On Tuesday morning, we got up at 3:30 AM for Elmo's Monday of work. I stayed up, though I usually sleep while he is gone. I took a half hour nap before our doctor appointment at 11:30. Sasha was healthy and the doctor stripped my membranes again. It was obvious none of us really expected it to work this time, since it did nothing the week before. We made an appointment to have my water broken at the hospital at 7 PM on Wednesday. We went on about our day. There was no increase in contraction strength, no bloody show, nothing all day.
At 9 PM, I sat down to dinner and realized that the contraction I was having felt different than the BH contractions I'd been having for the past couple of months. I mentioned that these could be labor pains and started timing. I was only able to eat a small dinner.
Elmo was having a hard time staying awake, though there is a show he likes to watch from 9 to 10. I was resting, but still timing contractions. I was trying to sleep to see if it changed my contractions at all. No change - and no actual sleep. I tried walking around. I tried drinking. I tried peeing. No change. I was increasingly certain that I was in labor. I woke Elmo at 11 (accidentally). I mentioned that I was in labor. He peed and went back to sleep.
I had been keeping my mom updated and called the hospital to check in with L&D. They advised me to come on in whenever I was no longer comfortable at home. There was no rush since I tested negative for Group B Strep and didn't live too far away. I woke Elmo again at 11:30 and told him he needed to get ready because I was going to the hospital in about 15 minutes. He asked if I was sure this was it. In hindsight, I could have waited longer, but not without conscious support.
We got to the hospital at midnight. Our doctor just happened to already be there! He had another patient in labor. The nurse, Louann, checked me and said I was dilated to 4. I checked in with Mom, she was going to eat before heading to the hospital. She arrived by about 1:30. I was dilating very slowly. The three of us were very tired. At times, we all slept between contractions. Most of the time I had one or the other of them calling out the numbers (by tens) of my contractions so I knew when they were building, how strong they got and when we were on the downhill side of them.
Our doctor left to get some shut eye and have a morning meeting elsewhere. While he was gone, another doctor offered to break my water. I declined. I was willing to wait for our doctor and was still hopeful that we wouldn't have to go that route anyway. When he got back, he went ahead and broke my water. I was still only dilated to 6. The contractions felt a lot harder after that. I did most of my laboring sitting in the bed. No other positions sounded good to me at all. I did get up and walk / sway between contractions. I sat on the edge / side of the bed and leaned forward onto Elmo for some of my contractions. I did get dilated to 8, but Sasha wasn't quite low enough, she was posterior (facing forward) but needed to be anterior to come down further. This was disappointing because Sasha had been in the head-down, anterior position almost constantly for 2-3 months! My newer nurse, Stephanie, had suggested we try some different positions and offered us an exercise ball a few times. Then something came up about my back hurting. She said Louann hadn't advised her that I was having back labor. Louann hadn't asked. She was just staying out of the way (which is what we wanted). I didn't really want to move or try anything new, but I knew I didn't want drugs and I was SO exhausted. The contractions had continued to come every 3-5 minutes for over 13 hours by then!
Once Stephanie realized I was having back labor, she really encouraged me to try a few contractions in an all-fours position. I was willing to try, but couldn't support myself on my hands because of the hep-lock. She said that wouldn't be necessary. She had me get up, out of the way while she got the bed ready. She made it sit up almost completely, piled ALL of the pillows we had on the bed and had me get onto my knees. I stripped off my gown so I wouldn't be tripping over it. She had me lean down and wrap my arms around the pillows. This was a REALLY uncomfortable position for the contractions! They all hurt really bad by now, but this seemed to suck worse. However, she pointed out the whooshing sound on the baby's monitor... that wasn't the heartbeat, we could hear Sasha flipping! This was very good news! Within minutes, I was asking to push! She let me turn over and went to fetch our doctor. He came in while they got everything ready for delivery and gave me permission to give Sasha some little pushes. I had to breathe fast to keep from pushing a little before that.
The bed wouldn't work right, but they got it set enough that our doctor could kneel on the lowered section of the bed and access me just fine. He was all about MY comfort. I only had one stirrup, but it wasn't in a comfortable spot anyway and I had Elmo on the other side. At first I didn't feel like I could grab my legs up to push, but I was able to after the first couple of pushes. Mom had been with us all night and was over in a corner watching. She didn't think she'd be able to see, but once everything was in place, she had a perfect view.
Elmo saw Sasha's head coming out (he hadn't plan to see it). When her head came all the way out, he told me. I remember thinking "I know!" It is a very distinct feeling of relief once you get past the head. Moments later Elmo saw Sasha's feet come out. Someone put a warm blanket across my belly and our doctor was about to put Sasha on it, but he knew I wanted her directly on my belly. He let me move it and gave her to me directly. Then I had them put the warm blanket over us. I was irritated that Stephanie insisted on drying Sasha. Sasha was covered in a very thick layer of vernix and Stephanie was rubbing it off. I protected what I could of it and rubbed it into Sasha's skin. I don't think Sasha cried much at this point, though everything was going so fast then. After a few minutes, I was able to hold Sasha higher and Stephanie clamped the cord. I felt the cord, though I didn't feel it pulsate. Our doctor waited (as per our wishes) for it to stop pulsating before clamping and cutting the cord. Elmo declined cutting and I felt my hands were too unsteady and messy to do it myself. Stephanie cut it for us.
Sasha Bella was born on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 at 12:13pm. She weighed 7 lb, 8 oz and measured 19½ inches long in-room. She later measured 20¼ inches in the nursery.
They took Sasha over to the warming table to get her Apgar scores and initial heel stick to check her glucose level. She cried when they stuck her foot. When they gave her back, Stephanie said I really had to put her to the breast. I hadn't done it yet because Sasha was content just to be on me and because I remembered the comparison... like running a marathon and trying to eat a steak immediately. Sasha had just been through a long and very physically grueling event, I didn't think there was a rush. When offered, Sasha took to the breast fairly quickly.
For the last bit of pushing, the team encouraged me to maintain control and not just push hard, I needed to focus my push toward the back and not push too hard. I did just as they asked. As a result of that, and the doctor's counter pressure on my perineum, I only suffered abrasion. Our doctor thought I might need one stitch, but decided it would be unnecessary. No tears! I was so thrilled!
Our doctor was careful delivering the placenta and it came out in one piece. This is a good thing. Stephanie mashed on my uterus and I thought I felt a major gush of blood. I told her that when she came back to do it again. She watched as she mashed my belly and let me know it was actually urine. So she went ahead and emptied my bladder... by mashing on it. This is an odd sensation (besides the pain), just knowing someone is voiding your bladder by pressure alone. I never had to have a catheter, though, so I didn't complain. Elmo went with Sasha to the nursery for her initial vitals screening. It seemed like they were gone forever! Meanwhile, Stephanie helped me to the restroom to get cleaned up and into one of those huge pads.
The entire team was great, praising me for such a job well done. The nurse was proud of me for going all natural and expressed her disappointment in the percentage that do not go that route these days. She and our doctor both went on about how well I did maintaining control of my pushing. While I hadn't cared for some of Stephanie's attitudes, I still told her she was my hero for getting me into that final laboring position. We should have known to try it, but we were so tired when we started labor in the first place... we just weren't thinking at our best.
I did pretty well relaxing through my contractions (thank you, Bradley Method), but there were some of them I just could NOT do it without Elmo's coaching. I found myself tensing up, fighting the contractions. He continued to be reassuring throughout, reminding me that all this was for Sasha and that we were getting closer to having her in our arms.