Wednesday night I noticed some pinkish discharge. I wondered if it was amniotic fluid but there wasn’t very much. We had our regular 39 week appointment the next morning, so we decided to wait until our appointment to get it checked out. There was more discharge on Thursday morning before the appointment, and I felt more sure that this was in fact amniotic fluid.
At the appointment our midwife, Kim, also suspected that the watery discharge was amniotic fluid. She tested the discharge for pH and ferning. The pH test was positive for amniotic fluid but ferning was negative. Kim suspected that I had a very high and slow leak in my bag of waters. She suggested we go home and try some natural methods to get labor started, then come back in the afternoon for another assessment.
It was a beautiful spring day, sunny and highs in the low 70s. We went home and went for a walk, I took a nap, and I spent some time using the breast pump. We gathered the hospital bags near the front door. We went back to see Kim and decided that we would go to the hospital - but first I got a pedicure!
We arrived at the hospital around 7:30 p.m. Thursday night. Both Kim and our other midwife, Ann, were there. The plan was that if labor still hadn't started, we would rupture my forewaters and try to get labor started. Kim ruptured my forewaters at 8:30 p.m. We walked the halls trying to get things going. We ran into Ann around 10:00 p.m.and she advised us to try and get some sleep. We asked how long and she said, "until you wake up!" However, turns out it was hard to sleep!
Ann came in to check on us at 11:00 p.m. We weren't sleeping, so Ann suggested that we might want to get things going. She wanted me to have energy to get through labor and if I couldn't sleep, we shouldn't prolong things. Our plan was to start a low dose of Pitocin. We would slowly increase the dosage until things got going, then stop the Pitocin and let my body take it from there. The nurse came in with the IV cart. At this point I was in good spirits, but a little anxious about the Pitocin. I was concerned that this would be the first in a waterfall of interventions. But, I trusted my midwives and my intuition that this was a necessary step.
Once the IV was in, I was required to have a blood pressure cuff and the wired Electronic Fetal Monitor (EFM). I had requested the wireless, but the nurse couldn't get it to work. I was pretty uncomfortable with all the wires, so Jason asked if we could at least lose the blood pressure cuff. They allowed it, and instead came in every half hour to check my blood pressure. This was MUCH better. Also, the nurses weren't able to get reliable readings from the EFM, so it was frustrating to be tethered when the EFM wasn't providing data anyway. Since the IV went in, I had been in bed, on my left side. Jason asked the nurse the next time she was in if we could lose the EFM so I could more easily stand and maybe walk. She agreed, but we could tell this was not normal procedure. The nurse said we could go on a walk and just tell anyone who asked that we were looking for a bathroom. (Strange...but whatever!)
It was around 2:30 a.m. when we were walking the halls. We would walk, pushing the IV cart, stopping and leaning on the wall during contractions. At some point during a contraction I had a serious urge to puke. I told Jason and he went running down to our room for a puke bag. I HATE puking and was determined to hold back, especially in the hallway! Jason was super speedy with the bag, but I thankfully managed to hold off the puke. When he was in the room though, it was shift change, and he (very briefly) met our new nurses.
We headed back to the room and I sat in the rocking chair. It was 3:00 a.m. and I was at a 7 ml dosage of Pitocin. For the next hour and a half I was experiencing contractions that were 1 minute long. They had a unique and very predictable pattern. I would have a minute and a half rest between, then a three and a half minute rest in between. This pattern continued and I remember the contractions being very intense. By now I was getting tired. I never thought this was possible, especially with such intense contractions, but I was sleeping on the three and a half minute breaks! Once he realized I was doing this, Jason would wake me up right before the contraction started. This made a HUGE difference in my ability to ride out the contraction. Around this time, our new nurse was able to get the wireless monitor to work!
At around 4:30 a.m. I felt pushy and also had another strong urge to puke. Our nurse offered an anti-nausea drug, but I declined and somehow managed again to not puke. (Have I mentioned how much I hate puking?) Our nurse who had been silently observing and present the whole time (unlike our previous nurses) and also had not increased my Pitocin dosage (unlike the other nurses who would come in to increase it every 30 minutes when they checked my blood pressure) said she'd get Ann. Ann came to our room, observed for awhile, then checked me at my request. I was at 6 cm. In hindsight, I wonder if my subconscious had kicked in at this point. Obviously, it wasn't time to push yet, but this got Ann into our room, and therefore made it possible to get off the Pitocin. The end of the Pitocin also meant the end of the wireless monitor. From here, I was periodically checked via Doppler.
It was now 5:00 a.m. I was still in the bed from being checked and Ann suggested that I bring the back of the bed up and lean forward on it. This didn't feel right, so Ann suggested the yoga ball on the bed instead. This felt right. With Jason on one side of the bed and our nurse on the other, I labored for about 20 min. I was still sleeping between contractions and once nearly rolled off the bed towards our nurse. During my time on the ball, I remember a different kind of contraction. These contractions felt like they were in my lower back. They were pretty intense and felt like there were balls of fire on each side of my lower back, where my pelvic bones/hips are. From here, I was switching positions about every 20 minutes. Next I was standing, then on my knees in the tub, then backwards on the toilet, then standing. Throughout labor I was drinking water frequently and ate popsicles and animal crackers to keep my energy up.
When I was in the tub my contractions were coming every minute. At this point I said to Jason, "I don't know if I can do this." Jason ignored me. (Great job, Coach!) This was transition. On the toilet, contractions were still a minute apart...so I was getting about 30 seconds of rest in between. At some point I told Jason, "I accidentally pushed!" We went out and stood for a contraction or two. I leaned on the table and felt a serious urge to push. At this point, Ann checked me and I was complete. This was around 7:30 a.m. Ann suggested I start pushing when I felt like it.
I stayed on the bed, but didn't like it there. Ann suggested a few positions. I stood for a bit. By now Kim was there. Based on the pain in my hips, Kim suggested that I return to the toilet. She grabbed a sheet and used it to lift up on my baby bump during contractions, this is called a Rebozo. Although well-intentioned, this wasn't working. We went out and stood by the bed for awhile. I liked standing the best, but there was concern over me getting tired as I hadn't slept at all. So the next most comfortable position, while conserving energy, was on the bed on my back, in the inclined position.
At this point, around 8:00 a.m., my contractions paused for about 25 minutes. Once contractions returned, Kim suggested that I try pushing. I was experiencing some discomfort with pushing, so Kim wanted to check for a rim of cervix. She checked, and there was no rim. Kim suggested I would need to push through the discomfort, so I started pushing with each contraction like we had learned in class. The only trouble was I was having a hard time feeling the contractions, and therefore knowing when to push. Jason wasn't able to tell either. I explained this to Kim and she started letting me know when to push based on feeling my uterus contract. Jason was supporting my left leg, and our nurse was supporting my right. She had shared with us that she had never seen a natural, unmedicated birth before. I distinctly remember as I was pushing that she would exclaim, "Awww!!!," and other sweet things each time she'd see baby come further out. Her excitement gave me renewed energy for each push. (She was an amazing nurse! After baby was born, she thanked me for letting her be a part of labor and delivery. She told me I had inspired her and that she hoped one day she would be like me in childbirth - talk about a tearjerker!)
Once baby had crowned, Kim suited up and the room was flooded with people. (The fire alarm also went off at this point and Kim sent someone to check that all was OK!) At some point during pushing, Kim encouraged me to touch baby's head, and this gave me a second wind. I kept pushing and baby was there in about 10 minutes. Everyone cheered! After 1.5 hours of pushing, Cambry Jean was born at 9:04 a.m. Although pushing was hard work and painful, it really was the coolest feeling when Cambry was born! They placed her on my chest immediately with a blanket over her. Jason cut the cord once it had stopped pulsing. She began to nurse as Kim was working to patch me up. I had a few first degree, superficial tears. Cambry nursed surprisingly well, and with surprising enthusiasm! She stayed on my chest until noon when they weighed her. She was 7 lbs. 9 oz. and 20.5 inches long.
I delivered the placenta about an hour after baby was born. Suprisingly, I could feel the contractions for the placenta, even though I hadn't been able to feel them during second stage. In total, Cambry nursed for something like an hour and a half. After a few pictures I had my celebratory orange juice, walked to the bathroom, took a bath, and started trying to think about what to order for lunch!