So we all know once 37 weeks hit, I was ready to have Rudiger. I honestly just felt like he was ready, and as I mentioned earlier, because of my long cycles I wasn't positive my due date was correct and I actually thought it might be a bit earlier than July 18 (like July 12 like the 20 week ultrasound showed).
Anyway, I didn't do anything crazy to induce labor (no castor oil here after hearing the horror stories!) besides old wives tales of eating pineapple, drinking red raspberry leaf tea (supposed to "tone the uterus" not put you into labor), take a warm bath, and walk a lot. I never in a million years thought I would actually be early, given it seems first time moms often go late / need to be induced. I was dreading the thought of being induced on August 1!
But I digress. Anyway, on Thursday at my doctor appointment I chose not to be checked, however the previous week (36 weeks) my cervix was closed but 80% effaced, which I think surprised the doctor. I did express my concern that I was feeling less baby movements so they hooked me up to the monitor and she did notice I was having contractions, but since I didn't feel them she said they were just Braxton Hicks and sent me on my way. In retrospect - those might have been real contractions!
Just a little picture recap of the pregnancy.
Going into this I knew I wanted to try a natural birth. I had taken classes, read books, and watched The Business of Being Born, and my #1 concern was in wanting to avoid a c-section if at all possible, and going without an epidural seemed helpful given the relationship between epidurals and c-sections. I'm not stupid though, I knew that it was highly possible I wouldn't be able to accomplish this and had zero qualms about changing my mind if necessary. So just keep that in mind!
So Saturday morning, June 29, I woke and immediately wanted to get a walk in before it got too hot since this was one of the more extreme hot periods in Seattle. JMan was actually away in Seattle with some friends attending the Mariners games - I was supposed to go too that afternoon but decided I would probably be too hot and uncomfortable so luckily he came home to hang out with me or else we really could have been in some trouble!
Anyway, I walked 6 miles with Cooper, and when I was done I noticed the spandex shorts under my running skirt were wet. Nothing dripping, no gush, just wet. I figured it was just from the walking in the hot humid weather while carrying 30 extra pounds. After I showered and dressed though, the same thing happened with a clean pair or shorts. I was confused but knew all kinds of weird things happen when you're pregnant! But thanks to the doctors / books severely ingraining in you that you MUST go to the hospital if your water breaks I didn't forget about this, but I did go on with my day.
I went and picked JMan up, we went to Costco and had samples, and watched some Breaking Bad. I was feeling pretty wasteful of such a lovely Saturday, but around 12 or 1 I had started feeling pretty crappy. It felt really crampy and I just wanted to lay on the couch. I did NOT think they were contractions, but I did start to notice that they kind of came and went in a pattern so I started secretly timing them (JMan still didn't know any of this was going on at this point!) and they were about 5-6 minutes apart. I had never had any Braxton Hicks contractions so I figured that was what they were, so I took a shower to see if that relieved them.
The shower didn't help, and by then I was freaked out that maybe my water had broken and I was nervous of hurting the baby with infection, so I told JMan what was going on and thought maybe we should just call Labor & Delivery and see what they say. They said I should come in and they would test the fluid to see if my water had broken or not. It was around 5:30pm at this point.
I remember feeling TERRIFIED as we packed some bags for the hospital "just in case". Packing the hospital bags was just another thing on my to do list I never got around to finishing before the baby! I 100% figured they would laugh at me at the hospital though and send us home - just another first time mom in fake labor!
A precious preview - NOT fake labor!
So we got there and had to register (yep, preregistering was one more thing I was supposed to do!), and felt ridiculous being taken back in a wheelchair. The nurse took the swab to check the water and then decided to check my cervix... You cannot believe my shock when she said I was dilated to 5 cm!!! I literally said in disbelief, "No way, are you lying?!?!" I'm not sure why I would think nurses would lie about that and think it was a funny joke though...
So she was like, "Well, it doesn't matter about your water, you're staying!" But it turns out my water HAD broken after all also. It was around 6:30pm at this point.
I had tested positive for Group B Strep so the next step was immediately hooking me up to the IV to get the antibiotics. A new nurse, Jean, who was amazing and I'm so grateful for, came on at 7:00pm.
I sat in the jacuzzi for maybe 10 minutes or so (or who knows? Time was moving in slow motion when every few minutes are awful) but it didn't really help and the contractions were getting pretty bad. By this time I was also pretty shaky so although I wanted to try other pain-coping strategies like the birthing ball or walking around I didn't feel like I physically could do those things so I just laid on my side on the bed. The contractions got BAD. Awful. Terrible. Horrible. I was squeezing Jman's hand off and making terrible animal screeching sounds.
At this point was when I started pretty much whimpering, "I can't do this I can't do this I don't want to do this." I was going back and forth about getting drugs for a while here. I didn't want to give up on my goal of going drug-free but the pain was worse than I ever imagined. Finally Jean was leaving the room and I didn't know when I'd see her again so I just shouted at her "DRUGS!! I NEED AN EPIDURAL!" The disheartening thing was my class had taught me that once you ask for an epidural it can be about 45 minutes before it actually takes effect with getting the anesthesiologist, prepping the area, etc., and it seemed IMPOSSIBLE that I could even live that much longer.
Lucky (unlucky?) for me, she checked me first, and found that I was at about a 9.5 - much too late for an epidural and just a few contractions from pushing time. It was probably around 9:30pm and I was pushing by 9:50pm.
Jean had the doctor (my doctor was sadly on call the next day so I had someone I hadn't met before but who seemed very nice) come in and prepped the room for baby, and the baby's nurse came in as well, but they both soon found themselves VERY bored since it was 2 hours of pushing before baby J made his appearance. It seems I wasn't doing a very good job of pushing (not relaxing my legs enough?) for the first 30 minutes or so, but I finally got the hang of it.
At one point the doctor asked if he could make a small cut to help the baby get out, and I couldn't decide what to do but decided against it. He later said it was a good decision because I tore about the same as he would have cut.
It's hard to describe what the bad contractions felt like, or what pushing felt like, besides just that the pain was out of this world. Pushing at least felt like it had a purpose though, and after a while you could feel that you were making progress, though it was disheartening how slooowwwww the process was and I kept asking HOW MUCH LONGER!! Pushing was exhausting though, and my heart rate was so high and I was so sweaty. It was the hardest workout I have EVER done. By far.
But finally he was here! At 11:39pm, only 5 hours after getting to the hospital. Yes, don't hate me.
In case you didn't guess, this picture is NOT from right after the birth. Those picture are NOT cute. They are being hidden away. :-)
And then I felt blissful euphoria. Just kidding. I still felt awful. I was shaking uncontrollably even though I was hot and sweaty and not cold, and delivering the placenta and being stitched up was also awful - the whole process was just NEVER GOING TO BE OVER. I feel like I missed out a little on being so happy to hold Baby J because I was shaking so uncontrollably that I was worried I was going to hurt him and I couldn't focus on him much because of the pain.
He got weighed (6 pounds 13 ounces), measured (20.5 inches with a pretty severe cone head!), and his Apgar score taken (a nice solid 9 out of 10), and JMan and the nurse said he said "Hi!" (Seriously!).
And that's a wrap! I'm really happy it turned out so well, no complications and no c-section and everyone healthy, but I'm honestly not sure I would try to go natural again. An epidural sounds awfully nice in retrospect. And I was lucky and the labor was pretty quick! So I can't imagine those that suffer through 30+ hours of this torture.
The rest of the hospital stay was a whirlwind of baby's first bath:
Plus just general recovery. I was SO stiff after and it was really tough to just walk around. The nurses were (mostly) great and taught us a lot about caring for a newborn (since we knew nothing). But man were we ever ready to GET OUT OF THE HOSPITAL even after just 40 hours or so there. Baby J had a small case of jaundice so we had to wait on his blood test to see if he was okay enough to leave, but when we got the go ahead, we got outta there!
I didn't take a side view - but you can tell I still look 7-8 months pregnant in this picture. It's a little depressing!
And THAT'S a wrap. I commend you if you actually read that whole novel. How does YOUR labor story compare?!?!