Everyone always says that you'll know your in labor when it begins. Well mine started out more as a question mark than anything else. On Tuesday, July 5th at 3:30pm I was laying on the couch watching TV when I felt cramp-like tightenings in my abdomen. It wasn't anything dramatic, just noticeable. I know that many women have stronger Braxton-Hicks and false contractions near the end of their labor so I didn't want to get too excited yet. I decided to keep my plans and go to my yoga class in Edinburgh. I drove the half an hour into town, breathing through 3 tightenings in 30 minutes. They were distracting, but manageable. By the time I arrived in class, I was sweating, walking on my tip toes, and needing to stop and sway and breathe through each tightening about ever 5 minutes. I didn't do much in class, but it a wonderful way to begin the early stages of labor. I decided it wouldn't be safe for me to drive home so I had Paul take a cab out to meet me.
As labor can take so long, we decided to go to Costco to pick up some last minute groceries. I used the cart to breathe through the tightenings and other than walking slowly, I wasn't being impeded much. I know that being upright and moving is good for labor so I wasn't worried about being out and about.
We got home and I let my parents know I thought I was in early labor, but not to worry I knew it could take a very long time.
By 2:15 I had been having regular contractions every 3 minutes lasting for a minute (or sometimes more) so I tip-toed downstairs and called the midwife. Although I agreed that I could probably stay home longer, I was struggling to work through the contractions while sitting and we had a 15/20 minute drive to the hospital. If we waiting too long, we could end up in morning traffic and the sitting while contracting would have been very stressful. They agreed I should come in, so I woke Paul up and we packed up the car and headed out.
On the way to the hospital, we saw a fire by the side of the road! We decided to pull over and check it out, as it is near a very large, dry field. It was an electrical fire, and it was spreading, so Paul called the fire brigade, notified them about it, and then we continued on our way.
We arrived at the Edinburgh Royal Birth Centre about 3:15, and they took me to my birthing suite. It was a large, lovely room with a big pool and lots of other useful things such as bean bags and birth balls and mats and an ensuite bathroom. They gave me my first exam and I was already 5cm dilated, but my waters hadn't broken and the sac was bulging through my cervix. I was so pleased with myself, and asked to get in the bath. We put on my hypnobirthing tracks and I urged Paul to get more sleep so he could be awake and energetic for the end. I felt calm and floating through the contractions, as they got stronger, but further apart. I started to worry that the bath was slowing down my labor, and the midwife said my temperature and pulse were too high (because of the hot bath). I got out to labor standing up, using the same posture as before of leaning over the bed. They let me labor on my own and work through the contractions with my hypnobirthing for another 7 hours before the next check at 10:15. The contractions had gotten closer together again and increased in intensity. This check showed I was only dilated to 7cm and they suspected because the baby's head was not putting the needed pressure on my cervix to help it dilate. I agreed to having my waters broken which they did quickly and painlessly.
They allowed me to labor for another 7 hours without disruption, only now I had a midwife and student midwife in the room near constantly monitoring me. I was still using breathing and hypnobirthing, but the pain was increasing and the contractions were much longer so I asked to try the gas and air. This helped take the edge of and reminded me to breathe, but also made me violently sick and I was throwing up after every contractions. The contractions then increased sharply in intensity and began doubling, one after another without rest. I pushed on, having moments of doubt and feeling like I needed to know how much longer. I needed an end-point, just like all of my races. I couldn't see the finish line so I didn't know if I could make it. I remember looking at Paul and saying, "I can't do this!" and the midwives and Paul saying, "You ARE doing it!" The sensations, the pain, was exponentially more than anything I had experienced but I still knew that each one brought me closer to meeting my baby. I tried to remind myself that they could not be stronger than me - this was MY body making the contractions, they WERE me, they weren't stronger than me. Several times I felt like I would explode with the pain, that there was no way I could make it through the end of that contractions. All you mamas out there know what I'm talking about!
About 5:00 they checked me again - I was still at 7cm with no progress. The midwife said that we needed to put me on a drip to move on labor and that I'd have to be transferred to the labor ward. I turned to Paul that moment and told him I needed an epidural - I had made it this far and I was so disappointed, but I knew the drip would make what was already nearly unbearable even more so. They whisked me into a wheelchair, gathered my things and brought me upstairs. An anesthesiologists came in to give me the epidural and asked me to stay completely still through the contractions. They monitored me and the baby for about 30 minutes, when a midwife came back to tell me that the baby was in distress and had an erratic heartbeat. After several consultations they decided that the baby would not cope with continued labor and that I would need an emergency c-section. Although it is not what I wanted, a safe, healthy baby was most important to me. We agreed, signed the papers, and I was told I'd have a baby within 30 minutes. They topped up my epidural with stronger meds for the surgery, took Paul to change into scrubs and whisked me away.
|I'm on a lot of drugs here, as we wait for the moment we become parents.|
|Meeting Eleanor for the first time.|
|Our first family picture!|
The next few nights in hospital passed in a blur of feeding, checks, visits, and cuddles. I didn't want to put her down I just wanted to hold her close to me like she had been in my tummy. After two nights in hospital I asked to be released early so I could be home with my family. Eleanor passed all her tests and so did I, so they sent me home. Phew! It was all worth it for my perfect little bundle who continues to amaze me every day.
|Coming home for the first time!|