Some initial background information: At my 37-week appointment I was dilated 2 cm, 50% effaced, and baby was positioned very low. Chad asked me if that meant I was going to be in labor early, but I didn’t ask the midwife because I didn’t want to get my hopes up. J
The day I went into labor was picture perfect. Wendy and I had a good time at my parents’ house and she had fallen asleep in my arms for her nap. Then later that evening for her bedtime, I laid on the floor next to her crib and held her hand until she fell asleep. I remember thinking “This would be a good note to end on, if…” After putting her to bed Chad and I started a game of Bananagrams. My contractions started slowly around 9:30 p.m. and I decided to time them with an app “just for fun” because they did seem slightly long and regular. I had heard that in order to dilate your cervix contractions needed to be a minute long. Mine were almost always a minute or in the 50-second range. Chad and I played two games of Bananagrams and then I started watching the movie Trolls on Netflix. Around 11 p.m. I was still having regular contractions and they were getting a little closer together, probably 8-9 minutes apart. We were both lying in bed at that point trying to sleep, but my mind was running wild and I couldn’t sleep. I kept wondering if I should get up and walk stairs or do something to try and induce labor. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t because it ended up going fast enough for my liking:) My stomach was growling so I decided to get up and have a sandwich, again, “just in case”. Not long after, probably around 11:30 p.m. I asked Chad (who still hadn’t fallen asleep either), “Can we just act like this is real?” He said yes and we immediately got up and started packing the hospital bags, cleaning up our bedroom and apartment, and setting up the bedroom for the baby to sleep in our room with us. I called the midwife right around midnight and I was happy to find out it was Diane on call that night. Mercy Hospital only has two midwives in their program and I slightly favored Diane. I told her my contractions were about 5 minutes apart, a minute in length, but I could still talk through them. I told her I wasn’t sure when to go in to the hospital because I had been induced for my first labor. She asked me if I had bloody show or if my water had broken, and I said no to both. Diane told me to focus more on the intensity of the contractions vs. the length apart. She told me to let her know if we are going in to the hospital because she lives about 20 minutes out from the hospital, which I had remembered from my previous appointments. Chad and I kept getting the apartment ready and I remember thinking “so this is what it’s like to labor at home”. J
Things were getting more intense; I had to stop when a contraction occurred and really focus on my breathing to get through them. Although I was still unsure if it was too early, at 1:14 a.m. I decided to call my parents and then the hospital. When I called my mom her phone seemed to ring forever, finally she answered, “The time has come” I said with a nervous giggle, and she asked, “Are you serious?” I explained that my contractions had started around 9:30 p.m. and were steadily getting closer together and more intense. She said they would come over. I took a hot shower because that helped a lot in my labor with Wendy. It helped a little this time, as well. I called the midwife and told her we’d probably get to the hospital within the hour. My parents got to our apartment and I quickly jotted down some random instructions for them to have while watching Wendy. Chad was still scurrying around getting some things together in our bedroom (can you tell we were not expecting to go 2 weeks early?!) My contractions were intense but I was able to smile between them and keep conversation with my parents. I kept saying things like, “I hope this is real, I’ll feel bad if I called you over here for a false alarm” After what seemed like forever, we were finally out the door around 2 a.m. and headed to the hospital. Since Chad had been rushing around our apartment and honestly pretty unhelpful with my contractions I was worried about how this labor was going to go, but as soon as we were in the car with everything ready he was fully attentive to my needs and pain. I felt pretty positive until it started raining. Our windshield wipers have not been working for the last year and once it started raining we panicked. If it rained hard we would have to pull the car over and wait for the rain to clear. After cussing, we decided to pray J Luckily the rain did end up going away pretty quickly and I think I only had one contraction in the car on the 15 minute drive. Upon parking the car, however, I had another bad contraction and had to squat through it next to the car until it passed. Once I was able to walk again we went into the hospital to check-in. Again, this felt like it took forever, and I had a couple contractions during the check-in process. I told the lady at the desk that I wanted a doula to help me through my labor (Mercy Hospital has a volunteer doula program). She said she would let the nurse and midwife know and she led us to the Triage room. When we got into the room I was upset, thinking I would be delivering in the dump of the room that the Triage room was. The nurse reassured me that I would definitely have a much nicer room to deliver in J I had to weigh myself (for the last time that pregnancy!) and they needed to check my dilation and monitor me to make sure my contractions were consistent. While waiting in the bed, I started crying. I was in a lot of pain and hated laying down to be monitored. When Diane walked in she said something like, “Oh no, tears?” and I masked my weakness (lol) by saying, “I just wanna hold the baby”. She checked me and told me I was at 4 cm and fully effaced! She said I was officially in labor and would get admitted, etc. I told her and the nurse that I wanted a doula. I also complained about lying down in the bed… I wanted to get on with the rhythm of my labor and start moving and coping through contractions!
Finally, (it was actually only like 2:40 at this point but everything felt like it was taking forever) I was wheeled upstairs to the delivery room, and I was shocked at how huge it was. It also had an amazing view of downtown Des Moines. When we got to the room the nurse had to ask me a ton of questions about my health. I was a little annoyed but saw it as a good distraction at the same time. Then…There were two big things that “went wrong” with my labor and they both happened around the same time. The first is that I was told I was Strep-B positive. I was tested at my 37-week appointment and they were going to tell me in person at my 38-week appointment. They did not expect me to go into labor this early. Finding out I was Strep-B positive really threw me off. I had done some research on antibiotics and I did not want to get them, but I knew since I didn’t have the time or energy to explain all this to Chad, I did not want to fight this battle, and I agreed to getting the antibiotics. I could tell Diane felt really bad that I was thrown off by the information. It was surprisingly painful to get those injected, but at the same time, it took my focus from my contractions to the burning pain in my arm. The second thing that went wrong was that there was no doula for me. A couple of the doulas were on maternity leave and I think one was out of town or something. So it was just me, Chad, the nurse, and Diane. I had to shrug these things off and keep focusing on getting through each contraction. (Random side note: The nurse’s name was Alicia and I felt a weird sense of protection from her because my sisters name is Alicia)
At this point in time I was swaying from side to side through contractions and Diane was helping put some pressure/massage on my back. Chad was helpful too. When a really bad contraction was coming on, I decided I wanted to try the medicine ball and I got frustrated with Chad and said, “go get it, hurry!” and I remember it was funny watching him scurry for the ball in a panic to get it to me, but I was in too much pain to laugh J and then I only used the ball for one contraction. After the antibiotic was injected, I believe they checked me again and I was at a 6; I was freed up to get in the Jacuzzi. I was so excited. Diane told me, “Now Chelsea, don’t be surprised if this causes things to move a lot faster, and you might feel more pressure.” Chad and I went into the bathroom and Diane had set up fake candles around the Jacuzzi and she dimmed the lights for us. The Jacuzzi was huge compared to the one I had for Wendy’s birth. I was really excited. Chad started up my Spotify playlist (same playlist I had for Wendy’s birth! Some Christian music) and I swayed a little in the tub and we talked in between contractions. The pressure definitely increased and I started to feel the urge to “poo” which made everyone decide I should get out of the tub and back to the hospital bed just in case the baby was coming. Diane checked me again and I was at an 8. Getting close! I kept saying, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this” and Diane and Chad reassured me, “you can do it Chelsea, you ARE doing it”. They applied more pressure and massage to my back. I was on my knees facing the back of the hospital bed like I did for a lot of my labor with Wendy. I believe I was in transition when I said, “I want to push!” and Diane told me I could try if I wanted to, but I said, “but I’m not getting the natural urges like I had with Wendy…Is there any way we can speed this along?! Can you break my water?” I had to move onto my back, and Diane was able to break my water for me. It felt really nice and warm for a minute but then the next contraction was super painful. Only a couple minutes later the real, natural urge to push came along and I was pushing! I remember at one point thinking, “I think this is the ring of fire” lol. The staff said, “If it’s a girl you’ll be able to put a bow in her hair!” I pushed for a total of around 20 minutes and he was born at 4:50 a.m. The labor in total was 7 hours. Chad announced it was a boy, and I cried and said something like, “Seriously?! We have a son!” I couldn’t believe how tiny he was, and that is one of the other first things I said. When they weighed him he was 6 lb 15.6 ounces, so they rounded up to 7 lb. Diane pointed out there was a knot in the umbilical cord and Hosea’s pediatrician alluded that it could have been part of why he came early, and his coming early could have prevented some bad things from happening. (Side note: I wish we had gotten a picture of the knot in his cord. Next time maybe I’ll hire a birth photographer!!) After Hosea was born I told Diane, “you were my midwife and my doula.” She was seriously amazing and stayed with us and engaged the entire labor. I am so thankful that I have had two very positive birth stories, and two very healthy babies. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.