5 weeks later I have finally found the time to write & post our birth story. It's a long story, but I want to make sure I have all of the details here so that I can one day share them with Olive. The story, told by Dan, is much better in person.
Friday night, October 21st, I began having more discharge. It was thinner than normal. I call my midwife to make sure I'm okay. She tells me it sounds normal and if I experience any bleeding to call them back.
Saturday morning, October 22nd, at around 8 a.m. my mucus plug fell out and continued to come out throughout the day.
I began to have back cramps. They felt similar to what I experience during my menstrual cycle. I would later learn that I was in early labor and these were irregular contractions. We went to Lowe's to get a few last minute things for the house before Olive arrived. Throughout the day I had been in contact with my friend Lisa about what I was experiencing. Lisa suggested we put a mattress pad down, under our sheets, just in case anything exciting happened overnight. I honestly didn't think anything would happen. I had read one can lose their mucous plug and not go into labor for weeks so I figured my body was just preparing itself and that I still had time. Well, I was wrong. We didn't have a mattress pad so I suggested we cut up some trash bags. I did some relaxation exercises on the birth ball. Around 11:30 Dan fell asleep and I began to track my contractions with an app on my phone. I didn't get any sleep. I walked around the bedroom and the hall a few times. Around 1:07 a.m. I woke up Dan and asked him to look at the app to see if he thought I was in labor or what he thought about what the app was saying. Dan is still half asleep and then I feel a pop and ask him, "Did you hear that pop?" Yes, I asked him if he heard it. I felt a gush of water flow out of me. I then said, "I think my water just broke". It was 1:08 a.m.
I had him call our midwives while I jumped in the shower. The contractions were much more intense now. I felt them in my belly now and the back labor was not letting up. Dan left a message with the answering service and we found out the midwife on call was the one we had hoped would be there when we went into labor. That was great to hear! I immediately felt a calmness come over me. All would be fine. Our midwife calls us back and we discuss laboring at home for awhile, but she wants to make sure I can feel baby girl move. At this point I am so focused on the pain I could not say for sure that I could feel her move. The midwife asks Dan to get me something sweet to drink and have me lay on my side. After drinking something sweet I should immediately feel Olive move. Well the only semi-sweet drink we had in our fridge was kefir strawberry yogurt. We never thought to just drink sugar water. I drank it, but didn't feel anything. The midwife said she didn't want to take a chance and tells us to make our way to the hospital.
On our way to the hospital Dan tries to avoid all potholes. Impossible. Damn Houston streets! He apologizes over and over again for hitting a pothole, but I just want him to get there. Luckily, the hospital is only about 8 minutes away.
We arrive at the hospital, pull into the valet area and it is dead. The valet guy comes over very slowly. He must've been dead asleep when we drove up. He opens my door and I immediately vomit. The smell of kefir still haunts us. I get out of the car and head over to the bushes to vomit some more. The valet guy is now wide awake and rushing to the car with a wheelchair. You know that 1 hospital bag? Well, we have like 4 bags including the camera bag and Dan has trouble carrying all of the bags while trying to push me in the wheelchair as I'm still vomiting into trash cans and trash bags. We get no help to the elevator or through the doors to L&D. Great. I'm thinking this is not starting out well.
We get to L&D and they immediately put us in our room. Our L&D nurse takes my stats and hooks me up to the monitors. I continued to throw up. The nurse had poor bedside manners and was no help to us. My contractions were not letting up. Our midwife arrived and she checked me. I am 8 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Hearing that I was 8 cm dilated was wonderful to hear. I was thinking, Thank god! Okay, I can do this. Then the midwife tells us that baby girl is in the occiput posterior (OP) position or posterior position, also referred to as "sunny-side up" or "face-up". This is why I had been experiencing back labor. She says, "Okay, all we have to do is wait for this baby to turn.". Easier said than done. I'm hooked up to an IV because she was afraid I would be dehydrated due to the vomiting. We started doing "runners" where you move from one side of your body to the other side and squats to try to get Olive to turn. I spent some time in the shower and Dan sprayed my back with water. I went through 5-6 hours straight of contractions without a break. My contractions were back to back. They were killer! This was the transition stage that we read about. Dan and I attempted to do some relaxation techniques that we had learned in Bradley, but with no break it was pretty useless. He was saying things to help me relax and all I wanted was for him to SHUT UP! He did play a song from his film that I absolutely love and that helped a bit.
At some point the shift changed and a new L&D nurse arrived. She brought a nursing student with her and asked if I would mind if she assisted. At that point I didn't care one bit who was in the room and allowed the nursing student to be apart of the team. They were both wonderful. They brought new energy to our room. It was just what we needed. We attempted more "runners". They had me do more squats, lean against the bed and sit on the toilet. It was really difficult to move to different positions, but I stuck with it. I was exhausted. They also had me push a little to try and turn her. Now babies can be born "sunny-side up", however, I was swollen down there and her head was not turned enough for her to come out so it made it really difficult. I asked for my mirror so that I could see my progress, but they thought that I'd be discouraged if I saw how little I had progressed. Dan informed me of this later. But they handed me my mirror while they covered the area that was swollen so I wouldn't freak out. The midwife checked me and there didn't seem to be much change. The OBGYN ("midhusband") on-call came in and Dan overheard the midwife and midhusband talking. He knew they were talking about possible surgery because they can tell I'm exhausted and don't know if I can keep going. I didn't tell them I wanted drugs or that I couldn't do it anymore, but I guess they were just going over our options with each other just in case. Dan tells them, "Look my wife is strong. If anyone can do it, it is her. Please don't give up on her.". Wow! Thanks babe! He was a wonderful Bradley coach. I'm so grateful he fought for me to continue our plan for an unmedicated, vaginal birth.
I continued laboring, midwife checks again and said it's time. Olive had turned enough that it was time for me to push. I glanced at the clock and believe it is about 8:00 a.m. Two of the best moments before Olive arrived was seeing our midwife put her surgical gown on and having the baby nurse called to come in and set-up. That meant we were close! Unfortunately, the only position that worked and allowed Olive to come out was me on my back. Go figure. I always thought pushing would be the most painful part, but it wasn't for me. It was the back labor that was torture. Pushing felt so good! And as I pushed they told me they could see Olive's head and that she had a lot of curly hair. The first thing I thought was They are not telling me about my baby's hair as I'm pushing?! And the next thing I thought was Curly Hair?. Dan was a great help at this stage too. He told me exactly when to push to make the most out of my effort. I would push at the peak of my contraction, take a tiny break, and immediately push again. The nursing student supported one of my legs, while Dan supported the other while giving me ice chips. I have them all telling me to keep it up and that Olive is almost here.
Finally, over 24 hours of labor (even though I didn't know I was in labor) and a few hours of pushing Olive made her debut on Sunday, October 23rd at 10:46 a.m.
Olive was placed on my chest and tried to nurse. I have no idea what to do, but the L&D helped me and Olive latched on. We delayed cutting the cord, we allowed it to stop pulsing. Dan was asked if he wanted to cut the cord. He declined. We gave the honor of cutting the cord to our amazing nursing student. It was the 1st delivery she had participated in.
Our midwife tells us she needs to take care of me. Dan and I look at each other and this worry comes over us, but she just had to stitch up a vaginal laceration which I understand is a normal tear. Thankfully, I did not tear my perineum.
I delivered the placenta and found out that I had a battlefield placenta. Basically, it has a big vein running through it and if my water had broken at the sight of that vein there could have been lots of blood. Thankfully, that did not happen. Dan probably would have passed out at home had that happened. They were all amazed by it and brought in a couple of doctors to take a look at it and examine it.
Our midwife was amazed that I didn't complain or ask for medication and later looked over at Dan and said, "Steel waters run deep".
What an amazing experience! I'm so happy and proud that I was able to have the birth that I had wanted. Without my strong, supportive husband and amazing L&D team I don't think I could have done it.
APGAR 1 minute-9, 5 minute-9
Olive is the symbol for peace & victory. I find it to be a very fitting name. :)