Originally uploaded by Steve Bremer
On Saturday, Steve and I slept in and I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast. The night before, the baby had kept me up into the early morning hours with unusual amounts of kicking and generally being very active in the womb. Steve joked that morning that maybe it had been his last hurrah in there before coming out.
I was having some Braxton-hicks contractions, but nothing more than usual. We decided to do some yard work that day, and I was surprisingly motivated (being 40 weeks along and all) to plant some bulbs in our yard. I talked to my mom on the phone on the way to the nursery, and made a remark about a particularly strong b/h contraction. Still, it wasn’t anything I hadn’t experienced before. While doing some of the yard work my belly continued to tighten with b/h’s, and I thought they were getting a bit strong. When we came in from outside around 3 p.m. my contractions were starting to get, as I called them, “hurty”. We decided to go out to dinner at Flyers that night and I had the extra spicy five-alarm burger. I was still having contractions that hurt, but pretty far apart. We headed to Blockbuster and rented “Breach” and the first season of 24 (we’d never watched it on TV). During the movie, I was still having contractions, and after the movie I told Steve that it might be a good idea for us to do all of our dirty dishes that were sitting in the sink. It was while we were doing the dishes that things got more real. I was drying, and every so often I’d have to stop what I was doing and lean against the kitchen counter and sway my hips. We decided to start timing things to see if they were regular. We figured out they were 4-6 minutes apart, but only lasting about a 45 seconds. This was at about 10 o’clock at night. The next time I went to the bathroom, I realized I was losing my mucous plug. That made me happy, because even if I wasn’t in actual labor, at least I was dilating enough to cause something to happen.
At around 11, Steve and I decided to try to go to bed. We did go to bed, but we never slept. We kept an eye on the contractions, which were definitely more painful and lasting about 75 seconds. However, when I lay down they spaced out to about 8 minutes apart. Again, I was convinced it would all peter out and I would be going church the next day. But, then they started coming closer together again, and before we knew it they were about 4 minutes apart. And, while laying in bed at about 1 a.m. I felt a pop and a gush and I knew that there was no turning back. My water was clear and I was feeling baby move still, so we felt comfortable laboring at home some more while waiting for our doula to arrive. I was most comfortable standing during contractions at this point, and using Steve to lean on. Once the doula got there, she started rubbing my back while Steve would hold me and I would moan and sway my hips around during a contraction. They were getting really intense, and before too long, that five-alarm burger made its reappearance, so Skai said we should head to the hospital. It is only a 7 minute drive, but I had at least two contractions in the car, one of them right as we were going through the gate to get onto base. Steve told the gate guard, “My wife is in labor, we are going to the hospital, the lady in the car behind us is our labor assistant, please let her through.” The gate guard was a big man, but he looked a little scared at the prospect of me having the baby right there, so instead of giving us a hassle about letting Skai on base in her own car, he said “Roger that, Sir.” And we made it to the hospital at about 3 a.m.
On having an unmedicated birth at the hospital: it was okay. The staff was mostly good about leaving us alone to do what I wanted; although I did “have to have” an IV and they wanted me to pee in a cup when I got there (not fun during contractions). The doctor was actually very good about respecting my birth plan, from not announcing the sex (letting us discover it), and not cutting the cord until it stopped pulsing I felt like he had actually read our plan and tried to do everything he could for us. Overall the Navy hospital did a good job of respecting my wishes and I’m not at all sad about our choice to birth there. Plus, the post-partum nursing staff was fantastic!
They checked me in and to my dismay I was only 4 centimeters dilated. Skai told me not to be upset though – she saw all the emotional signposts of late first stage labor and transistion so she knew I wouldn’t be long. She was right, because they checked me two hours later and I was 8 centimeters!! This was good progress, but I was having such hard labor at this point that I just wanted to start pushing. Things definitely got more difficult after that check. I didn’t progress for quite awhile, but kept having transition like contractions – 3 or 4 in a row with hardly any break in between. I was, at this point, freaking out (to put it mildly) because I was too far along to get any drugs (which I knew I didn’t want, but begged for them anyway), and yet not making good progress. Skai called her doula friend for some advice and they decided I needed to sit on the toilet and have a couple of good contractions there to move things along. This didn’t appeal to me because I knew it would hurt more than I already was hurting, but Skai got in my face and told me it was how I was going to get baby out. So we did it, and when we got back to the bed I only had a small lip of cervix remaining on the left side. So I labored on my left side for a few contractions and then announced to everyone’s relief that I was pushing. The nurse okayed it and pronounced me completely dilated.
I haven’t mentioned Steve much in this story, but he was there the whole time, holding my hand, looking directly into my eyes and telling me I was doing great. He was amazing throughout the whole thing. He has been amazing since too…he is a great dad and the best husband to me. I thank God for him!
I thought pushing would be better than what I had been going through, but it was still agonizing. Even when I wasn’t having a contraction I had horrible back pain, and we all thought the baby was posterior (he wasn’t, I think it was just my muscles and bones protesting Ethan trying to come through). I did have a problem believing that all my pushing efforts were actually doing anything, even after being told numerous times that everyone in the room could see the baby making its way down. Finally, though, the doctor came in, uncovered his tray of tools and started helping Ethan into the world. There was the infamous ring of fire during crowning, during which I yelled loudly and A LOT (apparently enough to make the doctor jump at one point, according to Steve).
Then, Ethan was born. Very coneheaded, and somewhat quiet (but I think he still got an 8 and a 9 on his apgars). He was on my chest and I was so relieved (see photo above!).
I still cannot believe that I pushed out a baby. I look at him and just think it was/is impossible. This story leaves out a lot that is blurry and hard to remember now, only 4 days later. I thank God for the grace to have gotten through labor, and even though it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I don’t think I would have done anything differently (other than take back my request to “just knock me out and take the baby out now!!!). Thanks to Steve and my doula, for seeing me through. And praise the Lord for a wonderful baby boy!