If you remember from my birth story with Hannah, my labor with her felt like period cramps. I never had what my doctor explained braxton hicks contractions to feel like; or what traditional contractions felt like, with my whole belly tightening or feeling pressure from the top down. I just had cramping in the week or so leading up to the delivery, and cramps and back pain when I was in labor.
That being said, I started having cramping a lot earlier in this pregnancy. It got so bad one night I called the on call doc and they said if they didn’t stop I’d need to go to the hospital. They stopped, but started back up again the next day. We ended up spending a morning in Labor and Delivery at the hospital getting me checked at 33 weeks because the cramping was so bad and I couldn’t tell if it was labor. It wasn’t. Turns out Sam was already so far down in my pelvis already that his position was causing all the cramping. I was at +1 station, and not dilated. At this point I pretty much wrote off every cramp as being attributed to his position.
I was really uncomfortable by the time my 36 week appointment rolled around. This is when my OB does the first internal check. I was 1 centimeter dilated and at -2 station. At 37 weeks I was still 1 centimeter dilated, but was now 50% effaced and Sam had moved down to -1 station. At my 38 week appointment I was slightly more dilated and 75% effaced. I had gained 24 pounds since the beginning of the pregnancy. At the 38 week appointment my OB was kind enough to honor my request and strip my membranes. That was April 2nd.
The next morning was April 3rd, a Tuesday. On Tuesday mornings I get to go to a bible study at church, Hannah typically hangs out with her friends in the nursery, but this morning I dropped her off at my parents since her cousins were visiting from California. My prayer request during bible study as that I find a way to deal with my discomfort, since I had been so uncomfortable for the last couple weeks and it was getting worse. I was having a lot of cramping, but I had been off and on for weeks, though it was particularly unpleasant that morning. My friend katie was sitting next to me at study watching me rub my belly and cringe; I could tell by the look on her face that she knew something was up. I still had no trust in my own ability to tell if I was in labor. I was feeling pretty silly for thinking I was in labor at 33 weeks, when I wasn’t even having tiny contractions, just cramps.
After study I went to pick up Hannah at my parents. I asked my mom for at least the 10th time what contractions felt like, and asked if she could tell if I was having a contraction. She told me, again, that I would be able to feel my whole belly tighten when I was having a contraction; but I wasn’t sure how that would work since my belly was so full of baby it was constantly super tight. I think she had an idea something was brewing, I told her I’d keep her posted.
Hannah and I headed off to meet Kelsey and her two littlest ones at Costco for lunch. We got there a little before them, so I decided to put to use on of the contraction timers I’d downloaded on my iphone. I still thought it was just cramping, but figured I might as well track it and see. It was easy to tell when each cramp began, but hard to tell when they ended, so it made it hard to track. as I started tracking the cramps, I noticed, just like I did when I was in labor with Hannah, that a pattern was starting to emerge.
Kelsey was really entertained by my iphone app, and the fact that I was at costco when there was any possibility I was in labor. I texted Adam to tell him something might be up, so he said he’d take the dogs to daycare just in case. (We had it arranged for them to stay there for a few days when Sam came). We finished lunch and did our shopping, with the cramping getting more and more intense, to the point when I’d stop mid aisle to track, and stop mid sentence to catch my breath. We finished up our shopping and I promised to keep Kelsey posted, since it was getting pretty clear that something was happening.
I got home and called the OB and they told me to come in for a check. We decided hannah should stay home with Adam and have a nap, so she’d be rested in case the evening was going to be busy. I headed off to the Ob, got 2 blocks away and realized I had the car with hannah’s carseat, so drove back home switched out for Adam’s civic, which is a manual. I already dislike driving stick, and am especially terrible at it, but adding contractions to it made it all the more irritating. I definitely yelled at a few stop lights on the way. One the drive my cramping turned into what the doctor had described contractions to feel like, my whole belly tightening.
I had to wait a really long time in the waiting room at OB, and even though I wasn’t in much pain, I was pretty uncomfortable. I’m looking at the text conversation between Adam and I to try and remember the details, and it’s pretty funny. Mostly the part about my thinking that if I started to make moose noises they’d take me back to a room more quickly, and Adam’s discovery that Siri does not understand moose noises. There was another text once I got into a room and was waiting for the doctor, “these are actually starting to hurt”. I think it was about then that I realized I was actually going to have to go through labor and push out a baby, and though path I hadn’t ventured down yet that pregnancy, and I had a fleeting moment of anxiety.
I got to see my doc and she checked me and said I was 3 centimeters dlated, so I was making progress. She confirmed that I was officially in labor! This was around 2:45, and my doctor was the on call OB at the hospital at 6, so she was hoping I could go labor at home for a few hours and then head in closer to her shift. She had me get hooked up to a “No Stress Test” or NST to chart the contractions. The tech had her hand on my belly when I had one of the contractions and said, “wow!” that brought me a lot of joy, especially since I was still pretty composed during each contraction.
Vicki came over to our house to be there for hannah when she woke up from nap, and Adam headed to the OB to sit with me while I finished my NST. There was another pregnant women in the chair next to me getting an NST test for possible early labor and she kept saying “owie!” whenever she had a contraction, so that kept me fairly entertained. The nurse took my test strip back for my OB to look over. After she reviewed it she came in and told me I could go hang out at home until she’d be at the hospital for call at 6. Though she did say if I had an hour of the really strong contractions she was starting to see on my paper, then I should head to the hospital. Adam was kind enough to let me drive home the van and he took the manual, though not before making fun of me for the terrible parking job. Seriously, can you blame a woman in labor for her lack of ability to park inside the lines? hahaha.
At home I sat on the yoga ball and did some e-mailing, wrapping things up for work. Texted my co-workers telling them I was in labor, which then resulted in humorous e-mails and texts back telling me to stop working and go have a baby. Krista came to watch Hannah so Vicki could head home with Madelyn and Alayna and my mom would be available to head to the hospital to meet us. The working kept me pretty distracted, though the contractions were getting stronger and starting to take my full attention. I asked Adam to assemble the crib, and since he’d already loaded everything we needed into the car, and he knows better than the argue with a crazy pregnant woman, he did.
Close to 5 I knew it had been an hour of productive contractions, so we got ready to head to the hospital. Hannah had just woken up from nap and was beyond delighted that Krista and Isaac were there to play. It was nice that we got to say goodbye, and even nicer that she barely had the time of day for us because she was so thrilled with her babysitter.
The drive to the hospital went quickly, I had a few contractions, but the van is pretty comfortable, and Adam did a fantastic job of keep me distracted with jokes. My mom met us in the parking garage and we all headed to the info desk to check in. I paced around the lobby while the people at the desk took their sweet time checking us in and trying to find someone from admitting to go with us. They offered me a wheelchair and I declined, and we headed up to Labor and Delivery.
The first stop was a triage room where I got my fancy hospital gown and socks, and gave them all the info they wanted and signed some papers. Mom started her duties as doula and followed me everywhere, including the bathroom, haha. Such a good mom!!! The nurse was nice enough to let me stand and sway next to the monitors while they tracked contractions for a while, but I had to lay down for an internal check. The nurse was very quick about it so I didn’t have to lay down long which was really nice. With Hannah I had to lay down for half hour in one o the triage rooms and I ended up getting really nauseous.
They agreed with my OB, that I was in labor, so it was time to head for my room in Labor and Delivery. We had to stop once during the walk so I could breath through a contraction. Adam was doing most of the talking for me, answering the nurses questions and such. I got to my room and someone went to get the yoga ball, fan and birth bar I requested. I paced around, and then once they got the ball, I sat on the ball looking out the window and facebooking on my ipad.
Around 6 my OB got there and thanked me for having a baby while she was already slated to be at the hospital. I don’t honestly remember a lot of the details about the next couple hours, but thanks to a birth weight prediction thread that Annette started on facebook, that turned into a updates of Kate’s labor progress thread, I’ve got all the details. =) Apparently I was 8cm by around 7pm. I remember my dad stoping by to say Hi and hang out for a bit, and him and the OB had fun chatting, they know each other from going to med school together. I remember my OB saying that I should have lots of babies since it’s so easy for me, and I remember thinking that it wasn’t that easy, but being too busy contracting to say anything out loud.
Adam was once again the world’s most amazing birth coach, he perched behind me and pushed on my back during every single contraction. He’d stand up for a minute between them and return some texts, but I’d say his name and he’d get right back into position and give me the exact counter pressure I needed.
At some point I traded the ipad in front of me for a pile of pillows and someone noted that it must be transition since I was no longer up for facebook. Mom helped me make a few bathroom trips, and at some point while I was on the yoga ball my water broke. It was nice and clear so we didn’t have to worry about the baby having swallowed any meconium. A phlebotomist came in to draw blood, apparently a new hospital policy they do for all patients, and my mom was phenomenal and convinced him to do it while I was on the yoga ball instead of trying to lay down in bed.
I’m really quiet in labor, I would say Adam’s name when I wanted back pressure, and give quick requests such as, “lower” or “fan”, but otherwise I pretty much keep to myself. I can remember bits of other people’s conversations, but it reminded me of swim meets when it’d be silent underwater and you’d come up to breath and hear everyone cheering, and then go back down into silence. When I was in labor with Hannah, and struggling with the pain at the top of a contraction I’d remind myself what my OB had said, “it hurts and then it doesn’t,” which is exactly right. I’d say that to myself, and by the time I was done saying it, the pain would be reducing. There were a few moments, like last time, where I was in a lot of pain and started to feel a bit overwhlemed, but I stopped my thought train, and reassessed my pain, and each time, by the time I stopped and thought about it, the pain was going down. I didn’t have any pain between contractions, so that would give me a few seconds to catch my breath.
With Hannah the sweet nurse chased me around the room with the wireless contraction monitor, and I noticed this time that there weren’t doing that. I asked the nurse if she need to monitor my contractions and she said s was. This is when I noticed she was standing by the computer watching me very intently and noting when my contractions started and stopped based entirely on my body language. Impressive!!
It felt like a really long time, but it was only a couple hours. I tried some contractions on all fours on the bed, and by that point I was really close to 10 cm dilated, so the OB said I could try pushing to see if that would get me there. I found that pushing really helped with the intense pain from the contraction since it gave me something to focus on. I did a few contractions using the squat bar, but my quads weren’t nearly as strong as when I had Hannah, so I ended up sitting back down for the remainder of the pushing. It was similar to last time with pushing making great progress, and then the head going back up again between contractions.
My OB asked if I wanted to feel the head and I nodded yes so she showed me where to feel and I said, “I can’t feel it!” and they said not to worry it had probably just gone back up and we’d try again during the next round of pushing. So when I was pushing next she guided my hand down and had me feel it. I’m told them I couldn’t feel the head, just weird wrinkly skin and they told me that was the head. This really confused me until one of them explained that the babies extra skin was sliding up and wrinkling around the top of his head when he moved backwards after a contraction. Still, it felt super gross, haha.
I worked hard to summon the energy to speak out loud so I could say, “last time Hannah kept going back up between contractions and it took forever, so this time, if I’m getting really close and a few more pushed will get him out, I want you to tell me, and I’ll push through!” Mom reminded me that the back and forth is how labor works and not to get discouraged. I really wanted to wait for the “urge to push” with this delivery, but once again I never had it, and pushing felt like a great use of my energy at 10cm dilated. At my postpartum appointment my OB pointed out that both my babies were facing up, with their hard little skulls against my spine causing serious back labor. She said she watched both of them turn at the very last second, and that because they were “sunny side up” I wouldn’t have gotten the traditional “urge to push”. This also made it real easy for Adam to use counter pressure alleviate my pain, and it worked fantastically.
I only pushed for 15 minutes before he was born, it felt like longer, but I definitely wasn’t as exhausted as I was with Hannah. I really don’t remember the details of those last few minutes, except for the nurse saying, “he’s out to his ears!” and me thinking, “that’s it? Ow! I thought he was at least to his shoulders!” but not actually saying anything, just pushing a whole lot harder to get him the rest of the way out. They put him on my belly and I looked at him for a few seconds and had this huge sense of gratitude towards Adam for being such an amazing coach.
I got to hold Sam and admire him while the doctor waited for my placenta to come out. This time I had some strong contractions as the placenta was being delivered, and I helped push it out. Then the doctor stitched up some tearing (much less than last time). Then Adam held Sam, and we took the obligatory Adam with his shirt off holding the baby picture. Krista brought Hannah so she could meet Sam. She was initially really enthralled with his penis, but then her fascination with the cord stump won out. She kept asking for him to be unwrapper so she could look at the cord. My parents got to hold Sam, as well as Krista and Kelsey.
Then I took a shower while Adam helped Sam get weighed, washed and into his first diaper and outfit. One by one everyone headed home while we waited in Labor and Delivery until after the 11pm shift change then we got transfered to our room in Mother Baby. We asked for an expedited discharge and were out by lunch the next day.
Everything is so different the second time. I knew what to expect during the delivery, and even driving home felt less worrisome that our first car ride with Hannah. I feel more confident as a mom, but it also helps that Sam is a really mellow little guy, so there is much less screaming to try and console.