How can I update this blog weekly on my pregnancy and go more than an entire month without even telling you that Bean was born? Oh, that’s right — diapers, breastfeeding, nap attempts, sleepless nights, and trying to squeeze a shower in there somewhere. Well, here’s Bean’s birth story, once and for all.
Little D was born at 8:27 a.m. on February 2, one day before his due date. He was 7 pounds even and 20.5 inches and healthy as can be — so the gestational diabetes apparently didn’t do any sort of number on him. After weeks of wishing and hoping and worrying and waiting, he came rather abruptly (at least compared with what I was afraid of — a long, protracted birth followed by an emergency c-section) and without too much fanfare.
I had been having some false labor for about a week before he arrived. The first couple of bouts, I knew it was nothing — it wasn’t timeable or terribly strong, just some cramping and general ickiness — but I kept hoping it would turn into something. My mucus plug had fallen out at 35 weeks, and I’d been having lots of discharge since, so I was paranoid that I wouldn’t be able to tell when my water broke. I’d also been having cramps, so I was paranoid I wouldn’t be able to tell a contraction from a cramp. All I could do was time my cramps and see if that told me anything. At 39w3d, I was having timeable cramps 10 minutes apart for an hour while at work, then they went away. They came back later that evening — not strong or really even very painful — 10 minutes apart, then went away.
My last belly shot, 2 days before I went into labor.
At my doctor’s appointment the next day, I mentioned the regularity of the cramping and how crappy in general I had been feeling. To be honest, I was hoping he’d do something to speed things along, so I tried to look as dejected and exhausted as possibly — which wasn’t too much of a stretch. We had a biophysical profile ultrasound to check on the baby’s size and development, and everything looked fine, as usual. The doctor said he was hoping I would give birth sooner rather than later because of the diabetes. I had an induction date scheduled for the day after I turned 41 weeks, but after he examined me, he reported I was 2 cm and almost completely effaced, so he didn’t expect me to last that long. He also stripped my membranes, which was so, so painful. I bled quite a bit that day and had some strong cramps, but nothing regular, and by that evening, it had subsided.
That was also my surprise last day at work. My boss had told me earlier that week that, while Friday was supposed to be my last day before maternity leave, she wanted me to go a couple of days early to rest. I stayed for the lunch they had brought in, and went home for a really uneventful day. I was exhausted, so I napped in the afternoon, then for five hours at night before turning in for good — my body must have sensed I’d need the rest. But otherwise, I didn’t feel like any progress was being made.
The next day (Friday February 1, two days before my due date), I felt discouraged because I’d had no timeable cramps or any other labor signs since the membrane sweep. I knew I was still two days away from my due date, but I was so consumed with the birth and so physically miserable that I was psyching myself out — and, I worried further, not relaxing enough for labor and potentially stressing the baby out.
My husband and I went for a walk around the block that afternoon, and then I napped a bit before we went out to dinner with my father-in-law, who’d come into town a few days earlier. I ordered the spiciest things I could on the menu in the hopes of jump starting something — I wanted to try all the tricks in the book. I’d also taken a warm bath earlier that day to try to force my body to relax.
When we got home that night, I complained some more about how much I wanted to go into labor right then and there, and how sick of pregnancy I was. Finally, I took the longest, hottest shower ever, just letting the water run over my back, and meditated and concentrated on the things in my life I was grateful for and the hopes I had for our unborn son. I tried to let go as much as I could and just enjoy the shower and the uninterrupted time with Mister Mister before Bean made his appearance.
After getting out of the shower, I put on underwear and a tank top and started to get into bed — that’s when I felt a pop and suddenly had what I thought was the strongest cramp known to man. I also let what I thought was a tremendous amount of discharge go into my underwear. I had to brace myself against the wall until the “cramp” passed. My husband popped up and asked, “What is it? A cramp?” I nodded, and then, when it passed, I sat on the toilet to check my underwear — which looked as if it had been soaked through with water, not discharge. And then I was leaking water into the toilet — not peeing. I looked up at my husband and said, “I think my water just broke!” He got nervous, I started laughing uncontrollably, he said, “Are you sure??”, and I stood up only to let a huge gush of clear liquid onto the floor with every laugh.
OK, so I think I know the difference between water breaking and discharge leaking.
I cleaned myself up, put on fresh underwear with a pad, and called the doctor’s answering service like they’d requested, just to tell them I was headed to the hospital because I thought my water had broken. We crazily packed up the rest of our hospital bag, all nerves and excitement tinged with a bit of fear and vague worry. Mister Mister called his dad to come over and watch the dog overnight, and then I sat on the couch and was treated to what I now know was my second true contraction, exactly 10 minutes after the first one. It was sickening, wrapped hard from my back to my front, and gripped me tight for up to a minute. For the next hour, I walked, I leaned against a wall, I had my husband press against my back. I tried getting on my hands and knees and bouncing on the yoga ball. Nothing pulled me through them except the breathing I learned in birthing class.
Well, I now know the difference between a cramp and a contraction.
By the time Mister Mister’s dad arrived an hour later, the contractions were five minutes apart. By the time we got to the hospital, 10 minutes away, they were two minutes apart. They just kept crashing over me; I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was 11 p.m.
>We checked in, they did a cervical check in triage, and I thrashed around on the bed and begged her to finish quickly.It was the longest minute or so of my life. “It hurts so bad!” I screamed. “That’s because you’re at 7 cm,” she said. Holy cow! My goal was to hit 5 cm before getting an epidural – this made that decision much easier. Two nurses arrived to set me up with an IV since I had requested an epidural and needed to be fully hydrated first. I had requested they tap a location that would be more convenient to breastfeeding than the inside of my elbow, but they had difficulties finding a good vein in my left hand and tried for a couple of minutes, digging around trying to catch a vein that kept moving and disappearing. It was sort of horrifying combined with the contractions, but they were finally able to get something on my right hand.
It’s funny how your priorities change in labor. I had been so afraid of the epidural because I wouldn’t be able to move around and I wanted freedom to labor in any position. Yet as they got ready to wheel me up to labor and deliver, they asked whether I wanted to walk or ride (in the bed) and my immediate answer was RIDE. I did not want to walk anywhere!
Over in L&D, I got my epidural at 1 a.m., and by 1:15, I was 8 cm but feeling very little pain — just basically low pressure when I had a contraction. At 1:45, I was feeling more constant pressure in my butt, and they checked me and declared me a 9, 90% effaced, with baby at a 0 station — just hanging out.
The epidural did slow things down, though, to where my contractions were spacing out and not strong enough to push the baby down much, which made any pushing less than effective. By my next check at 4 a.m., I was at 10 cm and fully effaced, but baby was still a 0 to -1 station. I practice pushed a bit around 5 a.m., but the nurses said if I started pushing then, I’d be pushing for two to three hours and they — nor I — didn’t want that. The nurses could see his head full of dark hair, though, which was incredible to hear.
Around 6 a.m., my midwife had them start me at Pitocin to help my contractions come stronger and closer together. They bumped that up a few times and I tried to relax and save my energy for pushing. Finally, at 7:30, my contractions were strong enough and close enough that I could effectively push. My midwife pushed with me for a bit while Mister Mister and nurse helped, then she left for a while and came back around 8:15 as I started to crown. I pushed through a few more contractions and finally he crowned – at which point the burning and pressure was so intense that I decided I couldn’t do it and said so. That, unfortunately, was not an option, and I pushed hard – and just when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, Mister Mister exclaimed, “Baby, look!” and I looked down to see our son coming out of me. He started crying almost immediately, I stopped pushing out of shock and started crying, the midwife reminded me to keep pushing, and I pushed him the rest of the way out of me. My midwife had Mister Mister delivery the shoulders, and then had him move our baby up to my stomach while they vigorously cleaned him off. Mister Mister then cut the cord, and they moved him up to my chest for immediate skin-to-skin contact. I was so amazed and overwhelmed — I have no words. I had been so worried I wouldn’t bond with him immediately, but reality could not have been further from my fears.
Mr. Grumpypants being weighed and measured
The first part of our hour of kangaroo care wasn’t all rainbows, though. I had to push out my placenta (no big deal) and then I was bleeding too much so my midwife had to manually help my uterus clamp down (slightly bigger deal). They were messing with the IV in my hand and gave me a shot of something in my leg. I ended up with a 2nd degree tear, and the epidural helped only slightly with the stitch pain. But then the hub bub was over and I got to nurse Little D for the first time. After about an hour, the nurse took him and weighed him, got his footprints, and helped my husband take some pictures. She helped me up to go to the bathroom (I’d had a catheter but needed to be able to pee on my own, which I did) and get cleaned up and put on the mesh hospital panties and a pad (both of which I stocked up on when leaving the hospital — the mesh panties are amazing!). Then we were wheeled over to our mother/baby room and the grandpas got to visit their grandson for the first time, with my stepmom and a friend coming later.
Altogether, I am so grateful to have had a relatively easy birth. The nurses and staff at our hospital and our midwife made everything as easy and wonderful as possible. All my fears throughout pregnancy — an emergency c-section, an epidural bringing an avalanche of dangerous interventions, problems with the baby, complications — all proved unfounded, showing that I probably could have stood to relax a bit over the previous nine months. My body and my baby did exactly what nature intended, and now we have a beautiful, perfectly healthy son.
Four weeks later