I hope not to drag this out too long, but I'm long-winded and had a lot to remember, so it's naturally just a bit long. Hopefully I can keep it to just two parts!
A coworker of mine had gone into labor just a few days before me when her water broke after getting a pedicure. I actually already had a pedicure appointment scheduled for Thursday with some coworkers, so everyone joked that maybe it would work for me, too.
I had my 38 week appointment on Tuesday (Nov. 18) and wasn't feeling hopeful. I had been dilated to a 2 the week before and was hoping for more progress. I was incredibly uncomfortable and having Braxton Hicks contractions every day. Baby had nestled himself in my pelvis and walking even the shortest of distances was just plain painful. I felt huge, everything was swollen, and I was anxious to meet our little man. Unfortunately the doctor said I was still just barely dilated to a 2, and effaced around 50%. It didn’t seem like it would be happening any time soon. After feeling sorry for myself for most of the afternoon, I decided there was nothing I could do to change it and that sooner or later, he would be ready.
On Wednesday, Nov. 19 I got up and went to work. Most of my team was traveling that week, so it was a quiet day, but a long one—as most understandably are at the end of your third trimester. I had book club that night, so my friend Katie picked me up and we rode together. It was a small crowd—just four of us—so we chatted and enjoyed snacks for a couple hours before calling it a night. Katie dropped me off around 8:00. I watched a little TV until Sean got home from work around 9:30, then we both headed to bed.
While lying in bed watching TV, the dog was acting strange. He always wants to snuggle, but this time he insisted on lying between my knees underneath the covers. He was shaking a little, but wouldn’t move. I got up and took him to go outside, and when we got back in bed he went right back to the same spot between my legs. Around 10:40 Sean finally turned off the TV and we started to wind down. Sean was talking about how he was exhausted and needed a good night’s sleep. I thought I felt a little “trickle” but didn’t think much of it at first. After a few minutes, I decided to get up and go to the bathroom just to be sure – plus I figured I could knock out one of my bathroom breaks while I was still awake anyway.
I went to the bathroom and felt a little gush of fluid and stood up to see a little bit of blood. It quickly became clear there was something going on. I started to panic a little. I walked back into the bedroom and flipped on the light. I told Sean I think it may have in fact been my water breaking. He sat up and we looked at each other like, “what do we do now?”
I pulled out a towel to sit on while we made a few phone calls. I started shaking so bad that I couldn’t even hold on to my phone. It was scaring me. I couldn’t figure out if it was just nerves or if there was something more going on. The shaking got so bad that Sean wanted to call medics just to check me out, but I told him to give me a few minutes to try and calm myself down and see if that would work. It’s not unusual for me to have physical reactions to emotional stressors so I assumed it was all related. I was able to take some deep breaths and calm down enough to call the Birth Center to explain what was going on. They said we should come in, but since I wasn’t contracting it was OK for us to take our time. We were so wired though that we instantly grabbed our things and headed out the door.
We arrived at the hospital by 11:15. They checked us in and brought us to labor and delivery, where our nurse, Sarah, got us set up and explained what we could expect. They checked me to confirm that my water had broken and it had, which meant we’d definitely be staying and be having this baby within 24 hours. (And I wasn't going to need that pedicure on Thursday after all.) I was dilated to a 4—two more than I had been at the doctor just the day before! We called our moms to give them an update, but knowing it would be a while before anything really happened, we told them to stay home and we’d keep them updated.
I had tested positive for Group Strep B, so I needed to get a dose of antibiotics before delivery. They were monitoring my contractions but they were mild and very sporadic (20-25 minutes apart), so they decided to give me the IV meds and then reevaluate things after that. By 3:30 I had finished my dose of antibiotics and my contractions were still irregular, so they started me on Pitocin to get things moving. By 3:50 my contractions were 10-15 minutes apart (between the big ones), but they quickly picked up. At 4:15, they checked me again and I was dilated to a 5 and the contractions were getting stronger and coming more often—about 3 minutes apart.
I tried a half dose of Fetanyl to ease the pain before I was ready for an epidural. It didn’t help with the pain, but definitely made me feel great in between contractions. I knew I’d be ready for the epidural soon, so I told them to go ahead and get it ready and give me the fluids I needed ahead of time. Around 6:00 a.m. the anesthesiologist came to give me the epidural. I was contracting pretty strong and frequently, so while I had thought the worst part of the epidural would be the giant needle in my back, I was wrong. It was much worse just trying to sit up, sit still, and breathe through the contractions while they were doing it.
They had me lie down on my right side while we waited for the epidural to start working. After 15 minutes, I was still feeling contractions pretty strongly, especially on my left side, so that had me roll over to see if the medicine would pool on that side of my body and start working. About 30 minutes later, I was still in a lot of pain and it no longer seemed to be limited to my left side. I could feel it everywhere. They did the ice test (where they place a bag of ice at various points of your legs and pelvis to test your numbness) and determined the epidural wasn’t working. They decided to have the anesthesiologist replace it with a new one. Around 7:30 or 8:00 they came and put a new one in. Once again, it felt impossible to sit there calmly while they put it in. When a contraction would come on, I virtually shut down. I would just sit there gripping the side of the bed and grinding my teeth, completely unable to pay attention to whatever they were asking me to do.
Thankfully, the new epidural seemed to start working and the contractions became bearable. For about an hour, we were able to relax. Soon though, they started getting worse. I could feel a lot more pain. The nurse wasn’t sure whether it was simply because I was progressing and feeling more pressure, or if I was in fact feeling pain. I assured her it had to have been more than just pressure. I was miserable. Before deciding how to address it, she wanted to check me and see where we were at. It was 9:20 a.m., I was fully dilated, and it was time to start pushing.
To be continued...