Trace and I had sex Sunday night. I knew we probably shouldn’t because it may kick start my labor, but I successfully convinced him. I started to cramp immediately afterwards and began to experience light contractions. It wasn’t however until Tuesday night at 1am that my contractions came on strong. They were 60 seconds long and 5 minutes apart. At 1:30am I woke up Trace. We went back and forth about if these were real and if I should call in to work. Finally we decided to call in but I couldn’t stay in bed. I felt antsy and needed to be up doing something. So we got the baby clothes and started putting them into the dresser. At 3am I gave in and we both went back to bed. At 6:30am I couldn’t take the contractions anymore. I woke Trace up and told him I couldn’t do it. We needed to go to the hospital and get an epidural!
I was starving and wanted to eat before leaving. Trace made scramble-ins with onion and bell peppers for breakfast while I took a shower. Normally a house favorite, but the smell of onion permeated the apartment making me sick! He quickly threw open all the windows; the day was overcast with a nice breeze and opening the windows created a really peaceful environment. Not being in bed made the contractions much more manageable so I sat on the couch with my feet on the coffee table, listened to music and dozed off between contractions. On waking up I got in the shower, attempted taking a bath, and went to the bathroom frequently. A bath in a cheap apartment bathtub full-term in labor isn’t a great idea, being 5’10” made it an even worse idea so at 3pm we went to the pool. The water took the weight off and it was very relaxing. Around 4:30pm the contractions started getting stronger lasting 60-90 seconds and varied from 2-10 minutes apart. Somehow Trace was able to delay our leaving the apartment – something we had agreed on earlier – but at 6:30pm the contractions changed and became more painful. I told Trace I was in pain and needed an epidural NOW! Poor guy was able to appease me and delay our departure to the hospital a little longer.
At 8:00 pm Trace called the Labor and Delivery floor to let them know of our arrival. He got a wheelchair at my request but when I thought about sitting down I couldn’t do it, so Trace pushed the wheelchair and I walked. We would stop every 30 seconds or so while I rocked through a contraction. We were on the bottom floor of the Queen’s Hospital on Oahu and the L&D floor is the TENTH! I don’t know what was going on at 8pm at the hospital but the elevator was slammed. We stopped on EVERY floor with strangers filing on and off. I was in the back corner swaying with my eyes closed, moaning. It was the LONGEST elevator ride of my life! At 8:30pm Tuesday night I eventually walked into the Queen’s Labor and Delivery department.
There were two straps lying across the bed. The nurse told me to lie down so I could get strapped up to the monitor. I was having a contraction every 30 seconds and couldn’t bear the thought of lying down so I replied, “I’m sorry, I can’t lie down.” She urged me again to lie down but eventually gave up and put the straps on me while I sat on the edge of the bed. I don’t think she thought I was very far along as this was my first baby. After a contraction ended I was able to put my feet up on the bed. She checked me, I was 9.5 cm dilated! The nurse was a bit shocked and ran out into the hall for help and to call the doctor.
My doctor was on the North Shore for the holiday. The staff seemed very concerned to let me know that the doctor was on his way. Honestly, I never cared if my doctor was there for the delivery or not. I continued dealing with each contraction. A female resident came in and introduced herself. She did a quick vaginal exam finding I was completely dilated with a small cervical lip. Trace told me to get into the position we learned to help retract the lip. Soon after I found myself pushing with the contractions unaware of what I was doing. I was on my hands and knees during the breaks and would sit up on my knees during a contraction to assist with pushing.
At 9:25pm my water broke. Trace was sitting behind me and saw the water bag come out and pop. I asked Trace to go into the hall and let the nurse know my water bag had broken. The nurse asked Trace to watch for the head as he was sitting on a chair where he could see my perineum and she was at the computer. I stayed on my knees for pushing and could feel the head emerging but I wasn’t able to tell anyone. Trace noticed the head a little late in the game and let the nurse know. She RAN out to tell the doctor.
The on-call physician walked in and asked me to change positions. Honestly, I couldn’t have changed positions if I wanted to so replied, “No, I can’t!” He asked again, same response. He responded, “Well, this is going to be interesting.” I continued on hands and knees during the breaks with my head facing the end of the bed. Shortly thereafter I experienced the ‘Ring of Fire.’ I felt with my hand and felt the baby’s head moving. Weird! Less than a minute later at 9:50pm she completely emerged.
I was able to sit back on my feet in a squatting position and the baby was right below me on the bed. The baby had the cord around her neck tight 3 times and was completely purple. I was planning on delayed cord cutting but the situation required some oxygen. The nurse unwrapped the cord quickly and Trace cut it. Then they took her to the infant recovery bed just a few feet away to resuscitate her. They had suctioned her and initially gave her supplemental oxygen. Her first APGAR was 3 and her second was either 8 or 9. She was big eyed and quietly observing the room. She successfully started breastfeeding in the delivery room after the placenta was delivered.
Looking back at my birth story, I am extremely grateful for Trace and his effort to support me, for our childbirth preparations and for the medical staff that revived Estelle so quickly. As it was, she was only in the birth canal for 25 minutes, with water bag broken, and never showed any signs of distress on the monitor.
And she was beautiful!
Image Credit: Erica Hill