Noah's Birth Story: Part One

Feb 13, 2013

This story has been a work in progress, unlike my other posts which are usually produced in one sitting between sips of lemonade and silly Facebook checks. And now, instead of writing between sips, I get to write between nursing sessions, diaper changes, and most importantly warm cuddles with our sweet baby. 

I will warn you that I'm not holding back on too many details, so consider yourself warned of all things related to labor and pushing a child out of the netherregions. 

My pregnancy with Noah was, for the most part, wonderful. I had my share of nausea the first trimester and some back pain and about a hundred nightly trips to the bathroom during the third trimester. Overall, though, my pregnancy was uncomplicated and I look back and am thankful everyday for a truly enjoyable nine months. No group B, no gestational diabetes, and I gained a normal amount of weight for my height, only about 27 pounds. 

We chose to receive care with the Vanderbilt Midwives, as explained here. I wrote out a very detailed birth plan, describing the type of labor and birth experience I wanted and was very specific with the type of care that I wanted for Noah and myself, all very in line with the midwives' standard care. 

My main goal was a healthy baby and mama, but above that I wanted a drug and intervention-free labor for many reasons. Part of intervention-free meant that I would not be induced and that my body would have the chance to go into labor on its own. I wouldn't be induced until 42 weeks, Noah's last chance to make his appearance. 

November 17th was his due date, and it came and went without any signs of labor. By that point I was still feeling very good, but our excitement and anticipation to meet our baby meant that I was uber-aware of every single cramp, pain, twinge- you name it, I noticed. At my appointment that week my midwife checked me and I was 60% effaced, but only 1cm dilated. I had been having Braxton-Hicks for about two months, but had no clue if that was what an actual contraction felt like. A lot of family and friends had guessed a date for his arrival and I was getting discouraged as each passing day proved someone else wrong. Both of our moms were waiting for THE phone call that would start their 8 hour trip to Nashville. Thanksgiving was spent with my uncle and his family and we came home and decorated the tree..and we waited. 

The Saturday before Noah's birth I was having more frequent practice contractions but they were nothing that signaled "this is it" in my mind. I was so annoyed and told Michael I couldn't stand to sit at home another second. He agreed to take me to the mall and walk around with me in hopes of starting something...anything. We did a lap and then decided to see Skyfall at the theater. I had some pretty intense tightness in my belly when we were ordering popcorn, but sitting down during the movie made them go away. Funny, what stands out in my mind about the movie was that the older man in front of me looked like Santa and it smelled like he took a bath in his cologne. It made me so nauseous. After another half-lap after the movie I was done and we called it quits and went home. I had an "I give up" attitude on Sunday and tried to relax.

My next appointment was on Monday, the 26th, at 9:30am and I was 41 weeks and two days. My midwife and I agreed that if labor hadn't started by then that she would do a membrane sweep and see if it could get things going. I also had a Non-stress test done to check on Noah. After being hooked up to the machine, we noticed I was having contractions every ten minutes or so, but I wasn't really feeling them. Noah's heart rate was responding slightly below what she wanted to see so after the appointment we were sent over for an ultrasound to check fluid levels. Before I left, she checked me and I was almost all the way effaced and 3cm. I'll admit I was so discouraged...only three?? She swept my membranes after the cervical check and wow- it was SO painful. I began some bleeding right away and was very uncomfortable just minutes after she was done. I began experiencing intense menstrual-like cramps. Because I was nearing 42 weeks, we went ahead and set an induction date for the morning of Saturday, December 1st, just in case.

The ultrasound went well and gave them no reason for concern. During the appointment with the midwife, she gave us the recipe for their castor oil concoction and suggested that if I wanted to try it, to try it either later that day or the night before induction as a last resort to get labor started on its own. Well, if you know me, I chose THAT DAY. We had planned to finish up some shopping after the appointment and walk some more, but the uncomfortableness from the sweep turned into contractions - the type that left me thinking, "So THIS is what they feel like!" and I told Michael we needed to head home (an hour drive).

From then on, I began timing the contractions and they were about 7 or 8 minutes apart, uncomfortable, and lasting about 30 seconds. We got home around 1pm and all I wanted to do was get in the bathtub. At this point, I remember wondering if this was really it because they weren't consistently 5 or 6 minutes apart. They'd go from 6 apart to 10 apart and then to 5. I was so confused that I just stopped counting. Michael had gone into town and bought the castor oil concoction ingredients and I tried my best to gulp it down. Turns out, he put a full serving of the champagne, but didn't read the rest of the directions and only put in 1/4 of everything else, including the castor oil. By the time we figured this out, I could not imagine drinking anymore. It tasted like I had literally melted lipstick and was trying to drink it. I told Michael he should probably take a nap just in case this turns into something and we have to head to the hospital. 

Over the next few hours I was in and out of a warm bath and used the exercise ball to move my hips around. The contractions were still coming, now at about 5 to 6 minutes apart. I'm not sure what I was thinking at this point. I called the midwives to let them know and the midwife I talked to said, "When you feel ready to come, come. And you'll know when it's time...we'll see you soon". This is when it finally hit me- I was in labor! Michael was sleeping so I decided to try to lay down. I had a timer app on my iPad and would hit "start" and "stop" as each contraction woke me up again. They were lasting longer, about a minute, and about 4.5 to 5 minutes apart. After an hour of this, around 6:30pm, I was unable to fall back asleep during contractions. In fact, they became so painful SO fast that I remember thinking, "THIS is what she meant by knowing!".

 As I stood up my legs felt weak and each contractions sent me bending forward and needing to lean against something. It had escalated very quickly! I also felt a lot of pressure, but my water had yet to break. I made my way to our bedroom and woke Michael up. "Babe, I think we need to go to the hospital. It really hurts.." I told him in tears what I was feeling and he looked at the timer and saw how close together they were and how long they were lasting. He was pretty adamant that we leave. I wanted to give it about twenty more minutes just to make sure. "Make sure of what?" he asked. "We need to leave.". I called my mom to let her know that this was IT, and I guess I sounded calm enough that she wasn't sure it was the real deal. She told me to call her if I got to the hospital and they told me it was labor. I agreed, hung up, and told Michael her response.  At this point I was doubling over with each contraction and could not even talk. I guess I needed someone to look me in the eye and just tell me how it was. And that's what Michael did. He insisted that we leave and I was in so much pain at that point that I agreed. I think I was in shock that the pain was SO bad SO fast. Just 30 minutes ago I was on the couch sleeping!

Just getting into the car was painful. I remember it was dark out and raining. I was freezing. I kept thinking "just breathe" as the pain came. I attempted to call the hospital's emergency line and let them know we were on our way, but for some reason could not get through. I remember being so irritated at this and told Michael, "How do they expect you to call with an emergency if you can't get through their emergency line!". We had a 45 minute drive to the hospital and the contractions were coming so fast that I honestly wondered if I would make to the hospital.  The pressure got worse and the contractions were about three minutes apart and lasting a minute or longer. There was so much pressure and it felt like his head was coming out with each wave. It's funny, I remember thinking, "Please don't let my water break on these seats!"

 I called my mom on the way and asked her to please leave because I knew this was it and asked her to call Michael's mom because they were riding down together and needed to leave NOW. I had to hang up because the pain was so bad and could barely talk to my sister when she called to tell me, "You can do this!". I began to breathe so hard that my arms felt numb and my fingers stiff.

After what seemed like forever, we finally made it to the hospital at 7:45pm. The entire car ride felt like one big contraction. I honestly was not feeling the "breaks" between them, just a constant pain and pressure. In my grand scheme, I had planned to walk up to the 4th floor of L&D after we parked. At this point, I KNEW I could not walk. Michael parked in front of the ER and as soon as I got out of the car another wave hit me and my knees went weak. They got a wheelchair for me and all the while I'm moaning in pain. I told the nurse who took my information about my arms and she said I had probably hyperventilated from breathing so hard. She called the midwives and I ended up having to wait in a wheelchair for about fifteen minutes in a room FULL of ER patients, moaning and grunting through the pain. Michael was so supportive and answered all the questions he could for me. 

During our birth class while we were focusing on light touch and massage, I knew that's what I would want. However, Michael tried to work on my neck and head while waiting to go up and it was SO uncomfortable to be touched. I was surprised that what I thought would calm me was actually agitating. Finally, someone came and took us up to L&D. I was literally leaning to one side because of the pain and pressure. Every bump made things more uncomfortable. Another man in the elevator reeked of cigarette smoke and it made me so sick. I remember wanting to yell at him and ask him if he realized how bad he smelled, but I refrained. I was sure that once I arrived and was checked, Noah would be on his way out!

Once on L&D I was taken to a triage room to be assessed. It was hard to get out of the wheelchair and onto the bed. It hurt to move my hips to turn on my side and it hurt to get up and use the bathroom. I was crying off and on and moaning and breathing through each contraction. I took my clothes off, put a hospital gown on, and they hooked me up to the monitor temporarily to get the information they needed.

Even though the pain was the most intense I had ever felt, I wasn't too scared. I actually had amazing clarity and focus, knowing that I could do this and praying for peace. For awhile I wondered if I could really do this without pain medication, but even though the pain was getting worse, I knew deep down that I could do it.  Michael was amazing. He was so attentive, reminding me to breathe and telling me, "You can do this, got this, babe".

 I wasn't sure which midwife I would get because it all depended on who was on call. It turns out that my primary midwife, Lori, just happened to be on call and walked in the door a few minutes after I got on the bed. Noah's heartrate was still good, but I was only 4cm. I immediately started asking questions. "Are you serious? How could I only be 4cm after all of this pain? How in the world am I going to get to 10 if my contractions are already only 2 minutes apart?" 


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