Looking at her sweet chubby cheeks 17 days later, the details of Natalie’s arrival are already starting to fuzz at the edges. Perhaps it’s sleep deprivation, perhaps it’s love, perhaps it’s God’s funny little trick to ensure that I’ll have another baby eventually.
The short story? 31 hours of labor, 2 trips to the hospital, an hour and ten minutes of pushing, and Natalie made a stubborn entrance into the world at 9:40am on Saturday, December 17. She was an alert, surprisingly calm bundle of cute at 7 lb, 4 oz and 19.25 inches.
If you have some time to kill and aren’t squeamish, here’s the full story.
A little background to this pregnancy, it’s been predictable. From the beginning, a friend of ours dreamed about me presenting Sean with baby booties in an Easter egg (I had my positive test a week before Easter), then she dreamed we’d have a little girl. A week before I went into labor, we asked my father-in-law to predict when she’d arrive. To preface this, he predicted the exact time my husband would be born. So he lay his hand on my belly and said “8 days”.
6 days later, Thursday, December 15, we went to the mall to get some Christmas shopping done and to hopefully encourage Natalie to drop. It worked, 2:30 am on Friday, I woke up with cramps. Time-able cramps. Frequent, time-able cramps. I looked over at my slumbering husband, who was supposed to go into work that day, and decided to go into the living room to time and see if these would pass. I’d heard all the stories of first time moms having false labor, so I thought I’d let him sleep while he could.
I turned on White Christmas and got down to timing. 30 seconds in length, coming every 4-5 minutes. Over the next couple of hours, they continued at 4-5 minutes apart, but increased to nearly a minute in duration. At 5am, I went into the bedroom, gently woke Sean, and told him he wouldn’t be going into work that day.
Since the contractions were very manageable, I decided to wait and call my OB’s office when they opened. I didn’t want to go to the hospital too soon, only to be sent home. Unfortunately, my doc was at the hospital in a surgery, so they recommended I head into triage to be checked.
11am: 1 cm, 80% effaced and -1 station. Exactly where I was on Wednesday at my last appointment. They gave me an hour to walk the halls in hopes of making progress.
12pm: 1 cm, 80% effaced and -1 station. I was released and we went in search of lunch. The resident recommended that I wait until the contractions were unbearable before coming back in. That suggestion made the rest of the day one of the most frustrating days of my life. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so what does unbearable mean? Obviously I’m surviving each of these contractions…should I call when the pain’s causing me to pass out?
Around 8pm I was lying on my side in the tub, trying to let the hot water ease the intensity of the contractions, but the water didn’t cover me and it was cooling off quickly. I began to feel a new sensation, pressure in my bottom with each contraction. Everything I’d ever read said this was a signal of transition, but I was still afraid of going back in just to have them send me home again. I was in tears, frustrated, and Sean looked at me and said “We’re going in.”
9pm: Moment of truth. I held my breath as they checked and gave the biggest sigh of relief when they reported I was 4-5 cm, 100% effaced and -1 station. We began calling our parents and sisters to let them know that Natalie was on her way.
To my surprise, my parents, mother-in-law and sister-in-law came right away. They were a nice distraction as I worked through each contraction. They stayed until 4am, when I had only progressed to 6 cm and the doctor decided to break my water. I took a shower to get some relief and allow my body to relax before the next step.
After they broke my water, the intensity ramped up. Until that point I had been managing each contraction by breathing through them. But after 28 hours and no sleep, I was losing the control I had, and they were coming one on top of the other. At 6 am I was at 7 cm, and I couldn’t lie in bed anymore. I asked for the epidural.
I don’t regret giving in on going naturally. Making it to 7 cm was no joke. I was exhausted, and I still had to make it through 3 more centimeters and then push. Who knew how much longer it was going to take? The unfortunate thing was that the epidural didn’t touch the bottom pressure I was still feeling, so I didn’t get total relief.
Around 8:30am my body began pushing involuntarily, but I was still only 9.5 cm. If I started pushing, I could have tore or swollen my cervix. So for the next .5 cm I had to fight my body…um, can you say nearly impossible?
Finally I was given the OK to push, which was unlike anything I was expecting. Sean helped me through on one leg while the Best Nurse Ever (trademark) had the other. For the most part I was able to get in 4 pushes with each contraction, but I may have let some contractions slip by in hopes that little girl would work her way down a bit while I got a break. An hour and ten minutes passed, and after about 8 “last pushes”, Natalie appeared, 8 days after my father-in-law answered our question, eyes wide open. She was placed on my chest, where I soaked her in through tears of joy and relief. Sean cut the cord.
The placenta was very uncomfortable for me to deliver. It was still slightly attached, so the doctor had to do a manual internal sweep to break it loose. Then I had to be stitched up for second degree tears. But, in the end, it was all worth it!
By the next day I was healing right on schedule and Natalie was eating and voiding satisfactorily, so we were able to be released Sunday evening (around half time of the Patriots game).