My mom was in town for one week to visit and hopefully be there for the baby’s birth. Her work schedule is pretty tight right now because of some things going on with the practice, so she could only be here for that week (my 38.5-39.5 weeks of pregnancy week)(Also for those who don't know my mom has decades of experience as a doula birth assistant and is now a CNM, certified nurse midwife). Benson was born at 38 weeks, so we were hoping and thinking Nora would come early too. Well, she wasn’t coming. I had been having mild Braxton Hicks contractions for a couple weeks, sporadically. We decided to sweep my membranes when I hit the 39 week mark hoping it would sort of naturally induce my labor (hint: it worked!) I went in at 9:00 am Monday morning, August 24th, to have it done, and by 4:00 pm my labor contractions had started. They felt like pressure bearing down on my whole pelvis, like a bowling ball was just resting on my whole pelvic floor and hip/pelvis region for a few seconds. We were heading out that night to a family gathering, and as we were prepping is kind of when they started… but we went anyway because we didn't know if it was the real deal. I kept having contractions the whole night at the party, but still wasn’t sure if this was it. Around 8-9:00 pm they were getting more intense and I was starting to feel like this was the real thing and we needed to get me somewhere where I could labor! We left Benson with my aunt (brought all his stuff just in case!) and left the party around 9:30pm, got back to our house around 10:15, grabbed our bags and left for the hospital, arriving at 10:25pm.
When we got there was I was about 3.5cm, and 80% effaced but my cervix was nice and soft. I was really disappointed! I was hoping to be a little farther than that because I had been at around 3cm and partially effaced for the last week or two! The nurse told me they were going to check me again in an hour, and if there was progress, they would admit me and if not, probably let me go home (my eyes probably bulged out of my head at that point because these contractions were kind of getting a little painful. I kind of needed to cope and labor in peace and the thought of going home was frustrating). For the next hour I walked around the grounds with my mom and Derek. Check in again, I was 4cm… whoopdedoo. I was kind of bugged! I really felt like these contractions had to be doing something and I felt on my insides that leaving would be bad bad bad. So, since I made a little progress, we were admitted at 11:56pm right before midnight.
I went straight to the tub, it wasn’t huge but had nice jets. I think I labored in there for 30-45 minutes, then had to get out and be monitored, then back in again for 30-45 minutes, and out again to be monitored. By this time, they checked me again, it was 2:15am and I was at a 5.5cm. I was feeling pretty strong contractions that were starting to feel “transitiony.” In other words, it was much harder to cope with them. I won’t go into a lot of detail but I know baby is coming when I think I can’t do it anymore- and that’s how I was starting to feel! I was a little freaked out at this point because I was only at 5.5cm and I thought I had to be so much farther! I think I started to panic a little and was looking for some consolation from Derek, or my mom, or anyone… but they kind of let me just do my thing since they had no idea what was going to happen!
The midwife told me that if she broke my water, it would pick things up. I knew that was kind of a double edged sword because it would make my labor much, much more intense, and it could help baby come quick, but it might not make baby come quick and would still intensify labor. If I had to labor like this for a couple more hours waiting for baby… I didn’t think I could.
Luckily, I didn’t have to wait! She broke my water at 5.5cm, at 2:50am, and as my waters were coming out I immediately felt the urge to push. That freaked me out a little bit. Then, in the next few minutes I could tell the baby was coming, and coming soon. But the midwife quickly checked me again (I had kind of half hazardly pushed a few times already, because the urge was so strong I couldn’t stop it, but they were kind of bear down pushes.. instead of push the baby out pushes.. if that makes sense). So the midwife checked me again, STILL a 5.5cm! At this point I kind of had to say what the hay to that measurement because this baby was coming. There were two nurses, my midwife, my mom, and Derek all there in full on helping me mode, all hands on. They were amazing. Within a few minutes everyone was suiting up for delivery and at some point I heard my mom say “you can push your baby out now.” I really needed that permission, essentially, to go ahead and push as I felt the urge to. I was concerned because of my lack of dilation, what was going to happen? Right after she said that I had a tiny break from the intense contractions and was able to catch my breath before a strong strong contraction came, and I was going to push. I pushed with everything I had once, then twice and her head came out, and I heard the midwife say something about the shoulders (I couldn’t hear exactly but I was worried she was stuck so I was going to push for me life), and I pushed a third time and her body came out! That incredible rush of relief can’t even be described. That was 3:20am August 25th, 30 minutes after they broke my water at 5.5cm.
I started sobbing hard (I’m kind of an intense birther- if you’ve ever seen those calm natural births on youtube.. yeah… not me). And because I was squatting on the hospital bed (same as with Benson) I hadn’t seen her yet. Eventually I caught my breath enough and turned around and saw my precious baby girl. My first thought was how tiny she was! I was shocked! They laid her on me and I was so, so happy, and so, so proud.
Pretty soon after that I started shaking really bad so they covered me in warm blankets. The after cramping was really strong and unexpected. They helped me deliver the placenta and gave some Pitocin to help the uterus shrink. The palpating of my belly after was way painful, more than with Benson. And the cramping kept coming! They were having some pharmacy problems and it took two hours for them to get me some basic ibuprofen pain killer to help. That was a little annoying because it was so bad and I was so exhausted that I couldn’t really move! Derek spoon fed me some rice pudding, ha ha. I did get to nurse Nora for 45 beautiful minutes. Then they weighed and measured her and helped me get cleaned up a little bit.
This is what I really look like right after giving birth, this was my first nursing session with Nora when she was 5 minutes old. I was still having heavy cramping and pain!
Benson’s birth was a lot longer than this, but I don’t think I could say either was easier. This one was fast and intense, but incredibly hard in that short little time frame. But we did it! My team was amazing and we did it. We named her Eleanore Grace and she’s our little sweetie!
This is Nora with a purple scarf given to my mom in 1991 by the midwife that delivered me. We brought it with us to the birth as a good luck charm!