⚠ NOTE: This post contains some details that I’m happy to share about our daughter’s entrance to the world, but if you don’t want to know those (maybe too graphic for you) details, you should avoid reading. ⚠
I had this fear throughout the third trimester of my pregnancy about not knowing when I went into labor. And I asked the question A LOT how I would be able to tell the difference between false labor and actual labor. Doctors (and other moms) assured me – “You’ll Know”.
So when what felt like really bad gas pains started during the Penn State vs. Michigan game, I didn’t think much of it and chalked it up to third-trimester aches and pains. When I woke up from a nap a bit later, with the same pain, I thought maaaaybe something was up. So I started to time them, and as if punching a clock – every 10 minutes, for about a minute each, moderate in intensity.
A start, but a long way to go.
Saturday, November 3rd:
11PM: I was still working through consistent contractions every 8-9 minutes, but something told me to go take a shower – “just in case”. After that, I tried – really tried – to sleep. But the contractions were too consistent and getting more painful and more frequent.
Now, Sunday, November 4th:
1:59AM (#1): Contractions were very quickly getting closer together.
Keep in mind daylight saving ended at 2am, so in all actuality, time went BACK to…
1AM (again): I only had a few at 7 minutes a couple more at 6 before they got to the “goal” 5 minutes and we were calling into the doctor and heading to the hospital.
2AM: By the time we get to the labor and delivery (L&D) building of the hospital, I’ve been laboring at home for about 11 hours. We get into triage to get evaluated and I’m PRAYING that this is “it” and not a false alarm, cause I seriously didn’t want to go through that again without having a baby at the end of it. Initial exam tells us I’m 4cm dilated and YES, I’m being admitted!
From the time I get into our L&D room, it’s a revolving door of nurses, techs, docs… I’ll say it now in the beginning and I’ll say it throughout – but all my nurses were seriously amazing (someone remind me to send them all something as a Thank You). But as great as my nurse Jamie was at the time, I could think of little else than getting the anesthesiologist to come and give me that epidural!
Nope. No natural birth for me. And you won’t hear an apology for that either! 😉
3:30AM: Anesthesiologist got there relatively quickly and became my very favorite person of the day. 🙂 Honestly, I was dreading the whole “needle near the spine thing”, but I think the insertion of the IV in my arm hurt worse. Had a little hiccup with the left side, but it was fixed before she left after a “booster” med.
4:00AM: By this point, I am put on my right side with a labor peanut ball to move things along. Contractions kept coming, but I only knew from the machine at that point. This enabled me to get some much-needed rest.
6:00AM: Wake up and switch sides! There wasn’t much sleeping after that, as things moved pretty quickly.
7:00AM: Nurse shift change. And though I was sad to say goodbye to Jamie, we met Brenda and I was instantly calmed.
7:30AM: After I say that I’m feeling some pressure, we decide to do a cervical check “just to see” what’s going on. Imagine the surprise to us all when I’m completely thinned and 9.5cm dilated. What a difference 5 hours makes! She tells me to hang in there, but we’ll be seeing a baby in a few hours. Doctor shift change is about to happen, so we need to wait until the new OB from my office checks in – but I’ll be one of the first check-ins at this rate.
8:00AM: Things are moving along, but now the left side of my lower body is starting to regain feeling. Which is better than both sides – but we call back the anesthesiologist to see what we can do. Luckily, it’s pretty quick. And although I don’t like this guy as much as the lady doc I had earlier – he administers something that kinda sorta takes the edge off.
8:45AM: Dr. Julia Lubsky (who I met on an appointment at some point) came in to examine me and agreed – we were just about ready to go. So to move things along, she broke my water. Dialation moves back a bit to 9cm, which is normal and they warned me about.
9:00AM: At this point, my nurse tells me I have a couple of options. I can start to push now and move things along (maybe) a little faster OR I can “labor down” and let his baby girl work her way down on her own for a little. I decide to labor down and she tells me to call her when I’m ready to start pushing.
9:30AM: By twenty after, we’re calling the nurse back in, cause I. Am. Ready. Sure enough, 10cm.
Ok, so, truth. The epidural is awesome, but it does not… I repeat does NOT take away all feeling of having a baby. True – I’d had a break from contractions for hours. And true again, I didn’t feel my uterus contracting during pushing. But I certainly felt the PRESSURE of each and every contraction. Nobody had to tell me when to start pushing – I told THEM it was time. I will forever laugh when I hear people say that they want to go natural because they don’t want anyone telling them when a contraction is coming and what to do. Your body is sent those signals and knows what to do regardless. (And if anyone had drugs that completely took that pressure away… then, let me just say, I’m jealous.)
I am only pushing, with the aid of my nurse and Mike, for about 45 minutes before the doctor is called in. In that 45 minutes, my nurse is telling me how close we are to having a baby with every other contraction. I can’t say this went fast for me at the time, but considering how long I was technically IN labor – knowing we’re probably minutes away is amazing and crazy.
Dr. Lubsky arrives and immediately gowns up while commenting about the head of hair my kid has. So yeah, apparently we’re really close to meeting our daughter. 😀 We go into some final pushes and I feel relief and joy as her head is delivered.
That quickly changes to nervousness when she tells me to STOP mid-push because the umbilical cord is wrapped around her neck. Doc works quickly to clamp and cut the cord from around her neck. Thankfully, her quick work is just in time for another contraction and out come her shoulders… then stop and wait to next contraction. Which, I have to say was weird. I mean, I could see half my kid, like, on pause. Next contraction comes seconds later and out she comes with barely a nudge.
10:38AM: Theresa Majorie Thomas, “Tess”, is born and just like that, I’m a mom.
She’s placed on my stomach immediately, but almost just as quickly transferred to the warming bed in our delivery room. She lost a bit of oxygen from the cord around her neck and is very, very blue. A button on the wall was pressed and within seconds, about 9 doctors/nurses from the NICU rush into work on our little girl and Mike goes to stand with her. Let me just say, that writing this, I’m more emotional than in the moment. Obviously not because I wasn’t concerned then, but because I barely had a chance to BE worried or emotional. My nurse stayed between me and her – keeping me informed every second. Before I knew it she was crying and getting some normal color back, she’s placed on my chest, and my heart is whole.
The whole experience is still a little surreal. But in all honesty, her entire life story is a little surreal. There’s that love quote that goes around “Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite”, and I always related to that with Mike and I taking so long to actually end up together. But after so many years of trying and waiting. So many unsuccessful treatments. Two too many losses. Countless medications, injections, blood work, and screenings.
Tess, oh sweet Tess… “Every baby story is beautiful, but yours, ours, is my favorite.”