It's 1:30am on March 12th. I had just fallen asleep when I feel a huge gush of warm liquid flow out of me. My water breaks... in bed!!! ... two weeks early. I stop feeling baby moving so we go to the hospital to get checked (2:30am). Thankfully, baby boy's heartbeat is strong. I'm held in triage for what feels like forever because according to their tests, there is no amniotic fluid so my water did not break. (I'm telling them it definitely did because the bed is soaked and I know it wasn't pee.) After more monitoring and poking around, the nurse decides my water DID break and they need to admit me right away per hospital policy.
My early labor starts around this time and it's 4-1-1. I have a contraction every four minutes lasting one minute each for one hour. Each feels like a bad period cramp and I'm buckled over. Pain level 2/10. I'm thinking, this baby could come soon!
Now, everything I've learned in my prenatal classes and read in birthing books say to stay home (or go home in my case) during early labor because you want to be comfortable and it could take a while. But fears of "what ifs" creep in and we decide to be extra cautious. We follow hospital protocol and agree to be admitted.
It's about 7am when we're assigned a labor and delivery room. I have my own bathroom! Hooray! This is a big deal because I'm going constantly! And amniotic fluid gushes out with every contraction. (Things the internet don't tell you!)
I have been hooked to an electronic fetal monitor to track baby's heartbeat since 2:30am. Therefore, I'm limited to the length of the wires, a 2 ft radius. Not ideal and definitely not comfortable. And I have a blood pressure cuff that constructs my arm to numbness every 15 minutes. The band around my belly for the monitor keeps rolling up so I'm constantly readjusting. Should've gone home.
Because of all this, I'm not surprised when my labor stalls. Instead of 4 minutes apart, my contractions slow to 17 minutes apart now.
Around 1pm, the doctor on call checks in and strongly suggests I get an induction. I immediately tense up. But I'm able to ask for a couple more hours to labor on my own. I start labor inducing exercises and frantically texts a doula friend for support. It's been 12 hours since my water broke and 18 hours since I last ate. My nurse reminds me that I absolutely cannot eat. The doula and all my education says NOW is the time to fuel up and eat. And I'm starving, so I sneak a chicken strip and some fries from Richard's lunch. I down a couple of jello cups and some ambiguous hospital soup.
Every couple of hours, I'm strongly recommended by the doctor to get induced. I feel rushed, unheard, and guilty for "not doing the right thing". My contractions completely go away.
At 8:30pm, I agree to try an enema to naturally induce labor.
By 9pm, I give in and am put on Pitocin to strengthen contractions. The funny thing with Pitocin is that the dosage is manually increased every half an hour so your contractions get more intense. Knowing you're going to get incrementally stronger punches in the gut is much scarier than randomly getting punched in the gut. Richard is great at helping me manage my rising anxiety and calms me with a combination of massages, distraction, and affirmations. Pain level 8/10.
After two hours of intense active labor, I'm in so much distress I ask for the epidural (11pm). I'm deeply appreciative of the pain and extreme emotions experienced during these two hours and don't wish to have changed the timing of this decision. The epidural let me (and Richard) rest for a couple of sweet hours. The epidural doesn't eliminate the pain but it is manageable and I do breathing exercises with each contraction. Pain level 4/10.
Around 5am, I feel a strong urge to push with every contraction so we begin pushing. The doctor is so busy she's in and out of our room tending to other women. I actually prefer the times Richard and I are on our own to push with no distractions. I'm so exhausted I fall completely dead asleep in between each contraction which is now 3 minutes apart.
By 8:00am, Charley is crowning. I reach down and feel his warm, squishy, wet head with my fingers. It's the weirdest and craziest sensation. The doctors and nurses change shifts and the second doctor brings refreshing positive energy. In three more contractions, I push Charley out!
I hear the doctor ask Richard to cut the umbilical cord. Blood sprays everywhere. Baby is brought to the warmer where the pediatrician examines him. I eventually get skin to skin with Charley and I'm in shock/awe and genuinely mystified. I can't believe he's here! I can't believe I have a baby. I can't believe I'm a mom. I can't believe we're parents.