Friday, October 12, 2012

Labor: Day 1

I've been boldly preaching that LB is coming SOON for the past couple weeks, which I'm sure many of you brushed off as "wishful thinking". Not so. This mama is in labor!

Funny enough, for the past week I've been telling people that she was going to arrive on Thursday. While she's not here just yet, I'm pretty impressed with my guessing. How awesome would that have been for her birthday to be 10/11/12?!

Flashback to Wednesday. I woke up feeling crampy as usual, but went on with my day of cooking and cleaning. I had a massage scheduled for that afternoon at my chiropractor just down the street hoping that might move things along. So I laced up and decided to walk myself the half mile there. The massage was fantastic—hands down the best I've ever had. As soon as she began, I immediately started having pretty intense cramps. My mind kept wondering whether they would stick around or not. Once she was finished though, they dulled down quite a lot, so I figured it would be fine to walk across the street to Trader Joe's to pick up a few things for dinner. I ended up needing to walk to QFC too and filled my two bags so full that I was kicking myself the entire half mile UP HILL back home. Not smart, but I made it back just fine.

That evening, Papa K and I went to our last Centering class. All went well. I weighed in (up 35 pounds), we watched Happiest Baby on the Block (feeling very prepared with proper swaddle technique now), heard two birth stories from the ladies who already had their babes, and I got to talk to our midwife for that night, Mia, about the period-like cramping I've been feeling for a couple weeks. I asked her if she thought they were practice contractions and she told me that they probably were. She said she would be hard pressed to believe that I would go for another month like this, but assured me that it didn't mean labor was necessarily going to happen anytime soon. I was fine with that.

That night we went home and queued up the episode of The Voice that I missed the night before (any other Voice fanatics out there?!) and snuggled on the couch. I was still cramping, but no regular contractions.

Thursday morning I was up early, so I figured I would surprise Arthur with some pumpkin oats for breakfast before work. I began to notice that I was kind of leaky, but brushed it off as wet-quality cervical fluid—remember when we rushed to the hospital a couple months back to check for leakiness? After we finished up breakfast, we both noticed a wet spot on the chair as I stood up. I rushed to the bathroom to sit on the toilet thinking my water was about to gush out, but it didn't. So I anxiously put a pad in and wondered what the heck was going on. Arthur needed to head to work to at least get his computer, so I sent him on his way and begged him to keep his phone glued to his hand.

I decided I should probably get in touch with our doula, Matilda, and let her know what was going on. We texted back and forth and she asked if I was having any contractions. Assuming that my cramping was contractions, I told her yes, but that they weren't regular. She told me to eat as much as I could and rest up. I parked it on the couch for the next hour and decided to see if I could time the cramps with a contraction timer on my phone. I quickly realized that I was having more than just cramps, and that my entire belly was tightening about every eight minutes. The cramps were down low and the tightening was up high. I texted Matilda back that I was having real contractions about every eight minutes. She reminded me that I should just rest and not worry about timing unless it made me feel better.

The day was lazy. I laid on the couch most of the day watching TV and dozed in and out. I was able to take a couple hour nap mid-day, which was rejuvenating after waking up so early. The contractions were very mild and easy to ignore. I even did a bit of cleaning and vacuuming in between stints on the couch. I tried to eat about every hour to keep fueling myself for whatever was coming.

When Arthur got home from work I started a big pot of spaghetti sauce and poured a glass of wine to keep myself busy.

Matilda called around this time to check in and let me know that she was planning to come by after her choir got out around 9:45pm. Earlier in the day she advised me not to call the midwives right away unless I wanted to potentially get "stuck" there if my water was actually leaking. If I wanted to labor at home, I should probably keep quiet. That was assuming that labor would pick up throughout the day though. So at this point we needed to make a decision about going to get checked, since it had almost been an entire day and infection could set in if we waited too long with a broken bag of waters. I told her we would wait for her to get here and then make a decision.

I finished up the sauce and boiled some pasta for a hearty spaghetti dinner. After dinner we tidied up the house and I took a shower knowing that we were going to be heading to the hospital sometime in the next couple hours. During the shower I began to panic about how I wasn't sure if I had felt LB move for awhile. So I hurried out and announced that I didn't want to wait for Matilda and we needed to go to the hospital now. Arthur agreed and had me phone in to page the midwife on call. I was so curious to find out who it would be, and funny enough it was Mia again. I was happy to hear from her since she was the one who checked me the day before at Centering. I explained what had happened since the morning and she calmly suggested I come in to check checked. So we got our bags together—not sure if we would come back or not—and told Matilda we would meet her there.

Since it was after hours, we had to check in at the ER entrance and get escorted up to the birthing center. I was asked multiple times if I wanted a wheel chair, which felt so surreal. I declined. Just as with our last visit to the birthing center, we were welcomed by name and they were totally prepared for us. It was probably around 10pm at this point.

We settled into our room and I got hooked up to the monitors. I wasn't totally smitten with our nurse, but I figured she was fine for the time being. My favorite part was getting to listen to LB's heartbeat for the entire visit—so special and reassuring. It was also fun to tell Arthur when I was having a contraction and he would confirm it on the monitor. I was surprised to find out though that I was having way more contractions than I even thought. At one point I asked Mia if my contractions were regular and she told me that I had just had four in the past ten minutes. I was only feeling about half of them.

When we had arrived, the nurse said something about it being a good thing we came in since I was GBS+. I told her that I wasn't and that there must have been a mixup. She went to go double check and came back with Mia to tell us that there had been a human-error and that I was actually GBS+. Not knowing whether I had been leaking amniotic fluid the entire day or not yet, the entire room got a bit tense. Mia was clearly bothered and very apologetic. She tried to reassure us that there likely wouldn't be any issues, and it was good that the baby was full-term, "thankfully the numbers are in our favor", she said. If I would have known this, we would have come in right away that morning. Ugh!

Finally we got to checking the fluid. It was incredibly painful. I found that I enjoyed having Arthur's hand to squeeze and Matilda helping me breathe from across the room. The results came back negative, but because of my GBS status, Mia wanted to repeat the test one more time just to be extra sure. So we sat around for 30 minutes to encourage pooling of any fluid. Matilda, Arthur and I chatted about my homemade pesto and pasta sauce. It was actually quite relaxing. The lighting in the room was so soothing against the darkness of the cold, foggy night.

It was during this wait that we also heard a baby born in the room next to us. Sudden crying filled the room and my heart started racing. I couldn't believe that would be us sometime very soon. I was overwhelmed with emotion.

Soon Mia came back in to check the fluid again. It was still painful, but with Arthur's hand and Matilda's breathing much more manageable. The results came back negative again. Phew. Since my water hadn't broken, she wanted to check my cervical progress. I had heard cervical exams were painful, so I geared up for the worst, but honestly compared to the fluid check with the speculum, this was a walk in the park. It did cause some really intense cramping, but she warned me of that. We were so excited to find out that I was 2cm dilated and nearly 60% effaced(!) with a head station of -1. I asked Mia what she thought of this and she said that any midwife would be happy about this progress and that it looked like the baby will fit through my birth canal really well. She also said that she could feel the baby's head engaged really properly and that she liked my pelvis (ha!).

This definitely gave me a burst of adrenaline, and was really reassuring that something was happening. Matilda made a comment that it was pretty cool that my body is doing all this work without much effort on my part. I felt encouraged.

We told Matilda she could head home and that we just planned to go home and get in bed. So she left and we got to spend a few minutes together enjoying the quietness of the night. Shortly after, we gathered our things and headed out, saying "see you soon!" to all the nurses on the way out. Thirty minutes later we were snuggled in bed.

I woke up this morning to a bit more intense contractions, maybe a 3/10 on the intensity scale. But they have dulled quite a bit as I've been moving around. I'm beginning to feel a bit mentally drained, but know that I need to keep my chin up. I just wish I knew how much longer this was going to go on. Arthur is working from home today and Matilda is encouraging me to rest and eat. So I'm parked on the couch for another day just waiting to see what happens. I will keep my Twitter updated throughout the day and keep you all in the loop as things progress. Stay tuned!

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