(Note: This is fairly detailed account of Noah’s birth. I tried not to be graphic, but if you don’t want to know the whole story, don’t read it!)
Well, it was a long time in the making, including being a week overdue and an incredibly long labor, but he’s here, and he is so worth it!
I started having contractions around noon on Saturday, April 2, after being 3 cm dilated and 75% effaced at my appointment on Friday. Dr. Bolton had stripped my membranes, so I sort of expected and hoped something would happen over the weekend.
The contractions were pretty easy at first. They were coming anywhere from 5-10 minutes apart and were mostly around 45 seconds long. I busied myself around the house, mostly finishing up some things in the nursery. Bobby headed out to finish some yardwork he wanted to get done before Noah arrived, especially since we knew we’d have family coming into town.
I was feeling pretty good and drove over to Zaxby’s to grab lunch for us. We sat and ate together, and every few minutes I’d let Bobby know I was having a contraction. It was sort of fun, the feeling that something was finally happening and that we might have a baby before the day was over.
We spent most of the afternoon sort of relaxing and resting. Bobby may kill me, but I’m totally going to bust on him. At one point, I told him I wanted to go for a walk at the Riverwalk to see if we could maybe help the contractions progress and get stronger. So I handed him the keys and went out to stand beside the car. He needed to run back in the house for something (his watch and wedding band, I think, since he hadn’t been wearing those while doing yardwork), so he did that, locked up, slammed the door shut … and realized that when he picked up his watch and ring, he had set the keys down on the counter! The only other person who had a spare key was an hour drive away and in the middle of her own wedding shower, so after sitting in the backyard a while, we finally broke down and called a locksmith. It was $50 and TOTALLY worth it.
We eventually decided to go to dinner since we knew this might be the last time we would have dinner together alone for a while. We went to Full Moon, a local BBQ place where we knew we could watch the Butler-VCU final four game while we ate. I ordered a Chicken Baker (BBQ chicken baked potato), and he had a BBQ pork plate. Things were still going fairly smoothly at dinner, but I would take a break from eating every few minutes to breathe through a contraction.
I ended up calling Dr. Bolton after dinner because I had a little unexpected bleeding, but she said she thought it wasn’t anything to worry about, so back to the house we went! Between dinner and 10 p.m., the contractions seemed to pick up a good bit and got a lot more intense, so at 10, I told Bobby I thought we should head on to the hospital.
When we got to the hospital, the nurses hooked me up to some monitors to see how often and how strong my contractions were coming, how my heart rate was and how Noah’s heart rate was. I was having a good number of contractions, but it looked like they weren’t all that strong. They checked my dilation … I was only at 3.5. I waited a few more hours, and they checked again. Still 3.5. They called Dr. Bolton, who prescribed some sleeping medicine (Restoril, I think?), and sent me home.
I can’t really describe how demoralizing having to go home was. I was in pain, and I’d already been having contractions for about 14 hours at that point. Yet it seemed I wasn’t really making much progress, if any. The Restoril was supposed to help me sleep, but I was having contractions so frequently at that point that it wasn’t doing much good. I would sleep for 3-5 minutes in between contractions, wake up for 2 minutes during the contraction, then back to sleep for a couple of minutes and repeat … from about 3 a.m. until I finally just decided to stay awake, which was maybe 8.
The contractions started picking up again once I got up and about, to the point where I couldn’t really talk or concentrate through them. We called Dr. Bolton sometime around 10 to kind of get a feel for when we should head back to the hospital, because it was obvious to us that the intensity and frequency had picked up again. I was having to vocalize (groan) through a lot of the contractions for pain management. She told us to stay at home until I felt like I absolutely HAD to go to the hospital.
At that point I hopped in the shower because I knew the warm water could help with the pain, and I also knew I wanted to shower before heading back to the hospital. I was able to lay down and rest in between some contractions that were particularly far apart, which was a HUGE relief since I’d been laboring almost 24 hours at that point (Dr. B pointed out at some point that technically contractions that weren’t causing me to dilate more would be considered pre-labor, but I consider labor to have started at noon on Saturday).
I waited it out at home until around 12:30 and managed to eat most of a bagel and about half a pack of crackers. I didn’t really feel like eating, but I knew I’d need the energy. When we got back to the hospital, it was the same as before: Hooked up to monitors, dilation checked. I told the nurse that I might cry if I was still at 3.5. She checked and rather studiously avoided telling me how dilated I was. We asked. She hesitate. “Maybe around a 4.”
The nurse left the room to call Dr. B and find out what course of action to take, and Bobby walked around to the side of the bed, where I was still having regular (and even more frequent!) contractions. I looked at him and said in what I know must have been the most pitiful way, “I can’t go back home!!”
Thankfully after a few minutes the nurse came back in and let us know we were going to be admitted. We would later find out that I technically was still at 3.5 cm when they checked me in, but they fudged a little so I wouldn’t have to go home again. That is something I am absolutely grateful for.
Dr. Bolton came in and broke my water and sat with us while I was laboring, keeping an eye on the strength and length of my contractions. She told us that I was having a LOT of frequent contractions, but they just weren’t strong enough yet to get me to where I needed to be dilation-wise. As I lay in the hospital bed, the contractions just got more and more frequent and more and more lengthy, and they were definitely more painful after my water was broken. I felt like my stomach was in constant tension, and it HURT.
After a few hours of this and several plaintive cries of, “It hurts! I just need a break, and I could handle it!” I finally looked at Dr. Bolton and asked if there was anything she could do to help. She told me she knew my plan was to go natural and that she completely respected that but that I had been laboring so long with really bad but ineffective contractions that I was getting worn out and not able to deal with the pain any more. She said while it might not normally be the case, she felt an epidural might actually help speed up the process.
I looked at Bobby, knowing that ultimately it was my decision. We had agreed before that I would only ask for an epidural if I really needed it, and I would only have to ask once. I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I want an epidural.”
Dr. Bolton and our nurse immediately took action, calling the anesthesiologist and getting me prepped with some anti-nausea medicine in case the epidural made me nauseous. Strangely, during pregnancy, I was more freaked out by the idea of having a HUGE needle in my back than I was of natural labor and birth, but it definitely did not bother me at that point. I just had to have some relief.
Once I’d asked for the epidural, the contractions until the anesthesiologist arrived (not even sure how long it took, but it sure felt like forever!) were near unbearable. I was getting louder, telling Bobby to shut up and quit touching me. Yeah, it was rough for both of us!
The anesthesiologist finally came in with the epidural, and the relief that came so quickly was freakin’ amazing. After being in a constant state of pain and tension for quite a while, just being able to lean back without my stomach clenching up was such a relief. I immediately felt more alert and was able to respond to questions, talk with Bobby and even smile and laugh. In hindsight, I do not regret deciding to get an epidural AT ALL.
Once the epidural took effect, Dr. B also started me on pitocin to make sure the epi didn’t slow down the labor process even more. Well, this was apparently pretty effective because the next time she checked, I had made it to 7 cm — a HUGE improvement. We decided we would accept visitors before I started pushing, so my mom and Meemaw (who drove up just for the birth) came in to sit with us, as well as the Hewetts, Jimenezes, Kings, Stuart and Whitworth. Dr. B checked me again around 8, just before the last of our friends trickled out, and I was at 8 cm — getting close! We said bye to Melissa, Alberto and Stuart, and not long after that, I began feeling a strong desire to push.
I mentioned it to Dr. B and described what it felt like. I think she was a little surprised, but she decided to go ahead and check me anyway. We sent Mother and Meemaw out, and when she checked I was at 9 cm and “really close.” She decided since I was feeling such a strong urge to go ahead and let me try pushing. I guess that was sometime between 8:15 and 8:30.
The pushing process was interesting. The epidural had worn off enough for me to feel when my body wanted to push, and it was just a matter of working with it to add some power at the right times. Bobby was at my right side holding one leg, and the nurse (Kasie, at this point) was on my left.
Things went really quickly once I started pushing. The pushing was a HUGE strain, but I was really determined that I was not going to be stuck in this stage for hours or end up having to get a C-section because I couldn’t push the baby out. Not sure exactly how many rounds of pushing I went through, but I distinctly remember at one point one of the nurses was dawdling a little bit and Dr. B yelled at her to hurry because the baby was already crowning.
Bobby, Kasie and Dr. Bolton did a great job of keeping me focused with my pushing. I remember hearing so many times, “Don’t push with your legs, push with your butt!” I’d heard that the motion and muscles used were similar to pooping, and this was apparently not an exaggeration!
It really wasn’t long before Dr. B said she could see his head, then I could begin to feel his head coming out. Once this happened, it was very hard to not push in between contractions, and there were some points where I really couldn’t even help it! Still, this helped me focus even more and make the most of the contractions while they were lasting. I pushed even harder and soon enough, Noah was out!
Bobby got to see his son being born, which I was so happy about, and he also got to clamp the umbilical cord. As soon as he was out, Noah let out the most beautiful cries I’ve ever heard! Unfortunately, because there had been a lot of meconium when my water was broken, the nurses had to take him immediately for shots and testing and weighing. Dr. Bolton started fussing at one of the nurses right after delivery (not sure what about, something to do with an instrument she had needed) and happened to mention that she couldn’t hold a 10-lb. baby and search for something at the same time.
Bobby and I looked at each other. Ten pounds?!
Well, as it turned out, Noah weighed 9 lbs., 5 oz. — bigger than we thought he would be! He was 21.25″, born at 9 p.m. on April 3. He had a nice bit of light brown hair and scored an 8 and 9 on his Apgars. He is so beautiful and perfect, and Bobby and I are already both totally in love!
And now what everyone really wants: