This is the extra-long version! I wrote out every detail for myself, primarily. I'll add a condensed version in the next post.
I spent months telling everyone from my husband to my boss to my friend Julie (just hours before) that “it doesn’t work that way” and a very low percentage of women actually experienced their water breaking as the first clue they were going into labor. Then at 4:50am on Wednesday, December 29, 2010, it took me less than 3 seconds to realize what had woken me up was my water breaking. In the same way that water gurgles out of a bottle, that was what was happening to me. I got up, took a shower and started adding the finishing touches to our hospital bags. The night before, my friends Kat and Julie had been over, jokingly trying to talk me into having my water break and go into labor right then. I laughed and told them I thought it would be another week, so I wasn’t completely ready. I had gone to bed after Chris, and obviously, woken up before him. When his alarm went off at 5:30, he saw my side of the bed made and went into a panic thinking I had never come to bed and something terrible had happened to me. I was in the laundry room and couldn’t hear him calling me over the dryer. He was completely panicked, but finally found me. I assured him I had come to bed and that everything was fine. Once he had calmed down, I said, “You need to email your boss- my water broke.” He simply said “Okay” and started to walk out of the room. The door was about half way closed when suddenly it swung back open, he stuck his head in and said, “What?!”
Since I wasn’t having any contractions and the doctor’s office didn’t open for another few hours, I told Chris he had time to go into the office to drop off his company truck and some paperwork. He came back and we went back to bed until 8:15ish. I called my doctor’s office and they asked me to come in to confirm it was my water breaking (although there was no doubt in my mind). On the way to the doctor, we went by my parents’ to pick up some medication of Chris’s. They were both standing in the driveway, half asleep, with huge smiles on their faces. The doctor confirmed what was (really, really) obvious to everyone that my water had broken and sent me across the street to the hospital. I was incredibly excited to find out that my doctor was on call and would definitely be delivering the baby. We checked in around 10:30 that morning. Because my water had broken, the baby had to come within a certain time limit, since now there was risk of infection. I wasn’t having any contractions (other than very, very mild sporadic cramping), and we needed to get them started. I was put on a Pitocin drip at 11:30. At this point, I was only 1cm dilated. Also, even though she’d told me in the weeks before I had effaced, she said she didn’t think my cervix was any more than 10% effaced. In other words, no cervix progress at all. The Pitocin kicked in and I was having regular contractions by 12:30. By 2pm, they were incredibly painful and coming every 2 minutes. During the contractions, I was sure that if they got any more painful I wouldn’t be able to handle it. However, between contractions I felt fine. We were laughing and listening to music and having a good time. During contractions, it didn’t take long to find the only position I could handle – standing. I had back pain and a lot of pressure in my rectum. So I was standing with my hands on the back of Chris’s shoulders, leaning on him. He didn’t mind at all, it was like he was getting a back massage ;-)
The doctor checked me about 2:15 and I was 2-3 cm and no effacement change. At 2:30, though, Chris and the nurse pretty much had me talked into the epidural. I was trying to put it off as long as possible because I was afraid that it would slow things down, stop me from dilating, and we’d end up with a C-section. Predictably, I caved and asked for the epidural. The worst part of the epidural was when they asked Chris to leave the room. I started crying and panicking – I did not want him to leave my side. However, the nurse that was there was very calming and very helpful. The epidural itself wasn’t too painful and much easier than I’d anticipated. Sitting through contractions was hard, but I was focused on the end results – both of the epidural and of the labor, and that really helped me be calm and still. However, after the epidural I was miserable. Not only was I still feeling every bit of the contractions, now I was confined to the bed and had a really painful catheter. More crying followed – I was sure the epidural wasn’t going to work and I’d have to go through the whole labor feeling everything. Finally the nurses also were convinced that the epidural wasn’t working and started prepping for a second epidural. That was in place at 4:15 and by 4:20 I felt good – really, really good! At this point I was still just 2-3 cm dilated.
We went to sleep, and were periodically woken up to have me checked. At 5pm (12 hours after my water had broken), I was 4cm dilated, 90% effaced, and a -1 station. They added an internal monitor for the contractions and upped the Pitocin. At 7:30pm they added an internal monitor for the baby’s heart rate as well. This was quickly followed by oxygen and increased fluids because her heart rate was lower than they wanted to see. The doctor said she was glad to see I was now at 7cm, 100% effaced, and 0 station, so we were going to continue on as we had been. In other words, sleeping. Thankfully her heart rate came back up and we were off the oxygen by 10:15.
Dr. Cherry was absolutely great. I was very aware of the clock and the fact that most doctors want to see a baby out within 24ish hours of the water breaking. However, Dr. Cherry never once mentioned a C-section – she just kept telling me she was glad to see constant progress and that everything was going great. I knew what wasn’t being said by the nurses was that I was progressing too slowly, though. Chris had told me to not even think about C-sections, to visualize the birth that I wanted … and I just kept doing that. Dr. Cherry kept telling me everything was fine, and I kept the vaginal birth on the front of my mind.
At 9:30 I was dilated to 8.5 cm.
At 11pm, pain had woken me up. I was having pretty sharp back pain and was again feeling the contractions. Over the next half hour, the back pain became worse and worse. The doctor checked me, found I was at 9.5 cm dilated, and thought the epidural was wearing off. We talked and she explained that once I was complete (fully dilated and effaced) then we’d start pushing. However, that would take somewhere between 1 and 3 hours since this was my first baby. So we added another bolis shot (am I saying that right?) to the epidural, anticipating several more hours of labor. Since the baby was still at a 0 station, they rolled me over practically on my stomach to help her and me “labor down.” This was all done by 12 and they told us to go back to sleep so we could get some rest before pushing. They woke me up at 1am (now December 30) and told me I was complete and it was time to start pushing. Chris woke up out of his coma with the biggest smile on his face! By the time they’d setup the room and gathered all the doctors and nurses, it was almost 1:30.
The first push was at 1:30. I was shocked to hear that she had lots of hair and asked for a mirror. There she was! A full head of dark brown hair was right there and ready to be born. I sent the mirror back, afraid that seeing a tear or lots of blood would scare me out of pushing as hard as I needed, too, though. 12 minutes and 21 pushes later, she was born!
I’ll never forget the sound of Chris’s voice when she came out. He had been the best labor coach possible, and as I was pushing was encouraging and supportive and … wonderful. As she crowned and came out, his voice jumped 2 octaves and he started crying, “Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmgyod, Sara she’s here!”
The whole experience was perfect. I wouldn’t have to stretch to say Chris and I had fun. The pain, thanks to the (working) epidural wasn’t bad at all. Migraines are worse than that labor and delivery. I felt what I assume was the “ring of fire” as she crowned, but it was barely painful and was mostly just helpful in letting me know to keep pushing!
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