After a long and not so comfortable pregnancy – okay, it was normal in length, but felt really long – and both of my previous deliveries not going my way, I was anxious to do this one on my own. While lots of women are pushing for induction at a week overdue just to get the kid out of them, I insisted on putting it off until twelve days past my due date, which was as long as my doctor would let me have. For a month before my due date, I was having increasingly uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contractions. The week before my due date, I was sure I was in labour at least once, only to have everything stop and go back to normal.
On Tuesday, June 10th, when I was two days overdue, I went for my doctor’s appointment and expected to have my membranes stripped. Turns out, my cervix was not ripe at all and so it wasn’t possible. I went home figuring I would be back in another six days to try it again. The next morning, I lost my mucous plug and had a number of contractions, some very close together, throughout the evening. After a long night, I had Mike take me to the hospital Thursday morning. As soon as I got there, my contractions almost completely stopped. They weren’t showing up on the monitor and when the nurse checked me for dilation, she said nothing, which indicated to me that nothing was happening. The concern that day was that the baby was transverse and so I went back a few hours later for my doctor to check. As far as I can tell, the baby had moved in the two hours that I was not in the hospital, because when I went in on Thursday at noon, he was head down for sure. My doctor did an internal exam as well, and again, said nothing to me about dilation. The only thing I heard was her saying was that something was long, which I assumed was referring to my cervix, and that it wasn’t effaced yet. I went home feeling depressed and had a little cry over what I assumed meant another eight days of pregnancy. Friday went by pretty normal – it was a busy day, but after a hockey team barbeque and being at my in-laws until eleven, I felt pretty good. I was feeling a little bit strange physically, but not having many contractions. I had actually found that day that when I went to the bathroom, I would have a contraction almost every time. I worried that I might have a bladder infection, as I had heard that they could cause contractions and pain when using the bathroom.

We went to bed late on Friday and I had about two hours of sleep when I woke up with a contraction. I had them five minutes apart for three hours and then was able to sleep between them for the next four hours. They were painful enough that I was breathing through them and using effleurage to deal with the pain. In the morning, I checked my cervix to see what I could feel and something was definitely different. Instead of feeling the neck, I just felt the edge of it, which I figured meant that those seven hours had at least gotten me effaced. I didn’t check any more than that, but I may have been somewhat dilated as well.

My contractions more or less stopped when I got up and so I told Mike that we had to stay busy that day or I was going to go nuts. I figured that I would probably have the baby soon, but had no way to really tell and I had errands to run and cleaning to do in the house. I decided that if we could get a few things done at home and then have the kids nap at Mike’s parents while we went shopping, it would be a good way to stay busy. We finished up at home and went to his parents around three-thirty. We put the kids down for their nap, Mike had some steak and we left to get our shopping done. I was pretty tired and not feeling great when we got back to pick up the kids, so we didn’t stay for a long time. We had some dessert and left around seven-thirty. I had at least two or three bad contractions when I was at my in-laws, but nothing was regular. On the way home, we stopped at Safeway to get ice and against my better judgement, I went in to get it myself. Getting back out to the van, I was in a terrible amount of pain. We got home and Mike sat down to watch a movie with the kids. I heated up some food for myself and gave them some string cheese to snack on while I checked my email and did a few other things on the computer. I got up to go to the bathroom a little after eight and had a bad contraction when I was in there, so I decided to take a bath and see if it would make me feel a bit better. It felt good, but mostly just made me have more contractions. When I got out around eight thirty, I checked myself again and realized pretty quickly that I could feel a good sized circle of the baby’s head through the amniotic sac. At this point, my contractions were bad enough to make me cry, and I figured that this was a good sign that real labour was finally happening.

Mike called his parents, who were already in bed, and we packed the kids up and took them over. They had not had supper and I felt bad about it, but there was no way I was taking the time to do it. It turns out that when they got to their grandparents, they went right to bed and slept through the night without ever eating anything. We got to the hospital around twenty to ten. Right away I was having contractions that the nurse said sounded like the real thing. After being on the monitor for awhile, she checked me and said I was four or five centimetres dilated, which meant, she said, that they were keeping me. Mike and I high-fived after she left – I was actually in labour!

I stayed in the same room for a short time and then went to the delivery room and got set up in there. It must have been ten-fifteen or so at that point and things were still slow but getting more intense. I was having intense back pain and the nurse suggested that the baby was posterior, so I got on my hands and knees to try to get the baby to flip. I’m not sure that he ever did, but things did feel better after awhile, so he must have at some point. It seemed that the whole time I was in the delivery room, I would just get into a position that was comfortable and then I would have to pee. So I would move to get up, have a contraction, go the bathroom, have another contraction and then repeat it all going back to where I was. I spent some time in the shower, but found that while it felt great on my belly during a contraction, the rest of my body was getting too cold. Every time I changed positions at all, I would have a contraction, even if I was just at the end of one. Finally, I got back in bed and didn’t feel like getting up again. The nurse checked me and said that I was six or seven centimetres and while she was checking, she broke my water. She said that while I was having a contraction, there was a bulge in the amniotic sac and she just had to loop her finger into it to break it. Things went fast after that was done – I must have gone right to an eight in the next few minutes and soon, I was feeling a lot of pressure; not quite the urge to push, but I knew it was close. When I mentioned it, the nurse checked me again, found that I was nine centimetres and a minute later, nine and a half, with just a lip of the cervix still there. They called the doctor, told me that she would be three minutes and that I should pant if I felt the urge to push. I think I had two or three contractions before my doctor got there and I was panting through the second half of every one. Finally, my doctor walked in and I was told that I could push. For some reason, unlike when I was in labour with Jenny and Elias, I didn’t feel the animalistic urge to push. I felt pressure, but I was reluctant to do it. They all kept telling me to give it everything I had and I tried to do that during the second contraction, but still didn’t feel like much was happening.

I had no drugs during labour at all, so at this point, I was very aware of what was going on. They were checking the baby’s heart rate off and on, and during contractions, it was going down to 80 or 90 beats per minute. I knew that this was a bad thing, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I looked down at my doctor and heard her ask for Lidocaine. The nurse told her that I wanted to go without an episiotomy or tears, but my doctor said that the baby needed to be born and she was just going to have to get it out. I knew right away that I had to do it if I wanted to escape without stitches. They had already seen the baby’s head at this point, so I knew it wasn’t long and with the next contraction, I finally gave it all my strength. When he crowned, they coached me through little pushes and panting to keep me from tearing. It was really hard not to just get it over with, but having experienced stitches after an episiotomy and then, when Elias was born, making it out with just a tiny tear, I knew it was worth it for my recovery. Very soon after he crowned, I pushed his head out and then, even though I could have waited, I pushed his shoulders out as well. The cord was wrapped around his neck a bit, which explained his heart rate dropping. It was 12:46 am when he was born – I had been in the hospital about three hours and had only pushed for ten minutes.

Because of his cord being wrapped, no one said anything to me about whether the baby was a boy or a girl. I had felt like it was a girl, but when I sat up to see for myself, I said to Mike, “Oh, it is a boy!” So many other people had said it was a boy, but I hadn’t really believed them. Mike had said during my labour that he was hoping for a boy, and I was glad to see that he had gotten his wish. It was amazing being so aware of what was going on that I could sit up to see him at the foot of the bed. I had asked to let the cord pulsate after the baby was born, so they put a towel on my chest and then laid him on top of me. It was amazing, as it always is, that I loved him so fully the moment I saw him. I held him for a few minutes until the cord was definitely done pulsating and then cut the cord myself. Mike had not interest in doing it, but my doctor asked if I wanted to, and I thought it might be a good experience. I wouldn’t jump at the chance to do it next time, but it was neat being so clear headed that I was able to do it. After I cut the cord, they took him and cleaned him up quickly and looked him over to make sure things were good. I think I actually heard his Apgar score mentioned (which I never have with the other kids). My doctor said eight and something about his colour, but I didn’t really care. As soon as he was back with me, I nursed him and he stayed with me for at least forty-five minutes, nursing while I had a snack. He was very awake and making eye contact with both of us for most of the time. It was amazing, because Jenny and Elias were taken away much sooner and were not nearly as alert as Erik was.

After he seemed to have enough to eat, Mike took him to have him bathed and weighed and the nurse cleaned me up and moved me to my room. At this point, it was close to two in the morning and I felt bad for my roommate in the bed across from me. Mike came back ten minutes or so later with the nurse and our new little boy. I quickly asked Mike how much he had weighed – I had been expecting a nine pound baby because when Jenny was eight days late, she weighed 9 lb 6 oz. Erik was a week late and after holding him, I knew he wasn’t as big as Jenny had been, but I still thought he had to be bigger than Elias was at birth – 7 lb 4 oz and two and a half weeks early. I had the second shock of the night (the first being that he was a boy) when I heard he was only 7 lb 1 oz! I guess because our nephew was born 5 lb 8 oz so recently (about five and a half weeks before), Erik just didn’t seem small. He was twenty inches long, half an inch shorter than both Jenny and Elias. Right away, we noticed that he had a completely different look than both of our kids. They had looked so different from each other that I thought our third would look more like one or the other. Erik has lighter skin like Jenny, but only a few similar features to Elias. He has lighter hair than both of them and much less than they both did when they were born.

Mike went home around three in the morning and I slept off and on through the night, waking up to feed Erik once or twice before breakfast. Mike went to breakfast at his parents house before they went to church and then he came back to be with me. He snoozed on my bed holding Erik while I made phone calls to my family. When I was in labour, we were watching the clock to see if the baby would be born on Saturday or Sunday. When the hands moved past midnight, I knew that I’d be giving Mike and our dads a great Father’s Day present. My dad had mentioned weeks ago that I should have the baby on Father’s Day, but I brushed the idea away because I didn’t want to be pregnant still. It was also nice being in the hospital Sunday afternoon, because the whole family came all at once to see us after they went to church.

My doctor came Sunday morning and actually indicated that I could go home if I wanted to, but I knew that the rest in the hospital would be good for me. I did tell her that I definitely wanted to go home the next morning. With no tears or stitches, I felt really good right away. Monday morning, after a pretty good night’s sleep (my roommate left Sunday before noon and I had the room to myself the rest of the time), Erik had his PKU blood test done and my doctor checked us out and gave us the go ahead to go home. We went home around ten in the morning – I wasn’t even in the hospital thirty-six hours this time!

So far, Erik has been a very happy baby. He eats really well and sleeps for long stretches. He’s also awake for long periods of time, which has been lots of fun for anyone who sees him. He has an intelligent look about him, like he’s really studying things and wondering about the world already. Right from the beginning, it has looked like he wanted to smile at us. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he does it before he’s a month old.

My recovery so far has been great, too. The pain I had after labour went away quickly and other than cramping while nursing, I have felt good since we came home. My milk came in during the night on Tuesday, which was just in time because Erik seemed to be needing more than he was getting. Other than the discomfort coming from some engorgement, my body does not feel like it just went through labour four days ago. This makes me look forward to any future deliveries – hopefully they’ll all be like this one (or even shorter). The great thing is that even though it was a fast labour, it wasn’t really intense. My labour with Jenny was just barely longer than this one, but it was awful right from the beginning. I was very quiet during my labour this time and only yelled a bit when I was pushing. It felt good to have control like that over my reactions to the pain.

So, that’s the story of Erik Michael, born June 15, 2008. His big brother and sister love him and the whole family thinks he’s pretty cute. I can’t wait to see what he’s going to be like as he grows up.

Erik Michael

To clarify: What went wrong with my labours before: Jenny was induced at eight days late and I was given demerol twice while in labour with her, once was way too late in my labour because the nurse thought I had hours to go when in fact it was much shorter than she expected.  Because of this, Jenny was born with low oxygen levels and had to be woken up to feed; she couldn’t be snuggled or held close for some time.  I also felt incredibly drugged.  I’ve never been stoned, but I figure that’s what it feels like – it was an awful feeling being out of control.  With Elias, I did make it to six centimetres on my own, without feeling anything, but then because his head was high, there was concern that if my water broke, the cord would be flushed out.  After an ultrasound determined all of this, I spent six hours in bed labouring, only getting up to use the bathroom, the whole time attached to a monitor and an IV.  I had the drug fentanyl during that labour and while it was not nearly as bad as the demerol, it only helped me to sleep a bit between contractions and didn’t seem to take any pain away anyway.  So, based on those experiences, it was that much more important to me to do the whole thing on my own and I’m so glad I did!

 

 

Here’s hoping

June 11, 2008

I had a dream last night that I lost my mucous plug and I was bleeding.  I woke up, went to the bathroom and there was nothing.  Drat.  I went back to bed, slept for another hour or so and went to the bathroom again.  Nothing.  Then I ate breakfast, went through my routine with the kids and checking email, etc. and went to the bathroom again (gotta love a pregnant bladder) and what do you know?  Something!  A nice bit of mucous that had to be my mucous plug and blood – red blood.  I’m being descriptive again.  Just you wait, after this kid is born, you’ll all be cringing at my descriptions of labour.  The thing is, if it’s false labour and there is bleeding, it is usually brown.  This is definitely not brown.  And yes, it can mean that labour is still a day or more away, but still – this means that I should have the baby by the end of the week, rather than having to go through having my membranes stripped or being induced.  I literally just prayed for this specific thing moments before I went to the bathroom and made my discovery – God is listening!  So here’s hoping that today will be the day.  Apparently, my child decided that coming during the first ten days of the month wasn’t going to happen, but if it’s born today, all three of my kids will have been born on Wednesdays, which I think is pretty cool.  You know me, I get joy out of silly things like that.

Now the hard part is knowing when to go to the hospital.  I’m not having regular contractions, but rather lots of cramps.  I guess I just wait it out at this point.  I called Mike and let him know something was happening, and called my mother-in-law to put her on alert for the day.  So now I just hope it wasn’t in vain and I don’t have to wait until tomorrow.  Oooooh, there’s a nice crampy contraction.  Yikes.  Let’s just hope I don’t wait too long and end up delivering on the floor in my living room (or..my bed or couch, etc.).

Other than updating this post, I think I won’t be writing again until the labour story that will come in all its gruesome glory sometime after the birth of my baby.  Hooray!

Update: 4:00 pm

A whole bunch of nothing.  Well, so far anyway.  I feel sort of silly now for calling Mike and his mom since I haven’t had any indication that anything is going to happen today.  I did some work around the house, kept the kids entertained, called my sister, made lunch and went for a walk and still not much of anything.  Including more bleeding.  The thing is, it seems that if I lost my mucous plug weeks before having the baby, it wouldn’t be so red, it would be brown-ish.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I sincerely hope that I’m not.  It’s okay if this kid doesn’t come until tomorrow or Friday…or sometime before Monday, but if it waits that long, I’m pretty sure my doctor won’t have any trouble stripping my membranes, and that was something I wasn’t looking forward to.  Maybe I’ll have the baby tonight and look back on this and laugh later.  I totally did this when I was pregnant with Elias, actually.  On the 5th of September, I had some bleeding and then contractions in the evening.  When I went in to the hospital, I wasn’t effaced or dilated at all.  The next morning, I was giving up and deciding that I’d just stay pregnant until I was overdue (since that was still two and a half weeks before my due date).  Elias was born before seven that night.  One of the reasons I’m waiting to go into the hospital is that when I went in with him, I was six centimetres dilated and they put me on pitocin to get things moving.  I was then stuck in a bed for six hours.  I really really don’t want that to happen again.  Sorry if I’ve mentioned this before, but I feel pretty strongly about it.  So I’m waiting for something drastic to happen – my water to break or my contractions to get really bad.  Half of the things I read about losing your mucous plug say that if it’s tinged with red blood, or if you have show that is red or pink (rather than brown), labour will start within twenty-four hours.  Other sources have said that it could mean labour is still weeks away.  At least I know that’s not right.  If this kid isn’t out on its own by the 20th, it will be forced out of residence by the power of prostaglandin gel (gulp).  But really, I was thinking how awesome is this that I’m just going to have the baby on my own and not have to have any of that happen again.  Oh, please.  I really hope that I didn’t jump the gun getting so excited about it.