Let's face it the word epic has been chronically overused for quite some time now but when trying to title this blog it is truly the only word that can begin to describe my 90(ish) hour ordeal. I will vow to officially retire the word epic after this post.
Many of you may know that we planned for a home birth and worked with a fabulous pair of midwives (Freedom and the Seed) and their staff. Our due date (Sept 24) was rapidly approaching and Josh and I anxiously prepared the house and the birthing tub in anticipation.
Labor started around 3am on Sunday September 16. I'd gone to sleep that night after having tons of Braxton Hicks (BH) contractions in the evening but that was really nothing new. Waking up to contractions however was a completely new experience. I got out of bed, drank a ton of water, took a warm bath, and did a little walking around to see if the contractions would go away like BHs usually do but after about an hour and 1/2 they were still there and coming regularly. I figured I'd better place a sick call to work and wake up Josh to let him know what was happening. Since things were just getting started I texted the midwives to let them know things were getting started. They wisely responded that since I was a first time mom, we likely had lots of time ahead of us and told us to stay in touch.
Sunday was a great day. I remember watching TV shows/ movies with Josh (although I can't remember which ones), and taking walks around the block with Josh and Fluffy. I may have eaten some small snacks that day but remember feeling a little nauseated. Sunday night we got a little sleep, dozing on the couch between contractions.
Josh and Fluffy didn't seem to mind the contractions much and slept pretty soundly
After continuous mild contractions during the night, Monday morning Josh and I decided we needed to get the show on the road. We walked around the block without much improvement and while I was pacing around the backyard moving from tree to tree between contractions, I decided it might help to mow the yard. Activity + a great place to rest during contractions.
Josh says I did a shitty job mowing and I only got 1/3 of the yard done before it got too uncomfortable
Sometime on Monday I lost my mucous plug. We contacted the midwives to let them know how often contractions were coming and that I'd lost my plug but contractions weren't coming frequently enough for "active labor" so we decided to see the office chiropractor, Dr Dawn Tames, to see if she couldn't help get things moving. About 15 minutes of working with Dawn and my contractions really intensified. And I mean REALLY. They got stronger, closer together, and next thing I knew I was on all fours crying and vomiting into the office trash can. (I'm still sorry Dawn!) Dawn said something that made it worth while. She exclaimed "Now that's active labor!" Luckily my mom had done the driving and got me home, the first of many uncomfortable car rides. Contractions + seat belts + vomiting don't go well together.
Monday evening we had a few visitors. Family and friends checking in to see how things were going. I also got into the birth tub for the first time. I learned quickly the miracle of warm water on the labor pains. I got immediate relief from the discomfort but also noticed that the contractions would slow down a bit. They seemed to pick up after getting out of the tub so I wasn't too worried.
After another night of minimal sleep, Tuesday brought another day of labor. By now pain and nausea had made it difficult to eat and I'd hardly been able to take in any food. Josh kept me supplied with water and Hammer Perpetuem (one of my tried and true race fuels). More visits from family and some much needed time trying to get through the contractions in the birth tub.
Every once in a while the contractions would really die down and I'd try to "rest" in bed where I could "relax" through the contractions.
Fluffy was always near to help me cope.
I was getting frustrated and uncomfortable and after talking with the midwives decided to see the chiropractor again as well as get another exam to see how much progress there had been. A trip to the office and Dawn had the contractions raging again and then a visit with the midwives where I tearfully cried out, "My body isn't doing what it's supposed to!", I learned that we were now 7cm dilated. A huge relief that progress had been made, I left thinking I'd be holding my baby by the end of the night!
The midwives also believed that things were progressing and sent Ashley, a student midwife to the house to monitor the progress and keep track of baby M's vitals along with mine.
Tuesday night was yet another sleepless night where Josh and I paced, changing from position to position and did our best to move this labor along.
Wednesday morning came and yet there was still no baby. We were comforted by the presence of the midwife team and Donna came to relieve Ashley so she could rest and tend to other tasks. With Donna's arrival, I redirected my energy and focus and proudly stated that I would deliver this kid by 6:30 pm. No more "lounging" in the birth tub or taking brief naps between contractions. I stated I would not take a break until I was holding my kid!
There honestly wasn't an inch of this house that I did not labor in. I used my husband for support, my mother for support, my sister for support, and the midwife team including Dr Dawn who came to the house to help out. We tried back rubs, counter pressure, squatting positions, leaning positions, inverted positions, sidelying, and hands and knees. I tried sitting on the toilet, I paced, and even tried walking the neighborhood but never got very far due to discomfort. By now we had family on standby thinking things were going to happen any time. Even the neighbors were watching anxiously!
By late afternoon I had half the staff from Freedom and the Seed at the house monitoring the progress and keeping tabs of our vital signs. Having consumed minimal calories and getting very little sleep for several nights now everyone was worried about me fatiguing. Up to this point I had been confident and continued to insist I would get the kid out by 6:30 pm. Baby M's HR was great and my vitals and temp showed no signs of concern so the midwives continued to support our hopes for a home birth although we were all beginning to wonder why my labor continued to crescendo and then stall, repeatedly.
Hoping to get my labor on track once and for all the midwives talked with Josh and I and we decided to ask our family to leave the house so that we could get focused. We hoped that without any distraction or concerns about modesty I might get passed the continued stalling. This was a tough decision but we were desperate and willing to try anything. It was time to get primal, get loud, dig deep, and push this kid out!!!
I remember acknowledging 2 fears around this time. The first, that my body just wasn't working right. The 2nd, that I was handling the labor pains poorly (being a big wuss).
Once again, with the help of the midwives and the chiropractor, we got the contractions raging. They were big, long, painful, and coming closer together. Could this be it? At one point I remember asking, "When is this going to end?", and getting the response that it "was up to you". I continued to work through the surges but that statement repeated in my head over and over.
As the sun set and night began to fall I realized I was tired. Very tired. My 6:30 pm goal had come and gone and I realized that if getting this kid out was up to me, I would have delivered the kid 3x's over by now. I really felt like I'd done the work, all I could do. I came to the realization that it may be time to think about transporting to the hospital. Josh and I moved to the bedroom so that I could take a much needed "rest" and we talked it over. With tears we had a short conversation with the midwife team and we began packing for the hospital.
see part 2