So, it has been nearly 3 months since I had my baby and it is about time I finished my labor and delivery post. I am glad I started and wrote most of it before now because I had forgotten some of the details. I basically stopped writing at the traumatic part of the events. So, here it is: I delivered my beautiful and healthy daughter on Tuesday, May 2nd at 7:50 pm.
My contractions began around 4:30 am. The whole night prior I had been experiencing stronger than usual contractions but they were still painless until around 4:30 in the morning. I very quickly found myself starting to vocalize through them and that’s when I woke up my husband telling him that I thought I was in labor. At that point the contractions were about 6-7 minutes apart. By an hour later they were approximately 2 minutes apart and extremely intense and even vomited at this point. My husband decided it was time to go to the hospital based off the recommendation of the doctor to come in when the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart.
As we got closer to the hospital and then brought into triage my contractions started to slow down. When I was checked I was at 2 cm dialated and 90% effaced. However, when they checked me again an hour later nothing had changed and my contractions had slowed to every 5 minutes. They sent us home saying that I was not in labor. I was shocked because the pain was so bad and I wondered how I would cope in true labor.
We went home feeling discouraged but as soon as I got home I immediately started to contract more intensely again. I could not move during contractions or speak except to make loud vocalizations. I was sweating and sleeping in between contractions.
I knew I had to be in labor, no matter what the hospital said and if I wasn’t I started having thoughts of being induced early because I knew I couldn’t handle this pain for days on end. Not only were my contractions very close together but they were also long. Some of my contractions were lasting 2-3 minutes long.
My husband helped me get into the tub after an hour or so of being home. As I was about to get in the tub I had another long contraction and I remember saying to my husband, “What was I thinking?!”. Honestly, I am not sure what I was thinking as I said it but I guess it is better than blaming my husband for doing this to me, right?
I labored in the tub for a loooong time. My husband timed my contractions for me as I was longer able to focus on anything else. My contractions felt totally different than what I had been expecting. Much of the pain was in my pelvis and lower back with milder pain in the very lowest part of my abdomen. This combined with the fact of how long each one was, all the coping skills I had learned went out the window. All I could do was moan and vocalize through them.
Eventually, my husband got me out of the tub. As I was exiting the tub I had another even stronger contraction and once again vomited rather violently. I remember saying to my husband, “Help me!” and once again he was whisking me off to the hospital.
Once again in triage my cervix was checked. When the nurse was done checking she came out with my mucus plug. She said it generally doesn’t mean anything but that she though it was very interesting when that happened. She then proceeded to say they were admitting me. I was surprised as I was expecting to have to wait another hour and be checked again so I asked how far along I was. She told me I was 6 cm and 100% effaced.
I was almost all the way through active labor after 4 hours of laboring at home and about to enter transition. She asked if I wanted an epidural and I said yes. That had not been part of my birth plan but I had just been mentally defeated already by how long each contraction was, how different they were to what I had been expecting and how I had been told I wasn’t in labor to begin with. As they were wheeling me out of triage I again vomited violently and it just confirmed in my mind that the epidural was in fact necessary for me.
Even so it took about an hour and a half for me to get the epidural after arriving in my delivery room and my labor had stalled out by this point once again. I got to the hospital and labor came to a grinding halt even though I was still having strong, painful contractions.
I stayed at 6 cm for about two and half hours. They wanted to put me on pitocin but I said I really wanted that to be a last resort so they broke my water instead but an hour later and there still was no change. At this point, I spoke to the nurse and consented to the smallest possible dose of pitocin they could give me. The nurse had sat down and spoken to me about my fears of using that drug and how it might affect the baby. She assured me that Bella was showing only positive signs during this labor and that she did not think a small dose would affect her negatively in any way and she was right in the end.
Just as shift change was about to happen (which was about 30 minutes after the pitocin was administered) the nurse checked me one last time and I had finally moved to 7 cm and was finally in transition. She said, I would definitely dialate a centimeter an hour now.
About 15 minutes later we met with my new nurse and she decided to check my cervix for herself. After a moment she seemed surprised and she came out saying I was complete. She called my doctor and told him I was at a nine in order to give me time to sit up and allow gravity to do more of the work before I started pushing. My parents who had been there for a while, quietly left so that Josh and I could be alone together for a few minutes before everything began.
My nurse came back in and explained to me that there was a nursing student who had never seen a woman who was completely dialated yet and asked if I would mind if she came and checked me and saw how everything went from this point on. Being a teacher and knowing that experience is a great thing for learning I was happy to help. She checked me and then we did some practice pushes before the doctor arrived. Even with the epidural I was still able to feel a lot of what was going on. Because, I had gotten the epidural so late in my labor, it didn’t have time to take full effect before I started pushing. It took them a long time to get the epidural in me after I arrived at the hospital. So, the senior nurse showed her techniques for helping a woman know where to push during these practice pushes. It almost was more practice for her than for me. During this time they started to take my temperature more frequently and blood pressure and such like. I started to run a low grade fever at this point in the labor.
It was around this time that I started to feel the urge to push but my doctor wasn’t there yet. I did my first real push before the doctor was even in the room. By the end of the push though, when I opened my eyes he was suddenly there. They didn’t have to tell me when to push, I just did but they coached me through it.
After that first push, when the doctor saw how big her head was, he said he needed to do an episiotomy because her head was not going to fit and I would tear really badly if he didn’t. Apparently, this happened during the second push. The third push and her head came out followed quickly by the rest of her. Her head was so large that I didn’t need to push out her shoulders, which they say is the worst part. For me, the head was the worst part and then she was out. Three pushes and she was born. They immediately put her on my chest and she just cried her little lungs out. I then started to speak to her and as soon as she heard me she seemed to recognize me and stopped crying and looked straight at me. That was one of the most beautiful moments of my life!
My husband cut the cord and after a little while, my doctor told me to give one more good push to birth the placenta. Shortly after this it became apparent that something had gone wrong. The nurses took her from me to weigh her and asked my husband to come with them to “take pictures” of her. We figured out later that this was to get him away from me and distract him. While they were doing this I suddenly realized that my doctor was elbow deep in my uterus. I will tell you, even with the epidural, that was extremely uncomfortable. He was in there grabbing the fragments of my placenta that had basically disintegrated and had been left behind in my uterus. He went in several times to make sure he had gotten everything. It was during this procedure that my temperature suddenly spiked to 100.4. I heard the nurses telling the doctor that my temperature was up, that my pulse was raising and my blood pressure was dropping. One even asked, “should we prep her?”. During the pause from my doctor at this moment, I remember turning to look and take in my husband and daughter because it sounded bad and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me. Finally, my doctor responded with, “No, I think I got it all now.”. He then began vigorously massaging my uterus and clamping it shut over his fist. He would be sewing me up and then stop to massage and clamp. He was extremely uncomfortable and my doctor even apologized and said he knew that it hurt, to which I responded by thanking him. I didn’t know what he was doing or why but I knew it was necessary. It turned out that I was hemorrhaging and it had taken all the interventions they could do on the spot plus a couple medications through my IV to bring it under control again before they would have needed to give my a blood transfusion. I also ended up tearing also, even with the episiotomy so that was another aspect that I needed to heal from afterwards.
So, apparently, there are different ways that doctors count how long your labor was. Some count from your first painful contractions that increase in intensity and change your cervix. This is a little hard to judge on me since I was having contractions that were slowly dialating my cervix for a while (I had measured 1 cm a week or so previous to this) but we’re not very painful like what started at 4:30 that morning or increasing in intensity. When I went into the hospital I was only 2 cm dialated which could have happened even before the contractions started and the hospital told me I was not in labor. But if you count those first painful and increasing in intensity contractions at 4:30 I was in labor 15 hours.
The next way that doctors count the amount of time in labor is from 4 cm and on. Well there is the issue that I didn’t go back to the hospital until I was 6 cm dialated so there is no real way to know when I reached 4 cm. However, things kicked up a notch after I returned from the hospital the first time and we waited 4 hours before returning so that would be 8 hours. If I were to estimate dialation as a cm an hour then it would roughly be 6 hours of labor from when I possibly hit 4 cm. If however, you want to go from when they admitted me as officially being in labor by the hospitals standards my labor would have been 4 hours long.
There are apparently some doctors that only count the labor as when you start pushing in which case that would be 15 minutes. I don’t really hold to that one though. I am more inclined to go with the 6 to 8 hours. What are your thoughts and how did you count your labor if you have had a baby?
In the end, I have my beautiful daughter. She was born at 6 lbs 7 oz in weight and was 19 inches long and she is healthy, strong and thriving.