For what it's worth: after having a 5 hour labor and a 2.5 hour labor I am requesting a good 7-8 hours for the next one. Faster is not necessarily better in matters of bodily function (baby making and baby birthing, for example). This birth tried me in ways I can't explain and I know I haven't done the story justice because, 6 months later, I am still reeling from the experience. Here is my best recollection (after talking with my husband and watching the video).
I had a midwife appointment Monday morning. I was 39 weeks, and had already told the baby it was welcome to come any time. I was ready, the house was ready, and we were just waiting (uncomfortably, I might add). When I saw Nadene that morning, I decided to have her check me. I was not disappointed! My cervix was dilated 3cm (and she mentioned that she could easily stretch me to 4cm), it was 100% effaced and the baby was at 0 station. I was happy that my body had done so much of the work of labor already. Nadene and I discussed that (especially with my history of a 5 hour labor with our daughter) this baby would likely come very fast, and to be prepared for that possibility. At my request, she swept my membranes and encouraged me to walk!
I had a pretty miserable day Tuesday. I was crampy and sore from the membrane sweep and had moments of regret for having her do it. Wednesday was great! I felt wonderful and got SO much done! We had the carpets and kitchen tile cleaned, I did some cooking and baking, I did a little bit of cleaning and had a great nap.
My husband had the next day off so I told the baby that Thursday would be a great day to be born! That morning, we took our daughter up to the playground at the local elementary school to play while I walked laps at the track. I was determined to “walk the baby out” that day! I walked until I ran out of water. It was already SO hot outside. I went and hung out on the swings with my daughter because I had heard that swinging could also help bring on labor, so I swung!
We went home and had some lunch, put our daughter down for a nap and I went to take a nap myself. I was only in the bed for a few minutes when I had some menstrual-type cramps. I looked at the clock and noticed the time (2:20 pm). After a couple of “cramps” I realized that they were coming in waves and I went downstairs to get my husband’s iPod. He had just put the Contraction Master App on it and I was excited to try it out. I went back upstairs to get back in the bed and time my “cramps.” They ended up being about 3 minutes apart and lasting between 45 and 60 seconds each.
I let him know that this may be the start of something and gave up on the idea of a nap. My friend was on her way to our house to deliver my “birth bracelet” made with beads chosen for me, with prayers and affirmation, by my friends. She had just picked up the final bead and put it on the bracelet in my front yard. I confessed to her that I was pretty sure I was in labor. I put on the bracelet and called my doula. She encouraged me to call the midwife and told me she would get her stuff together in case I needed her to come soon. I talked to Nadene and she said to come straight to L&D. Honestly, I was a little bit surprised that she wanted me to come in, but relieved to have some affirmation that labor may have actually begun. Within minutes, my labor began to intensify. I called my mom to come get our daughter (who was still napping) and called our doula to meet us at the house. Labor continued to gain intensity and I was vocalizing loudly through the contractions by the time my mom arrived. Not wanting our daughter to hear me or see me, I went into the kitchen to have a contraction and ran back in to kiss her goodbye. My mom quickly got her out of there and I immediately felt “pushy.” I told my husband that we could not wait for the doula to come to the house. We needed to leave for the hospital now.
We called the doula on the way to the hospital and told her to meet us there instead of the house. It is only a mile and a half to the hospital from our house, but it was rough. I was not coping well with my contractions while belted into the car. I had the feeling that they were bigger than me. When we got to the hospital, and out of the car, I felt like I got a better handle on them and we made our way in. The loser they sent from the ER to “help” us up to L&D is lucky I was beyond exerting myself physically for anything other than getting the baby out, because he needed his teeth knocked out (or at least that is how I felt at the time). I declined the wheelchair and he told me I had no choice! Um, no, I will not sit in your wheelchair. I will walk. His response, “It’s going to take forever!” So? He then proceeded to time my contractions and announce to me how long they were lasting and how many minutes apart they were. He seemed very disapproving when a couple of them only lasted 30 seconds. His comment, “Well, they are only about 30 or 40 seconds.” As if they couldn’t possibly be “real” or effective.
We arrived on the L&D floor (ER guy’s teeth intact) and I had the biggest, hardest contraction with 2 peaks that lasted 2 ½ minutes (thanks ER guy). At that point, I was thinking that this had better be the really super-fast labor we were all expecting because I was feeling out of control. My husband and our doula (who arrived at L&D about the same time as us) said it didn’t show on the outside, but I was not feeling like I was coping at all. During the few seconds I had on the downside of a contraction (because there was no time in between) I tried to re-gain focus on the baby and breathe and relax my jaw and shoulders and the next contraction would carry me away from any thought at all, of anything. My mind was numb. At this point I was pushing with the peaks of the contractions.
Because I was pushing, Nadene had me get on the bed so she could check me. I was dilated 6cm, but she said when I pushed, I was 8cm. I had been fully effaced since my appointment the Monday prior, so Nadene encouraged me to push open my cervix. I got on my knees and had a few contractions. I do recall that the smell of imminent birth was strong. I also remember that Nadene was rubbing my feet and my doula was rubbing my back while my husband was covering me in cold washcloths. The contrast of those things with the pain of the contractions was a special kind of bliss. Nadene had me move up the bed to get me more upright and let gravity help. I held the top of the bed frame (the back of the bed was upright) for leverage. At this point I still felt like I was going to be doing this for a while, but with the next push I felt the ring of fire and Nadene said that the baby’s head was almost out! So close! I panted through the next contraction because the burning was so intense. my husband said that the baby’s head was halfway out for what seemed like forever and it looked “uncomfortable.” Ya' think? I thought that was funny… With the next contraction I pushed the baby’s head out and I was overwhelmed with excitement (partly to meet the baby, but mostly that the labor was done)! I pushed the baby out before that contraction was done. My husband was obviously excited as he let me know (almost squealing) that it was a Theo! My first words were “I want him!” Nadene passed him to me between my legs. He was beautiful and I couldn’t stop kissing him! I kept saying “I am so glad that is over.”
Theodore was born at 4:52pm after 2 hours and 32 minutes of labor (from my first “cramp” to holding him in my arms) and only 40 minutes after arriving at the hospital. He weighed 8 pounds 10 ounces and was 20 inches long. Praise the Lord for His miracle of life and for blessing our family with Baby Theo!