Monday, March 12, 2012

The birth story -- Part II

After Emery walked out of the room, E and I started commenting about how we were both shocked at how far along I was.  Neither of us anticipated either of those numbers – 3cm dilated and 70% effaced!  I knew they were good numbers, but also thought in my head that women sit with these kind of numbers for days, if not weeks.  We got nothing to worry about.  We proceeded to drive to work separately.  I was actually even texting E when I would have a severe cramp that would make me catch my breath.  While walking to work, we ran into one of E’s colleagues in the hallway at work.  He congratulated us on the upcoming arrival of our girl when E & I told him that I was having contractions.  But it didn't even sink in with me how close she was to her arrival (denial).

While at work, I was curious and decided to start tracking my contractions on my phone.  I had downloaded a pregnancy app that also had a contraction counter.  They were still very minimal cramps, but I was curious.  No one could tell that I was having contractions all day, so I wasn't thinking that I would see any major developments.  By the end of the day, the contractions were about 8 minutes apart, lasting for about 40 seconds.  And as I was leaving work at 5pm, the minimal menstrual cramps turned into high-level moderate cramps -- the kind that I would have during the worst day of my period where I would want to lay on the couch all day with heating pads.  I was still able to do my job, which is to talk to patients on the phone through the contractions – so I didn't think that I was actually in labor (denial).

E had called in a couple of times to check on me.  “No change” was my response each time.  He called while I was walking to my car after 5pm.  He said that he was going to come home early.  I told him that he should stay late at work that day because nothing was going to happen fast and he should get everything wrapped up just in case she came later in the day tomorrow.

I arrived at home around 5:45pm.  I stopped tracking my contractions during the ride home, as it was difficult to drive and log them at the same time.  The rocking chair that my parents ordered for the baby had arrived that day and being it was sitting in front of my door, I took it upon myself to drag inside the house.  I also decided when I got home, that I would hold off on tracking contractions until I thought they were more severe as I had wasted (my word at the time) my entire day tracking them.  E arrived home about 6:15pm.  He said that I should start tracking them again – just to see how far apart they were.  So as he carried the rocking chair upstairs to her room, I followed along and sat in her room, tracking the contractions.  After he was finished, E asked if he should make some dinner for me or if I was feeling up to going out to get something to eat.  I felt great; the contractions still weren't that strong (i.e. I could continue doing whatever I was doing during them), so I told him that we should go out.  “It might be my last meal for a while.”

We ran into our neighbor in the driveway.  Updated him on the contractions and told him that we were hitting the local bar/restaurant.  He & his wife & daughter decided to join us there.  At 7pm, we sat at the bar, me eating my chicken noodle soup as I didn't really feel hungry and E drinking his Guinness.  While at the bar, I continued to track my contractions, still having the ability to talk through them.  Every time that a contraction would start, I would hit my phone and E would say “You’re having another one?”  I was in good spirits, even though E seemed concerned every time I would start up my phone again.  About an hour and half into the meal, the contractions seemed to intensify and come a little quicker.  Nothing overly painful, but they were definitely increasing in strength.  I wasn't able to speak during them or look at the people I was sitting with.  I had to pick a focus point on the wall and wait until they were over.  At this point, they were still menstrual cramps and weren't radiating across my stomach, so I thought we had plenty of time.  E started to get concerned with the frequency of them and the fact that I would have to distract myself during them.  He thought we should head home and so we did at about 8:30 -- 9:00pm.

Me, sitting at the bar at 8:30pm (and no, this isn't my beer)
When we got home, E wanted to pack up the car for the hospital.  He said that I should go upstairs and lay down as he got everything in the car – just in case, just in case we had to leave for the hospital in the middle of the night.  I still didn't think that I would progress that quickly, but I didn't want E sitting there looking at me and getting more nervous as each contraction would start.  Plus it was a good idea to have everything ready for whenever it was time to go.  So I went upstairs to lay down while E busied himself with packing up the car.

From the moment that I laid down, it seemed like the contractions starting coming quicker and stronger.  I continued to track them on my phone and E continued to pack downstairs.  I can't describe my state of mind during that time.  It was almost like I was just struggling to make it through each contraction.  Once the contraction would stop, I would mentally start dreading the next one.  I had no focus, no sense of time -- I just knew that even in the reprieve between each contraction, the pain was going to come again.  I couldn't think beyond each contraction.  It was very primal.

By the time that E came up to see how I was doing, I was becoming very vocal during each contraction, so vocal that the dogs wouldn't lay by me in bed anymore (at the time, it made me uber upset, as Munk is usually a big comfort to me).  E asked if it was time to go to the hospital – I checked my phone averages and they were only 6-7 minutes apart and lasting 45 seconds (sidebar: to all you ladies -- piece of advice that I didn't know: check that app to make sure that the average you are looking at is for the last hour and not the average of the entire time that you had been tracking your contractions.  It's a golden nugget that I'll NEVER forget).  I told him that I didn't want to go to the hospital yet as I wasn't at 5-1-1 and the contractions were still all on the underside of my abdomen.  My doctor’s response that they would radiate across my entire stomach when it was time kept ringing in my ears.

I had put my foot down that I wasn't going to be one of those ladies that went to the hospital, only to be sent home.  I had two things listed in my mental birth plan:  1) Do whatever it takes for a healthy baby.  & 2) Labor as long as possible at home, then get to the hospital and get drugs.  E sat with me for another two contractions, during which my vocalizations got louder, almost becoming screams.  “That’s it!  I’m calling the doctor and we are going to the hospital!”  He eventually got on the phone with the doctor’s office (he had to leave a message and have a nurse return his call).  When the nurse called back, she asked to speak with me.  E said that I was starting another contraction, which I knew she heard through the phone.  The nurse said to E “How far away from the hospital are you?”  “10-15 minutes.”  “Well, get her here AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!”

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