Thursday, August 13, 2009

my second birth story, day one

From 6 a.m. on, two day before my due date, contractions woke me up about every 12 to 20 minutes. I had been writing down the times for days, but this was different -- not Braxton Hicks. Somehow I could tell labor was beginning. I had told D the night before that I thought "this could happen soon." We were on a date at a luxury hotel; it was his idea and he made the arrangements. I didn't sleep as much as I wish I could have, waking up throughout the night to use the bathroom and when I had contractions. (I did have some before 6:00.) I don't think I told him that I was in labor until we got up a little before 8. We had to check out of the hotel and go pick up Shboogoo in time for Nana (my mom) to get to work.

My husband, Shboogoo and I went straight home to labor, even though home is forty-five minutes north of Nana's and the hospital is south of Nana's. At 11:30 I called S, my doula (and a woman I have known since I was 17), to let her know my labor had begun. Based on my first experience -- 29 hours of labor -- I guess we knew we wouldn't need her very soon. She was happy, like we were, that we no longer had to consider inducing me. I didn't want my husband to miss the birth, but I also wanted my body to help the baby come when he or she was ready to be born, so we felt very blessed. We planned to leave for the hospital when the contractions were consistently three to five minutes apart.

I relaxed as much as I could, and I also finished packing our suitcase. I walked around in the house. We had had a delicious breakfast at the hotel, and we ate lunch at home. Fortunately I did not throw up after eating like I did during my first labor. I had my husband take a few pictures, including this one. If I could go back in time I would get one of him behind me with his hands on my belly.

Whenever a contraction came I wrote down the time with pen and paper -- low-tech compared to the spreadsheet D created in 2006, which I didn't open. (If I'd known about, I definitely would have used it.)

For a lot of my contractions I knelt with my arms on our bed. Kneeling felt the best. Sometimes I sat on the birth ball or leaned against the wall, and I often swayed my hips. I was by myself for many of the surges (another word for contractions), which was fine. D was with Shboogoo and was using the laptop and watching a news channel on TV. Of course he did whatever I asked him to, such as rubbing my back. He also began tweeting. With those updates showing up on his facebook profile as well, hundreds ("literally hundreds") of people -- both friends and strangers -- could have been following what was happening. It was fun to have a "twitter birth." Come to think of it, I have only read a few of those tweets.

From 10:00 to 11:00 the surges were 7 minutes apart, and after 11:00 they were as close as 3 minutes apart. It varied: 3 minutes apart, then 5, 3, 4, 5, 7, 7, 3, 6, 5, 7, 5, 3, 4 . . . A little before 2 p.m. I called the midwife for the second time. I told her that since 1:00 my contractions had been 2 to 4 minutes apart and we were ready to drive down to the hospital. We took Shboogoo with us. D didn't drive any faster than usual. The contractions were not too intense and I was excited.

In triage, within the labor and delivery area, we had a wonderful nurse. First we made sure that the baby was still head-down. (On Monday, my 39-week check up, the midwife had checked me and she felt toes. Tuesday we returned to have an external cephalic version. That day when the nurse used an ultrasound she saw that the baby was no longer breech! I was happy that the baby had flipped because I knew that versions can be uncomfortable for the woman and are not always successful anyway.)

I had D read me a nice one-page birth affirmation from my childbirth class. The author talks about strength, joy, and love for the child who would soon be born. "I accept all that comes to pass with the birth of my child. . . . My body knows what to do, I must let it be. . . . As the waves come, I will triumph with them, one by one, all the while surrendering to them . . ."

My mom and S joined us there, too. At 3:20 they stepped out of the room and the nurse checked my cervix. I was 2 cm dilated and 85% effaced. I had hoped I would be further along than that. The baby was low, though. Through the whole labor I felt a lot of pressure. Because I was only 2 cm, the midwife didn't officially admit me. I stayed active in the triage room with the external fetal monitor on. By 4:30 I had progressed to 90% effaced.

Then D and I walked the halls for about half an hour and saw parts of the hospital we had not seen before. I loved it. It was so nice to have him with me, holding my hand as I walked, letting me hang onto him for contractions. Some strangers asked him, "Is she okay?" and we just smiled and said yes. As we had discussed, once it had been more than a full hour (5:50 p.m.) the nurse checked me again and I was 3 cm. They admitted me and by 6:35 I was on a different floor of the hospital in a labor and delivery room.

Because I was trying for a VBAC I needed a heploc in my hand in case we would later need to quickly start an IV. But that was fine. I'm very glad that the nurses and midwives did read and respect my birth plan. They didn't use internal fetal monitoring, which I had with my first labor.

We used iTunes to play music until our laptop battery died (we had forgotten to pack the cord). I didn't like the genre D chose first. I needed something calmer, so he changed it to our piano genre. The only song I definitely remember hearing was A Small Miracle. I said to S, "I wrote this." As I listened to it my eyes moistened; emotions came, and so did strength to keep working for this particular desired miracle.

Around 8:00 S helped me use a variety of positions, changing every 15 minutes, to encourage the baby to descend and to rotate from being posterior. The photo below shows me in the knee-chest position, with S applying counter pressure. (The other positions were the all-fours tuck-in, passive pelvic rock, and lying on my left side with my left leg straight and my right leg bent up close to my chest.)

Then D and I walked some more, but we couldn't go very far from our room or the telemetry would not function. We were both starting to get tired and also missed Shboogoo a little.

My cervix was 100% effaced but still 3 cm when midwife #1 left. She suggested a few different options, and I chose the tub; I got in at 9:45. I became totally relaxed in there as S read relaxation scripts. I had a thin blanket draped around my neck to keep my upper body warm and S continually poured water onto my belly. I fell asleep for a bit. The water felt good but also helped things along. At 10:50 pm I got out of the tub and midwife #2 checked me. I was 4 cm dilated with the baby down at zero station. My contractions, however, spaced out anywhere from two or three minutes apart up to ten minutes apart.


  1. Oooh, way to leave me hangin' girl!

  2. I know, Kate, I'm sorry! I think I will be done writing the rest of it tomorrow (well, today technically). I loved reading your birth stories, by the way.

  3. Here is the blog post for the next part of this story:


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