I have to be honest, I wasn't as trusting of my body as I should have been. With June's birth, my water broke spontaneously and I did not start having contractions. I went in to be checked and learned that I was hardly effaced or dilated at all. Because of this - and especially as time went on and this pregnancy went more and more overdue - I had a lot of secret fear that my body didn't know how to go into labor on its own. I couldn't really picture having contractions that started and continued on without any outside influence.
The contractions I felt on Tuesday night felt powerful, productive and real, which gave me some confidence that maybe things could progress on their own.
On Wednesday, contractions started again. I sent a text to Michael at 2:30 pm telling him that they were happening about every 12 minutes. Michael, my mom, June and I had dinner together that night interrupted often by my need to concentrate through some contractions. I laid down after dinner and listened to a Hypnobabies track.
They kept coming but I laid down to sleep, thinking they might slow and stop like they had the night before. They kept on through the night, keeping me from sleeping, so I started timing them. Eventually they were so frequent (6-8 minutes apart) and so powerful that I woke Michael up - this was at 2:00 AM.
When I got up and started putting some last-minute items into the hospital bag, they really picked up. At one point they were coming every three minutes and I told Michael that we really needed to get going. We woke up my mom to tell her we were leaving around 3:30 AM.
In triage, I was monitored and checked and was so happy to hear that I was 6 cm dilated.
In my room, I already felt like things were coming on quickly. I stood and leaned up against Michael during contractions. I sat on the birthing ball, I laid down. At one point I asked to be checked again because I was starting to feel the urge to push. I was only 8-9 cm dilated and was starting to get very tired - I hadn't really slept in 24 hours.
Things sort of stalled here. My contractions were sort of regularly spaced and not getting anymore frequent. I was exhausted and still feeling the occasional urge to push. The next time I was checked, they couldn't tell how far along I was because of bag of waters was bulging out of the cervix so much. It bulged even more when I was having a contraction. The nurse stated that one option was to have my water broken for me. She said that, with the water broken, the baby's head would be directly on the cervix which could make it finally dilate that last 1 cm.
This...didn't exactly work. My water was broken and though contractions were frequent and oh-so-powerful, things still didn't progress that last little bit. I was exhausted.
The midwife of the new shift came in (with the new OBs, too) to meet me and I'm afraid I wasn't very stimulating company. I closed my eyes and moaned through a contraction and was surprised to find them all still in the room when I opened my eyes again. The midwife asked if I was interested in getting in the shower since standing could provide that extra umph. I was so tired that I didn't know if I had the energy to sit up, much less stand in the shower, but the temptation of getting this over with was too much. Plus, I was starting to wonder if my outer lower back would ever not hurt again, and the idea of hot water on it sounded pretty good.
Slowly I got up and in and Michael held the nozzle on my back. (Sitting up: contraction. Stand up: contraction. Take three steps: contraction.)
So my biggest strategy of dealing with the contractions is to moan through them while mentally remembering to let the contraction do its work (open, release) and not shrink back from it. Moaning (as opposed to wincing or screaming) is supposed to keep your face relaxed, which helps keep the rest of you relaxed. So by now Michael must have heard my "mmmmmmm"sound about a thousand times. Well in the shower, my "mmmmmm" turned into "mmmmm- HUH!" as my body said "It's go time" and tried to push on its own.
I had Michael go get the midwife and nurse and was quickly brought out of the shower and back to the bed.
There was still a small lip of the cervix in the way, but the midwife was able to push it out of the way to let Bennett's head pass.
I only pushed for about 15 minutes, which was quite a vacation after pushing over 2 hours with June. However, this is where the drama started.
When Bennett's head was out, I was told to stop pushing. The umbilical cord was tight around his neck. I was not overly concerned because something like a third of all babies have the cord around their neck. Heck, June was born with the cord around her neck. Usually (as with June), the practitioner can just sweep it over the head and it's all clear. However, Bennett's cord was so tight and there wasn't any slack to allow it to pass over his head, so if I pushed it would just get tighter. The midwife made the quick decision that the cord needed to be cut right then while Bennett's body was still inside. As soon as his neck was cleared, I needed to get him out, so two more pushes and he was out.
They placed him on my chest right away. He was still blue (normal) but he didn't cry. And still didn't cry. And we were rubbing him and patting him, and he still didn't cry. After what I think was around 10 seconds, the pediatric nurse in the room scooped him off and took him to the baby cart. I couldn't see him, but Michael tells me that they continued to try to stimulate him and also placed a CPAP mask over him to puff some oxygen at his face. I remember telling Michael to stay over with Bennett. I remember the nurse telling us not to worry.
At some point, we heard a little muffled cry. A sweet, gurgly baby cry that - you can imagine - brought tears to our eyes and relief to every fiber of our being.
The nurses later said that he was just a little "shock-y" when he was born, which was probably the result of having his cord cut before his body took over on its own, though lots of babies have shock when there aren't any other issues. They assured us that the baby was not in any true danger and that what happened with Bennett - though scary to us - was hardly anything at all compared to what many babies go through (and recover fully from). When we asked, they said us that they did not think there would be any effects from the short period where he wasn't breathing on his own. (All of this was reinforced by the pediatrician we saw later.)
Bennett was brought over to me after a minute (that felt like 17 years) and I got to hold him finally. Everyone said how big he was (8 lbs, 12 oz) but I remembered thinking that he felt tiny. (Maybe I was comparing him to June's current size?) He cried and warbled and his little lower lip trembled. I couldn't believe it - that he was here, that he was okay, that labor was finally over.
At one point Bennett lifted his little head and started rooting on my shoulder, so I moved him to my breast. I couldn't believe it - he nursed right away! After the days and weeks of struggling to get nursing down with June, Bennett seemed to take to it right away.
I don't know what time labor really began, but if we count from the time where I felt like it was "the day" at 2:00 AM, then duration of it lasted about 7.5 hours.
It's now March 3rd - my birthday! - and Bennett is 4 days old. He is such a sweet baby and we are falling in love with him more and more each moment. He's eating really well (but I'm having some serious nipple pain). We've had two awesome sleep nights and two really rough sleep nights, so I guess that's normal. I've been pleasantly surprised at the amount of time he spends awake but just content to look around and make funny faces.
Thanks so much for reading this novel! Off to get some birthday snuggles from my boy!