Penny with Grandma Stoneman 5 days old
I was due on Wednesday, July 11th. I had a doctor's appointment that day and she told me I was 90% effaced and that she could feel the baby's head when she stripped my membranes. That gave me hope that I was super close. I went to the chiropractor's office and she gave my hips and shoulders an adjustment and I was convinced that I would go into labor in the next 24 hours. Nothing happened until Saturday morning. I woke up about 4:30 am with very very light contractions. I wasn't even sure they were contractions. But the sensation was happening about every 20 minutes, so I figured they were. I started timing them and got a few things done thinking we were going to the hospital later that day. I woke Scott up and told him I wanted a big breakfast, so we went and got breakfast. Then walked around the farmer's market. I was really tired when we got home so I took a nap and all the contractions stopped.
I called my doula Saturday night and declared that the baby was stuck and she needed to help get it unstuck. She told me to do the Miles Circuit because most likely her head was not in a neutral position because I felt the contractions in my back. So I did the positions on Saturday night and we went to bed. We woke up Sunday morning and I did one of the positions for only 10 minutes and then went to take a shower. When I bent down to turn on the water I felt an intense pain in my back and thought, that's probably a contraction. In the 10 minutes it took me to shower I had three contractions. I got out and told Scott to start timing the contractions. It was about 10:30 a.m. The contractions were coming about 5 minutes apart from the beginning. I sat on the exercise ball and tried to keep my jaw relaxed so my cervix would open up. When my contractions were 5 minutes apart for about an hour Scott wanted to go to the hospital. They told us to come to the hospital when they were 5 minutes apart for an hour. I called our doula and she told me that if I was still walking and talking through the contractions, that it wasn't time to go to the hospital, that they needed to feel a lot stronger before going. So I said that was fine and was happy to do the work at home. I was still feeling all of the pain in my back during the contractions. I knew that the baby was in the right position and that I wasn't having back labor, but for some reason I was feeling everything in my back. In our birthing class they showed a video of a husband using a rolling pin on his wife's back during her contractions. So we did that and it felt wonderful. We kept working until the contractions were 3-4 minutes apart. Scott called the hospital and they told us to come to the hospital.
When we got into the car Samuel Barber's Knoxville Summer of 1915 was playing on NPR. This was one of the many tender mercies of the Lord that happened that day. This was a piece that was performed during a concerto night when I was at USU. I hated this song at first, but it grew to be my favorite. The piece calmed me down as we drove the 20 minutes to the hospital.
It was 2:30 pm when we got to the hospital and they hooked me up to the Fetal Heart Monitor. I had to lay in the bed while this was on, and I hated it. The contractions were strong and I couldn't move to help me through the pain. I got up and stood by the side of the bed, this helped a bit, but it was still really hard to stand still. Every time I had a contraction the FHM would loose the baby's heart rate and so instead of the 20 minutes I was supposed to be hooked up, it was 40 minutes. (I also had puke #1 while on the FHM). Finally when they had a decent base line they took me off and I could sit on the exercise ball again. They checked my cervix and I was 100% effaced and dilated to a 3.
Our doula showed up and started counter pressure on my hips during the contractions. Scott turned on my playlist that I had created. I made a playlist with my favorite songs. A coworker of mine is a music therapist specializing in labor and birth. She wrote a paper citing research that having music playing that means a lot to the mother helps create Ocytoxin. Also in Ina May's book, Guide to Childbirth she talks about how singing helps your jaw stay loose and that helps your cervix open up. I began to sing and that really helped pass the time. We used a lot of positions, but the ball was my favorite. Our doula would use her legs to put counter pressure on my hips and Scott would hold my hand and coach me through my breathing and kept me loose. At 7:00 pm they checked me again and I was only at a 4. This was a bummer, I needed to be at a 7-8 to get into the tub, where I wanted to have a water birth. If I got into the tub before I was a 7 or 8 it would slow down my labor. Our doula suggested that I walk to help things along. So Scott and I went and walked the halls while she went and got dinner (Scott had already eaten dinner, something that I was determined he do). While walking I felt a bit nauseous again so I held the sick bag while walking. While walking I kept thinking that I was still walking through the contractions and that was a bad sign. They needed to be stronger before I would be close to giving birth. So I kept walking. Then I felt sick and started puking (#2) in the bag and of course, I also started to pee. So I was trying to get back into my room, keep the puke in the bag and get to the toilet. It was pretty comical. I kept walking after that and started to not be able to walk during the contractions. I took this as a great sign and asked our doula if I could go back to the ball. We worked on the ball for awhile, and the thought of wanting drugs started entering my mind. I just kept thinking, they would take the edge off, and that would be wonderful. I thought that when they checked me again, if I was only at a 5 or a 6 I would ask for the drugs. I had great intentions, but I was running out of gas. At about 8:45 pm I said out loud, "I don't know how much longer I can do this". I knew that those words were usually spoken by women when they were at an 8 or 9, but since I was only at a 4, I just thought I was chickening out.
At 9:00 pm they checked me again (which put me on the bed again which I hated). The wonderful nurse said I was at an 8 and I was thrilled. "Get me in that tub!" Our doula was completely shocked that I had progressed so quickly. She started filling up the tub and when I got in I hated it immediately. I didn't have anyone in the tub with me to give counter pressure and I couldn't bounce on the ball like I wanted to. Then I puked (#3) again and the force of it broke my water. Then I got this overwhelming feeling to push. I called out that I was pushing and the nurse told me to stop because I was only at an 8 and I would put myself in a world of hurt if I pushed. She said to get out of the tub and get on the bed so she could check my cervix again. When I was checked again I was at a 10. It was 9:30 pm. I had gone from a 4 to a 10 in 2 1/2 hours.
I didn't want to get back into the tub, so they let me do some contractions on the ball. They called the doctor. My doula told me that the doctor was on her way and that if I wasn't in the tub when she got here, she would try to get me to have the baby in the bed. She had agreed to do her first water birth with me, and she was a bit nervous. My doula told me that if I wanted to have the baby in the tub, I needed to get into the tub. So I got in the tub and the need to push kept coming. The sounds that came out of my mouth were out of this world. I don't think I could make them again. I felt her head coming down. The doctor showed up and my doula kept coaching me through the pushing. I suddenly felt her head coming close and then I felt her head come out. I was in a knee squat position and when the doctor realized that her head was out she told me I needed to roll over on my back so she could deliver the rest of her body. I rolled over onto my back and Scott had his legs in the tub and supported me. I had one more contraction and out she came. The doctor pulled her out of the water and put her on my tummy. I remember seeing her little blue face and saying, "oh, hello!". It was 10:02 pm. (When babies are born in the water they don't pink up as quickly because they continue to receive oxygen from the mother until they are brought out of the water.) They cut the cord and then I handed the baby over to Scott and they got me out of the tub and onto the bed to deliver the placenta. They put the baby back on my chest once I was on the bed. I was shaking pretty bad from the adrenaline. I tore just a bit so the doc needed to stitch me up and then I bled quite a bit, so they had to put me on pitocin to stop the bleeding.
All in all it was a terrific birth. I'm not sure how much better it could have gone. The staff was amazing (we didn't meet one unhappy staff member our entire stay at the hospital). Our doula was out of this world. I don't know how we could have done it without her. If she wasn't there, I would have asked for the drugs hours before her birth. She was the reason I was able to last as long as I did. I highly recommend hiring one.