I had an inkling she would come early, but she still surprised us!
It was 4:00 am on Wednesday, June 5th and I had just gotten up for my one of my nightly bathroom trips. I was amazed at how regularly I was getting up at 4:00 am toward the end of my pregnancy. Just as I settled back in bed my water broke…
Why in the world it could not have happened 3 minutes earlier when I was in the bathroom over a tiled floor is beyond me, but oh well.
It really was like a scene from a movie, but thankfully I was in the privacy of my own home. I woke my husband up with, “I think my water just broke!”. He shot out of bed like a rocket and then quickly asked, “are you sure you didn’t pee the bed?”.
“Um…nope, I just went to the bathroom”
So we proceeded to get ready and pack our hospital bag. Yep, a little behind the 8 ball here, but at least I had a list. Brett threw on some clothes while I called the doctor and told her what was happening. She calmly told us to plan to get to the hospital around 6:00 am and in the meantime we should shower and have breakfast because it could be a long day.
And that’s what we did. We took a deep breath and prepared for our last day as a pair. We also took the opportunity to wrap up a few loose ends. Of course, we had to take the full belly pic, which unfortunately was not as full as the peak moment of 3:59 am on June 5th before my water broke. Then there was that work contract we signed and emailed before hopping in the car – hey it’s hard to take a day off when you own the company.
After checking in at the hospital – thankfully we were pre-registered so we avoided paperwork that morning(!) – they took us to our room and set me up on the monitors. Since my water had already broken, I had to stay on the monitors, but the good news was that they could be tracked wirelessly so I could walk around and they could get wet so I could labor in the tub.
Next on the list was to call our families. We called Brett’s mom first because it was an hour later there. Surprisingly she was on the road a couple of hours later and would get to the hospital the following evening. Then we tried my parents and it took several attempts to get through. Eventually I had to give up on my mom’s cell and call my dad’s. Turns out they were working out in the garage and she did not have her phone. They were able to join us a few days later on Monday evening.
Then it was time for distractions. We were all smiles from the time we checked in until about 10:30 am. That gave us enough time to watch Nadal win his match in the French Open and have another breakfast provided by the hospital. Of course, the doctor came in to check me and the nurse, Lisa, was great at making sure we were all settled in.
My contractions had been between 15 – 20 minutes apart when we arrived at 6:00 am and were very minor. By 10:30, I was having to concentrate on staying relaxed and my contractions had decreased to 3 and a half minutes apart. The goal going into labor was to be drug free. That was definitely put to the test.
As my contractions increased, the doctor working that day (yep, my doctor had the day off!) checked me for the first time. Based on everything I had read and our birth class, I expected to be between 3 – 4 cm dilated. Turns out I was only 2 cm, but was 90% effaced. The doctor tried to make me feel better by telling me the effacing part was a lot of work, but I was not buying it. Being only 2 cm definitely had me scared! How much worse was it going to get?!?!
I decided I would try getting in the tub and hoped laboring in there would be more comfortable. While I was in the bathtub, Brett kept me occupied by telling me random stories of our life together. Remember the time we went to that concert? How about when that guy was being a jerk in the seats behind us? That little bakery in Argentina was so great… I was surprised at how effective that tactic was during my contractions.
After a couple hours, my fingers were all wrinkly, and I was cold and ready to get out. Not sure why, it wasn’t any better out of the water because that’s when the back labor hit. Oh goodness was that uncomfortable. We walked around the maternity wing a little bit more, but that soon became too difficult so I crawled back in bed.
One thing that surprised me was that I did not want to be mobile in the end. I did not want to stand. I did not want to move around or bounce on the labor ball. I did not want Brett to massage my back or provide counter pressure. All of this was completely unexpected.
Then I made a bad choice…the doctor came in around 2:30 and asked if I wanted to be checked again to see how I was progressing. I debated and eventually decided yes. Again, from what I read and birth class I was hoping to be between 7 – 8 cm. The contractions were clearly picking up. I had to be getting close to Transition, right?
Nope, I was only between 5 – 6 cm. What?!? Really?!? How much more of this could I take and how much longer was I going to be here? So I asked the doctor and she actually gave me an estimate. She told me that most first time moms dilate 1 cm per hour. A quick calculation told me I had an estimated 4 more hours. That’s when I panicked. I cried and pleaded with Brett. “I’m not sure I can do it” definitely escaped my lips like a bad cliche.
Brett was a great partner and coach. He told me that he knew I could do it, but that if I really wanted to get the drugs he of course would understand. He did not want me to not get the drugs because I was worried about what he or anyone else would think. He suggested I wait a little bit longer and see if I still wanted anything in an hour. That did it. I chose to wait and see.
We tried a few more positions and I eventually ended up in the rocking chair. I rocked myself back and forth for the next hour and a half. The doctor had a few more patients to see, but said she would be back around 4:45. There must be something in me that really likes getting “gold stars” or being a good student because I could see the clock on the wall as I rocked and my goal was to just get to 4:45.
But, can I just say that Transition is really tiring. I was so tired that between contractions, I was actually falling asleep. Not that I was sleeping for long, but it was enough to get me totally relaxed when my body was not in complete pain. Just before 4:45 the nurse said she would check me again and low and behold I was 10 cm!!! Woo hoo! I did it without the drugs! Now it was time to push.
This came with more surprises. I expected this part to be natural – meaning that I would instinctively know what to do when it came time to push. Again…not so much. I also thought I would want to give birth in the squatting position, but nope. I just did not have the strength. So we ended up in the side-lying position. This left Brett, who thought he would avoid some of the more graphic bits, with a front row seat.
Then all of a sudden, after an hour of pushing, our little girl was out and in my arms! We had also asked for delayed cord clamping and I had pictured Brett and I gazing at our daughter for the next hour while the rest of the business was handled down below and her cord stopped pulsating.
However that was not to be. Our little girl had too much fluid in her lungs and they had to do more work on her. That meant only 6 minutes with mama before they were putting tubes down her throat and getting more oxygen in her. That also meant that daddy would be leaving and going with her as they hauled her away to NICU. Not what we had expected after a pretty easy pregnancy and labor for the most part.
After about another hour, I was ready to join them in the NICU ward and see my little girl again. Surprisingly I was fine. I was able to walk and eat. I couldn’t believe that just a few hours before I was practically passing out because I was so exhausted and now I was chomping at the bit to get out of that room. That’s hormones and adrenaline for you.
Once we were all reunited the doctor told us that she had to be on a breathing apparatus until she could maintain her oxygen levels. We also learned that she had an elevated white blood cell count and would have to be on antibiotics. We hoped that would only last for 48 hours, but unfortunately we needed to stay in the hospital for a full 7 days. Not part of the plan and not the most fun, but thankfully the nursing and hospital staff were great.
We also look back at that week like a newborn care crash course. There was someone there to change her dirty diapers, help wake me up when it was time to nurse, show me how to use the breast pump, and watch our baby when the car seat guy came to help install the seat. We were also fortunate to be at the hospital in Boulder. The NICU wing has individual rooms for the babies and an adjoining room for the parents. This way you can still room with your little one and not have to leave the hospital at night.
Now we’re home and our little Eleanor is thriving! Not sure how or what infection she had, as I tested negative for Group B Strep, but we are super thankful to modern medicine and the awesome hospital staff for getting her healthy. I’m sure that next time I will have to be on antibiotics during labor. Oh well, at least there will be a reason for me to have that silly IV in my arm since I’ll plan to avoid the pain meds next time too.