Tuesday, August 7th, 2007: I woke up with my lower back aching. It was aching enough for me to decide to not go to work. I was told by several people that this ache could last for days. Oh yay. Since sitting and laying down made it worse, I did stuff around the house to keep myself busy. I probably started feeling minor contractions in the early afternoon but they were sporadic and mild enough that I didn't give it a second thought. Tony decided to come home from work a little early to see if I needed anything. We went for a long walk in hopes of it giving me some relief. As we were walking, my contractions started getting more intense and frequent. We went to our local park and sat on a bench and talked about becoming parents in the very near future. It was quite lovely.
We arrived back home around 5 PM. Tony made me a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich - yum! By 5:30, my contractions seemed to be getting close enough to where I thought we should start timing them. I was not going to even suggest going to the hospital until my contractions were occurring every 3 to 5 minutes and lasting for at least a minute each. During this time, we put things in order around the house, I shaved Tony's head and we packed a bag to take to the hospital. We headed out at 6:30 and arrived in the maternity ward shortly before 7. I was fully prepared for them to check me out and send me home, but instead they admitted me right away. Our first Nurse Practitioner informed me that I was still only 3 cm dilated but now 100% effaced and predicted a morning delivery. We started calling family and friends to let them know that I was in early labor.
The staff was going through a shift change and our dedicated NP, Kristeen, came into the room. She checked out the baby, got the bath ready for me and we discussed pain medication options. I told her that I wanted to try going natural so she told me she wasn’t going to offer pain medications again - I would have to ask her for them. At this point, the contractions were definitely getting more painful, but not unbearable. Tony helped me into the tub where I continued to groan (loudly) each time a contraction came. After 45 minutes, I got out of the tub so Kristeen could monitor the baby. The pain was definitely increasing so I decided to try a systemic painkiller. After she monitored the baby and gave me a small dose of painkiller, back in the tub I went. Natalie arrived shortly thereafter to watch me writhe in pain. The contractions were constant by now and I knew there was no way I could deal with that level of pain for 10 more hours.
Sometime shortly after 9, Kristeen got me out of the tub to monitor the baby once again. I asked for an epidural and the anesthesiologist was called. Before his arrival, Kristeen checked my cervix and found that I was 9 cm dilated! Once my water was broken, I would be having a baby! Since the little one was almost here, I decided to forgo the epidural. I now understand that my contractions were so painful because I had transitioned which is often the most painful period in the labor process. Then, we were informed that the on-call OB would be another 10 minutes (she was finishing a C-section surgery). I was at the point in labor where I HAD TO PUSH. Kristeen went to speak with the doctor to see if she could have someone else break my water; the doctor refused and said that we had to wait for her. My choices were to not push for 10 more minutes (not happening!!!) or get an epidural to prolong labor. This is where we all become quite displeased. The reason why we chose Swedish Medical Center as the location where I would give birth is because we were told that we would be the ones in control and in this instance, we were not OK with either of those options. Fortunately, Kristeen was on our side so she told me that she couldn’t tell me that it was OK to push, but she couldn’t stop me. As soon as I started pushing, my water broke. Funny how your body knows what to do at the right time. I almost forgot to mention - we did have a resident doctor helping out, too. She assisted the doctor once she finally arrived. It was such a relief to start to use my contractions for something and I found that although exhausting, pushing didn’t hurt as much as the contractions after I transitioned. After pushing for around 30 minutes (crowning for 20), Malcolm was born at 10:22 PM. I had slight tearing on my inner labia, but that is it.
Tony, Natalie and Kristeen were amazing. I don’t think I could have done it without them. The whole thing happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to even consider the breathing techniques I had been practicing or any of the other coping mechanisms to deal with the pain. I had these ideas that I would use the birthing ball and I had also been doing exercises to strengthen my quads for squatting - all of that went out the window. I didn’t even have time to think about it! With that being said, I feel extremely lucky that labor was so quick - we were totally prepared for a 12 to 15 hour ordeal. It was an absolutely amazing experience and I am so glad that I didn’t get an epidural. Although the pain was really intense, I couldn’t imagine it not being part of Malcolm being born.
Several friends had come to the hospital - most all of them didn’t arrive until around 10. I wasn’t really up to seeing anyone right away - I just wanted to bond with the little person I gave birth to. Julie and Jeremiah did come in to say hello - Julie was meant to also be there during the birth but didn’t arrive in time. They all came back in the next couple of days to visit us in the hospital and meet Mal for the first time. We came home on Thursday and have had many friends visit since then and bring us lots of food. It is so wonderful to have such a great support network.
The first family portrait:
There are more pictures on my flickr gallery and on our Tony Loves Kris website :)