Madeline's Birth Story: Part I

Day 1 

I woke up at 3:00 am on Sunday, July 10th with contractions every 8-10 minutes apart. I tried not to get too excited because the day before we had been faked out by the baby. That day I had contractions for over twelve hours that got down to about six minutes apart, but they eventually fizzled out as the day grew hotter.

But this time, the contractions stayed all day long.

By 5:30pm the contractions were 6 minutes apart.

By 8:30pm they were 5 minutes apart.

At 1:00am they were 3-4 minutes apart, lasting 60-75 seconds and very strong. At 1:30am I had Brett call my midwife to let her know how I was progressing. She got me on the phone and talked with me through some contractions. After a brief chat, she said we should come in to the birth center within the next hour to two.

At 3:00am we went to our birth place to check things out. My midwife checked my vitals, checked the cervix, checked the baby's heart rate. Everything looked beautiful. Baby was low, 0 station. My cervix was 80% effaced. But I was only dilated to a 1 1/2. My midwife was very positive and supportive and reminded me that everything my body had been doing the last few days hadn't been for nothing. She reminded us that early labor can last a long time and not to get discouraged.

"Do you think you can go home and sleep? Getting some rest will be the best thing for you right now so you have the energy you need during active labor."

I said yes, but I wasn't sure I could.

I got home, showered, drank some chamomile tea, got into a few labor positions that help slow things down, showered (again), and prayed... a lot.  Finally the contractions spaced out enough that I could rest well between and during them. I ended up sleeping on a lazy boy with a heating pad on my back. That was the only way I could get the contractions mild enough to sleep through.

Day 2

The next morning I decided not to time the contractions and to just try to rest. Brett headed off to teach at 7:00am, after only getting about two hours of sleep. I was able to sleep well for about four hours, before the contractions were back to being too strong to sleep through.

When Brett got home that afternoon I ordered Pizza Hut pizza and we ate in bed. The entire day just turned into a lazy day and I really don't remember much of it because I was just working through contractions. Besides taking a short walk we mostly hung around the house. I showered about a dozen times, lounged around in my bathrobe, watched movies on Netflix (honestly don't remember any of them), ate snacks, and worked through the contractions.  

My midwife told me to call her when there was a "significant change" in the strength of the contractions. Though I stayed in a pattern of having contractions every 4-5 minutes, there wasn't a "significant change". The night before she had told us about "labor land". She said that Brett would know it was time to go in again when I was in labor land. 

"Labor land is a place that only Haley has the passport to. Even when she isn't having a contraction she will be there. She will be there in front of you, but she won't really be there. When she's in labor land come back in."

I tried my best to sleep though my contractions but didn't have much success. I was able to "sleep" between contractions, I'd wake up and work though the contraction, and then fall asleep again. Brett and my Mom took turns supporting me though the night.

Day 3

On Tuesday we had our 42 week appointment with my midwife. Our 42 week mark was coming in a few days so we were now getting down to crunch time. 

We did another non-stress test for the baby and checked out the fluid levels via ultrasound. It was nice that I was having contractions because we could see how our baby was responding to them. She was a champ. Becky said our baby girl was safe and sound, but that we needed to start some more intense methods of encouraging her along. We planned to go in the next day at 9:00am to start our "eviction plan" using natural methods.

Before I left she checked me again. This time I was 90% effaced, 0 station, and I was still at 1 1/2. I was relieved that I had effaced more, but I was a bit discouraged that after two days of consistent contractions I hadn't dilated. My midwife, Becky, suggested that we sweep my membranes to help strengthen the contractions a bit. After a discussion about the risks we agreed.

Becky said she'd see us in the morning, if not sooner. 
I really hoped it would be sooner.

After the appointment Brett took me to The Olive Garden for a late lunch. As the bowl of salad and basket of bread sticks were emptied, my contractions grew stronger and stronger. 

We dropped by the grocery store to pick up some more labor snacks. As Brett and I walked through the store I had to pause every few minutes to work through my contractions. 

After days of labor I had developed a few coping methods. One was that I would hold a long continuous low moaning note as I would exhale. It was almost Buddhist monk esque.  It came naturally and helped me cope. I remembered what my birth instructor had taught me, to keep all noises low and "mother bear" like rather than high sounds that tend to make one tense. I worked to ride the waves of the contraction, curious of the pain, while also having an almost out of body experience until it was over. I also tried to look at the labor as a really intense workout. Like a workout, labor has moments of rest and recuperation. I looked at labor as a sprint workout, on for 60 seconds, rest for three minutes, on for 60 seconds, rest for two minutes. Brett was my best coping tool. Just having him to lean against or to touch my shoulder or hips helped ease the pain tremendously. There is something so comforting about having the person you love there by your side as you are going through something so taxing.

As we walked though the grocery store we paused at the bakery, we paused in the meat section, we paused by the watermelons. I was very aware of the people around us until the contractions started, and then I didn't care. 

Brett told me afterwords that while in the meat section there was a man standing behind us trying to get a look at the ground beef. Instead of walking away as my contraction started he stood there awkwardly waiting for us to move. I had no idea he was even there, but Brett was pretty embarrassed when I leaned against him and started my "mother bear" / "Buddhist monk" moaning.

The contractions were definitely getting stronger. 

When we got home we dimmed the lights, turned on my labor mix, and got all our labor tools together (tennis balls, massage oil, candles, birth ball, etc.) I took a few hot showers, lounged around in my robe, and Brett helped me work through my contractions using the laboring positions we learned in our Brio class. My Mom was also there. She timed the contractions and brought us water and snacks as we needed them. She went out and picked up some delicious food from The Soup Kitchen. If Brett needed a quick break, she'd step in and rub my back or offer me water. She was a wonderful and perfect support.  

By midnight my contractions were incredibly strong and I was getting into that "labor land" state. I honestly don't remember much about this night, other than by around 1:00am we ended up back at the birth center. My contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting over 70 seconds. When we got to The Birth Center, Becky checked my vitals and was confident that when she checked me I'd be at least a four by now. 

She checked me and we were all shocked. I was only dilated to a two. 

Becky told us we had a couple options. 

"First, you could stay at here at The Birth Center and labor through the night and the day tomorrow. You are in a great pattern here, you are definitely in labor. The downside to staying here is that you have been in labor for three days now and you haven't had a good night's rest in that time. That is a recipe for disaster. What we don't want is for you to be exhausted when it comes time to push."

"What's our other option?" Brett asked.

"I can give you morphine and a strong muscle relaxant to help you sleep tonight. We do this often for moms who need to sleep. Then you'll come back in the morning and we'll have this baby. You'll be able to sleep through the contractions tonight, but they will still be there, they'll just feel more mild. So you could go home and get 5-7 hours of sleep and when you come back in tomorrow morning you may even be dilated to a five."

Sleep sounded like a good plan to me. We talked through the pros and cons together. Becky stepped out of the room and Brett and I discussed our options. I was a bit hesitant to take any medication. I had never had any sort of sleeping med or pain med beyond an Ibuprofen. Brett reminded me that we had spent a lot of time picking the perfect care provider who we trusted completely who was very pro natural methods. We knew that if she recommended any sort of medication is was necessary. 

"If she thinks sleep is what you need most right now I think that we should listen to her." Brett said. 

I completely agreed. 
We gave Becky the go ahead. She readied the injection and explained to me what it would feel like.

"Now when I give this to you, it's going to start out feeling like a bee sting. Then it's going to feel like I'm giving you the worst blister you've ever had in your life. Then as the medication is getting into your system you'll feel a burning sensation."

I prepared myself, and she was exactly right. It was the oddest and most painful shot I'd ever had. When she finished I was told to lay there for a few minutes. The burning started at the injection site and then slowly spread through my body till my limbs felt warm and heavy. I don't remember exactly what I said, but sometime as the medication was spreading through my body I said something to the effect of, "Far out... so this is what using drugs must feel like."

"Now you two have about twenty minutes before it takes full effect. Do you have stairs at your house?"

"We live in a basement."

"Okay, Brett you will need to help her down the stairs. She's going to have a hard time staying balanced and she may be a bit out of it when you get home."

We got home, I don't remember the stairs but I am sure Brett had to half carry me down them because I remember my legs felt like lead. 

I lay down and almost fell asleep instantly, but not before I made an observation.

"Brett, tonight's the last night we'll just be us."

He smiled and gave me a kiss, and we both dreamed of holding our baby the next day. 

Little did we know we were only halfway there...

Coming Soon

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