Let’s start with the morning of Friday April 6th – I had my weekly appointment with my midwife and had been 2 centimeters dilated and 60% effaced for the second appointment in a row. I’ll be honest, I left that appointment feeling upset that I hadn’t progressed at all because I was 39 weeks pregnant, very uncomfortable, and ready to have a baby. So not being any closer to labor (so I thought) was definitely disappointing to me.
Little did I know I had nothing to worry about, because that evening at 5:05 pm I had just taken a warm bath to relax, stepped out of the bathtub and was standing in the bathroom drying off when some fluid ran down my legs and onto the floor. It wasn’t a huge gush, probably only about a cup (max) of fluid if I had to give it a measurement. I sat on the toilet for a minute to see if anything else came out. Though nothing did, when I wiped there was a good bit of mucus with a tinge of blood. Considering it isn’t normal for me to just pee myself, my immediate thought was that my water had broken. I quickly called my husband, Grant, who was about 45 minutes away in a class and said “I think my water just broke”. He asked me if I was sure, and I really wasn’t, but I explained to him that I also really didn’t believe that I had peed.
He said “Okay, I’m coming home”. I told him not to rush because I wasn’t even having contractions yet so he had time. Meanwhile I called the on call midwife at the hospital and explained to her what happened. Talking to her made me feel even more doubtful and unsure of what was going on because of her response. She asked if the fluid was continuing to leak, and I responded that no, it was not continuing to leak yet. Her thought was that water may have been trapped in my vagina from the bath and just came out when I stood up. About the mucus plug, she asked if I had a cervical check recently, and when I said “yes, this morning actually”, she said that’s probably why the mucus plug came out. So I was completely discouraged to believe that my water had actually broken, yet still really thought it had. Not long after, my husband arrived home. We talked about it and decided to just wait a little while and see what happens. About an hour and a half later I decided I would like to go to the hospital to get checked. I was nervous to risk the embarrassment of them telling me no you just peed yourself, but my husband fully supported my decision and said so what if that is the case, and agreed we should go get checked. At about that time I started to have some consistent lower back pain.
I suggested we take our hospital bags just in case. While packing our bags into the car I started to have contractions, plus I had leaked a little more fluid once again, so I knew it was the real thing! The contractions started off very mild which allowed the trip to the hospital to be pretty smooth. When we got to the hospital we were sent to triage to get checked. I was hooked up to the monitors and they continued to monitor me for about an hour. We saw there were definitely contractions going on, and by the end of that hour the midwife checked my cervix and said I was 4 cm dilated. They did the swab to check for amniotic fluid and the result was that my water had indeed broken and we were there to stay. That was a surreal moment to know we wouldn’t be returning home without our baby. We were very happy and excited and called our parents to let them know we were in labor!
We got settled in to our Labor and Delivery (L&D) room at about 10:30 pm. I was going to use the restroom, stopped in the bathroom and asked Grant to help me tie my gown in the back, when all of a sudden a ginormous gush of fluid poured onto the floor. My poor husband was standing right behind me and was in the splash zone. We still talk about how we can’t believe that much fluid was in there. Grant helped me shower off my legs and the nurse set me up with towels and bed pads folded up and stuck into mesh underwear like a huge diaper. NOW the fluid continued to leak throughout labor. The midwife explained that I probably had a small tear in the amniotic sac which caused only a small amount to leak, up until the big gush at the hospital.
[Advice: Follow your instincts if you find yourself in a similar situation. There’s no cookie cutter way for labor to begin, as I experienced, and I’m glad we decided to go to the hospital. Yes, I could have kept waiting at home, and the contractions followed by the large gush would have obviously signaled that I was definitely in labor, but there was no harm in going to get checked. Plus, I didn’t have the mess of the amniotic fluid to clean up at my house or even in our car ;)]
After my water had completely broken, labor started to progress more and the contractions started to get stronger. For the next few hours we mainly hung out in the L&D room, had some visitors, and walked around the halls to help progress labor.
At about 2am the contractions had gotten very strong and I decided I was ready for the epidural. My goal was to labor naturally for as long as I could, and I felt that I had gotten to that point and I was proud of what I did. Although they did not check my cervix, the nurse believed I was about 6-7 cm dilated at that time.
The epidural was not bad for me – I had always heard women say how terrible it was and how much it hurt, but it really wasn’t all that bad in my opinion. It wasn’t any worse pain than the contractions and back pain I was having! What I remember most about the epidural was the stinging shocks that ran down my legs. It was such a weird and slightly painful sensation, and it made my legs flinch. The needle was not bad and I did not have any negative side effects that I’ve heard can happen such as nausea, itching, or fever. My epidural experience was overall a good one and it was definitely nice to have to help with pain. I would say the only somewhat negative effects were that you can’t get up and move around after receiving it, which kind of stinks, and that it seemed to have slowed my labor.
I was checked at 4:30 am and I was 7cm dilated. Since things were slowing and my contractions were not getting any closer together, they decided to start Pitocin (a drug that helps your uterus contract) at 4:45 am. Not much happened over the next few hours… well, just about all day (which was now Saturday April 7th). At approximately 3:30-3:45 pm I was 9.5 cm dilated and we were finally able to start pushing. My cervix wouldn’t fully soften/dilate so the midwife had to help assist open my cervix while I pushed. Pushing went on for about two and a half hours before obtaining intervention. During those two and a half hours, Wyatt would come down a little then stall for a while and things just weren’t progressing. My epidural had worn off a little bit and I was feeling a lot of the pain. The midwife preferred it this way just because it’s easier to feel the contractions and pushes when you aren’t completely numb. However when needed, she did tell me to go ahead and press the button to give myself more of the medicine. My sweet husband was following my commands of fanning me and feeding me ice chips lol. I was getting exhausted and was losing momentum with my pushes. I was getting upset and was in a lot of pain, and I just kept saying “I can’t do this anymore”. My midwife finally said to me “what’s your other option?”, she and I both knowing the only other way to get the baby out without pushing was to have a C-section. So at that point I asked about another option such as using forceps or a vacuum. She responded that they don’t really use forceps anymore, but that the vacuum was an option if I could just push a little longer to get his head down far enough in order for the vacuum to even be used. So I did what I had to do and kept pushing until we were at that point for the possibility of a vacuum assistance. Once we were ready, the doctor came in with the vacuum, and following her were a couple more nurses and a team of nurses and doctors from the NICU. Apparently it is protocol at our hospital to have NICU in the room when a vacuum assistance is performed. There were probably about 10 people in the room for the birth, and when they all came into the room like a SWAT team and prepped into their smocks and gloves, I knew we were about to have a baby! When the vacuum was ready to go, I gave it all I had in me and all it took was a few strong hard pushes and our little guy was here! He arrived at 6:29 pm, weighing in at 8lbs 3oz and 20” long.
Labor was a total of 25 hours from the initial water break to baby Wyatt being born. I pushed for a total of about 3 hours. I did have to get an episiotomy (a surgical cut made at the opening of the vagina to aid a difficult delivery and prevent rupture of tissues) because I was starting to tear and they said cutting gives a cleaner line. It was a 4th degree… all the way through… Ouch.
I had a difficult labor, to say the least. Yet I’m still able to reflect upon the experience and remember what an amazing and special day it was. The biggest difficulty of labor for me was the back labor I experienced. Wyatt was ‘sunny side up’, or more formally called occiput posterior, which is when the baby is facing forward towards the abdomen instead of to the back. The baby being positioned this way can cause ‘back labor’ (essentially back pain during labor) due to the baby’s head putting pressure on the spine. The hardest part for me about having back labor was that I was constantly in pain, not just during the contractions, yet more intense during contractions. After doing some research after my labor experience, I found that back labor ‘can often be accompanied by an irregular contraction pattern, a labor that is slow to progress, and a prolonged pushing stage’ – all things that I experienced. I do wonder how my labor could have been different had he been positioned the “correct” way. Would it have been less grueling and painful? Would I have been able to enjoy it more? Could I have done it without the epidural? All questions I will never know the answer to. We will see what happens with the next baby!