At 12:45am Sunday night/Monday morning I woke up to use the bathroom, annoyed but not surprised that I woke up just an hour or so after going to bed. On my way back to bed, my water broke. At this point, I was not experiencing any contractions at all. However, I had tested positive for group B strep (GBS positive) and so I knew that once my water broke, I needed to head to the hospital. I woke Mark up and told him my water broke and so let's go!
Since we knew labor and delivery would tell us to come in ASAP, we scurried around packing the few last minute items into the bag. I brushed my teeth and hair, changed clothes, and felt ready to go despite no contractions. I called L&D and apparently sounded too calm and not quite convincing enough in my description of my water breaking, so they told me to lay down for 30 minutes and then call back. I did as told, despite being fully dressed and wide awake. During this time, a few contractions started and they were all in my lower back, way different than any of the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing so far (which were all in my gut/stomach.) A little after the 30 minute Mark, I made Mark call L&D for me and they agreed it was time to come in. We called our families, said goodbye to the furbabies and headed to the hospital. It was about 2:00am on Monday morning.
The drive to the hospital was eerily peaceful, nothing like the drive I had imagined. My birth plan involved laboring at home as long as possible so I had imagined having a lot of contractions during the drive. Instead I was relatively comfortable (though nervous and at 41weeks pregnant comfortable isn't exactly the right word) and the roads were empty.
We checked into triage and the nurse wasn't completely convinced my water had broken, which I found silly because I knew beyond a doubt that it was my water breaking and not 41week incontinence. Also I was only 2.5cm dilated which, though normal, wasn't all that much. Finally her supervisor (doctor? OB? nurse?) checked my fluid under the microscope and guess what, it was amniotic fluid! Hooray, they said! You're in labor! All I could think was that this is what I had been telling them for the last two hours.
My contractions slowly started during this time. They were really intense and all in my lower back but pretty manageable. We moved into our L&D room and all I could think was that this is where my baby is going to be born! And soon! This was around 3:00am.
And so the labor dance began. Or, tried to begin. First up was my IV and first dose of antibiotics (because I was GBS+.) Getting the IV in didn't hurt all that bad but once the IV started it burned like hell and sent shooting pains to my bones from my wrist to my shoulder. This lasted for over an hour and would repeat every 4th hour for the duration of my labor (so 1-1.5 hours of extreme pain, 2.5-3 hours off.)
We also needed to check on the baby! I got strapped up to the fetal monitor and the plan was intermittent monitoring. However, she was already de-celling (heart rate dropping during contractions) which while normal was still a concern. Seriously only in the world of pregnancy/L&D is "normal" and "a concern" the same thing. It was also hard to keep the monitor on while moving through contractions, and every time it shifted or the baby shifted a nurse would come running in to adjust it. Every adjustment meant not being able to move through a contraction or get comfortable in between.
My contractions picked up pretty quickly on their own. I was managing them with Mark's help and no drugs. The IV severely limited my ability to use certain positions that relieve back labor pain, and the near-constant fetal monitoring and seemingly constant IV hook up really limited my ability to get in the zone. I was able to use the shower for a lot of relief and I remember standing in the shower, breathing and counting tiles, but I could only do that when there was no anitibiotic drip and no fetal monitoring. I have no idea how long I did that but I know I was in and out of the shower several times. At one point before noon my contractions were 3 minutes or less apart and lasting for a minute or more. Starting pretty early on I began to have the shakes, which again we were told was normal but they made it even harder for me to get comfortable or relax in between contractions. I thought I was nearing transition based on the amount of pain I was in and the frequency and duration of my contractions.
As the afternoon wore on though, I got more and more tired. My feet were killing me from standing or squatting and shaking for nearly 12+ hours while 41 weeks pregnant and I was completely exhausted from laboring, not to mention from only getting an hour of sleep. The contractions were nothing like I imagined. They were shooting intense pain through my lower back and it felt like nothing I did could get me through them. I was so uncomfortable with the monitor and IV that I couldn't get any relief or rest in between contractions. I began to despair and cry and tell Mark how tired I was. We talked about just taking it one more contraction and how we knew I would reach a point where I felt like I couldn't do it, but that I needed to remind myself that I was ALREADY DOING IT. Mark was amazing. The nurses started offering me drugs and reminding me to consider my options and asking if they could check me. At this point I was thinking in the back of my mind that this was probably transition-- that point when I would want to give up but really I was so close!
Sometime in the early afternoon I also realized I was starving so we begged for food, and I got to eat a few small bites of fruit and some cottage cheese. I was shaking so bad Mark had to help me eat. But the food didn't help, and the contractions kept coming and became more and more unbearable.
For some reason my contractions were slowing down, not speeding up, so finally, around 4:30pm on Monday, I agreed to be checked. I was only 3cm. I had labored for 16 hours with no meds and severe back labor... only to progress a half of a centimeter. This news broke me. I completely lost all ability to do anything, and I just sobbed and sobbed. I didn't think I could make it through any more contractions (though they kept coming hard and strong) and I felt like a total failure because I knew the only way this could end was with an epidural and likely a C-section.
I calmed down enough to listen to the nurses talk to me about next steps. Since my contractions were slowing and I had already been laboring for so long, they wanted to start me on some pitocin. Somewhere in my head I knew I did not want pitocin but all I could think was how badly the IV would hurt. Finally I realized that I was not going to get this baby out without help, and that I badly needed the epidural. But I was terrified of the epidural and more specifically, afraid of the layering of interventions that I knew could happen once we started down that path. However, I also knew that the best choice for my baby and my body at this point was something to give me some physical relief and also speed up the contractions. So I opted for the epidural (in between sobs and tears and more contractions.)
The lady who put my epidural in did a great job. It didn't hurt at all and the nurse and Mark helped me through the few contractions that I had to hold completely still for. I hung on to both of them and held eye contact with Mark. Once the epidural was in (6:00? 6:30?) they got me situated in bed, hooked up IV fluids and a pitocin drip, blood pressure monitor, fetal monitor, and a catheter (seriously every 41week pregnant woman's dream) and I tried to calm down. I felt like I couldn't catch my breath and my heart was racing and that statement to the nurse earned me another monitor to check on my pulse and O2 saturation.
So I laid in the hospital bed, with an IV with 3 different bags (fluids, antibiotics, and pitocin), a fetal monitor, blood pressure cuff, O2 monitor on my finger, and a cath. It was everything I didn't think I wanted... but I was finally able to relax. The nurses were able to dilute the antibiotic and use ice packs on my arm, and so I began to doze off. I got woken up every 15min with the blood pressure cuff going off and had to battle the shooting pain from wrist to my shoulder because the epidural did not numb that area. But I was no longer feeling any contractions at all and it was wonderful. I also had an amazing push button for more relief when I needed it.
Throughout the night the nurses kept adjusting my pitocin. Around midnight they checked me and I was about 5cm. We passed the 24 hour mark but nobody was concerned about that. Sometime early that morning they checked me again and I was still only 5cm. After that check, Mark and I were both convinced that the doctors would be antsy and call the c-section, but none of the staff were concerned and they just said we needed to keep upping the pitocin. The baby was doing alright during the contractions and my blood pressure was great, so we just needed to wait it out.
At 8am, I finally measured 10cm!!! I was thrilled and I had to laugh that I progressed from 3cm to 10cm in less than 12 hours while dozing on and off. However, the baby hadn't decended quite enough and so the midwife suggested that I labor down for a few hours. They adjusted the bed and left me to hang out wondering when I would be pushing?
At 10am they checked again and I had made more progress, laboring down had worked really well. They decided I would start pushing at 11am. This was really odd to me because it seemed so arbitrary. However, by 11am I was actually feeling the urge to push through the epidural.
At 11am the midwife and nurse got all set up to have me push. I initiated almost all of the pushes based on how I felt. I made a lot of progress fast! I got to reach down and feel her head as it was coming out and that was all I needed to keep going. I did, however, decline the mirror as I just didn't think seeing would help me any. All in all, the pushing wasn't that painful for me. Mark and the nurse and midwife were great support for me and while it was definitely hard work, it was nothing compared to the IV pain or the contractions.
Around 12:00 several people came into the room, including the OB. I knew that something must be wrong. The midwife told me that the baby had been crowning for a dangerously long amount of time, and that I might need an episiotomy. With that threat I pushed with ALL I had to get the baby out without any extra cuts, and she came out!
At 12:10pm October 8, nearly 36 hours after my water broke, Allison Rae Lingwood was born. She was put straight on my chest where she laid while she was dried off. It was the most amazing moment of my life. She was breathing right away and within moments she was wailing. She also clung onto Mark's fingers. Mark cut the cord.
I started to have a few contractions and I tried to push out the placenta, but nothing was happening. They gave me extra pitocin, and nothing happened. The midwife called the team of extra people back in and through the fog of falling in love with my baby, people explained to me that my placenta was being stubborn and it wasn't coming out. They were going to need to remove it, and did I want them to do that now or did I want more anesthesia first? Well the more anesthesia option involved them taking Allison from me and that was not going to happen. So the OB manually removed the placenta with her hand, which was in a few pieces, and then had to scrape out my uterus to make sure no pieces were left, and then check me with an ultrasound to make sure everything was ok. Luckily during this whole time I had Allison on my chest and Mark at my side. All I can say is I don't wish a retained placenta on anyone. Then they had to stitch me up because I had several 2nd degree tears.
After everything calmed down we were left to get to know our brand new little baby. She was weighed and measured (8lbs6oz, 20.5inches) and then she had to be taken away to have bloodwork done to culture for bacteria. At this time they told me that I had been running a fever as well. Due to so many risk factors (GBS+, 36 hour labor post water breaking, fever during labor, retained placenta), we would have to stay in the hospital at least an extra day and I'd have to keep the IV lock in my wrist for 24 hours.
We were able to have my parents, Mark's mom, and Mark's sister all come meet Allison within a few hours after she was born. Shortly after we moved to our recovery room and began the next part of our journey. We came home on Thursday afternoon and were fortunate to have family help us for the first two weeks. The recovery was hard and I had to stay off my feet and could barely sit, but it was way easier than labor and in a lot of ways, I felt way better than I did while pregnant.
Isn't she lovely?