I'll warn you: this will be long. My labor itself was long-- 43 hours long, so a write-up isn't gonna be any paragraph affair. :) I'll warn you also: this isn't going to be graphic, but it IS about childbirth. If you don't want to read it, don't. :)
Day One: Just Getting Warmed Up
|One of my "nesting projects" was this pillowcase|
I finally allowed my midwife, Beth, to "check" me the day before my due date-- 2-3 cm dilated, 80% effaced, baby at a -1 station. While this was certainly not discouraging news, I didn't really put much stock in it. First babies come an average of 8 days past their due dates, and I myself (a firstborn) had been no exception! I had frequent practice ("Braxton-Hicks") contractions so I knew my body was preparing for labor and was committed to waiting until Eowyn let us know she was ready to meet us. (Evidence points to hormones indicating a baby's brain is fully developed being the trigger for labor-- so I didn't want to try and rush her before she was ready!) A week later (6 days "overdue") Sept 23rd, Beth found me to be 4 cm, 90% effaced and E had dropped further to a 0 station (that means she was really low in my pelvis). A fetal non-stress test revealed that she was doing great, and amniotic fluid levels were normal. My midwife commented that she didn't expect me to make my next appointment (a week later), and that with my body type & level of physical fitness I'd probably have a short & uncomplicated labor any day now. If only... :)
|Trying to stay cool at 41 weeks pregnant|
|Out to Indian food the night before labor started|
|Big belly= personal table|
Throughout the prayer service, contractions stayed regular and fairly intense. I thought back to my mom saying "you'll know" when they're the real thing, and thought "you know, this DOES feel different. These kind of hurt!" I went to the bathroom and ran into two friends, one of whom (Athena) is a doula. A contraction hit while we chatted, and I kind of zoned out for a minute, leading them to ask "are you in labor right now?" I smiled and said I just might be! We took our time leaving church, and made it home around 9 pm, 4 hours after I'd realized my contractions were regular.
Once home, labor continued to pick up in intensity. I wanted all the lights off but one dim one in the living room, and one dim one in the kitchen. If you've been in our house, you know that the downstairs is one long rectangle with no halls but just rooms one behind the other. We fell into a rhythm: during a contraction, I'd walk from one end of the house to the other, breathing deeply, singing in my mind the song "Jesus, What a Friend for Sinners"; once the contraction stopped, I'd sit on my birthing ball in the small pool of light in the living room, with my mom holding a heating pad to my back and Ryan watching the clock. My contractions were very soon about 3 minutes apart, so he would tell me when I hit the 3 minute mark, and I'd stand up to start walking again-- walking made the contractions more bearable, but trying to stand up DURING a contraction was absolute agony. At some point in the night Ryan began walking with me during contractions, with me leaning on his back, my hands over his shoulders so he bore some of my weight. During some contractions we'd stand still and just sway together, like a slow dance. I wanted to be in the dark during contractions. Mom kept the hot water bottle as close to boiling hot as she could as that provided good relief. By 2 am I was unable to talk through contractions and was crying in between them. I wanted Ryan to take me to the hospital. He, however, had been noting my contractions and didn't think they were regular enough, varying in duration and spacing. Looking back, this was the first sign that Eowyn was not in an optimal birthing position (facing my back), but was either uneven (her head cocked) and/or facing my tummy. Since he didn't want us to get to the hospital too early and be put on their clock, he told me he'd take me in an hour if labor hadn't slowed down.
|In triage- attractive gown, huh?|
|Half of my tired labor team (my Mom)|
Tune in next time to read Day 2: Settling in for the Long Haul...