On Saturday morning I woke with a very achy low back. My right hip was kind of “locked” up, something which had happened periodically for the entire pregnancy. At this point I was 40 weeks, 6 days pregnant. Of course I had all kinds of advice coming my way such as: Castor oil, teas, herbs, cuddling with hubby, using a nursing pump, pedicure, Mexican food, pineapple, walking, etc. I decided I would actually try some of the things on this list that sounded pleasant. So, armed with the knowledge that some people know about reflexology and pedicures, I went to Walmart for a pedi/mani. I told the sweet little Asian woman I needed to go into labor and she said :”No problem.” I am not sure how often you have been to one of those places but “no problem” is a very commonly used phrase there. I think it means: “Whatever, crazy lady.” In any case, I left there with my feet feeling fantastic, but not very confident that I would be having a baby anytime in the near future. In the meantime, I had made a 6:00 appt with my chiropractor. Of course, I had the foresight to put a roast, potatoes and carrots in the crock pot when I left the house that morning, so dinner was going to be ready when I arrived home.
At the chiropractor’s she did two small adjustments in my low back with her activator thingy and I had a pretty strong contraction on the table. She waited for it to pass, then did the rest of the adjustment. As I was paying, I had another good contraction and a text message from my husband which read: “Note to self. Do not plug crock pot into GFI outlet.” In other words, the crock pot was plugged in and loaded with raw food. Nice. So I texted back: “Puerto Vallarta?” which is a local Mexican restaurant. And I had another contraction. My mom was in town and with me to help with the kids after the baby was born, so I drove us and the two girls to the restaurant. Duncan packed up a meal for David (still on his special elimination diet for food allergies) and met us up there.
Not yet sure if I was really in labor, I ordered my meal and ate the hot salsa, and for a special measure poured it over my food as well. Each time I had a contraction, I would say, “Time” to Duncan and he would note the time on his watch. When it hit about 5 minutes apart, he said: “time to go” and we finished the meal, packed everyone up and went home to get the children settled.
Once home, we initiated bedtime routines and told the children it was probably time for us to go to the hospital. I kissed everyone goodbye. When we went outside, all the neighbors has been alerted by Anne Mary, the family news reporter. My friend Karla walked over and we stood in the yard chatting for about 10 minutes. Usually my labors last a long time, but are not particularly painful, so I felt certain I probably had 8-10 hours left to go. The last place I wanted to hang out was in a hospital bed, so I was trying to buy some time. Suddenly standing there, I felt the baby “drop.” His head engaged. I got very excited about this. I was just hoping this was the moment I was waiting for. Duncan wanted to leave for the hospital IMMEDIATELY. I was already using my controlled breathing on the contractions and he reminded me that usually once that starts, I am very close to delivery. I still thought it was a bit early, so I made a deal with him.
I would let him drive us to the hospital, but we would not actually go in for awhile. We would walk around the parking lot just to make sure the contractions were going to continue. I could imagine nothing worse than going in and being told I was not really in labor. So, we arrived in the parking lot about 9:20. I walked around it once and needed to use the restroom. Realizing I was going to have to go into the building anyway, I decided to go ahead and let them check me.
At my previous appt, that Wednesday I was dilated to 1.5 and was not effaced much at all. The nurse checked me and said at 5, and was going to stay.
Within a couple of minutes I had an IV in. I was Group B strep positive, so they administered the antibiotics for that. Then I walked to labor and delivery.
The L & D nurse was Tracy and she seemed very supportive of our plan to labor naturally and not use pain medications. I asked her if I could stand and walk around in labor and she basically said I could do whatever made me feel comfortable. I have never been one to walk around much in labor. I am usually most comfortable in the bed, kind of reclined on one side. I know that is not the position all the books suggest, but it has always worked for me. 4 babies with no medication seems like a pretty good record.
I did however want to walk around for a little bit. I knew once the contractions got too hard, I would want to stay in the bed. I did stand for about 20 minutes, maybe longer. At one point I had gone to the bathroom, and when I came out the doctor was in the room. He looked surprised to see me up and about and asked if the nurse was aware I was out of bed. “Yes.”
He looked flustered and asked if my water had broken yet. it had not. Then he told me I “really should be careful”.
“Well, I had to go to the bathroom” was my reply.
“That’s why God created bedpans.” was his. I almost laughed, but realized he was in earnest. I kept walking and he left the room.
At this point, I admit I was a bit worried about laboring with this doctor. He was not my OB, but the on call doctor for the practice. I wondered if he was going to insist I stay in bed and get all kinds of things done to me that I did not want.
A little while later the nurse came in and I told her what had transpired. She explained that the baby’s monitor readings were very sporadic and a bit worrisome. This was, we concluded because when I kept moving around we could not really get a clear reading then she asked me to go ahead and lie on my left side so that she could get a good monitor reading on baby for awhile.
The contractions were getting more painful so I agreed. I thought I would be more comfortable anyway. She also said the doctor would likely want to break my water in a few minutes. I said emphatically, “no”. She asked why and I told her I had let them break my water with Christina and I found it very painful. She seemed surprised byt this but said, “okay but just now he is probably going to want to.” I looked at Duncan and had full confidence that he would answer for us in this case and he knew my wishes. I really had nothing to worry about.
Contractions got harder and harder. At some point Christina had arrived. I think she got there about the time the doctor came in the first time. Very soon I realized I was having some difficulty controlling my pain, so I asked Duncan to start coaching me on my breathing. I do a slow four count in and out. So, he would hold my hand during a contraction and count “In, two, three four, out two three four.” We would do this until the contraction stopped peaking and was easing. At the same time, he would look me over and remind me to relax anything he saw that was tense. My face, shoulders, arms, legs, etc. The whole point is that if you keep everything else completely relaxed, the contractions will be most effective and will not exhaust your entire body. In between contractions, you should try to relax entirely. I did this for about 30 minutes, then the nurse came in to check progress and I was at 7.5. About 15 minutes later, I told Duncan I thought time was very close. I was having a harder time controlling my pain and usually that means I am about 15 minutes from delivery. He alerted the nurse who came in to check me. She said I was at 9.5. She suggested that if I broke my water I would probably deliver in about 10 minutes. At this point, I knew delivery was not going to stop, so I had no problem with them breaking my water. The doctor came in to do this and as soon as he did I started feeling pressure to push. The doctor said I should wait a few minutes more until I had dilated fully to 10.
He left the room and the nurse, Tracy told me I could bear down lightly upon contractions if I felt like it. I immediately started to bear down a bit and felt like it was just what I needed to do. I had one or two contractions and she told another nurse (by this time there was a whole team of people there) to get the doctor. He was just in the hall, waiting, so he was there in a flash. I was on my back, kind of reclined up at this point. Tracy suggested I try to pull my legs up higher, but frankly my legs felt very weak. I did not have the energy to do much of anything, so I asked her if she would help me. She lifted my legs and put them in these long things that are not exactly like stirrups but kind of accomplish the same purpose. I pushed three times and he was born. I did not do he typical hold-your-breath and count to ten kind of pushing. I was using a technique called “Breathing them down” which I had read about in a few books. I just concentrated on pushing the right muscles and breathing in the way that brought me the most comfort. I did some kind of groaning sound that sounded very loud to me, but it was more out of exertion than pain. At the moment he emerged my only response was “Praise God!” three years of tears and prayers and hopes had all been realized when I heard that baby boy’s cry.
The doctor was calm and relaxed and quite pleasant, so my first assessment of him had been wrong. I was very thankful for that.
When I saw him I said: “He looks so SMALL for a Russell baby!” The doctor and nurses remarked he was not small, but weighing in at only 7 lbs, 11 ounces he was small for one of ours.
The doctor asked:” What do you want me to do with this baby?” I was not sure what he meant. I kind of thought he was joking. Then when he repeated himself, I realized he was serious. I said: “What do you mean? give him to me!” Then he said: “Do you want him on your skin?”
“Ew, like that, no.” I said. The nurses got quite a chuckle out of that, so they wrapped a blankie around him and handed him to me. Oh he was so precious. I could not believe he was really here. They were trying to suction his nose and wipe him down while I was holding him and turning him this way and that. Then the nurse asked if she could move him to the little bassinet thing for a quick minute to weight him and wipe him down a bit more. I said that was fine. I was just so joyful that he was here and safe. I still had the placenta to deliver. I asked the doctor if I had “torn’ at all. I had left the hospital with stitches with all four of my previous pregnancies. “Just a tiny tear” he said and told me he felt like it would heal with no stitches at all. YEAH!
Then I said: “thank goodness the cord was not wrapped like it was with David” Then we were informed the cord HAD been wrapped, but that it had slipped down and around his ankles rather than his neck.
I told Tracy she was the best labor and delivery nurse ever and thanked her. She said: “Well, you were awesome. It was a great delivery. I cannot believe how well you did. And your husband was an amazing coach. You two worked really well together.”
Then the doctor chimed in with a comment about the baby being “Sunny Side up.” What does that mean? I asked.
He said it meant that his face was turned the “wrong way” meaning that labor is typically very painful, causing lots of back pain. I did not really think it was all that bad. It really seemed no worse than any other delivery to me. In fact, with his tiny body and small head, he seemed very pleasant to deliver.
They gave us back the baby very quickly and Duncan held im for a few minutes, then Christina did. She said the labor was cool to watch and it made her feel a little funny to see all the “extra fluids” but she was glad she was there. She stayed mostly up by my side and was not looking “below the belt” so to speak, which is good because that would have been odd for me, too.
Then, I claimed my little angel back and nursed him for about ten miutes. Then I just cuddled with him and held him. He is so sweet and perfect. I am thankful he is here and safe at long last.