I woke up around 4am the morning of Monday, April 25th to go to the bathroom. Definitely not something out of the norm, I had been doing that since about month six of pregnancy. I felt slightly odd though and as I stepped out of the bathroom back into our room, I said Pete's name - he woke up and in that instant my water broke all over the floor! Finally!! We were really excited, and glad that it had happened at home and in the middle of the night. We went back to bed and tried to sleep for a few more hours before starting what would be the most exciting day of our lives.
I had maybe two contractions in two hours that lasted about 30 seconds each. I wasn't really sure if they were even contractions, they were just a discomfort that seemed worth noting. We decided to get up around 7:45am. Pete took care of the dogs and I took a shower and finished packing our bag for the hospital. The morning went by pretty fast - we ate breakfast, read the paper, etc. We had learned in our birthing class that early labor can last a long time and it was best to go about your day if you are trying to wait to go to the hospital. Our goal was to stay at home until my contractions were 1 minute long, and 5 minutes apart. I don't remember when the contractions started to get more regular - Pete was in charge of timing them, my only job was to try to stay comfortable. The only one I specifically remember was when I stood up from the dining room table and I told Pete, "I think I'm having a con----" and then I was on the floor. I physically could not stand up and thought, yep, this one is definitely a contraction.
We left for the hospital after lunch, when my contractions were between 45 seconds and 1 minute long, and they were 5 to 6 minutes apart. Luckily we live pretty close to the hospital so I only had to endure two contractions in the car. My labor was 100% in my back, so sitting in a car unable to move was pretty rough. We had preregistered at the hospital so we thought all we had to do was give our name when we got there and they'd be ready for us. What we did not do, however, was CALL MY DOCTOR to tell her I was in labor!!! Whoops! In all the excitement it completely did not occur to us. So it took a few minutes to give all my info at the registration desk before we got admitted to labor and delivery. Luckily, the lady at the desk was very nice and Pete answered most of the questions when I had to whimper into my pillow. That was around 1:15-1:30pm.
Our labor and delivery room seemed pretty typical - right away I was upset to be in a hospital room instead of my own house - I just didn't feel very comfortable (linoleum, bright lights, etc). I kind of lose track of time around here - but suffice to say I was in some serious pain and was questioning my ability to do this whole 'natural birth' thing. They wouldn't let me use the jacuzzi tub because my water had broken so long ago, and they didn't have a stool or chair for me to sit on in the shower (I couldn't really stand up without leaning against something at this point). They did find a labor ball but it was too small for me to use and by the time they found it I couldn't sit on anything without being in excruciating pain. I also couldn't lay down. I was most comfortable standing bent over at at the waist with my arms and torso resting on something - or on Pete, who held my arms as I walked/hobbled around the room.
According to our plan, Pete asked me to wait 15 to 30 minutes every time I inquired about medicine. I never did want an epidural (the being numb from the waist down thing scares me) but thought I might get an i.v. of Stadol just to let me rest for a bit. When we arrived at the hospital I was dilated to 4cm, and by 3:30pm I was only at 5cm. I asked the nurse on average how long it takes to progress to 10cm and she said approx. 1cm per hour. That was when I told Pete that I didn't think I had 4 more hours of natural labor in me. He reminded me that the doctor would be back in 30 minutes to check me and if I was only at a 6, we could discuss medication.
Sometime during this I started to feel as if I might have to 'bear down'. I told Pete that he might want to think about calling the nurse because I felt a little pressure. By the time the next contraction rolled around about a minute later, I yelled at Pete, "Call the nurse! I have to push NOW!!!" So he got my nurse and she came in the room to check me and I had gone from 5cm dilated to 9cm dilated in about 45 minutes!! Whoo-hoo!! I wasn't going to get drugs!! I knew something good was going on because suddenly there were 3 or 4 nurses in my room and they were opening packages and getting things out, moving stuff around, and people were murmuring about the location of my doctor - apparently she was with another woman in labor and they were having to find her, and later they were paging her. Shortly after this my nurses, and a doctor who came in who wasn't my doctor but was going to have to do in a pinch, were telling me I had to get on the bed and lie down on my back. I knew I was in the transition phase - the pushing phase- and that it could last up to 2 hours. I started pleading with them, telling them they didn't understand, I couldn't lie down, it hurt my back. I told them I was told I would have other options and that I couldn't be on my back for two hours. That was when my nurse said something like, "Honey, it's not going to be 2 hours, you can see your baby in 2 pushes." Pete and I were like, "WHAT?!?!?" And she said, "I can see her hair, you can reach down and touch her head if you like."
So I got on the bed and they started fiddling with stuff getting the bed ready, and then my doctor came in and made the other doctor leave and it was time for me to push. Pete was on my left side holding my hand and my nurse Trish was on my right side holding my hand. Apparently I kept closing my eyes because Trish would say my name really loud so I would open them. And they would tell me to push push push push!! And then I guess I closed my eyes again because Trish said, "Laura! I need you to look at me!" She was right up in my face at this point. And I yelled - really screamed at her - "I can't!!" "why?" "YOU SMELL LIKE SMOKE!!!!" Ha! How funny is that?!?!? Right after I said it I apologized profusely but Pete says everyone in the room kinda laughed and that the lady having the baby gets a pass for whatever she says at that particular moment in her life. So after 2 contractions - felt like 5 pushes to me - 5 super-painful-I-screamed-like-you-wouldn't-believe pushes - Ellie arrived!! It was 5:09pm - we'd only been at the hospital for 3 1/2 hours! I was really glad to be able to feel everything because I knew exactly where to focus my energy and as soon as she was born, all the pain was gone!
They put her on my tummy right away and clamped the cord, and Pete cut it. After a few minutes they took her to dry her off and weigh/measure her, then they gave her back to me! We stayed in the L&D room until 8:30pm or so, and then they moved us up to our recovery room. They didn't take her for her bath/tests until 9:30pm and they brought her back at 11:00pm. After that she was with us the rest of our stay. We were discharged Wednesday morning after a day and a half in the hospital. Our transition home was pretty easy thanks to family we had in town, especially Audrey who had prepared food for us, and Aunt Susie who stayed with us Wednesday through Saturday and bought our groceries, did laundry, and made sure we ate.
So that's it! I managed to deliver a baby!! Pete thinks I'm a rock star, I just think I'm lucky I progressed so quickly - channeling Grandma Prann all day must have done me some good :)
What a great story! I know Grandma Prann and I might channel her myself with this next baby. Well done, Laura and Ellie! We're so glad that baby girl is here.