I love birth stories. As we begin to introduce ourselves to you, I thought I’d share N and my birth story with you. It was one of my most favorite days, one I am most proud of, and one of the most life changing in so, so many ways. The thing I love about birth stories is they are all unique. Even the same woman, with more than child, has different stories. They are precious, individual and wonderful. I know not all birth stories go this way and I’m so, so thankful mine did. I empathize with people who had to deal with trauma, crisis or a delivery they did not anticipate and weren’t prepared for. I pray and hope they one day get to TELL the birth story they have longed for. With that said, here is my story.
My due date came and went and at my 40 week appointment I was 80% effaced and 1 cm dilated. My belly seemed to be constantly tight, it looked like an alien was moving inside me, and I was losing mucus like I was made of it. At some point in that last week, I called our doctor’s nurse and cried to her that I was having irregular and inconsistent contractions and that I was scared I wouldn’t know when I was in labor. She promised I would know. Our doc expected our baby to be good sized so we talked about inducing. But we just wanted this babe to come when he or she was ready and agreed that if at my 41 week appointment nothing had changed, we would consider inducing.
At 40 weeks and three days I woke up to what was really the loss of my mucus plug (Wow!) and contractions about 3:30 am. These were different than the braxton hicks I had been feeling for several weeks and what, from my new perspective, seemed to be the “simple” tightening of my abdomen. I couldn’t shake these and I couldn’t sleep. The nurse was right, these were different. I went downstairs and started paying bills, picking up the house and taking care of a few other things that needed to get done. When the contractions became more painful I jumped in the shower. When the shower didn’t settle them or me, I got out and started timing them. Holy smokes, they were two and a half minutes apart – 1 minute contractions with 1 1/2 minutes of rest. I immediately called my parents in Northwest Iowa and let them know it was time to get on the road. From the classes we took at the hospital, we understood we were supposed to head to the hospital when my water broke or my contractions were two minutes apart. I hung on with two-minute, consistent contractions until about 8 am when we called the hospital. Of course, the hospital said the only way they could know where I was is if I went in and got checked. I was dreading going to the hospital and getting sent home but the alternative was delivering this baby on my living room floor and I was even less excited about that option.
We headed to the hospital, parked in the garage and walked in. They sent me to triage to get checked. After getting hooked up to the monitor, we learned I was having contractions! But, sadly, I was still only dilated to 1 cm. The nurses suggested this was pre-labor and I would probably not have this baby for 36-48 hours. This was the worst news! There was no way I could do this for another 36-48 hours. On top of that, the labor and delivery and mother baby unit had just received a new computer system. No one knew how to work it yet, and everything just kept beeping. This may seem like a minor detail. But I promise you, in that moment, it was horrible! I was trying to relax and manage my contractions and I kept getting interrupted by an annoying BEEEEP, BEEEEP, BEEEEP that just reminded me of the extreme pain I was experiencing. When they left us in the room, I made Seano press buttons until the beeping stopped because, in those moments, it was the most annoying sound ever! Before we left, they offered me pain medicine but I declined. If I had to do this for another two days, I needed to save the medicine for later. We headed home with hanging chins. Disappointed, I called my parents and passed on the information. They decided to continue their journey as they knew the show was at least on the road and would prefer to be here waiting rather than miss the big event.
Seano and I chose to spend the next hours of labor together alone at our home. After all, these were the last hours we would spend as a couple; in a few hours or days we would be a three-person family. I drank lots of water, ate a little food, took a bath, used the birthing ball, walked, laid, and sat. Right after something felt comfortable, it wouldn’t. Labor progressed slowly at first, and then faster and harder as time went on.
I couldn’t sleep and the contractions continued to become more and more aggressive. About 2 pm I was exhausted and decided I needed pain medication. If I was to manage two minute contractions for two days, I needed some sleep. We headed back to the hospital for pain medicine.
Maternity photos in this post were taken by the wonderful Ginger Haddock with Fern Bird Photography.