pediatrician ordered a blood test that they did when they were getting blood for the PKU, and her levels weren’t any higher, so we got to go home. If they’d been much higher we would have needed to stay so she could have some light therapy. Friday morning we filled out the paperwork for her birth announcement in the paper, and her birth certificate. She also had her picture taken for the hospital website.
The hospital lactation consultant came and watched Hannah nurse and had some good tips for us. She showed Adam how he could help her pull her bottom lip out so she could get a better latch. My parents came for lunch, and then Max and Annette and Henry joined us and we just hung out and waited for my OB to come and give me the clear to go home. She came in and told me what to expect with recovery. She gave us a lecture about how you can get pregnant right after having a baby so we’d better “use a raincoat” if we were going to be getting busy. Funny since my parents were in the room.
Then everyone helped us pack up all our stuff so we could leave. I walked to the car instead of taking a wheelchair because I was feeling really good. I was happy to have Hannah, and happy to be heading home. It finally dawned on me that we really did have a baby when we were saying goodbye to my parents in the parking garage. I welled up a little as we were driving home, life had just changed, in a very very big way.