*Disclaimer* This is my birth story. I don't think it's too graphic, but if you don't want to read about birth stories, don't read this post!*
Docs says I broke the record for quick first-baby deliveries! One hour, forty-eight minutes from the start of the first 'real' contraction until Moana entered the world. I'm pretty sure it could have gone even quicker but the doc got stopped by a cop in her rush to the hospital to get to me and the nurses were trying to hold me off on pushing until she arrived... more on that later...
Anyway, we came to the birth center at about 5:00 on Monday night. The nurse started me on all the monitors, checked my cervix (still 1 cm, 50% effaced) and blood pressure. They were concerned about my BP as it was high at 140+/90+ consistently. I thought that was really odd b/c I hadn't had high BP (ever) and throughout my pregnancy it had been pretty low all along. And then watching the fetal monitors they saw that some of the 'contractions' I was having that didn't even hurt were causing baby's HR to drop below 80 and then it felt like all hell broke loose. All of a sudden I had an i.v. in my hand and a bag of fluid dripping in and too many nurses and other medical professinals in the room drawing blood and otherwise overwhelming me with medical intervention.
I started to cry.
This was not how I wanted the birth to go. I had mentally prepared myself to go with the flow prior to coming in, but I wasn't ready for i.v.s and high blood pressure and fetal distress, especially considering I wasn't even yet in 'labor'.
Anyway, I was going to stay through the night and be monitored. I wasn't looking forward to any of it and just kept thinking what a long night this is going to be. I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep on that hard hospital bed. The nurse was nice enough to offer to put a softer, more comfortable mattress on the bed for me, and she suggested that I take a long hot bath to relax and maybe bring my blood pressure down a bit.
So at 9:20 PM I went into the bathroom and started running the hot water. Sat down on the toilet to empty my bladder prior to getting in and just as I did, I heard a *pop*. I wondered briefly if my water broke? There was no pain. And of course I couldn't tell if the gush was amniotic fluid or just urine though since I was peeing anyway. But then as I got up I looked in the toilet and it was full of bright red blood. That sight certainly did not do anything to help my blood pressure! Freaking out almost completely now, I called the nurse in to see. She was very calm which I appreciated so much (even more so now!)
Leaving the hot water running in the tub, I came back to bed where the nurse did some sort of litmus test check to see if my water broke. Sure enough, it did! She said the blood can happen sometimes as a result of rapid cervical change so she did one final check on me to see if there had been change. Sure enough, 3 cm and 70% effaced. From here she said they would limit checking my cervix because of risk of infection due to my water breaking.
Almost immediately following that, I felt my first 'real' contraction. It was clear that this was different than anything I'd felt before. It came on feeling like a major and very intense cramp, lasted about 70 seconds (according to the monitor) and then just instantly and completely went away. On a scale of 1-10, pain was an 8, then back to 0 again as quick as it came on. After 2 minutes of no pain, I had another one. I looked and Scott and smiled and said here we go!!
At this point we were both pretty psyched because we knew it was going to happen sooner rather than later. Nurse called my doctor to tell her what was going on, and then she asked me my thoughts about an epidural. Prior to labor, my thoughts on an epidural were this: I'd probably end up getting one. But I had this curious desire to see what it was like... how bad did it really hurt? It ocurred to me that I might be able to go without the pain meds if labor was short enough, although I didn't have much hope of that. I was told that the anesthisiologist had gone home for the night (but was on call) so if I wanted an epidural I needed to give the nurse 45 minutes to an hour of heads up time before I could expect to get one.
So the contractions went on, every 2-3 minutes for about a minute each. It was extremely intense (I'm sure some very loud gutteral screams were heard island-wide) but I definitely took advantage of the rest periods to breathe and drink water. I think this is where previous interval training on the track and in the pool was to my advantage... I know how to help myself relax and recover before the next interval!
Before I knew it, the nurses were telling me to let them know when I started feeling pressure to push. Really? Already? I guess they could tell by the intensity of my grunts and moans that I was in the transition stage. I guess I could tell too because the pain went from an 8 to a 10 to a 12 on that 10 point scale... and then I felt the urge.
They got me back on the bed for this part- I had been on an exercise ball for the bulk of the contractions. Three nurses were in the room but no doctor. They kept telling me to 'blow out the candle' instead of pushing when I felt the urge. What? Were they crazy? The urge to push was instinctual. Unstoppable. I did what I could to not push, but after a couple contractions like that, Moana* just slipped out on her own. Doc arrived just in time to watch the nurse catch my baby. Don't get me wrong- it hurt/burned like hell. And I screamed. Loudly. But then after the final contraction I heard Scott cry out "It's a GIRL" and then she was placed on my chest while my husband melted down.
I stared at this perfectly formed little person on my chest and was just amazed. There are no words for that moment. I stayed up for the rest of the night, staring at her, realizing that I'm now her mom.
*We named our little daughter Moana. It's the Hawaiian word for ocean. I picked it our months ago because it just seemed to make sense to me since Scott and I are both such ocean people. We even got engaged in the ocean (on a surfboard!)