We have been awaiting Hudson's arrival for 40 weeks. James and I were planning a natural birth for Hudson. We took Bradley Method classes to prepare us for the "husband coached birth" that I wanted. I have to say that had we not taken these classes and just tried to go naturally, I don't know that I would have been able to do it. Just to give you an idea of what we wanted for a natural birth, these are some of the many things that we were hoping for:
No epidural or other pain killers
Freedom to walk and move around during labor
Intermittent EFM only
Place the baby on mothers chest immediately
Allow Placenta to detach on its own (This was not possible for me)
On March 24th at 1:17 a.m., Hudson made his way into the world. I didn't realize it was the real thing at the time but at 11:00 p.m. on March 22nd I began having contractions that kept me up all night. They weren't terrible but I was not able to lay down during them. I utilized the birth ball all through the night to manage the pain. I would fall asleep for a few minutes, then wake up to a painful contraction. I was supposed to work on the 23rd but I decided after going back and forth about it that I would have trouble focusing on my work through contractions. I decided to stay home and thank God I did because even though I wasn't sure at the time, I would be delivering Hudson very soon! At 10:00 a.m. on March 23rd, I decided to try to do some of the typical things that people say will help put you in labor (because I was in denial that it was the real deal). I'm still not really sure that I believe these things make a difference but I decided to give some of them a shot. At this point I was contracting every 5-6 minutes and they were lasting about a minute each, however they were bearable and I was able to go about my regular day without much interference. I started the day by eating Indian food for lunch with my friends Tara and Max. Tara made me a pitcher of Raspberry Leaf Tea to take home to drink. I had never heard of this approach but it was one of the things she had tried, to put herself into labor. I stopped at Kroger on the way home to pick up a fresh Pineapple. When I got home I had a glass of the tea and ate some of the Pineapple. Next on the agenda was to go for a long walk. My sister in law Emily came over and we all went for a walk. When we got back to the house, it was about 4:00 p.m. By this point the contractions were still 5 minutes apart and they were getting stronger. It was about this time that I realized this was probably the real thing. I had prodromal labor several times in the past few weeks so I was hesitant to get too excited too early on. The longest my false labor had lasted in the past was about 4 hours so when I realized I had been laboring for 17 hours by that point, we knew it was the real thing.
Over the next few hours I labored at home. I made sure to take a shower so I would be nice and refreshed. The warm water felt great during contractions but I still had to concentrate on getting through them. We made sure to continue to eat because my biggest fear was not having enough fuel for my body to get through the entire labor. I knew they weren't going to let me eat in the hospital so I decided on a peanut butter/honey sandwich and a Cliff bar. I also stuck a banana in my purse which I had planned to eat on the way to the hospital. During this time James and I also pulled out the books that our Bradley Method instructor had given us. We were feverishly flipping through the pages trying to refresh ourselves on what was about to happen. We were laughing at ourselves for doing this. We were really well prepared but when the time came we still felt like we needed a refresher course. We learned at our classes that it is best to labor at home as long as possible. There are many reasons for this, one of them being the opportunity to rest/sleep while you are in labor, in the comfort of your own home. Since I was showered and had plenty of food in my body, we decided it would be best to try to get some sleep. I knew a deep sleep was not possible at this point because when the contractions came when I was laying down, they were unbearable!
We laid down in bed at 9:00 p.m.. I was listening to some relaxing music on Pandora when all of a sudden at about 9:30, my water broke. This was the strangest feeling in the world. I heard it pop and then there were gushes of water. I did not realize how much amniotic fluid was in there with Hudson. I immediately got back in the shower. At this point James and I weren't really sure what to do. We were in a moment of shock. I had already been in labor for 22 hours. Up until this point I hadn't had trouble dealing with my contractions. Yes, they hurt but James was there to help me get through every single one of them and I was still in a mood where I was able to joke around with James between contractions (This is one of the signs in the Bradley Method that says it was not time to go to the hospital yet). We were debating calling our Bradley instructor for advice because at this point neither of us could make the decision whether to stay home and labor longer or go to the hospital.
The decision was quickly made for us. Immediately after my water broke and I got in the shower, the contractions went from being 5 minutes apart to 2 minutes apart and they were a great deal more intense! We knew at this point that it was time to go to the hospital. Luckily he had finished packing our bags for the hospital before we laid down to rest. I grabbed one of our backpacks (James was not happy with me for doing this) and he got most of our other bags. James had to go back in for one last bag. While I was waiting in the car, I started to panic since I was alone. I started to cry and lost control of my breath and started to hyperventilate. I knew at that point that crying was not going to be an option. I needed to be able to breath for the baby. I decided to call my sister in law while I waited for James. I figured that would keep me calmer so I wouldn't feel so alone. Poor Emily, as soon as she picked up the phone, I felt a contraction coming on. I set the phone down and she was forced to listen to my grunting and moaning. Then I told her it was time to get to the hospital. I think she was a bit shocked that I was the one calling her but it was what I needed at the time.
The car ride was not as bad as I had expected. There was no traffic and James only broke one law (running a red light). I think I only had three or four contractions while we were in the car. This is when I really noticed how much more contractions hurt when you are sitting or laying down! The difference was amazing. We pulled up to the hospital and a wheel chair was rolled up to my door. The last thing I wanted to do was climb into a wheel chair. I assumed it was hospital policy, so I agreed and climbed in. I was wheeled through what felt like a maze to the elevator that would take us to the labor and delivery floor. As soon as we were in the elevator, I felt a contraction coming on. I decided to say "screw hospital policy" and I hopped out of the wheel chair and prepared for the contraction.
We checked in at the labor and delivery desk and they took me back to triage around 10:00 p.m. A nurse came in with a little swab and said she needed to test to make sure that the fluid I noticed was in fact amniotic fluid. I proceeded to pull a drenched towel out from between my legs and handed it to her. She stared at me for a few seconds, tossed the swab in the trash and said "let's get you a room". As soon as we walked into our labor and delivery room, the contractions got even more intense.
At this point James realized he had to move the car because it was still in the emergency lane. I was about to have a panic attack because that would have meant I was going to be left in the room 100% alone. No James, no nurses. God must have known that I could not handle being alone at this point because right as he was about to walk out the door, my friend Jensine walked in the room. Perfect timing! At this point blood started to trickle with every contraction. "Trickle" is the correct term to use but at the time, I felt like it was pouring out! I thought something was wrong. Luckily one of the nurses came in shortly after and assured me that it was okay and that it just meant that I was dilating very quickly. This was great news to me, even though somewhere inside I doubted her and thought she might have been lying to me to keep me calm.
I felt like James had made it back fairly quickly (apparently he did not). He told me later that he got lost. At first he took the elevator down one floor too many. Then he proceeded to get lost on that floor and could not find the elevators. An employee told him he could use the freight elevator, but when he got in it, the elevator required a password and the employee was already gone. He finally found the elevator and then could not find the entrance where our car was parked. After a few swear words, then some prayers,
he found the car and made it back to me.
He immediately got to work setting up the music and ambiance the way I had wanted. This proved to be very difficult because I would ask him to do things like set up the I Pod for instance, but the catch was that he only had about 60 seconds between each contraction to make things happen. It seems like as soon as he opened one of our bags to get something out, I yelled for him to come back because I felt another contraction building. I really got to see first hand that James is amazing under pressure. He only made one mistake. :-) He accidentally put the I Pod on shuffle instead of my "labor music" playlist. So, mid contraction some "sexy" Christina Aquilera song came on. I was mortified! I didn't want the nurses thinking I was trying to be "sexy" in labor. :-)
The time in between contractions was amazing!
After we got the labor music playing correctly, I had to climb in the bed to get my vitals checked, get my hep lock, check dilation and effacement and get the external fetal monitor hooked up for 20 minutes. When the nurse told me I had to lay down, I almost cried because I knew the contractions were going to be much worse while laying in bed. I remember thinking, I have to keep the tears at bay because I was positive that crying would cause me to hyperventilate again and I was sure it would have messed up the EFM and I would have been guaranteed a C-section. It seemed completely logical to me at the time and it kept me calm. Luckily once they got everything hooked up, my amazing nurse let me stand next to the bed for the remainder of the EFM. Seriously, my nurse was a godsend. I can not express in words how happy I was to have her there to help both me and James through this huge obstacle in our lives. Once they realized that little Hudson was okay, they disconnected me and I was free to move around. At this point I was fully effaced and 5 cm dilated.
I was absolutely miserable during contractions. It took everything I had to get through each and every one of them. I was having really bad back labor and we soon realized it was because Hudson was turned and facing the wrong direction. It was strange because I felt like my back was being torn in half but I could not feel any pain on the front of my body. James spent every contraction pushing on my back. I kept telling him that he needed to push harder but I think he was afraid he was going to hurt me. I just wanted him to push as hard as he possibly could because it was the only thing that could get me through the contractions.
The nurse ended up showing us positions that would help Hudson turn around. The nurse also showed James exactly where to push on my body to encourage my body and Hudson to do what they needed to do. She was the best nurse in the world! James and I are so thankful for her. I'm not sure how long it took for us to get him to turn, but at some point it happened and then the pain in my back lessened a little bit and the pain spread to the front of my body as well. This may sound worse but it was much better! At this point they checked me again and I was 7-8 cm dilated. I believe this was around 11:30.
Soon after they checked me, I started to shake uncontrollably and the contractions were right on top of each other. I believe I told James twice that I wanted drugs at this point but I still never mentioned an epidural because even though I was in that much pain, I was still more afraid of the needle they would have to put in my back than the labor and delivery itself! I also remember telling James a few times that I couldn't do it and thought I was going to die. Even though I was to the point where I didn't think I was going to survive, between contractions I was still joking with James and the nurses. One of the nurses told me that I was in transition and would be ready to push very shortly. I very sarcastically told her that I thought she was lying and trying to trick me into thinking the pain was almost over. I had expected to completely lose all sense of humor by the time I hit transition but I don't think that actually happened until it was time to push.
Around 12:30 I was laboring with the labor bar on the bed when all of a sudden my body started to push. It was strange because I had zero control over this. My body was doing it all on it's own. This scared me because the last time I was checked I was only 7-8 cm dilated. A few contractions later they checked me and I was fully dilated with a slight lip. They had me push very gently for several contractions and we were able to get the lip to dilate. Had I had time to think through how I wanted to push, I would have asked to remain upright in the bed and deliver squatting but there was no time. Before I knew it, I was laying elevated on my back. This is when I realized, it was time to get down to business. Pushing was a relief at first. There was a LOT of pressure but it was not painful in the least bit, at least compared to the back labor I had dealt with earlier. I was just "pushing to the point of comfort" like we had learned in the classes we had taken. For me this meant three pushes, about eight seconds each for each contraction. I wish I had continued to listen to my body but instead I started listening to all of the people who were yelling at me to keep pushing harder and harder, longer and longer. James and I both got caught up in it.
When he started to crown, they called for the doctor. Once he arrived, things happened very quickly. I pushed several times before he told me that the head was about to come out but that I was guaranteed to tear all the way to my rectum if he didn't do an episiotomy! This upset me because I really did not want to get an episiotomy but I also could not imagine dealing with the alternative. I stared at James in disbelief. I was speechless. James asked the doctor to wait one more push. With the next push, the doctor made the decision to cut. After 26 hours of labor and just a few more short pushes, Hudson came into the world at 1:17 a.m. He was much smaller than we had expected. He weighed in at 7 pounds, 9.4 ounces and he was 20 inches long.
He was immediately placed on my chest and it was the most wonderful feeling in the world. As I looked back and forth between Hudson and James I felt a deeper connection with James than I ever could have imagined. We both immediately felt an intense love for our little man. James decided he wanted to cut the cord. I got to snuggle with him for a while before they realized I was going to have issues delivering my placenta. They took Hudson from me and got to work on trying to get my placenta to detach. The doctor tried getting it to separate by manually pushing on my stomach. This was extremely painful. When this didn't work, he started to gently pull on the umbilical cord. When the umbilical cord broke off from the placenta, I saw concern in the Dr's eyes. He told me he was going to manually extract my placenta. This meant reaching his hand in there to retrieve it himself! I know I had just delivered a 7 and a half pound baby but the idea of this terrified me. The Dr. tried his best but was not able to get it to separate. He told us that the next step was to put me under and go in and cut the placenta away from my uterus. When he said this, James and I were both under the impression that he meant I was going to need a c section to remove the placenta. The doctor told us that an incision was not necessary. They would just go in and cut it out. As soon as the doctor had reassured us that I was not getting a C section and we were feeling better about the procedure, this old man slowly wheeled his cart in and said he was there to prep me for a C section. I started to freak out again but all of the nurses immediately told the old man that he was incorrect. It turns out that the membrane that was supposed to form between my placenta and uterus had never formed. The membrane is what allows the placenta to detach in the third stage of labor. During all of this placenta fun, our families got the chance to meet Hudson for the first time.
Being able to deliver Hudson naturally took a lot of mental preparation. I made note cards which I read daily to help prepare myself. These are some photos of the note cards that helped me most.
At this point I was wheeled down to a new room where they were going to perform the surgery. We waited what felt like forever for the old man to come in to put me under. He was about to do it when he got called away to give an epidural to a woman in labor. I had some time to kill and I was nervous because James was not allowed to come down with me so I was talking to all of the nurses. I asked them if I would have survived this child birth had I lived in the 1800's. They laughed and told me that no one had ever asked them that before. Then they told me I would have died. Thank God for technology.
I woke up from the surgery to James's face. Very soon after I woke up, one of the nurses latched Hudson on for his first feeding. He latched on like a champ and has had no trouble since. The rest of the time in the hospital and a few days after we got home, James had to latch Hudson on with each feeding because I was not able to bend my neck low enough to see what I was doing. The three of us worked very well together! :-)
James and I had a very specific plan for what we wanted the birth of our son to look like. For the most part we got what we had dreamt of. We knew that there was most likely going to be several sacrifices we were going to have to make with our birth plan. Even though I ended up in surgery, we were blessed to have the natural birth we wanted for Hudson. He is happy and healthy and ultimately that is all that matters. One down, three to go!
Short and Sweet Version:
I started having contractions at 11:00 p.m. on March 22nd. I labored at home through the night. I decided not to go to work the next day because I thought the contractions would be distracting. I still did not believe I was really in labor at this point. At 10:00 a.m. my contractions were 5-6 minutes apart and lasting a minute but they weren't very powerful. I decided to try some of those tricks that are supposed to put you in labor. In the next 6 hours I ate spicy Indian food, drank raspberry tea, ate pineapple and went for a long walk. By 4:00 p.m. my contractions were 5 minutes apart and getting stronger. James and I decided to eat dinner around 8:00 p.m. At 9:00 p.m. we chose to lay down to get some sleep. At 9:30 my water broke while lying in bed. The contractions were immediately 2 minutes apart and almost unbearable. We decided to go to the hospital. We checked into the hospital around 10:00 p.m. Hudson was born naturally after 26 hours of labor at 1:17 a.m. on March 24th weighing 7 pounds 9.4 ounces. He was 20 inches long. He is perfectly healthy. I had some issues because my placenta wouldn't detach. I ended up having to get surgery to remove it but both Hudson and I are now healthy and happy.