On the evening of December 19th, Jeff and I were in the process of wrapping up a really productive day. We had just made a huge batch of homemade pasta sauce and were ready to camp out on the couch for the night. We make our own pasta sauce and wanted to make a fresh batch to freeze for all the upcoming dinner's that will be spent at home. Not a lot of dinner's out for us in the near future!! Not a very flattering picture of me above, however, we thought the sauce all over my belly was pretty funny. The belly kept getting in a way a lot at the end!!! Little did I know at that point that labor was going to be starting for me a few short hours later. Around 8pm that night, I started to feel my first REAL contractions. I could tell immediately that they were not Braxton Hicks, not even close. I had been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions pretty frequently the past few weeks and these were not them. These HURT. The pain was centralized right under my belly button, it was an intense tightening of the bottom of my uterus for several seconds and then it would stop. A Braxton Hicks contraction was a tightening of my whole belly, these were very different and right below my belly button. At that time I was still not completely sure that this was it. I had only a few of them and thought it was just another sign of my body getting ready, not actual labor itself. We went to bed around 11pm that evening, I was still experiencing the random contraction, but didn't think too much about it.
By 2am, I was waking up every 15 minutes with contractions. I was starting to watch the clock to see if they were time able. I was in and out of sleep and thought they were at least 15 minutes apart. After a few hours, they were certainly considered to be time able and I started to become a little nervous by the pain. Around 7am, Jeff woke up and I told him about my sleepless night. I thought about waking him up earlier but didn't want him to not sleep either. I got up to shower just in case it was the real thing. I also started to write down how often I would experience a contraction and how long they were lasting. They started to come every 10 minutes, then every 8 minutes, and then they would slow back down again to every 20 and then every 15. They were very inconsistent at that point so I was completely confused to what was going on. The instructions given to me by my OB were to call if the contractions were 5 minutes apart for an hour and a half. I was no where near even close to that.
Jeff and hung out most of the day watching the Browns game and writing down how often I would get a contraction. They were still very inconsistent yet very painful. To kill some time, we decided to finish up the last of our home improvement projects by hanging up the guest bedroom and dining room curtains that I had bought. We figured it had to be done now or several months from now. As Jeff hung the curtain rods, I did laps around the kitchen trying to work through my contractions. I was still trying to figure out if this was really it or not. By 10pm, the contractions were consistently every 6 minutes and I was miserable. I decided to foregoe the whole 5 minute rule and call my OB. I wanted to see what she would say since I had been having contractions for over 24 hours by then. After speaking with her, she told me to head to the hospital to be observed. Jeff and I grabbed our bags, the car seat, locked up the house, and left for the hospital.
While driving in the car, I realized that my contractions had subsided. Nothing for 10 minutes! I couldn't believe it, I was so upset. After all of the pain and misery that I had been dealing with for over a day seemed like a waste. We arrived at the hospital and I was still only having a contraction every 10 minutes. I felt like such an idiot and was starting to severely doubt myself and my ability to know if I was in labor or not. There is a shopping center across the street from the hospital so we decided to hang out in the Target parking lot and debate our next move. Should we wait it out and hope my contractions come back or turn around and go home before we wasted any one's time. I was so torn and pretty upset. The contractions that I was still having were horrible yet only 10 minutes apart. I started to have a few more lasting around 6-8 minutes apart so we decided just to check in to the hospital and see what they had to say. I was admitted into the labor & delivery triage around 11pm. I explained to the nurse what I had been going through all day. She hooked me up to several machines to monitor my contractions and the baby's heartbeat. Again, I felt like a total faker and a big wimp because clearly my contractions were few and far between by that point. The monitor clearly reflected that failure. I honestly think my contractions had stage fright. The doctor on-call came in and didn't look very convinced that I was in labor either. She performed an internal exam and I was only dilated less than a centimeter and 80% effaced. She also made it a point to tell me that "she had very small fingers." Thanks!!! It was some progress since my last internal exam a week ago when I wasn't dilated at all and 50% effaced but nothing to really brag about. The doctor suggested that we walk the hall for a few hours to see what happened. The contractions started to pick up again after a few laps and were horribly painful. By far the most painful contractions that I had experienced yet. I would have to lean on the hallway railing and endure a lot of heavy breathing. We would walk by the nursery to look at all the new babies, even their cute little faces could not change my mood. Just looking at them made me feel like I was still very far away from meeting our baby. All it did was frustrate me even more. I headed back over to the triage monitoring area and was hooked back up again to the monitors. Again, my contractions were weak and pathetic, nothing like what I had been experiencing walking around the labor and delivery floor of the hospital. At that point, I started to cry, I was really tired and in a lot of pain. I was so afraid that I was going to be sent back home for another very long and painful night. You could tell the on-call doctor was still not convinced that I was in labor, however, she called my OB and let her know my situation. I was convinced that I was going home. The on-call doctor came back into our room and said that my OB still wanted to admit me since I was in so much pain. I couldn't believe it, thank god!!! So, I was taken to a labor and delivery room to begin the birthing process. I remember asking my nurse if there was any chance that I would be sent home at that point and she told me no, the next time I would be going home would be with my baby. I finally felt like we were going to meet our baby. Finally!!! The nurse gave me a drug call Nubane via an IV to help with the pain. I really don't think the Nubane helped. Maybe for about an hour but I was still in a lot of pain. I remember laying in my bed watching a computer monitor to my right which was monitoring the baby's heartbeat and my contractions. You could see the black line slowly increasing as a contraction was coming, I would brace myself and start to breath through it, and then 30 seconds later, it would slowly subside. I recall just watching that screen and just wanting to cry as I saw that line slowly moving up and then so happy when it would slowly go down. I watched that darn screen ALL NIGHT LONG as the contractions grew closer and closer together. They were finally 5 minutes apart and I no longer felt like a fraud. Jeff laid on the "man couch" in the room in and out of sleep watching me squirm and pant my way through the contractions all night. It was the longest night of my life, my second night of painful contractions with zero sleep.
In the morning, a new nurse had come in explaining that she had just started her shift at 7am and was going to be my labor and delivery nurse for the day. Her name was Karen, a good sign, and was actually quite friendly. I was not a fan of my other nurse, you could tell she thought I was completely wasting her time and was pretty unenthusiastic about dealing with me. You could also tell she completely disagreed with my OB's decision to admit me instead of sending me home.
Nurse Karen was full of all sorts of good news. She let me know that my epidural was on it's way and that my OB had also called and was also on her way to examine me. My contractions at that point were just awful. To a point where I was starting to get nauseous and I asked for a plastic tub to keep beside me in case I had to vomit. My mouth was so dry from all the breathing and I had a horrible taste in my mouth from the Nubane. During my pregnancy, the most terrifying thought of the whole labor experience for me was the epidural. The thoughts of a huge needle going into my back scared me to death and I just couldn't imagine how something that looked that scary provided any kind of relief. It was funny how things change because the contractions were so horrible and painful, I was no longer afraid of the epidural. I was afraid experiencing more contractions that seem to just keep coming without a lot of relief in between. The anesthesiologist came in and it literally felt like kittens had licked on the epidural needle into my back compared to the contraction pain that I had been dealing with. Once the epidural had finally taken over my body and numbed my lower half, I was a completely different person. I had started watching "A Baby Story" on TLC religiously the last few weeks and couldn't quite understand why the women would tell their husbands to be quiet and scold them for even trying to have a conversation with them during a contraction. I also couldn't quite understand why they needed to have a quiet environment. I would laugh at them and say to myself, I would never tell Jeff to be quiet during labor, how ridiculous. Ha, never say never! As I was dealing with my contractions on our couch at home, I begged Jeff to mute the Browns game during each painful contraction. The noise of the TV drove me absolutely nuts and I would focus on it instead of trying to work through the contraction. I needed silence, I turned into "that girl" on A Baby Story!!!!!
I finally just laid in my bed, enjoying my epidural and felt myself slowly returning to a normal, more sane human being. Around 10am my OB had come into administer an internal exam. I was 3 centimeters and 100% effaced by that point!!!!! I was progressing on my own and was so happy. The nurse had also started to administer Pitocin to get things moving along. All we had to do was wait for me to hit ten centimeters so I could push. Another fear of mine was that I was going to be one of those women who's body stalls out at 6 centimeters and never gets to ten. As I continued to lay there and chatted with Jeff, I felt a wet trickle down my leg. Either I had just peed myself since I no longer had a lot of feeling in my legs, or my water broke. I rang for my nurse and she checked me out. She concurred that my water had just broke on it's own. I was really excited, I felt like it was another personal victory of my body progressing as it should have. Things really started to move forward after my water broke, my bloody show then started and out came my mucus plug right behind it. Thank God I hadn't gone home, how awful it would have been to have to go through all of that without being in a hospital!!!! It was pretty obvious at that point that our baby was going to arrive sooner than later so Jeff started to call our families to have them head to the hospital. Both of our parents were able to hang out in our room with us until it was time for me to push. At 2pm, I was starting to feel my contractions again as my epidural slowly started to wear off. Ugh. So we called the anesthesiologist again and he re-medicated me. I was concerned that the epidural had stopped working for me all together but luckily the contractions slowly faded away again.
My nurse came into our room again 3:30pm and checked me out. I was officially ten centimeters!!!! She said that she felt her head right there and could feel her some of her hair!! It was time to push. I got really nervous, another part of the labor process that freaked me out. Thoughts of tearing, not being able to push her out, a traumatic delivery for me or the baby all kept rolling around in my head. My nurse and Jeff had me try some practice pushes which pretty much was the real deal. I didn't feel like I pushed well at all. The extra dose of my epidural made me numb and I couldn't really feel when the contractions were coming enough to effectively push. So we kept trying more pushes which felt like an eternity with no real progress. The nurse wheeled a large mirror over to me so I could watch me pushing down her head. I was a pretty crappy pusher, at least in my opinion, but I kept trying. My OB showed up finally and took over from there. She was a drill sargeant. She kept telling me to picture someone I was mad at or wanted to punch. Lovely!!!! After what felt like a chaotic few minutes, I saw my OB bring my baby over my legs and on to my stomach. I didn't expect to see her at all but there she was!!! It was all such a blur but I do remember very clearly seeing her little arms raised above her head as she landed on my chest. I couldn't believe how cute and perfect she was. I had often thought about what she looked like but I was not even close to how cute she was in person. The doctors then whisked her off to the corner of the room where they cleaned her up and evaluated her.
There were a few things that were not very smooth in my delivery that I will write about in another post. Towards the end of my delivery, Jill's heartbeat started to creep into the 180's which started to concern everyone. My OB was also very concerned about the amniotic band that we had been evaluating throughout my pregnancy. Both of those reasons prompted my OB to bring in the NICU team just in case they needed to whisk her off to the NICU. Seeing all of the doctors waiting in the corner of my delivery room for my baby girl to arrive made me quite nervous. I remember asking Jeff a million times if Jill was OK as they checked her out. He kept giving me the thumbs up sign that all was well. Jill really didn't cry that much in the beginning which made me nervous but she was fine and I was thrilled. As I started to relax a bit knowing that she was OK and breathing on her own, I realized my OB was stitching me up. Oh boy, did I tear? No! Here she had performed an episiotomy on me at some point during my delivery and I don't even recall her doing it. I was actually quite relieved that I didn't know. I probably would have freaked out during the anticipation of her performing the procedure. I also remember asking her if we had to wait for the placenta to come out and she told me it was already out. I had to have been completely out of it if I didn't even realize I had an episiotomy and had also delivered my placenta without even realizing both of those events had occurred. I heard my OB tell the nurse to send my placenta to be tested because of the amniotic band.
After my little girl was all cleaned up, they brought her over to me for some Kangeroo care. She was all warm, alert and very eager to check out her Mommy. She was so cute!!! She has a beautiful head of dark hair just like her Mommy and was such a little peanut! I had not expected her to be only six pounds, I was expecting an eight pounder for sure. She was just so precious, I was finally a Mommy!