Once I hit full term in my first pregnancy, I was mentally ready to deliver this baby. We had just hired my interim replacement at work, so pretty much the day she arrived, I felt like it was okay for me to “go.” I had been having minor contractions on and off in the night during weeks 37 and 38 but nothing serious or lasting more than 30 seconds.
I tried every trick I could find on the Internet: I drank Earth Mama Angel Baby Third Trimester Tea. I put Evening Primrose Oil capsules up my hoohah when I went to sleep at night. I massaged my own nipples (and even tried out the breast pump on them). I ate Mexican food. I walked for miles. With my husband working out of town during the week, sex wasn’t a possibility, so I… took care of that task myself. I helped my cousin stain her hardwood floors on my hands and knees. I purposely sought out bumpy roads to drive on. I went strawberry picking.
The night before I gave birth (at 39 weeks, exactly one week before my due date), I worked late and then took a long walk with my dog around 7pm. At 3:15am, I awoke for my regular pee break, but when I perched on the toilet, I felt a little leakage before I actually peed. When I crawled back into bed, I felt a little more leakage. Part of me thought it could have been my water breaking; the other part thought I probably just peed myself and figured I’d wait it out.
The contractions started to come. Minor. Lasting about 45-60 seconds. About six minutes apart. I was tracking the contractions in my iPhone app and decided, if this is going to be the real thing, I was going to go ahead and shower and get myself ready.
Around 4:30am, I went to the guest bedroom to wake my mom, who was staying with me while my husband was working out of town. We decided that I should call the doctor. I told him I was pretty sure my water “broke a little.” Because I had a special circumstance with my placenta and umbilical cord, a velamentous cord insertion (VCI), he advised me to come on into the hospital. At this point, my biggest concern was getting to the hospital only to be sent home; I was really hoping my water had broken and it wasn’t just in my head. I called my husband and told him to start the 3-hour drive home to the hospital and that I would call him and tell him to turn around if it was a false alarm.
During the 5-minute ride to the hospital, my contractions got somewhat stronger and closer together, but they were nothing beyond some mild discomfort. We arrived at the Emergency Department at 5:35am and I was wheeled up to Labor and Delivery to be examined.
The nurse used a large Q-tip with solution on it that would turn blue if amniotic fluid was detected. When she swabbed, the Q-tip just barely turned blue, so she wanted to use her (gloved) finger to examine. WOOSH. If my water wasn’t broken before, it certainly was now. At this point, I was 1 cm dilated and “thick,” but I was officially in labor. I was admitted, called my husband to tell him “all systems go,” and made my way to my delivery room.
Then all hell broke loose. Within 10 minutes of my water breaking, I was writhing in pain on my hospital bed, back arched Exorcist-style. The pain was searing; I didn’t know what to do with my body. The contractions came in waves, less than 2-minutes apart.
The next two hours are a bit hazy because I think I literally blacked out from pain several times. What I recall is this: because I came in at only 1 cm dilated, the nurse suggested I hold off on the epidural for a bit and try walking, which consisted of me stopping every five steps to double over in pain and clutch the railing on the wall. I tried the big bouncy ball, only to end up tossing it across the room and lie screeching on the floor in the fetal position.
When it came to the epidural, my husband and I agreed that we would just see how things went with my labor. I didn’t have a birth plan, other than for all of us to get out of there alive (my husband included). I consider myself to have a high threshold for pain and to be a pretty tough cookie. The fact that I was begging for mercy within the first hour of my labor had thrown me for a real loop.
When the nurse came back to my room and found me splayed on the floor, red-faced, wild-haired and moaning like a feral cat, she agreed that it looked like I could use the epidural. After helping me into bed and examining my progress, she determined that I had gone from 1 to 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced in one hour, which apparently is pretty fast. I felt a little vindicated hearing that.
At that point, the anesthesiologist came in and became my new favorite person. Just the idea that the epidural would be kicking in soon got me through the last couple contractions. And then the nirvana washed over me. Luckily for him, my husband arrived just after I received the epidural (probably lucky for our marriage as well). I settled into bed, checked into the hospital on Foursquare to announce to my social network that this was happening, and the waiting game began.
Then I took to Twitter for (maybe?) one of the first-ever labor live tweets (spoiler alert: there may or may not be a video of me high on epidural and dancing to Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It” in there):