Written by a 28-year-old woman.
Friday, July 23rd through Sunday, July 25th, 2004.
Friday night I was having some sporadic contractions. I timed them and they varied from 15 minutes apart to an hour apart. Still, it was exciting because I could tell things were happening.
Friday night I dreamed about breathing and relaxing through contractions. When I woke up on Saturday morning at 7:30, I thought how strange it was to dream something like that. When the contractions continued, I realized I hadn’t been dreaming at all, that they were real contractions.
I timed the contractions from 7:30 until 9:00 and they were 10 minutes apart and very bearable. I rarely had to stop what I was doing and they were just mildly uncomfortable. I went on with my daily routine, checking email, eating breakfast, etc…
Around 1:00, I timed another hour of contractions and now they where 5 minutes apart. I called Theresa, my midwife to let her know it would probably be today. She was in Fort Wayne, Indiana for her son’s basketball tournament – which is only about a 90 minute drive from Lima. No worries. I called my dad to let him know to get things together and head up to Lima in a few hours. I called my mom, who was at her cousin’s funeral in Michigan (4 hour drive) to let her know that they should start heading back our way. John called his mom to let her know how things were going.
Around 5:00 my mom arrived and helped me time the contractions and they were about 3 minutes apart now. They were still very bearable – but took a lot of my concentration to breathe through. It felt best to be pacing or walking around the house and then lean over onto something when a contraction came.
My dad arrived around 6:30, just after John and I left for the hospital. We asked mom and dad to stay put at our house until we knew whether the hospital would admit me or not. We got to the hospital and were shown to the L&D Triage Room. They had me change into a gown and get into bed. They strapped monitors on me and watched them for about 30 minutes. We found that my blood pressure was high – so they had me lay on my left side and watched again for another 30 minutes. Since I was laying down – the contractions had slowed a bit. They indicated I was dehydrated and wanted me to drink water – but that made me nauseous. They did a cervical check and I was 2-3 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced, -1 station.
They called Theresa and relayed all the information to her. She asked them to admit me and said that she would be on her way. They started a saline IV to rehydrate me since I was getting nauseous from the water – it was necessary to help stabilize my blood pressure.
By this time, the contractions were getting pretty intense and difficult to bear with and I was having some tremendous back pain. I asked to get up and walk around or to be able to get into the shower or the water birth tub – but Theresa and the nurses said that since my blood pressure was high – I needed to stay on my left side in bed. The back pain was getting so intense that I had to have someone press on my back as hard as they could during each contraction. I started vocalizing during each contraction to get through it. Sort of a low sound, a cross between and Ohm and an Ahhh.
I could hardly imagine spending hours more in bed dealing with the back pain – without being able to walk around or use water to help deal with the pain. So, I asked for some pain medication and received a shot of Nubain in my IV. It took the edge off the pain and made the whole world seem very fuzzy and surreal. Sometime after this, the waterbirth room was cleaned and I was moved down to that room. We were hoping that my blood pressure would stabilize and that I could still have a water birth. They started filling the tub.
From the point that we got to the hospital – I was in a zone or perhaps a trance or a meditative state – in my own little world and not too aware of what was going on around me. Sometime between when they decided to admit me and before I was moved to the waterbirth room (210), John called my parents and his mom and they came to the hospital. I have zero recollection of time between when we got to the Triage room and when Amari was born. The whole world had shrunk down to consist only of back pain and vocalizing.
I remember thinking some crazy things during all of this – like how I wanted to ask for an epidural, or that I didn’t think I could do this, or wondering how I could turn these contractions off. And I remember thinking at many points in time that I would only lend power to these negative thoughts if I spoke them out loud – so I thought that I would let that one go, and then that one and then the next one.
I did feel pretty agitated if someone forgot to press on my back during a contraction – and it seemed to me like I was almost screaming “Back Pressure!” at them at the start of some of the contractions. John says I was actually very polite in asking someone to press on my back each time they forgot.
I remember Theresa checking me periodically and saying “5 centimeters” and “7-8 centimeters” – but I have no idea what time she said each of those. I spent most of the time in the hospital with my eyes closed. I do remember her saying, “She’s complete”, though – and John tells me that was at 1:15 AM on Sunday.
I started off pushing on my right side, wrapping my arms around my left leg and holding it close to my chest. After a while, we switched to my left side. Next – and where I think I spent most of my pushing time – I was kneeling on the bed, facing the head of the bed, which had been raised so that I could rest my arms and my head on the top of it between pushes. Each time a contraction came, I would sit back into something of a kneeling/sitting squat. I remember Theresa saying, “You’re doing so well, you’ve been pushing for about an hour now!” and me thinking I was going to start crying. How was I going to keep doing this? Couldn’t I just stop and get some rest and try again tomorrow?
Somewhere around this time, I started thinking that they needed to help me get her out. This time I vocalized this thought – I don’t know what I was hoping for – just that someone needed to help me. Everyone was encouraging, but it just frustrated me and made me mad that no one was really helping like I wanted. We switched positions to my laying on one of my sides again and with me being mad – it didn’t take too many more pushes and she was here at 3:00 AM on Sunday, July 25th, 2004 at 6 pounds, 7 ounces and 20 3/8 inches long. The “Ring of Fire” that everyone talks about is the most apt description of the sensation of crowning that I have ever heard.
Theresa laid Amari on my chest immediately and I was so exhausted, all I could do was lay my hands on her little body and hope that someone else was watching so she didn’t roll off onto the floor. Theresa waited for the cord to stop pulsating and then cut the cord. They helped Amari latch on and then pretty much made sure everything was OK and just watched us bond from the sidelines for about an hour.
Theresa showed us the placenta and which side was attached to my uterus. I was bleeding a bit much, so Theresa asked my permission to give me Pitocin to help my uterus contract down a bit. At that point, I could have cared less what they did to me, I just wanted to sleep. The nurses helped me clean up a bit and then moved me down to the room I would stay the rest of the time in (207) – so that they could keep the waterbirth room open in case someone wanted to use it for their labor.
We ended up staying in the hospital a day longer than normal since Amari was pretty jaundiced and wasn’t keeping much down and my blood pressure was still slightly high. She was down to 6 pounds, 1 ounce when we left the hospital.