Prodromal labor began with mucous and bloody show. I had never really had much of either, and Josh was not in Anchorage yet so I was freaking out. The first night, I had contractions off and on for a few hours that kept me terrified that he would miss the baby being born. I also had a few small gushes, but I chose to ignore them unless something bigger happened. Prodromal labor is kind of my thing, and I warned everyone that I could be two weeks away still.
I wasn’t too worried at this point because Josh had finally arrived in Anchorage. I was free to deliver a baby at any time! Contractions were happening ten minutes apart for hours at a time, and they were very strong. Previous labors had me believing that they were definitely causing cervical changes – especially since I was having mucous and blood. I didn’t want to try to push things, so I was just resting and letting things happen however they would. I was starting to feel a little restless and generally aching. That’s a good indication that labor isn’t far off usually.
Still no baby. How disappointing. I could tell the baby was not in a good position because I was feeling pain in my back without contractions, and he was still facing forwards. I was also having a lot of stomach cramps and lovely labor symptoms like that, so I felt like it couldn’t possibly go on much longer than a few more days!
(7a.m.) Contractions had slowed down a bit, which left me slightly disappointed. I was waking up with nausea in the middle of the night and my legs and feet decided it was a good time to swell up like balloon animals.
(5p.m.) More mucous and blood. I was positive that I was having cervical changes and that all these contractions were really helping. I was feeling very hopeful at this point, but I was getting very tired.
(7p.m.) I was having really strong, sharp pains all through my back and sides, as well as sharp pains in my cervix. The last time I had sharp pains in my cervix, I was halfway dilated once I went in to get checked. I had lost my appetite by this point, and kept waking up shivering. I had this terrible fear that everything would go fast and catch us off guard, leaving me with a baby in my bathroom or something.
(8:30p.m.) Contractions were time-able at 7-8 minutes apart for HOURS. I was getting extremely worn out by this point, since I had been contracting for over a week.
(7a.m.) I had contractions all night, but was able to sleep through a lot of them. It was the first time I felt like I was actually laboring in a peaceful environment like women get to do during home births. It was a wonderful feeling to be honest.
(2:15p.m.) I had my 40-week appointment and my doctor didn’t bother scheduling my induction as we had discussed. I had been laboring all day, with contractions strong enough that I had to stop walking when they hit.
(7p.m.) My contractions were 10 minutes apart ALL DAY. I was just kind of fed up with it all, and trying to remind myself that it was all working towards my delivery and I couldn’t get weary yet.
(12:52a.m.) Contractions are BAD. I figured we weren’t far from going into the hospital, and would probably end up there early in the morning. I wanted to try to sleep through them again, but they were too strong and painful.
(6a.m.) We headed in to Anchorage. Contractions moved from 8 minutes apart to 4-5 minutes apart. They were as intense as when I am around 6-7 cm, so I wanted to get to the hospital quickly. I text my doula, and she said she would meet us there.
(11:20a.m.) I was adamant that I didn’t want to be checked, but they refused to admit me so we walked around the hospital getting to know our doula better and hoping to help things progress. Contractions came and went at different intervals, and I wasn’t sure what my body was doing at this point. After a while, we came back into triage and agreed to a cervical check. The nurse whom I didn’t care for much let us know that I was only 2cm dilated. I don’t know if I have ever been so frustrated and disappointed in all of my life. And I was not even completely effaced, only 70%. It started to feel like I had so far to go and I didn’t know if I could keep going.
(12:47p.m.) I had started getting so overwhelmed by not making progress that I was tensing up through every contraction. Even when I wasn’t contracting, I was just feeling pain all over my body. I started to have anxiety that something might be wrong, and that maybe I should just go in and get an epidural or a C-section or *something*. The intense pain was similar to what I feel in the end of most of my labors, and nothing would make it stop. I was losing my ability to think clearly at this point, and felt hopeless.
(3:53p.m.) My attitude had tanked by this point. I had several contractions that hurt so much I just sat and cried. I have never cried in labor until transition (not counting when I was on Pitocin with Rowan and it was maxed out). I was torn because I didn’t know how to tell when I should head back in. If I was already in this much pain, there was no way to gauge when I was getting close. My pain level was far too high to only be 2cm dilated. I was losing all my confidence in my ability to labor at all, let alone follow through with an unmedicated VBAC. I was scared and confused and just reaching a really bad place mentally.
(6p.m.) Contractions were holding steady at 6 minutes apart and 30-45 seconds long. An at-home check indicated that I was about 3.5cm (maybe 4). Things calmed down a lot and I spent some time on the ball, hoping it would position baby. Josh urged me to regroup emotionally and get my head right. I was feeling a little better and decided I could go a little longer if I had to.
(8:32p.m.) Contractions were about 4 minutes apart and lasting for a minute. We decided to head back in to the hospital. I thought I must be getting closer now, although I was hesitant to really say. I considered getting an epidural when we arrived if I wasn’t getting closer. I felt like my pain was once again nearing transition-level pain.
When we got into the hospital, the contractions quickly started getting stronger and stronger. I was already exhausted and losing momentum emotionally, but I was excited that things were most likely progressing. In my hormonal, labor-crazy state, I allowed my doula to rub my neck. Since I hate being touched by anyone, this either shows immense trust in her support or the degree of psychosis I was under. Maybe both. Who knows.
(10p.m. ) I agreed to be checked, and was 4 cm and 100% effaced. I was frustrated, but my doula assured me that now that I was fully effaced, everything would go much faster. I got admitted and they got me into a room.
I was monitored for a while, and needed counterpressure for back pain. Baby was still not positioned well and I had a bulging bag now. I had been moaning and growling through contractions the whole day, which is strange since I am usually silent until the very end. I didn’t realize until after he was born that I was actually having back labor the whole time. The doula helping with positions and all of that made so much of a difference that I didn’t quite recognize that I was having the back labor. She even asked throughout if I was feeling it in my back but it just didn’t register. The funny part is that I had decided days ago that if I was having back labor (like I did with Dash) I would get an epidural. So much for that!
(12a.m.) I was checked again, and told I was now 6-7cm. It wasn’t what I was hoping for, but I knew it had to go fast now. It was encouraging that I had gone from 4 to 7 in only two hours.
I labored on the ball, and labored in the shower. It was all textbook laboring except pain was intense. I felt like I had been in transition for days.
It was only a few contractions and I suddenly felt like I HAD to be in transition and just about done. I was feeling enormous pressure, and during one contraction, I literally felt the baby slide down a significant amount. I think the is when he finally got down and engaged – although the little booger was still not quite positioned correctly and I could feel it. Thanks a lot Griff for making me earn every ounce of you.
I agreed to be checked again and perhaps have my water broken if it was warranted. I had wanted to hold out and not have it done prematurely, but my doula was seeing how intense things were and explained it might get things over a little quicker and get him down and positioned the right way so I wanted to know how close I really was.
And here is where things got interesting….
The doctor came in and started to check me. She announced that I was maybe an 8 or a 9, and said something about breaking my water. My doula looked at me, as I was laying there on my back in between contractions, and asked, “Do you want her to break your water?”
Before I could answer I felt a strong gush as my bag of waters ruptured. I didn’t even realize what had happened. I thought for a second that maybe it was so close to breaking that it happened just from her checking me.
The room was completely silent and everything stopped as my husband spoke up.
“What did you just do? That was not okay!”
The doctor tried to argue. She insisted that she was “trying to do her best” or some such nonsense.
He wasn’t yelling, but you could tell he was incredibly angry.
“No, you weren’t. You did that without even asking,” Josh demanded.
She tried to tell him that she was sorry, but “we needed to get things moving….”
“No, we didn’t. You just did an intervention on my wife without her permission. You did NOT have permission to do that.”
Everyone remained silent, and my labor almost supernaturally stalled for these few minutes while the confrontation ensued.
And then he demanded, “Get out.”
She stood there with wide eyes, as if he was about to change his mind.
And that’s how Josh fired our doctor while I was in transition.
She set down her stuff and walked out.
We all looked at each other and kind of regrouped, while I told Josh it was okay.
The nurses went and found the midwife who was part of the hospitalist group and she joined us to finish out the birth.
Things picked back up and I felt several really strong contractions that left me just a puddle of tears and sobbing – my best indication of being right at the very end and almost ready to push. But the urge didn’t come, and I just waited. I had big hopes that I would feel this urge, endure a few more contractions, and the ejection reflex would kick in as I peacefully breathed out my baby .
Unfortunately, one does not “eject” and “breathe out” a ten pound baby – but I was still convinced he was just slightly larger than my previous largest child. Maybe 9 full pounds, but certainly not much bigger than that. Ha!
The midwife and doula suggested that I get up and try to go pee. That position and motion can often help get the baby right down where it should be, open the cervix that last tiny bit, and get everyone ready to start pushing. I made it to the toilet, and had one more contraction. I don’t know if I even peed, but I do very vividly recall that I instantly leapt (yes, I threw myself from the toilet) up and ended up on the floor of the bathroom. Everyone pleaded that I try to get back to the bed – they knew what I didn’t. It was go time, and there was certainly no room to deliver the baby in the bathroom. I mustered what little energy I had left inside me and more or less ran to the bed. It’s hard to gauge “running” at this point, but that’s how it felt. I don’t know if anyone told me what to do or what position to be in. I had been thinking for days before that I wanted to do whatever I felt like, without being coached, and that is more or less how things played out. I crawled onto the bed, turning and hanging on the back of the bed which was raised up. I was squatting low and felt the urge to push almost immediately. I didn’t have time to evaluate if that was truly what I was feeling – it just happened.
With that first contraction, I bear down and maybe screamed a little. He didn’t feel like he moved at all. Maybe I was pushing quite efficiently with that first one. After all, it had been 6 years since I had pushed out a baby.
With the next contraction, I definitely did it right. I remember my mom’s advice when I was pregnant the very first time; push as hard as you can, with all of your muscles. Don’t be scared. The faster you push that baby out, the sooner the pain stops. Just do it!
I could feel that he was right there, engaged in my cervix. It hurt. I don’t remember it hurting just yet with any of my other babies.
I pushed with all I had, all through the contraction without breathing or stopping.
It didn’t felt like he even budged.
For a second, I thought of Jericho’s birth. Trying to push, baby not moving… No, this was different. He was right there, hurting me, and I could feel it. My body was gripping him perfectly well and trying to move him.
I realized just then that this baby was huge.
I am going to have to push a lot harder.
The “ring of fire” does not compare to the intense burning I felt constantly from this moment until almost 30 minutes after he was out. With the next push, I moved him but not very much. I could feel the contraction in all its transition-level glory, but this awful intense burning had me completely convinced that my vagina, my perineum, my bowels, everything; everything was literally just being ripped apart. The pain was severe enough that it was the only thing I could think of. It pulled me out of the dream-like state that you should be in while pushing. I was sure I would require hundreds of stitches, if not reconstructive surgery.
I just started pushing and couldn’t stop. I love you, baby Griffin, but I need you out of me. RIGHT NOW.
I am going to be ripped apart either way… might as well just go for it.
At some point, someone behind me told me to slow down and wait for a contraction. I couldn’t even feel them anymore over the pain. I took a few breaths, and waited. I started pushing more slowly, and let the push build as my body tightened with what must have been the contraction. I felt him move now, and thought his head was out.
Someone stated that they could see his head.
I was frustrated and needed to be done now. I pushed and pushed while someone asked for a warm compress. There would be no time for perineum stretching, and I’m pretty sure you can’t stretch a perineum that’s got a ten pound baby coming through it anyways.
I thought to say “don’t bother with the compress, just schedule the reconstructive surgery.” Obviously, I didn’t say that.
The pain intensified as I managed, somehow, to get his head out. Someone kept suggesting that I reach down and feel him coming out. No, I have no interest in that. I am feeling more than enough of this experience.
In what felt like a split second, I heard the midwife say *something*. I can’t remember what it was exactly, but it suggested the baby was stuck. Even though I didn’t have diabetes this time, I knew that shoulder dystocia is a real possibility for me since my babies all have wide shoulders and Rowan had a broken collar bone when she came out.
As soon as she said “we need to flip you over” I knew that we were dealing with stuck shoulders.
The nurses, as if in a coordinated dance, instantaneously came together and beautifully maneuvered the situation. Someone tried to push Josh out of the way, but he quickly grabbed a leg and lifted it. I grabbed my other leg and pulled it against my chest. The midwife grabbed the baby’s head and pulled and twisted while another woman more or less punched the baby in the shoulder – through the empty space above my pubic bone. I screamed one last time, cause that effing hurt, and the baby popped loose and more or less flew out of me.
I have never felt a gush so big. It was honestly alarming.
The pain didn’t stop. Not at all. That’s new.
They asked if I wanted the baby or if I wanted them to clean him off. I wanted him NOW!
They handed him to me, and an entire pregnancy and labor worth of emotions, wondering if I was going to have a VBAC or not, hit me all at once. I started sobbing.
I told Josh already that if I actually delivered vaginally I would probably cry. And I did. Well, I sobbed. I was too dehydrated for any tears to come out. And oh my god did my butt hurt. Not my actual vagina either. LITERALLY my butt. I am not sure why.
They announced that I was bleeding a lot, which is common with larger babies, and I agreed to Pitocin at this point. I didn’t want it unless it was necessary, but when you are hemorrhaging and have a bleeding disorder, it’s necessary.
After a few minutes, the midwife informed me that I didn’t tear and didn’t need any stitches. I told her to check again. I refused to believe that I wasn’t completely ripped in half, let alone completely intact still. She confirmed that I had no tears, which blew me away. My butt was still on fire.
I squeezed my giant baby and sobbed as everyone worked around me and got things settled down. I am sure I said a lot of stupid stuff out loud in my euphoric state. I was in almost disbelief that I actually had a VBAC. And not just a VBAC, a VBA2C. With no drugs. And a baby that was 9 pounds, 13 ounces.
It’s been 10 days, and my butt is fine now, for the record.