October Labor Day from now on will be far superior. It marks the day James decided to come meet us.
My labor started at 3:00am Friday, October 10. Maybe sooner. It's possible I slept through some contractions. But at 3:00 I was either woken up by my eensy-weensy bladder or the crampy contraction I was having. It wasn't much, but it was very different than the 15-minute-long-entire-uterus-tightening-up-so-hard-it-feels-like-a-boulder contractions I had been having. While those contractions were obnoxious and uncomfortable, they never were "painful" whereas this one would fall in the pain category. It was certainly tolerable, but was a feeling you wanted to go away. It started low in my pelvis and felt like it was building and then subsided. "Crampy" is really the best word I can think of to describe it. I remember thinking "Hmmm? Is today the day?" I immediately reached for my phone and started the contraction timer app.
I couldn't go back to sleep because my mind was racing. Is this labor? How will I know for sure? When do I call JT?
About half an hour later I had another contraction. And then 45 minutes later. I laid in bed the whole time trying to go back to sleep/rest...but it was no use. By 6:00 I decided to get up and call Labor and Delivery. I had only had a handful of contractions and knew I was far from needing to go to the hospital, but was hoping they could shed some light on if what I was feeling was the real deal and if so, at what point I should call my husband so he could start his 6 hour trip across the state.
L&D made me cry. The nurse was not helpful at all and said, "What? Is this your first?" She didn't ask any questions and seemed annoyed to be on the phone. When I tried to explain my situation and what I was experiencing she chuckled and said, "Well, I can tell you not to call your husband."
I bawled when I got off the phone and was completely lacking confidence in what I was feeling. Maybe I was just making it up because I wanted it to happen. I called my sister-in-law who was going to be my "stand-in coach" until my husband arrived. I told her about my morning and conversation with L&D. I said I didn't know if I needed her or not because I didn't even know if I was in labor...but just wanted to give her a heads up that I might need her at some point.
After that I got in the shower and cried some more. My brother called back and said my sister-in-law (also a teacher) had sub plans ready to go and was taking the day off to be with me. I was grateful they made the call...because I probably would have just been freaking out and playing head games if left alone all day.
So she came over and I continued to track my contractions with my little app. By 9:00 the contractions were 15-20 minutes apart. They still didn't seem bad though. I decided to call my doctor's office and get their advice. The nurse I spoke with was MUCH nicer...but I still wasn't confident that I was going to meet my baby that day. She sympathized with me and said I was definitely describing the early stages of labor, but what she couldn't tell me is how my labor would progress because everyone is different. She said my contractions might continue like this for hours...or days. There was really no way to tell, but if it were her she would call her husband just for peace of mind. She was super sweet and actually called back later that afternoon to check on me and see if I had ended up calling my husband yet. She said she'd been thinking about me all day and couldn't go home without knowing whether or not he was on his way.
It was a nice day, so my sister-in-law and I took the dogs for a walk to see if things would pick up at all. Around noon the contractions were about 10 minutes apart. I was explaining to my SIL that I wished I could just call JT instead of having to call the Academy office. Things still didn't feel very bad and I didn't want to get JT in trouble for leaving early if the baby wasn't going to come until much later. If this had happened any other day of the week I may not have been so hesitant, but it was a Friday, so he was going to be coming home anyway and would probably get home around 11pm. Just as I was explaining this to her, my phone rang. It was JT.
"Hey Kelse, I've got like two minutes. Tell me what's going on? I got a feeling I needed to call," he said.
I quickly updated him and told him I wasn't sure if he needed to leave yet. He said he didn't care and he was coming home. I was so relieved!
"I love you so much! See you soon!" was how he ended the call...but he forgot to hang up and I could hear him yell to his fellow cadets, "WE'RE HAVING A BABY!"
Later he told me that everyone dropped what they were doing to help him gather his things and get on the road. I guess the class literally had two minutes to change into some gear and be somewhere...when they are late they get punished, but nobody cared...they all just chipped in. How cool is that?
So I was thrilled! My SIL and I decided to go to Target to kill some time and walk a little more. At this point I was finally excited about what the day had in store and as we left the house I wasn't thinking about much else but the fact that soon my husband would be home and we'd work on welcoming this new member of our family together.
As I closed the front door I reached to my purse where I normally clip my keys...just a habit I guess. But, we'd been for that walk earlier. And I had taken my keys off my purse. They were sitting on the sofa table. Inside. Inside the locked house.
No, we don't have a hide-a-key. No, no one has a duplicate except JT. A problem I suppose I need to fix. $*#! we were locked out. And it was going to be at least 6 hours before we had a key to get in. Unless....
It's scary how easy it is to break in to my house. I probably shouldn't say that on the internet. Even the dogs broke in about a week prior to this...I left them in the garage one day because Sadie was sick and I could leave them outside because they dig. And they chewed the weather stripping on the door into the house and somehow managed to bust in...but that's an entirely different story. And that's not how we got in. Apparently there are multiple ways to break in to my house. I actually had to do it one other time (think I would have learned my lesson about having a spare key then, huh?). We used the climb-through-a-window-route. *Please nobody break into my house* unless you want to throw me a surprise party and buy me stuff.
Anyway, we managed to get in...my SIL ended up needing a Band-Aid, but it was a normal size one, so I say that's not too bad. We eventually made it to Target and we both bought cute baby shoes. Hers were cute little boots for her daughter (my niece born back in December...if you've been reading this blog long enough to remember) and mine were an irresistible pair of sneakers.
By mid-late afternoon the contractions were inconsistent...between 7 and 20 minutes apart, but getting stronger. They still weren't bad, but I decided to lay a bit low until JT got home. We took the dogs to jail...I mean, "Pet Camp" where they would remain until I felt ready to have them home again.
By 5:00 my contractions were consistently 6-7 minutes apart. And there was no more mistaking whether or not they were "real." Still very manageable with breathing and movement, but I was feeling like it was game time. I called JT to let him know that we would likely be heading to the hospital when he got home, so he'd better stop and grab something quick to eat because who knows the next time he'd have a chance to get a meal. I hadn't eaten since lunch as a precaution...not that I thought I would have a cesarean, but they advise you not to eat when you're in labor...so I didn't.
Okay, I had a few cookies throughout the afternoon.
My friend made me some tasty bring-in-your-milk cookies...so it was sort of like prepping for baby, not just snacking on junk food.
JT got home around 7. And guess how he translated "something quick to eat"? He had a couple steaks and a Cesar salad kit. Seriously. That's my husband. I was thinking like McDonalds, Taco Bell, Carls Jr....something *quick*...as in fast...as in fast food.
AND THEN, he asks if he has time for a quick shower. By this time my contractions were 5-6 minutes apart.
"Hurry," is all I said.
My SIL and I looked at each other and could only laugh. Was he for real? She grilled his steak while he showered and I prepared the salad. This makes him sound like a terrible husband, but honestly he's the best. Just...sometimes clueless.
We didn't leave for the hospital until about 8:30 when my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. They were extra uncomfortable in the car because I couldn't change positions. We got to the hospital around 9 and didn't get to go back to triage (spelling?) until 9:30. The nurse hooked me up to some monitors and asked a bunch of questions. I can't remember them all...but I do remember she wanted me to rate my pain. I had no idea what to say. There wasn't even a sign with faces for me to look at as a guide.
"I don't know," I said. "Maybe a 7 or 8?" I could tell my contractions had spaced out and didn't seem as strong once I laid down, but I thought surely I was going to be far enough along that they'd admit me. I mean, I'd been in labor since 3 in the morning!
"You're at 2cm," she said kind of apologetically. "We'll have you walk around and check you again in an hour. If we don't see significant change in your cervix we will need to send you home."
I was crushed. 2?!?!? I had dilated 1 cm all day? WTF? No way was I going home. No way could I be making up that my contractions had been 4 minutes apart before going back to that little room.
We started walking the halls and almost immediately the contractions picked up in intensity and frequency. JT was timing and he said they were 2 and a half minutes apart...I'm not entirely sure how long they were lasting...45-90 seconds which meant I really only had about a minute break between the end of one and the onset of another.
All I could think as we wandered those halls and past those empty rooms was, "Why can't I go in there? Why can't I have one of these rooms?" Instead I had to labor in the hall. Not what I had pictured.
About half an hour in to our walking I went to the bathroom and ended up vomiting with my next contraction. I barely made it to the nurses station to tell them I had thrown up before I needed a bucket and vomited again.
The nurse who gave me the bucket said, "They're making you guys walk? Looks like she's in labor to me." She seemed sorry that the hospital had stupid rules.
I continued walking. With my bucket. Stopping every few steps to brace for another contraction. Puking. In the F-ing hall.
At one point I remember almost crying. "I'm not a warrior. I want to stop walking," were the words that were playing on a loop in my head and occasionally coming out under my breath. Not the positive words I'd practiced.
JT and I made our way to an empty waiting room where he tried to help me sit down but I couldn't figure out how. I didn't want to stand anymore. I didn't want to walk. I didn't want to sit. I didn't want to lay down. I didn't know what I wanted or how to get it. But I kept looking at the clock ticking closer and closer to the time I could be checked again. At 10:45 (5 minutes shy of my hour) the nice nurse who had given me the bucket had advised the triage nurse that she might need to check me again.
I wobbled my way to triage and felt this weird pressure...need to go to the bathroom-ish feeling. Not the pushing feeling...but immense pressure on my bladder? My mucus plug (such a gross term...but it was so gross) came out and my water broke as soon as I sat down in the bathroom. What a bloody shock that was..."mucus plug" sounds like a booger to me...but NO.
And then my water...kept...breaking even after I stood and tried to walk back to the room to be checked. This is maybe getting more graphic than you bargained for. Sorry for that. But it's probably not going to get any better...so you may want to stop here. You've been warned.
When the nurse checked me she said I was at 5cm, 100%, and ruptured. She asked me to rate my pain and I asked if I could amend my rating from before. I said the pain before was a 3 or 4 at best. This, now, was a 7 or 8.
I didn't have to stick around there any longer...they started wheeling me to a room and the nice bucket nurse (Jenn) came too. She said she knew that we were going to be her's when she saw us walking in the hall. I liked her a lot. She was super nice.
In the L&D room they hooked me up to some monitors, I hooked myself up to my I-Pod (why hadn't I done that in the hall??). The contractions felt like they were coming right on top of each other by this point. My new mantra was, "I'm not a warrior. I want the epidural. I need a break. Just give me a little break."
At one point I felt the need to push and I tried to refrain, but I said, "I REALLY want to push now." It was like an animal instinct.
Jenn looked at the monitors and asked me to try really hard not to push because it looked like I did with the last contraction. She said we could get the epidural but it might be a little while because there was only one lady there to do it. She decided to check me again in the meantime.
I was as shocked as she was when she said, "You're a 9!"
"Is it too late for an epidural?" I asked to which she replied, "....maybe...."
Jenn made a call and I guess I got moved straight to the top of the epidural list because the anesthesiologist was there in no time and got right to work. I had to sit up and in doing so I was completely reconsidering the epidural altogether. The need to push was so strong I just wanted to get it over with...it felt like the epidural would be a waste of time.
For whatever reason, I went through with it...and the relief was instantaneous. I finally got my break. It couldn't have been later than 11:15 at this point. I was officially 10 cm, but Jenn said just to relax for a little while.
Around 11:30 Jenn decided we should try some "practice pushing" to see how effective I could be with my contractions. I did four rounds of practice pushing before Jenn left the room and said, "I'll be right back."
She came back with another nurse?? Or somebody. She said the other lady was better as feeling the position of the baby and she was going to have her check me out. They then explained to me that they thought my baby was breech because they couldn't feel any hair and they thought they felt a hole. They asked about my last appointment and what position the baby was in at that point. As far as I knew, he had been head down for a long time.
Then they got some more people in the room...a resident doctor and...I don't know who else to do an ultrasound that revealed that he was indeed butt first. At 11:45 Jenn told me not to push anymore. Medical people commented that it was good I'd had the epidural. I had to sign paperwork about doing a C-section. I was bummed, but not devastated. I had tried really hard not to come in with too much of a plan because I knew things wouldn't go as planned. And they really hadn't to this point. I never planned to do most of my labor in the halls of the hospital. I was okay with a C-section if that was my path to keep me and my baby safe and healthy. The nurses assured me that I would be an excellent candidate for a VBAC in the future...I didn't even ask, they just offered...kind of like a consolation prize, so I took it. That was good news. (Later my doctor apologized and said that because of the position of the baby he had to make another incision in my uterus and he would not advise any vaginal births in my future).
So then we waited. Fortunately my doctor was the one on call, but it was still going to be half an hour before he would get there. And there were preparations for surgery. I don't even really remember what all went on. I was shaking uncontrollably and feeling super exposed in that stark operating room.
The hospital personal explained that I would feel lots of weird tugging and pulling sensations, but that I shouldn't feel anything sharp or any pain. If I did they would need to put me out completely.
They did a pinching test to see it I could feel it. I could. I might have winced a bit and I said I could feel it, but they said, "No, if you had felt that you would have punched somebody." Well...two things. I couldn't punch anybody because my arms were strapped down to the table. And I had just been through transition labor...those pinches hurt, but they were nothing compared to the pain I had very recently felt.
So they preceded. And I could feel the cutting. And I know I made a face because JT noticed and asked if I was okay. I whispered that I could feel it, but that it was okay. I DID NOT want to be put out for the birth of our son. The anesthesiologist caught on and shot some more cold juice in my line and almost immediately the sharp pains were gone and thankfully I didn't have to be put out.
James was born at 1:43am on October 11th. And I cried at the sight of his beautiful little head. I was so relieved to hear him cry. I was happy. And somehow I was sad too. About what I am not really sure. Maybe that I couldn't touch him or hold him. Maybe that he was born in that bright, cold room. Maybe it was that they asked what his name was and I said "I don't know"...it never did just come to me...it never did just feel right in that moment. That was sad, I guess.
When JT was able to bring him over by me I kissed him about a thousand times and cried some more and rubbed my cheek against his. He was (and is) the most gorgeous and miraculous child. Sometimes I can't believe my dream is here in my arms and even though things didn't go the way I would have dreamed...they went the way they needed to and I am so glad I had the experience of it all.
|Post steak dinner...pre-hospital:)|
|On our way to the hospital|
|A tired, but happy family|
|James is born!|
|My first up-close look|