I had been bleeding and crampy the week after my midwife B stripped my membranes on August 7, but had not had any real contractions that I was aware of. On August 12, I thought my water may have broken but I did not call the midwives since I had an appt scheduled for August 14. On August 13, I talked to my best friend D and upon her encouragement, I called the midwives and G was able to see me around 4:30 p.m. She did a few tests and it turns out that my water had not broken. She told me not to wait so long to call if I truly thought my water broke and we scheduled a NST/BPP for that Monday, August 17. At this point, I was only 2 days overdue, but G didn't want me to go too long past my due date.
Sunday, August 16, we went to Ruby Tuesday's for lunch with my father-in-law B and then walked around the mall. I was having mild “lightning crotch” pains from time to time, and had to do my best to mask those so B wouldn't suspect anything and get too excited. That evening, I watched “Confessions of a Shopaholic”. I think I was having contractions at that point, but they were so sporadic that I was not really timing them. The contractions started getting closer together and around 11:15-11:30 p.m., DH said we needed to page B. The contractions were about 3-5 minutes apart. I was hesitant to even call because I felt bad about possibly waking her up. I talked to B and said the contractions were not unbearable and that we would stay home a while (since I wanted to labor at home and have a natural birth experience).
Around 12:30 or 12:45 a.m., when the contractions were coming about every minute, we decided to head to the hospital. We got to the ER to check in and they asked if I wanted a wheelchair to go to L&D but I said I could walk. The girl who walked us up asked if I was going to get an epidural and I said no. She said I was brave and I said “mind over matter”.
We got to the antepartum room and I had to change into a hospital gown and give a urine sample. I was then hooked up to monitors to measure contractions and Mungee's heart rate. The nurse checked me at 1:15 a.m., I was 2 cm and 50% effaced. The nurse asked my pain level on a scale of 1-10, 1 being no pain, 10 being like she broke my femur bone. I rated my pain level around 2-3. The nurse said she would agree with me based on the look on my face. The goal was to keep me for an hour to see if I had made any progress (progress was considered 1 cm an hour). By 2:15 a.m., I was only 2-3 centimeters and 70% effaced. That was not considered progress. We decided to go home so I could labor in a more comfortable environment.
DH took a nap on the couch and I tried unsuccessfully to get comfortable as the contractions got progressively more painful. I labored as long as I could bear it before waking up DH around 5:45 a.m., begging him to take me back to the hospital. We got back to the ER and this time I opted for a wheelchair to make the trip to L&D. I was set up in Curtain 1. It was quite a while before anyone came in to check me. The nurse on duty did not want to check me because they were on a shift change and said that cervical checks were very subjective. I was checked at 7:15 a.m., and was still only 3 cm, but 90% effaced and Mungee was at 0 station. I was not allowed to eat or drink, only “snack” on ice chips. The nurses had called the midwive's office and G was on call, so I assumed she would be the one to deliver Mungee, even though I really wanted B to be there. G came in to check me at some point between 8-10 a.m., though I am not sure what time. She said she thought I was in early labor and talked to me about breaking my water. I said I did not want to and she was very matter-of-fact and said that Mungee was overdue and at some point we needed to take whatever measures necessary to get her out. I was told that we should stay for two hours and it would be a good idea to walk the halls to try and help things progress. I was not set up in my own room yet.
DH and I walked the halls and I was doubled over with pain what felt like every 30 seconds to a minute. The contractions would begin in my back and wrap around to the front. It felt like someone was trying to saw me in half. I had been practicing Hypnobabies for weeks, but I seemed to forget everything I had practiced to manage the pain. I talked to my best friend and she was trying to remind me of the Hypnobabies techniques, but I just could not concentrate. Every time I tried to breathe through a contraction I made a noise like an owl: Whooooo!
At some point I stopped DH in the hall and said I could just not do it anymore and I needed to get an epidural. He just stared at me. I was waiting for him to say it was okay, that I tried to make it through with a natural birth but there was nothing wrong with getting the epidural. I think he was scared to say anything because he wasn't sure if that was what I really wanted or if I was just saying it in the moment. I wasn't sure that was what I really wanted either, but at that point, it was what I felt I needed.
We went back to the antepartum room and no one was in there. I asked DH to go look for someone to help me and then I was by myself in the bed, trying to rock back and forth on my hands and knees to get through the pain. I am quite sure I was moaning and “Whooing” like an owl. There were two surgical nurses going back and forth, I suppose they were cleaning the room and restocking supplies. It felt weird with them being in there, me writhing in pain, and them just going about their business. I don't know what prompted it, but finally, one of the nurses asked if she could help me (perhaps I said “Help me!”) Eventually DH and a few other nurses came back in and I was offered Stadol. This was to take off the edge ... I was told it would be like I was drunk and that this drug did cross the placenta. They asked if I wanted a shot in my hip or to wait to get an IV. I asked how long the IV would take and they said at least 15 minutes. I guess I said “Just give me the shot”. They jabbed the needle in my hip and I suppose it worked pretty quickly because everything kind of became a blur. This was about 10:30 a.m. They said they were going to take me to a room and asked if I could get up (I guess to get in the wheelchair). I said no, so they wheeled the entire bed down a very long hall (it didn't seem that long when I was walking it) to my room. Then they asked if I could get out of that bed to get in the hospital bed – Nope. They had to slide a sheet under me and drag me from the antepartum bed to the hospital bed.
The Stadol took off the edge between the contractions but I could still feel the painful intensity of the contractions. I asked DH to read me my Hypnobabies mini-script. Just as I was about to come out of hypnosis, I felt a pop and a gush and thought my water had broken. I paged the nurse and she checked me, but my water had not broken.
I continued to wait for the epidural and was told the anesthesiologist had to do a C-section at 11 a.m. (or was it 12 p.m.?) In any case, I thought he would come in before he had to do the C-section, but he came in after. So I was stuck waiting for a while. He came in at 12:40 p.m. I had to sit up in the bed with my legs dangling off on the side. DH was set up in a chair in front of me. I was supposed to concentrate on him. I think they had me prop my legs up in the chair. They gave me a pillow to curl over like a cat. And then I had to stay perfectly still (even through contractions). The anesthesiologist had a hard time getting the needle in – he said I had a narrow dural space. He had numbed me up and tried to get in and was not successful and said he would have to start over in another spot. The pain from the numbing needles was bad enough! He started over and then I heard him say “Ugh ... bone”. I had to curl over even more and luckily he was able to get the needle where it needed to go. DH says I screamed at some point during this procedure but I don't remember.
It took a little while for the epidural to kick in and when it did, there was a hot spot where it did not take and I could still feel the contractions. Eventually, I was propped up on my left side, so the medicine could make its way down my right side and it took. During this time, G came in and broke my water. I was still only 4 cm at this point, 100% effaced and +1 station. G wanted to start Pitocin since I was not progressing at the preferred rate.
Around 3 p.m., my nurse rushed in and quickly rolled me over to my left side. She said the baby's heartrate had dropped and had me put on an oxygen mask. I was still only 4 cm. I was dozing on and off, trying to rest. I remember that the oxygen mask would keep slipping off me. My parents and DH's dad had been in the waiting room for several hours at this point. They would come in my room from time to time, but I really didn't want anyone there – I just wanted to rest. DH was in the hall with them running interference, but I would have liked it if he was in the room with me.
At 5:45 p.m., my nurse came in to drain my bladder (with a catheter) and then checked me. I was now at 7-8 centimeters! She said she had a hard time even finding the edge of my cervix. She thought that once I was fully dilated the baby would come right out.
Around 6-6:15 p.m., B came in and I was so excited to see her because I thought G was on call and would be the one to deliver Mungee. When she came in, she was wearing Blues Clues scrubs. She said she was babysitting her 3-year-old grandson and when she was getting ready to leave her house he asked where she was going and she said “To deliver a baby”. He said “For me?!”
B checked me and she said “Are you ready to have a baby?” The next thing I know, they are pulling off the end of the bed and bringing around the attached stirrups. The bed was like a Transformers car. They got my legs up and had to watch the monitor for my contractions since I could not feel them. With every contraction they would tell me to take a deep breath and hold it in and push for 10 seconds. I am sure we did about 12-15 sets like this with 3 rounds of pushing each time. The last few sets, we did 4 rounds of pushing. At one point, B said to reach down and feel Mungee's head (I would not recommend doing this for the easily squeamish!) Mungee was not coming out and B said it would be best to get the vacuum extractor because her head seemed to be sideways (instead of facing down). I said that it was okay and I remember seeing the nurse with the extractor break the suction, pop off and take a few steps back. I guess the extractor is pretty powerful. The next moments were pretty surreal and I don't even remember, but soon after, Mungee was placed on my chest. She was born at 6:56 p.m., 8 pounds, 21 inches long. DH cut her umbilical cord. I heard B and the nurses say a few times “She pooped, I stepped in it!” Very embarrassed, I said “I did?” And they laughed and said no, that the baby had pooped.
Her cord was short (33 cm, vs the average 55 cm) and it was compressed in her left elbow. Since she was trying to come out sideways, her elbow caught me as she was emerging and caused a 2nd degree tear. B asked me if I wanted to see my placenta, which I ever so graciously declined (I'm sure “Hell no” is what was going through my mind).
Our nurse M, who was with us throughout the day and stayed through delivery (even though she was about to be off shift), asked us the baby's name. We whispered it to her. She was the first “outsider” to know Mungee's name.
After some time, my parents came in along with DH's dad and met Mungee. She is the first grandchild for all of them and was named after DH's late mother, so it was a beautiful and bittersweet moment for everyone when we announced her name, especially DH's dad.
Unfortunately Mungee had a hard time making the transition into the outside world, so we didn't get to spend much time bonding with her before it was suggested that she go to the NICU for observation. She wasn't very responsive after being born (grunting rather than crying) and had some fluid in her lungs. They took her to observe, then brought her back to me later that night to nurse, then took her back to the nursery where she had some blue spells and her oxygen stats were dropping so at that point she went back to the NICU for the rest of our stay. Her white blood cell count was high, so they did preventative antibiotics. Luckily her blood cultures came back negative for infections. It was all such a blur those first few days, I honestly am not sure I have all the details correct. I was discharged on Wednesday, but instead of going home, we checked into the hotel right next to the hospital. On Thursday, we went back to the NICU to visit for her feedings and so I could try and nurse again. We were told that she would get to come home that day! We brought her home around 5 p.m. - time has flown by since then and here I am, 7 weeks and 3 days later trying to recall her birthday!
I went into Mungee's birthday with the intention of having a med-free birth, but never having given birth before, I had no idea what to expect. I wonder if I could have gotten through it without the medications, but that's something I'll never know, so I try not to dwell on it. Getting the epidural helped me to relax and rest, which I'm sure was beneficial when it came time to push and deliver her.