On the morning of Friday, March 27, my alarm went off at 6 am. As I rolled over to get out of bed, I felt a pop and then a bunch of warm fluid.
“Trav, you’re not going to believe what just happened,” I said.
“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” he replied, waking out of a dead sleep. (He later remarked that my statement made it sound like something bad had happened, but my tone of voice was happy.)
“My water just broke.”
“Yeah. Can you get up and get me a towel? … Now?”
As Travis got up to retrieve a towel from the hall closet, I thought, “What are the odds?” Only 10% of women have their water break before labor starts, and here I was, with my water breaking before labor started for the second time in two babies. Not only that, but I was in bed rolling over when my water broke with Emma too. I must’ve jinxed myself by saying repeatedly that I wanted labor to start spontaneously and to avoid being induced.
Continuing on with the similarities to Emma’s birth story, I was positive for Group B Strep again this time, and after my water broke, nothing much happened. A glorious difference, however, was that my water broke at the sensible hour of 6 am instead of midnight. Also different, I was only 38 weeks and 2 days this time – last time, I was 39 weeks and 6 days (Emma was born on her due date).
Since this wasn’t my first rodeo with my water breaking and nothing happening, we took our time getting our stuff together. Travis jumped in the shower, took our recycling to the county disposal, and filled out his timecard for work. I washed the sheets from our bed, finished packing our hospital bags, took a shower myself, got Emma up and fed her breakfast, and tidied up the house a bit. We had called Travis’ parents after his shower and they were planning to be to our house by 9:30/10 to watch Emma, so we decided to just wait until they arrived to head to the hospital, though we did have a contingency plan with friends in case things started getting serious before his parents arrived.
Travis’ parents got to our house around 10 and after giving them the update on Emma and trying to put turkey decoys out in the backyard (ground was still frozen solid), Travis and I headed to Erbert’s & Gerbert’s for an early lunch. It was amazing. I had missed eating cold deli meat.
Around 11:30, we arrived at the hospital and got checked in. After testing to make sure my water had indeed broken (which it had) and checking my cervix (I was still only at 1 cm, 50% effaced), we were officially admitted and started talking about our plan for the day. I shared with our nurse, Valine, my experience in Denver since it seemed that history was repeating itself. I told her that I wasn’t opposed to Pitocin since I didn’t want to be there all day, but I also didn’t want things going gangbusters so fast like they had last time. She agreed and reassured me that I could call the shots when it came to being induced, and at what rate.
After walking around the delivery floor a couple times and bouncing on an exercise ball for a bit with no change in contractions, I told Valine that we could just go ahead and start Pitocin with my first round of antibiotics for the Group B Strep. So around 2 pm, we started antibiotics and Pitocin at a rate of 2. My contractions started getting a little more noticeable, but were still pretty worthless, so after an hour, I requested that the Pitocin be turned up. My new nurse, Jill, monitored the baby for a bit and at 3:30, increased my Pitocin to a 4.
Travis and I ate a late lunch (I only had cottage cheese and peaches, and a Jello), and then I labored in the tub for a while. The jets provided a nice counter-pressure to the contractions, which had gotten more intense with the increase in Pitocin. While I was in the tub, the doctor that was on call came and introduced herself. I hadn’t met her before, but she seemed nice. Jill also started my second bag of antibiotics.
Around 6 pm, I got out of the tub and leaned forward on the exercise ball during contractions, both standing up and kneeling on the bed. My nurse had to put the contraction and baby monitors on me about once an hour, so I had to crawl back in bed for that every so often. The contractions were getting pretty intense at that point, and I was still on the fence about whether or not to get an epidural. So I asked Jill to do a ‘flush’ of my system (which was required and would take about an hour) so that I could request an epidural if I wanted one. The flush was started at 6:30 pm.
At 7:30, Jill checked my cervix and I was between 6 and 7 cm dilated. She remarked several times that I was doing great and that it wouldn’t be long before I’d be fully dilated and could start pushing. She paged the doctor to come to the hospital. Her confidence gave me the encouragement that I needed to hold out on the epidural just a little bit longer. I told Travis, if I’m not ready to push this baby out by 8:45, I’m getting an epidural.
That was one of the longest hours of my life. The contractions were so intense and painful, and were concentrated mostly in my back (though thankfully, unlike my labor with Emma, the back pain went away between contractions) that the only way I could get through them was bounce on the exercise ball, scratch my legs (I know, weird, but it helped!), breathe deeply and moan loudly.
At 8:10 pm, Jill checked my cervix again. I was at 8 cm. She could feel a little bag of waters that hadn’t completely broken so she asked if I wanted the doctor to come break it. Yes, please. So Dr. Rice came and did that.
Things didn’t progress quite as quickly as Jill expected but by 8:50, I was at 9 cm. A few more contractions and I started feeling pressure to push. The doctor came in and started getting dressed for delivery as a contraction came and I needed to push NOW.
I had heard the pain during pushing described as ‘the ring of fire’ so I honestly thought that if I could just get dilated to 10 cm without an epidural, I’d be home free. Ha. So not true. Whoever thought ‘ring of fire’ was an accurate description of pushing a baby out without pain meds is a liar or a man.
At 9 pm, I started pushing and immediately realized that this was going to be the hardest part. In addition to having painful contractions still, I now had to push a baby out too. And can I just say, there is no way to describe that kind of pain other than it feels like you’re taking the biggest poop in the world and it’s tearing your insides out with it? While I was relaxing after the first contraction of pushing (and screaming), I said, “Oh my god, that feels SO WEIRD. It feels like I’m taking the biggest poop ever.” The doctor, 2 nurses and Travis all laughed.
The next contraction was where it got serious. The pain was so amazing and different than anything I’d ever felt before that I got scared and started freaking out. I tried to straighten my legs instead of leaving them bent. I tried to get off the bed. I tried to feel if the baby was coming out so the doctor had to ask the nurses and Travis to hold me down. “Kathy, you need to push. We’re going to have a baby right now,” they kept saying. “I can’t! I can’t!” I screamed. “Yes, you can. You need to push.” In my dazed state, I finally relented and pushed through the pain – I honestly did not think I had it anywhere in me to keep going but somehow, I did. With lots of screaming I might add.
FINALLY, the baby was out. I laid my head back and for the next 10 minutes, even after they said it was a girl and put Annabelle on my chest, I just laid there saying, “Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.” The placenta took a little encouraging to come out (consisting mostly of painful pushing on my tummy) but it finally did, and I could breathe. I did it.
And it was a girl! I honestly did not think Annabelle would be a girl, but lo and behold, she was. After the initial shock of birth wore off, I told Travis I was hungry and wanted to eat the pizza I had ordered earlier. I also requested my phone for some reason, and played a round of Trivia Crack. Travis laughs about it now, saying my brain was fried for a while after that experience.
Annabelle and I did skin to skin for about an hour and a half after she was born. She nursed a little bit, but she honestly wasn’t all that interested in breastfeeding until she was about 24 hours old. After those first 90 minutes, I got up to use the bathroom and Annabelle got weighed, her first bath and her Hep B vaccine. She was 7 lbs 15 oz and 20.5 inches long.
By about 11 pm, the commotion had died down and we were left alone to sleep. My night nurse Megan came and checked on me once but left quickly when I said I was fine. Around 2 am, I called her in to ask if my bed went any lower (it didn’t), and if I could get a snack and more pain meds. Annabelle slept like a champ that night. I woke her up a few times to nurse, which she didn’t do, and put her back down in her bassinet. Unfortunately, after falling asleep for about an hour and a half right around 11, I was wired for the rest of the night. I couldn’t turn my brain off. So I had a hard time getting back to sleep, but I eventually did here and there.