Birth Story Part 1: labor at home

The short version:
I went past my due date.  I had a non-stress test and saw my doctor, Dr. S, Friday July 8.  At that appointment she stripped my membranes and told me she was on call all weekend and hoped to see me back before my induction date of July 12.  I went home and worked on my research project all afternoon.  Around 5:30 I had a strong contraction.  At 6 they started for real.  We went to the hospital at 2:30 and I was 5 cm.  I got an epidural and at 8 I was still 5 cm so Dr. S broke my water.  At 11 I had progressed to 7 cm, which was slow, so Dr. S wanted to watch me for an hour and maybe give pitocin to speed things up.  At 12, no progress, Simon wasn’t recovering from the decels (heart rate slowing during contractions) well so they put me on oxygen and said I may need a C-section if I didn’t progress.  At 1 pm I was told it was time for a C-section.  I wasn’t progressing, and my cervix was starting to swell.  Simon wasn’t in distress, but they didn’t want to get to a point where he was.  They wheeled me to the OR and Simon was born at 1:41.

The (really, really) long version:  **To my family and friends, I’m writing this in detail for me, I need to process it all one more time in writing and then move on.  I’m also writing because I found it helpful to read other people’s birth stories.  Be warned for lots of medical and emotional detail.

After wanting and trying for a baby for so long, we were excited and a little stunned when we found out I was pregnant.  I spent approximately the entire nine months planning and prepping for him, including how we wanted the delivery to go.  After reading many many blogs and seeing “The Business of Being Born”  I was interested in a drug free labor and delivery.  At 26 weeks I passed out during the blood draw for the glucose test and decided that the thought of lots of needles stressed me out way more than the thought of labor pain.  That’s when I started really researching, but also reserving the right to change my mind at any time.  I read both of Ina Mae Gaskin’s books and also The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (the absolute most helpful book I read and am re-reading now).  My doctor, Dr. S, was on board with my plans.  I never wrote an actual birth plan.  At some point during my blog reading I came across this plan “Bring home live baby.”  While my struggle with IF was relatively easy and I am not coming from a place of miscarriage or still birth, the sentiment behind this stuck with me.  Because really, getting Simon here safely was the main thing.

That said, when Rob and I talked about what we wanted from the birthing experience (mostly me talking) I wanted to stay at home as long as possible, I wanted to stay drug free, and we both wanted to avoid a C-section.  That one was probably the most important.  Oh, how the best laid plans change.

At my 40w 4d appointment I asked Dr. S to strip my membranes.  I was about 60% effaced and 1.5 cm dilated.  I had mild to moderate cramping all afternoon while I sat on the couch and worked on finishing up some research things that I had been putting off.  Since my mom was coming the next day (Saturday) for the week and my induction was set, this was my last chance to get it all done before the baby

At 5:30 I felt a HUGE contraction compared to what I had been feeling (nothing compared to what was to come) and I talked to Sara (BFF who happens to also be an OB) on her way home from work.  Everything seemed pretty normal.  At 6pm I got what were the WORST period like cramps of my life.  The debilitating kind where all I want to do is curl up on the bathroom floor and sleep for a week.  And maybe throw up some.  Of course this started right around the time we were eating dinner.  By 7pm I couldn’t move and only picked at my food.  Around this time I started feeling contractions on top of the cramping.  They were far apart but pretty regular.  The worst part for me was no break from pain.  Ever.  The whole time I was at home.  I thought maybe I had misunderstood everything I had read, that there was a contraction and then a rest period.  I’ve talked to enough people that I believe this is generally true.  I never had that rest, because between contractions I still had the WORST CRAMPS OF MY LIFE.

I still hadn’t finished my research items that were due, so I laid on the couch curled up and worked from that position.  Around 9 I told Rob I was done, and I thought this was probably real labor and I needed to focus on it.  I dictated an email for Rob to send for me with the bazillion attachments I had been working on, apologized for any incoherency and said I’d deal with questions in a few weeks.  At 10 Rob convinced me to call the hospital to make sure that this was IT.  The doctor on call said it sounded like early labor and to take a shower, it would help.  It did not help.  I couldn’t stand up in the shower because standing made me want to throw up.  I did want to throw up though, I was hoping that would relieve the pressure in my stomach.  I laid in a warm bath for awhile.  This also did nothing, but it was easier to stay there than move to get out.  One thing that did help some was sitting on the toilet and leaning my arms and head on a stool.

For all the prep work we had done in my reading and our childbirth class, we really didn’t or couldn’t use any of it.  Because of the cramps I couldn’t move and the only position that was comfortable tolerable was the fetal position (which is not on the labor positions list).  I didn’t want to be touched at all as my skin was crawling.  We did finally find that if Rob massaged my forearms and hands that helped.  At one point Rob told me he didn’t know how I was still going because when he gets headaches they weren’t this bad.  But he was stressed because I was in pain and I kept having to remind him to rub my arms or tell me to drink water, or talk to me through the contraction.

At 11:30 I finally threw up.  Hallelujah! I felt better for about 2 hours, and could finally use some of the labor prep.  In this two hours I was finally able to sit on the exercise ball.  Sitting there leaning on the bed and Rob pressed ice packs wrapped in towels on my lower back.  The pressure and the cold felt nice during contractions.  I was also able to walk around during this time which helped.  The contractions were about every 5 minutes at this point and the cramping wasn’t so bad (but the contractions were stronger).  I laid in bed around 12:30 and told Rob to try and sleep.  At 1:15 I got back in the shower.  The cramps were back in full force and the contractions were really hurting.  They were lasting about a minute and it was getting harder to talk through them.  Around 2 Rob and I decided that since I had been in labor 8 hours, we had no idea how far along I was, and the pain was really intense, that it was probably time to go to the hospital.  I called and talked to Dr. L again and she said to come on.  I told Rob to take a shower while I finished getting ready.  I braided my hair – I would highly recommend this if you have long hair – to keep it out of my face and I knew it would stay up for a couple of days, and packed the last few things in the hospital bag.

We called the car service, which came in about 5 minutes, and rode to the hospital which took about 10.  Another thing I knew was that I wanted to leave for the hospital before 5 when rush hour starts.  This was the most painful car ride ever.  The NYC roads are not the smoothest.  Contractions were super strong and close together.  When we got there we used the ER entrance and were directed to labor and delivery.  Walking was not happening so much and I rested against the wall a lot.

continued in Part 2

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