I had a routine checkup at 11:30am last Tuesday 1/5/16. Michael came along because they were doing an ultrasound to confirm she was head down. I decided not to have my midwife do a cervical exam – we’d just wait until the following week’s appointment since we were still 16 days out. Michael’s mom also came to the appointment because afterwards the 3 of us were going to tour a local gym since it was near my doctor’s office.
About half way through the gym tour I felt a strange liquid come out of me. Ironically I had just talked to my sister the day before and she told me the mucus plug felt like 30 tiny snails sliding out of her body. That’s exactly what it felt like. I asked the tour guide where the closest bathroom was and I headed in the direction with my heart pounding. It was definitely my mucus plug.
I came out of the bathroom and we finished the tour. I continued to leak liquid as we all walked back to the car. I was nervous to say something but I finally muttered, “I had a strange discharge come out when I was in the bathroom.” Michael and his mom looked at me like…okaaaaay??? I googled on the way home and it was pretty clear that it had been my plug, but that it could be days or even weeks still before my water broke (however, I didn’t realize that the “continued liquid” coming out all the way home was in fact my water breaking). We got home and I started noticing my contractions (I had been having them pretty regularly for a few weeks now) were stronger than normal, so I called my midwife (around 2:20pm). She said to start timing them and to call back in one hour if they were consistently under 4 min apart, lasting 1 minute. After an hour of just that, I called back and she said to take a bath, drink some water and eat something light and call back in one hour. After an hour I called back and she said to go the hospital.
It was so sweet to see how excited Michael was, running around the house gathering everything we needed (I hadn’t packed my bags yet – it was on my baby “to-do” list that week). I called my mom and sister to tell them and packed the diaper bag and around 4:45pm Michael and I headed to the hospital. My contractions were getting more painful by now and we had to pause in front of the hospital doors so I could have a contraction…a few moms passed by me with sympathetic smiles. They admitted us to triage so the nurse could do a cervical exam. She was going to make me wait 30 minutes before deciding to send me home or keep me, but my contractions were getting really close and more intense so she decided to skip the 30 minute wait period and took me down to labor and delivery (I was only between 2-3cm).
It was about 5:30pm by now and we were settled into the room. The nurses were asking me about my pain management plan (which was basically: natural unless I need the drugsssss) and they mentioned that they could give me Fentanyl to take off the edge if that was something I wanted. After another hour passed, I decided to try 50mcg of Fentanyl. The effects lasted about an hour and it definitely helped. The next hour we went up to 75mcg and I decided to try the jetted bathtub…again, it was a totally doable hour. At this point I was thinking that this was no problem! The 3rd hour (and final hour since they only allow 3 doses of Fentanyl) I went up to 100 mcg and tried the tub again, however the effects wore off much faster and my contractions were getting more intense. I started to chat to the nurse about an epidural. They did a cervical exam and I was only 4cm. Since I hadn’t been hooked up to fluids yet, I had to get some in me before I could get the epidural so they hooked up my IV. After waiting about 30 minutes to hydrate, they called in the epidural but it took another 30 minutes because the anesthesiologist had just started on another patient. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life. It was about 11:30pm when he finally administered the drugs. I was nervous about getting a shot in my spine (having to stay still during a contraction sounded impossible) but I barely felt the needle.
By midnight I was finally starting to feel the effects and by 12:30am I was feeling reeeeeal good. The nurse said we should rest and they would continue checking me. By 2am I was 10cm but I wasn’t feeling any urge to push so they said we would wait. 5:30am rolls around and even though I still wasn’t feeling any urge to push they said we needed to start trying. I remember looking at the clock at 5:40 and mentally thinking, “okay, it’s 5:40 and I’m beginning to push” – as a mental note to myself to track how long the pushing would be. By 6am I had made zero progress so they turned my epidural drip down from 10 to 8 so that I could feel the contractions. They also decided to give me pitocin to speed up my contractions because they were about 7 minutes apart and baby’s heart rate kept dropping in between. By now I was feeling my contractions as if my epidural was totally turned off (and maybe worse because I was confined to a bed). I tried a few pushes through the pain but by 6:45ish I was so tired and in so much pain I was refusing to push. A contraction would come and the nurses would tell me to push and I literally shook my head and said no…for about 8 contractions. My midwife ended up calling in her back-up MD since I was not progressing and we were going on almost 17 hours of labor by now. Around 7am, the doctor comes in along with about 5 NICU nurses (as a precaution since her blood pressure kept dropping). The doctor gets in her position and looks me in the eye and says, “Okay Paige, we are going to use the vacuum. I need you to push as hard as you can because if I have to try 3 times and fail, or it the vacuum pops off once you have to have a c-section.” I started to cry then but it didn’t last long because a contraction was coming. I pushed 3 times as hard as I could. Apparently I made good progress because I heard one nurse say, “Okay Paige, your next contraction you’re going to have your baby”…I distinctly remember thinking “yeah right.” But sure enough, another contraction came and on the first push I felt her head pop out and then the 2nd push I felt as though everything inside of me was coming out and felt a huge pop/pressure and then all of a sudden I saw the doctor holding a baby. As soon as she was out I felt such a huge amount of relief and no pain. Michael said he’ll never forget the noise I made when she came out of me haha. All I remember thinking when I saw the doctor holding her up was: “omg she’s HUGE. I can’t believe something so big just came out of me.” But then when I held her for the first time she felt so tiny.
I immediately started crying…the hormones and sense of adrenaline immediately following are crazy! Thankfully she didn’t need to go to the NICU and they laid her on my chest. Michael cut the umbilical cord and a nurse rubbed her body for a few minutes with a towel. Meanwhile, the doctor was stitching me up, because thanks to the vacuum I had a fun little 3rd degree tear (for reference, 4th degree is the worst). Thankfully I didn’t feel any of this since I was numb, but it took her a while to finish. I’m glad I didn’t see what it looked like down there but now I am kind of curious. Probably for the best though. Michael go to see it all…he said he now understands why so many women have died from childbirth…thank god for modern medicine!
She laid on my chest for about an hour and then they took her to do all the assessments etc. I was famished since I hadn’t eaten since lunch the previous day, so Michael ordered us room service (buttermilk pancakes, bacon, eggs and hashbrowns). I was pretty impressed with the hospital food during our stay. If I could, I’d order their chocolate milkshake right now!
The next 2 days were pure bliss. Even though I had a lot of pain from my tear and I couldn’t move around very easily, those next two days and nights in the hospital were so nice and I’ll always cherish that time the 3 of us had. It was actually really hard for me to leave and come home. My first 24 hours at home were hard. I cried a lot, and I had a lot of anxiety about not being back in our sweet, safe hospital room. My sister-in-law phrased it well…she said for about a year after giving birth, she’d drive by the hospital wishing she could be back there as if those few days were a resort vacation…that’s exactly how it felt for me…the best vacation ever and I didn’t want it to end.
As I sit here and type this, today marks one week from when my labor began. Each day gets better and better having June in our regular life now, but part of me is still mourning the fading hospital stay. It was like time was frozen still and literally the only care in the world for me and Michael was to soak up every little thing about our new baby.
January 6, 2016. 6lbs 11 ounces. 19 inches long. Elizabeth June Jones.