I'm writing this as my sweet baby boy is already over a week old. I can't believe he's already been here for 10 days, but at the same time I feel like he's always been a part of our lives. I wanted to write down his birth story, before the details get fuzzy, so that we always have an account of how Baby Hayden came into the world.
I went to my 39 week appointment on Monday, July 30 and we were crossing our fingers from some good news. Fortunately, that is just what my OB delivered- she said that I was already 3 cm dilated and 60% effaced. She said that she was sure we wouldn't make to our 40 week appointment and that our baby was well on his way. She suggested walking and other at-home remedies to get labor jumpstarted.
That evening we were so excited; we went for a 3 mile walk around a reservoir close to home. However, we only made it about 1 mile. I started having contractions on our way over to the reservoir and we started timing them on our walk. I could tell that these weren't the usual Braxton Hicks contractions that I had been experiencing and we started timing them. They were coming every 3 - 5 minutes apart and were stopping me in my tracks. We decided this might really be it and we turned around for home.
The contractions continued at home and we practiced some breathing exercises and relaxation techniques from the Hypnobirthing book that I read. We also called the hospital. Since we were planning on a natural birth, they told us we could stay home for awhile where I would be comfortable, but to continue checking in throughout the evening. Well the contractions definitely kept up, so we were finally told to come into the hospital around 9:00 pm.
When they checked me, they saw that the contractions were indeed strong and close together (2 minutes apart at this point). However, I was only slightly more effaced and still 3 cm. The doctor recommended another walk so she sent us on our way where we walked around the hospital, doing plenty of stairs for the next two hours. At 1:00 am, we were back to be checked again. I had progressed to 4 cm, but the midwife said it looked like it would be a while still. Since I wanted to try and have the baby naturally, she suggested going home to labor, rather than checking into the hospital.
So, home we went and I continued contracting 2-3 minutes apart throughout the night. The next morning I woke up from an hour of sleep and the contractions had lightened up a little bit. We decided to go for another walk around the reservoir, and again my contractions picked up.
They stayed strong and close together so we decided to head back to the hospital at 2:00 pm on Tuesday afternoon. Another check showed that I was still only at 4 cm and nothing had changed. I started crying, since I had been in labor for almost 24 hours with nothing to show for it. The doctor assured me that the baby was on his way, just taking his time. She sent us home and suggested getting Tylenol PM so that I could get some sleep that night.
I slept for about 5 hours and when I woke up on Wednesday morning, the contractions were much farther apart- about 5 - 10 minutes. Frustrated, we did more walking. We actually ended up walking 13 miles from the time that I went into labor Monday afternoon. Wednesday was a quiet day and we went to bed feeling like baby would never come.
Thursday morning I woke up with mild contractions and was sure we wouldn't be seeing any baby action that day. However, shortly after I woke up I was resting in bed and I thought that my water broke! We were in shock and thought maybe this was finally it! We called the hospital yet again and they told us to come in and get checked.
We went in and they did another check and said that it was inconclusive as to whether my water had actually broken or not. They sent us walking again and told us to come back in 2 hours for another check. We had a feeling we would be going home empty-handed yet again, so we half-heartedly did some more walking.
When we got back to Labor and Delivery, a doctor did another exam. He determined that I had progressed to 4 1/2 cm but he still wasn't sure about the water. However, he decided that we should be admitted. Nick and I were in shock; we couldn't believe that the time had actually come - we were going to have our baby!
I got admitted around 4:00 pm and they cautioned me that if my labor didn't progress after awhile they would have to start me on a Pitocin drip to get things moving. Both my parents and Nick's parents stopped by and everyone was excited about Teeny-Tiny's eminent arrival. At 6:00 they checked me again and decided that we did need to start the Pitocin.
They started me on the drip and strapped me to the monitors. Since I was planning on using natural methods to alleviate pain, I was disappointed not to be able to leave bed or walk around more than a couple feet. However, Nick and I were breathing through each contraction and it seemed manageable.
My mom and sister stopped by around 9:00 pm and stayed until 10:30. At 10:30, the midwife did another check and saw that I had only progressed to 5 cm. They increased the level of Pitocin. I was having really strong contractions every 60 - 90 seconds and they were lasting 90 seconds to 2 minutes long. Things were getting harder and harder. My contractions were on the level of the "transition stage" and I could barely breath through them. I was hurting so much at this point, I felt consumed by the pain and unable to think about anything else. Nick kept trying to talk me through them, but I no longer could focus on breathing or relaxing. The midwife was supposed to come back and check me at 12:30 but no one showed up until 2 am. This was when Nick took a quick break from my side to go ask why no one had come to check me since 10:30.
At this point I was exhausted and begging for it to stop. From the onset of this pregnancy, Nick and I had decided we wanted to do this naturally, with no epidural or medical interventions. The Pitocin was already a concession that we hadn't planned on. However, when I was checked at 2 am, I was still at 5 cm! I felt like I lost hope at this point that I could get through this. I was in so much pain and it still hadn't changed anything. The midwife, Julie, who was the nicest person we met during our hospital stay said,
"I'm going to be very blunt with you. You aren't progressing and you've been doing this for 4 days now. You're exhausted and unfortunately we are going to have to increase the Pitocin level if we want to see any progress. I know you want to do this naturally and I know that you can, but I think that you should get an epidural. If you keep laboring this hard for who-knows-how-long, you won't have energy to push or to take care of your baby when he's finally here."
I agreed to the epidural and they turned off the Pitocin so that I could be slightly more comfortable. I expected to wait an hour to get the epidural, but Julie pulled some strings and the anesthesiologist was in my room within 10 minutes. After getting the epidural, I began to feel relief immediately and I could focus on something other than the pain. Julie wanted Nick and I to try and rest so she turned off the lights and told us that she would check again in a couple hours. The nurse turned the Pitocin on again to it's lowest level.
Nick fell right to sleep, but I laid in bed half awake. I could feel pressure every time I had a contraction and while it was nothing compared to my earlier pain, it was too uncomfortable for me to sleep. At 5 am I woke Nick up and told him that I felt like I needed to push. He called the nurse right away, who brought the midwife with her. They checked me and said the reason I feel like pushing was because my water hadn't actually broken before, but it was right there ready to come out ahead of baby. So they broke the bag and told me to call them when I felt ready. About 15 minutes later I was still feeling so much pressure that I told Nick again I really needed to push. He called the nurse who told me I was ready to go. Since I was on a light epidural, I could still feel my legs and the muscles that I needed to use to push the baby out. She gave me a few pointers on how to push and at 5:25 we got started. After just 30 minutes of pushing, which flew by, my sweet baby was born.
They laid our perfect baby boy on my chest and of course I started crying like crazy; I couldn't believe after 39 weeks and 5 hard days he was actually here! The next hour the nurses were busy all around us in the room but it didn't matter- Nick and I were oblivious to everything and only had eyes for our sweet baby boy. I was able to nurse him right away and we spent his first hour of life, just the 3 of us in that hospital bed.
It was a crazy, hard, wonderful experience and nothing like I imagined. I hadn't planned on getting that epidural, but it was obviously what was needed in this situation. I feel so blessed that I was about to safely bring Hayden into the world and that our sweet boy is so healthy.