Saturday, October 27, was a busy day for us. Ed went fishing early in the morning. We had a wedding on his side of the family later in the day, and he promised to be home in time for it. He was running a little late and when he got home due to a dead battery on the boat. I told him that with less than three weeks until our baby was due to arrive, he needed to stay home from fishing. What if I had gone into labor and he was stuck on the water?
We arrived to the wedding just in time and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying time with family, eating, chasing Joshua and even doing a little bit of dancing. I was tired, but at 37.5 weeks of pregnancy that’s to be expected. I had help watching Joshua and I got to enjoy talking to people about the baby. The joke was that the baby would arrive at the wedding, but I was confident that wasn’t going to happen. He was going to be late just like his big brother.
By late afternoon I was tired and ready to go home. I usually love weddings (all celebrations, really) and always want to stay until the end, while Ed is the party pooper who wants to go home early. In the car on the ride home, Joshua fell asleep and I had a few faint Braxton Hicks contractions and practiced my Hypnobabies relaxation techniques. I could certainly handle them, but figured the practice was good for me anyway. When we got home Ed laid Joshua on the couch and I went upstairs to change out of my dress. Ed fixed me a tall glass of ice water and a snack of cheese and crackers, then we sat down on the couch to relax and watch TV. We were both looking forward to a quiet night at home.
Then… I felt a gush of fluid. A big gush. I looked at Ed and said “I think my water broke.” He gave me a look to say that he didn’t think it was funny, then I said “I’m not kidding.” I got up and the entire couch cushion was soaked. I quickly texted my mom that my water broke and then called and left a message with the answering service at my OB’s office. I changed my clothes since my pants were completely drenched.
I then realized just how unprepared we were for this baby to come early! I had a stack of papers to grade, since I was still supposed to have a week left at work. I hadn’t packed a bag for the hospital, and the infant car seat wasn’t even in the car! I told Ed where I was pretty sure I had put Joshua’s old car seat and ordered him to install it. I went to the dryer and was thankful I had done laundry that morning so I could pack. I grabbed a toothbrush, a hairbrush, my camera, phone charger, Hypnobabies CDs and CD player. I glanced at my phone and realized it had turned off. By the time it was back on there were two voice mails from my OB wondering why I hadn’t answered the phone.
I called him back while digging through dryer. He said to come in to the hospital but I told him I wasn’t even having contractions. I was expecting another long labor, but he told me that second babies can be faster and that I should come in. I agreed that we would meet him in an hour. My mom arrived when I was talking on the phone to a colleague to arrange for her to pick up my pile of ungraded papers. My mom took the phone out of my hand and told me she would take care of it and that she couldn’t believe I was thinking about work while in labor. Oh, and contractions had started–short and spaced far apart.
We got in the car and I put on my Hypnobabies Birthing Day affirmations after warning Ed not to make fun of me. I didn’t really believe in hypnosis either… until I started practicing and realized how deeply relaxed it made me. I don’t know if that’s true hypnosis or not, but I was willing to try.
After arriving at the hospital, getting hooked up to a monitor and chatting with the nurses about my plans for a natural birth, they told me that the room with the labor tub was available and asked if I wanted to try it. I very much wanted to! I just needed to get checked by my OB. I was excited and smiling between contractions and using my relaxation techniques during them. When asked about my pain on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being what I remembered of true labor last time, I said it was a 1.
Dr. C came in and said that we had two options if I was still in very early labor: we could augment my labor to speed it up or wait and see how it progressed naturally. I reiterated my desire to have a natural birth and that I wanted to go with the flow and try the labor tub. He checked my progress and found that I was 4cm dilated and said “Oh yeah, that’s labor! Let’s head to the labor tub.” I was ecstatic! It took over 24 hours of contractions in my first labor to get to 4cm, and this labor was looking like it would be much speedier. With each contraction I focused on relaxing and thinking “Open.”
We got to our room and the nurse filled the labor tub. I directed Ed to plug in my camera batteries to charge (because of course they were dead!), get my water bottle, get me my crackers, find my hair clip… and he happily complied. I got into the tub and the nurse gave me a cup of cranberry juice with ice and a bendy straw. I joked that I felt like I was on vacation because I was so relaxed. I had a big smile on my face and laughed a lot with excitement. I used my hypnosis during contractions and ate a few crackers. Ed dozed on and off on the bed. Each time my OB or the nurse came in to check on me I told them how great I felt and how excited I was. We talked about staying in the tub until I felt ready to push, and that I had to get out then because hospital policy was that you weren’t allowed to actually give birth in the tub. That was fine with me, since I wasn’t planning on a water birth.
For the next hour or so Ed and I talked about and decided on a name for this baby, then we spent some time texting our moms and just relaxing. Eventually, I started to feel much stronger contractions. I stopped joking and started to really focus, knowing this must be transition (or what Hypnobabies calls transformation). The nurse helped me get onto my hands and knees, and then when I started to feel like I needed to push she helped me out of the tub and called for my OB.
I was excited but focused. Somehow I was only 5cm dilated. Dr. C said not to worry and that second babies tend to come much faster, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed. I could feel frustration and doubts creeping up on me, so I decided to listen to a Fear Clearing session on my Hypnobabies CD. I sat on a birth ball and tried to listen, but I just found myself getting annoyed with the woman’s voice so I turned it off. I cried to the nurse that I really wanted to have a natural birth, and she said I was doing a great job and that the baby would be here soon.
Another ten contractions or so and the urge to push was so strong that I asked the doctor to check again. He said this time I was dilated to 8cm, and if the urge to push was so strong that I should.
I got onto the bed on my side and a very powerful, intense contraction hit. I pushed and the OB said that the baby would be here soon. I vocalized (read: screamed) with each contraction and started to doubt, saying “I can’t do it!” Dr. C replied “You ARE doing it.” When a very strong contraction was over, I half jokingly asked if it was too late for an epidural. Dr. C laughed and said the baby would be born with my next push.