For some reason, I knew that Hannah would be early the whole time I was pregnant. Even at the end, when people would ask when she was due I would reply, "Sometime between tomorrow and July 13." Since I'm a planner and I have wonderful family and friends who helped set me up with a million wonderful baby items we were all ready for her when she decided to to make her early appearance!
Our birth story starts at about 10 PM on a dark, stormy night in June…
I had been feeling very tired and experienced some cramps earlier in the day, so I went to bed early after attending a picnic. A little after 10 I woke up because my water had broken. It wasn’t what I expected, so I didn’t even know that’s what it was at first. Zac called the doctor to let them know what happened. We waited about 15 minutes before leaving because we didn't want to rush out into the storm for no reason. Luckily I had been collecting things for my hospital bag and simply needed to transfer them to a suitcase instead of packing from scratch. I even folded and put away some of Hannah's new laundry that would be waiting for her when we got home. I realized that in that time I had 3 low-intensity contractions, so we left and I kept timing them. Lasting 30 seconds long every 5 minutes; this was textbook!
By midnight we were checked into the hospital and the nurse had hooked me up to the machines to start her observations. I told her and the doctor about my plan to have an unmedicated birth, so things were pretty simple on their part in the beginning. I decided to walk since I had heard that is a good way to keep labor moving. DH and I looped around the maternity ward a few times slowly with a stop at the nursery window each time. I could make it there just in time for a contraction, so I would stop and breathe through the pain while looking at the babies. The contractions felt like strong cramps that expanded through my back, but as long as I stood still they were manageable. After an hour, we returned to my room for the nurse to check on everything. She hooked me back up, but couldn't tell me about much more than the baby's heart rate because they like to avoid internal exams once the water breaks. She also ran an IV with fluids in case I changed my mind and wanted an epidural. I made the mistake of asking for a snack that would later come back up and then set on my way for another walk.
We continued that process (walk for an hour, go back to the room for a checkup) until about 3 AM. At that point the contractions had increased in pressure, duration, and frequency. It was time for me to lay down and work on breathing through the pain while trying to relax. Zac called his parents who were still awake on the West Coast and shocked them with the news that I was in labor. Of course his Dad didn't believe him at first, so he held up the phone to the beeping machine to try to convince him. When he was still doubtful, I got on the phone and said, "You know I wouldn't be awake if this baby weren't on the way! Do you believe us now?"
When Zac went to scavenge for food, my contractions quickly became more intense. Our nurse, Laurie, was wonderful and held my hand through them until he got back. She was quiet and peaceful, which mellowed me out. I was starting to wonder if I could really make it through without an epidural by 5 AM, so she did an exam and confirmed that I was well on the way to the third stage of labor. When she told me I'd be holding my baby early that morning if I stayed strong, I knew I could do it. I counted down the time through each contraction breathing evenly, and then closed my eyes and attempted to sleep in between them. Of course, you can't get much sleep in 2 minutes, but that's the best way to describe how to relax between contractions. It sure beats worrying about the pain from the one that's on the way!
More to come soon... If you haven't already read my introduction to this story it's here.