At 42 weeks, I knew she would make her appearance at any time. Although, to be fair, I'd felt that way for at least two weeks. The Thursday before, I'd had my membrane stripped, and I'd spent the entire weekend in early labor amounting to pretty much nothing. That Monday, I went in for fetal monitoring, and although I was having contractions that were strong enough to keep me from walking or even speaking, they were spaced far enough apart, and sporadic enough that they were completely absent during my appointment. Now, that's not to say I didn't have strong contractions walking down the hall TO my appointment, and again walking AWAY from my appointment, because I did. And yet, because the technician said I WASN'T having contractions, I convinced myself I wasn't actually in labor - E was just positioned in such a way that was irritating a nerve.
That night, I fell asleep in the kids' room, in G's bed with both kids. I'm still in awe that we were able to fit, but we did it. Throughout the night, I was getting woken up by my contractions, but I breathed through it and went back to sleep.
I should explain that my contractions weren't anything like I experienced in my previous two labors. Those times, it was like an all over, extreme, cramping. What I was feeling this time around is referred to as a "window of pain" and it is serious. Instead of being spread out, the pain was very localized in my lower abdomen - right at the crease where my belly began to round out, if that makes sense. The pain was pretty intense.
I may have described it as feeling like E had a sharp knife and was attempting to slice her way out.
Yeah, it was like that. And the only bit of relief I could get was from arching back in an attempt to stretch my abdomen out.
In the morning, my parents had already made plans to take both G and N to pick cherries at my aunt's orchard. Because of some events from the previous day, I'd decided to keep N home, but my contractions were getting stronger and closer together. I hadn't told anyone yet, but right before everyone left my mom made one last offer to take N with them. At this point I knew I wouldn't be able to take care of her, so I sent her cherry picking.
I called the hospital and left a message for the midwife on-call. While I was waiting to hear back, I had an especially strong contraction that my husband heard from down the hall where he was working in his office. He came running in to check on me, but in the span of that one contraction he asked me five separate questions. He got irritated when I didn't respond (I just stared at him blankly while breathing through my contraction), and he walked out.
When the midwife called me back, she told me to come in and get checked. My contractions were strong and ranging between 3-7 minutes apart. I texted my husband letting him know I needed to go to the hospital as I started getting the shower ready. He came running into the room in a little bit of a panic.
Yes, for those of you following along, this was the point at which he FIRST learned I was in labor.
I got in the shower, and the water was so relaxing. I honestly thought my contractions might stop. Right.
We finally got on our way to the hospital between 10 and 11, with an hour between us and the hospital. I hadn't felt well enough all morning to bother going downstairs to make anything. I felt like I was starving, and I had a friend's words echoing in my head that they wouldn't feed me once I was admitted. My last two births were in small hospitals, and even though I was in the care of midwives, I was convinced this "big" hospital wouldn't let me eat. So what did I do? I had my husband stop at Taco Bell to get me a quesadilla. Waiting in the car, I realized the mistake I'd made. My contractions were getting closer and stronger. If you've never labored in a car, I definitely do not recommend it. Not at all. I was really regretting not going straight to the hospital.
Still, I happily ate my quesadilla between contractions, if you're wondering.
Once we got to the hospital, we went straight to triage where they quickly decided that I was, in fact, in actual labor and should be admitted. Coincidentally, every bed in labor and delivery was being replaced with new beds, so they gave me a menu and let me have lunch. This was probably the most comical period of my labor - taking bites between contractions (again), and looking up at one point to see my husband frozen in guilt as he was putting a forkful of my chocolate cake in his mouth. I wish I'd had a picture.
About 2 hours after we'd originally gotten to the hospital, we were finally moved to my room in L&D. I was disappointed to realize that "getting my room ready" did not include getting the birthing tub ready. They hadn't even rolled it into the room.
Birthing tubs take a long time to fill.
At first, the wait wasn't so bad. I just walked around the room as I saw fit. But then the contractions got even stronger. And the back pain began. I was leaning on the bed with my head down when my husband very sincerely apologized, saying "I don't think the pool's going to be ready in time." And it really didn't seem like it would be.
But then it was. I undressed down to my bra, and was helped into the water. Words cannot describe just how nice it felt. My entire body relaxed. The sharpness of the contraction pains was taken away. I rested on the side of the pool with complete gratitude. And then I had a contraction and I felt my water break. I felt my body pushing. It was as though my body had been waiting for this exact moment, and it was not willing to wait ONE MORE MINUTE.
Mentally, I was in a panic. I was questioning my decision to go without an epidural. I was accepting the fact it was too late to turn back. I was afraid I couldn't do this.
And then I did it. Less than 15 minutes later, I had given birth to E - a full pound bigger than either of my other babies. I held her in my arms in complete awe. She was beautiful and perfect, of course. Filled with so much sweet, and silly personality, she was exactly what we were needing in our little family. And she is so very loved.
If you love my maternity pic at the top of the post as much as I do, be sure to check out the photographer, my friend Carrie Palmer! Her site is here: Palmer Productions.
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