I wasn’t expecting to go into labor early, or even by my due date, so when my EDD (March 21) came and went, I really didn’t think much of it. Susie (oldest sister) was going to Doula for me, and we had taken the gamble that I would go late, so she was flying in the following Tuesday, about four days past my due date. Until then, I was under strict instructions to not do anything to try to induce labor.
Tuesday came, and I was convinced that it wouldn’t take much to send me into labor. Susie was due in at 4pm, so that morning I started pumping in hopes that contractions would start. I was having a couple little contractions, but nothing big or even painful. We picked Susie and Cora up, and began an evening of trying to induce labor naturally. We headed to bed sure that something would start soon. The next morning, I was in so much pain from walking the night before (sciatica issues through third trimester), that we made an appointment to go see the midwife and hopefully have my membranes stripped. I was just tired and ready to get moving. I was at 2cm and 80% effacement, and one of the midwives Diane, stripped my membranes. I had a standing appointment for Friday (41 weeks) and Diane said she was sure I wouldn’t make it.
We were super excited and sure that labor was on its way, so headed home to get some rest. I pumped, bounced, squatted. All the things that are supposed to help labor start. Another night came and went. Thursday was much of the same. Dahvede stayed home to be close; we took Cora to the park, and did more of the same from the previous two days.
Friday morning I woke up very frustrated. I had really not wanted to still be pregnant by that point. Dahvede and I loaded up and headed in for the ultrasound and appointment. He was still head down and looking good, so we went in to see the midwife. We were just relieved to not be headed in for an induction. The midwife I saw (Mina this time) checked me. I was at “a generous 3” and still 80%. Again, they stripped my membranes. We headed for home again, with an appointment for Monday morning, but once again assured by the midwife that I wouldn’t be using it.
I was tired. Frustrated. Over it. We went home so I could take a nap and rest up, and planned to take Cora to the splash pad a bit later in the afternoon. I noticed that I had a lot of discharge, and ended up putting a pad on. I mentioned it to Susie, but she said it was normal for the end of pregnancy, so I didn’t think much of it. I went to get changed to take Cora out, and noticed the pad was full. Again, I wasn’t very concerned, so I just decided to put a new one on. I was upstairs, and the pads were downstairs, so I carried on getting dressed, and went down to meet everyone. As I got downstairs, Susie awkwardly told me that I had wet through my pants. Sure enough there was a 6” wet patch on my pants. We carried on, took care of it, and headed to the car. We were in the car about to leave when Susie and I were chatting a bit and she realized I had already filled a pad. She ran upstairs to where I had changed and found the pad (mom of 4… nothing phases her anymore). Sure enough, when she came back, she told me that I was leaking amniotic fluid. From what we could gather, the midwife must have nicked my bag of waters, and I had a slow leak. I still wasn’t really having contractions, so we grabbed a towel to put underneath me, and carried on to the splash pad. I called the midwife on call (Diane, from the first appointment), and left a message. I knew from previous conversations that they would allow me 24 hours to go into labor naturally. Diane called back about an hour later and confirmed what I had already expected. She said she expected to see me before the 24 hours were up, but if I hadn’t gone into labor by about 10am the following day, to give her a call.
We headed home before long and once again… pulled out the pump, and the yoga ball. I squatted, and bounced, and pumped. Lather, rinse, repeat. My father-in-law flew in that night from Saudi Arabia for a QUICK weekend trip between conferences. I still felt good, so he came by with his mom for a visit. We stayed up until about 11pm trying to get something happening but still nothing. I went to bed devastated. I felt like my body was failing me. I felt like I was headed down a slippery slope of interventions that I very much did not want.
Saturday morning we were up early, and decided to try to just relax and go out for breakfast. I remember sitting at breakfast choking back tears. I was so frustrated and exhausted. I cried and cried. Finally, around 10:30, Susie called Diane for me. I was so upset I didn’t want to get on the phone. She said to head to the hospital within the next few hours (best midwife ever), to get checked out. So we finalized our packing, and headed out.
We got through registration quickly and they checked in triage to make sure my water had really broken. It had, so they started the admission process. Once I was settled in my room, Diane came in and checked me. I hadn’t progressed since the previous day. I was frustrated, but feeling excited to at least be at the hospital and getting my baby soon, so I carried on. She then attempted to “re-break” my water. From what we could guess there must have been a fore-bag of waters. We never truly got that gush of water we were waiting for, but she said she thought she got it, so we started walking the halls. They were checking the baby’s heart rate every 30 minutes with a Doppler, but it was supposed to be through a contraction, which I still couldn’t feel, so we just guessed. After an hour or two, Diane came back and suggested we order cervadil to help me dilate. I knew we had to do something (it had already been 30+ hours of my water being broken. She said as she was putting it in, that it kept “trying to come back out.”
I had to be on the monitors full time at that point, so I snuggled into bed and visited with Susie and Dahvede. At some point, Thomas (father-in-law) and Mary (Dahvede’s Grandma) came by to visit. I was still not really noticing contractions. After they left, we put on a movie and started to doze. I was beginning to notice contractions, but they weren’t overly painful, so I was dozing between them. I got up to go to the bathroom, and I discovered that the cervadil was falling out. My nurse told Diane, who then ordered another one and re-inserted it.
Wow. It did its job. It got put in VERY well, and contractions suddenly were strong and painful. I think that was around 11pm. I remember wondering how I thought I could sleep through them. At that point, I had to focus. I had taken classes and read and read and read, but now it was real. I figured out that I was “vocal” to put it nicely. I would basically critique Dahvede and Susie between contractions. “Say this.” “Do NOT say that.” “Don’t shush me.” “Stop telling me to put my head back.”
The furthest thing from my plan was being induced and staying in bed, yet that was where I found myself, and that was where I was comfortable. I felt warm, and safe, so I stayed there.
Around 2 or 3 (it was very hazy), I was reaching the end of my patience for the bed. Contractions hurt, and I was tired. It was time for the tub. I was so excited. Unfortunately the hose for the tub was practically trickling, so by the time it was filled and ready (and in all honesty, I got in when it was still only about half full), it had been an roughly an hour. Oh, but the tub. It felt amazing. The warm water let my muscles finally relax between contractions, and I could rest a little bit. Dahvede got in with me and just held me. Things carried on that way for a while, but I eventually got restless, so Diane suggested I get on my knees and lean over the edge. Dahvede sat behind me, and Susie held my hands. I was so exhausted that I went into a trance like state between contractions. I have little to no memory between the pain. I remember moments of exhaustion and pain. Whispering cries to my sister that it hurt and I honestly didn’t know I could do it. She did the best thing she could have done. She let me say it. She asked me if I wanted something. I remember thinking I that I wanted the pain to stop, but I didn’t want the drugs. She agreed to count to five (our childbirth educator suggested “buying five contractions”). She said she stopped counting around 15, because I had forgotten. I wasn’t ready to give in to the pain. I believed that my body had been made to do this.
At some point, Dahvede came out of the tub and took over for Susie. I don’t how long it was after that, but I guess the baby started moving down, causing my sciatica pain to flare. Susie was dozing in the corner when she said she woke up to me shrieking. I was handling the pain, but I couldn’t get away from the sciatica. She was my rock star in that moment. In her maxi skirt and everything, she climbed into the tub with me, and stuck the palm of her hand into my backside to help me with the pain. Everything still hurt, but it took the shooting pain away, allowing me to just concentrate on contractions again.
Before long (at least it seemed that way to me), I started feeling “different” at the end of contractions. I hoped against hope that my body was getting ready to push. I was spent. Every inch of me hurt, and I was reaching the end of my rope. It was around 5am at this point. I said I thought I might feel pushy, to which Diane responded, “You’ll know when you have to push.” I didn’t know what it would feel like, so I carried on through another few contractions before saying I thought I was feeling the urge to push. Diane agreed to check me, and in my mind, I decided that if I wasn’t close, I needed something to help me with the pain. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
I was ecstatic when she reported I was 9.5cm. I later discovered that at 2am when she removed the cervadil, I was only at 4.5cm. In just 3 hours of labor, I had dilated 5cm and I was given permission to push when I felt like it.
I tried to push in the tub for a few minutes, but I knew I wasn’t allowed to birth in the tub, and was having a hard time engaging there, so we opted to get me onto the bed to push. After trying a few things, I settled on sitting on the edge of the bed, bracing my feet on the squat bar, and holding on to the bed handles. Susie helped coach me, and we started pushing. I had great hopes that I would inherit my sisters pushing luck (never more than 20 min of pushing), but it was quickly evident that no such thing was happening. Diane told me to stop checking the clock after every push. So we carried on. It hurt, but it felt good to do something about the pain finally. I was so tired though. I remember wishing that this were like a team relay and I could tag the next team member.
Dahvede, Diane and Susie cheered me on. They coached me through pushes and counted down for me. Finally I heard the most amazing words. “We can see his head!” A few more pushes and I was able to reach down and touch his wrinkly little head. That was it for me. He was SO close. Another few pushes and his head was out. I desperately asked when I could push again and they said whenever I felt another contraction. I didn’t know if I was having one or not, but I said I was finally, amazingly, pushed my little boy into the world. Dahvede caught our precious little son and placed him immediately on my chest. I will never forget how warm and squishy and wonderful he felt. I couldn’t believe he was here. I had done it! He was perfect. He was mine. I just kept saying over and over and over “You’re mine. You’re my baby. Hi baby.” Dahvede wept. Susie wept. I surprisingly didn’t. I had cried myself out the week leading up.
Ezra Michael was born at 6:50am, March 30, 2014, after 40 hours of labor and an hour of pushing.