My due date was July 30th and only 9 days away. Everything had been so easy up till this point, so I was actually excited that night when I laid down and felt real contractions. They didn’t last very long and were farther apart but were intense enough to keep me awake. Around 2 am I gave up laying down and went to pace, to see if I could get them moving more. After an hour of pacing and no difference, I laid down on the couch to take a break and they just sort of . . . Faded. Nothing. I shrugged it off as I fell asleep for a couple of hours.
My midwife came by for my appointment around 11 and I told her about the contractions. She shrugged it off also, said my body is probably gearing up, and she bets I'll have the baby within the week.
That night, starting the moment I laid down, came the same contractions. They never got closer than about 5 minutes apart, so I still didn't bother waking anyone. I got up after a few hours and paced again, sat at my computer for a little while, then laid on the couch, only to have them fade to nothing once more. Again I only got about 3 hours of sleep. I mentioned it in passing to my mother, who was staying with us in anticipation of the new arrival. The rest of the day went by in a tired haze.
Like clockwork, the moment I laid down to sleep the contractions kicked back in. I tried to rest through them, assuming they would just go away like the last 2 nights. A few irritating hours later I got up and paced, then laid on the couch - hoping the apparently magical couch would shut them up so I could get a few hours of sleep.
No luck. They got stronger and closer. Around 4 am I woke up Kallo, figuring 5+ hours of contractions warranted waking him. They got closer together, and I called the midwife around 5 am I told her the timing of them and she responded that if I could talk through them, it wasn't time yet. OK, then.
An hour later they were much stronger and the whole house was awake at this point, including my toddler. He asked if I was ok a few times but seemed to know to behave and keep himself busy. Kallo recalled the midwife as I climbed into the birthing pool, hoping it might help the labor pains. I'm not totally sure how long I was floating in there but it had gotten cold and I was shivering but still hesitated to get out since I feared how bad the pains would be on dry land.
The cold finally chased me out, despite the best efforts of my mom to boil water to dump in and warm it up. I laid in bed for a while, on midwife's orders, trying to rest since I was already exhausted. It was around 1 when I started feeling the need to push, despite my water not having broke. I called out to my midwife, who popped in and offered to check my dilation, which she confirmed as at 10 cm.
We decided to break my water, and I began pushing. My midwife had me in many different positions, standing, lying, crouching, and everything in between. After 3 hours, nothing had changed. Baby's head wasn't any farther down the birth canal and I was exhausted and discouraged. The assistant midwife had started saying phrases that irritated me, I was dehydrated and done. I knew the baby wasn't budging.
The baby was not in distress but they helped me get dressed and we drove 45 minutes to the hospital to get checked. I knew before we left that it would end in a C-section. I was terrified of that but I was more afraid of what would happen if we waited too long to go. I knew something wasn't working as it should have. They got me checked in quickly since my midwife had called ahead and let them know the score. They asked the usual questions and it seemed to me like there were more people than needed, buzzing around in the background. They were apparently preparing to try forceps or a vacuum to assist getting the baby out. Finally, after either a decade of waiting or maybe 10 minutes, one of them brought in the ultrasound machine. Within 5 seconds of putting it against my lower abdomen, there seemed to be a lot of hurried talks. I was having constant, unceasing contractions and it was hard to concentrate but I remember someone saying he was face up. My midwife also said something about fully extended. There was no more talk of forceps or vacuum after that. They wheeled me out quickly and headed for the operating room. It was in transit that they explained that the baby was not only face-up, but chin fully extended, rather than down to his chest.
They gave me the epidural, which finally gave me relief from what had essentially been an hour and a half long contraction. I lost two liters of blood on the operating table and ended up with a c shaped tear in my uterus. This baby boy was almost 2 pounds bigger than either of his brothers had been and had a huge bruise on the top of his head from being shoved against my pelvic bone for the hours I'd been pushing. I listened to him scream and watched my blood pressure drop to 30/45 on the monitor. I think I told my husband that I loved him, unsure if I was going to be OK. I felt faint, sick and freezing. They brought my little boy over and offered to put him on my chest but I was too afraid that he would somehow fall. Instead, they let Kallo hold him against his chest while I looked on and fought to stay awake. I remember joking with the anesthesiologist and doctors doing the stitching up. I remember my husband making jokes. I can't at all remember what any of them were and I don't remember being wheeled to recovery.
The rest of my stay was par for the course for giving birth in a hospital. No one lets you or baby sleep for longer than an hour at a time, at best, as they are in and out of the room for blood pressure checks, constant questions, doctors in training coming in to poke at my incision. One extremely inept student came in and shoved hard on my belly, causing the worst pain I’d felt for the entire ordeal, and finally prompting me to ask for pain medications.
We were finally OK'd to go home after 3 days, once my blood pressure had finally come up to an almost normal level and my heart rate had slowed down to normal. Despite all the drama and things that could have gone wrong; this little man is still the healthiest baby I've had.
I do wish I could have had the idyllic homebirth that I pictured in my head, but I've come to terms with how it all played out.