I kind of expected the baby to be late because most people I knew were late with their first babies.
About ten days before my due date, I started to feel a bit uncomfortable. I thought that perhaps I was having contractions, but they weren’t painful so I didn’t really think this could be labour. It was a Friday night and it was bothering me enough that I couldn’t sleep, so I grabbed my iPhone (with my trusty contraction timer app) and hit the couch. The contractions were all over the place in terms of length and time apart, so there wasn’t really any way for me to tell what the heck was going on. All I knew is that I felt pretty uncomfortable. By around 5:00 a.m. everything had settled down and I was able to go back to bed. I felt totally fine and normal for the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday.
Late Sunday afternoon, the weird, uncomfortable feelings started again. This time it only lasted for a couple of hours. And again, no consistent length of contraction or time apart. It stopped before bedtime, so I kind of figured this was some sort of pre-labour and I went off to bed.
It was Monday morning, exactly one week before my due date, and I was lounging in bed at 8:30 a.m. All of a sudden I heard a pop and felt a gush. Yep, that was definitely my water breaking! I hopped (or more accurately, rolled) out of bed and waddled to the bathroom, in search of those giant maxi pads I had been warned to buy for after the birth.
There was a LOT of fluid. It kept coming out, which kind of surprised me (and grossed me out a bit).
I called D, who was at work and not answering his phone. I left him a message and sent him a text. “No rush,” I said. I was sure that this would take hours. Dr. P had told me to come into the hospital when my contractions were about 4 minutes apart or if it had been 12 hours since my water broke. Well, I wasn’t having contractions at all and my water had just broken so I had TONS of time.
I hopped in the shower to wash my hair and shave my legs. Holy crap. The contractions started. Wow, that hurts. I got out of the shower as quickly as possible. I could barely get dressed. There was no way I could dry my hair, even though it was January and freezing out. This was awful. I reached for the iPhone (and my contraction timer app) again. The contractions ranged from 3-5 minutes apart, lasting for about a minute each. Holy crap! How did this happen?
D arrived home to find me curled up in a ball on the bed – hair dripping wet. As soon as he saw me, I’m pretty sure he knew that we needed to go to the hospital right away. He threw our stuff in the car and helped me down the stairs. Luckily, the hospital is only about 3 minutes away from our house because that drive was brutal. Every bump in the road and every pothole felt like a knife stabbing through me.
At the hospital
We parked the car and waited for a contraction to pass before walking into the hospital. It was mid-morning on a Monday so it was pretty busy there. We made it to the elevators before another contraction hit. I had to sit down. I looked around and the only place to sit was an empty wheelchair that was sitting beside the volunteer desk. An older woman was working at the desk. I waddled over and plopped myself down, totally in my own bubble of pain. The volunteer woman tried talking to me but I think I ignored her. When the contraction passed I tried to stand up to get on the elevator. But there was no way. I couldn’t make it there. So, embarrassingly, I was that pregnant woman who was wheeled up to triage in a wheelchair.
I kind of think the nurses in triage thought I was being a drama queen because they sure didn’t rush to take me in and examine me. When I was finally checked, they realized that I wasn’t making this up. I was 8-9 cm dilated! After that, I was pretty much thrown back into the wheelchair and rushed down the hall to my labour and delivery room. The next little while was a bit of a blur as they changed me into a gown, put in my IV and gave me my epidural. I had been absolutely terrified of the IV and epidural (I have a major aversion to needles) but since the pain of the contractions was so distracting, I barely remember any of it.
As luck would have it, Dr. P was on call that day. Knowing that it is a huge hospital and there are many OBs, I never really expected that he would be the one to deliver my baby. It was definitely comforting to see someone I knew. When Dr. P hear how far my labour had progressed, he told me that I had arrived at the hospital during what most women find to be the hardest part – transition. I felt amazed that I had survived that part of labour and was feeling pretty great now that the epidural had kicked in.
Dr. P checked the baby’s position and said he was still a bit high. We needed to let him drop lower before I could start pushing. At this point, all we could do is sit and wait. I couldn’t get out of bed, so we just kind of hung out. The epidural was working amazingly well, so I only knew about my contractions because we could follow them on the monitor.
Around 3:00 p.m., they decided I was ready to start pushing. We had a team from the NICU on standby to check the baby’s heart as soon as he was born. We also had our amazing nurse, who had spent most of the day with us. Dr. P came in when he was finished doing a c-section and we got to work.
Turns out pushing is really hard! They had to turn down my epidural a bit so that I could feel the tightening of my contractions and I would know when to push. I remember trying so hard to push properly, but I really just felt like I was going to push my brains right out my ears.
After two exhausting hours of pushing, everyone could see the baby’s head. But after each contraction, the head would disappear again. Dr. P asked if I wanted to reach down and feel it. I must have had a look of horror on my face when I said no, because he kind of looked like I insulted him. All I knew was that the last thing I needed at this moment was to faint because of my squeamishness. Let’s just get this thing done!
I was worried that they weren’t going to let me push for much longer (I vaguely recalled the nurse saying something about only letting first time mothers push for about 2 hours) but I felt like it would be unfair to be forced to have a c-section after all my hard work.
Finally, at 5:30 p.m. – nine hours after my water broke – I managed to get the little guy out. The next few moments are a bit of blur and this is where I wish I had written things down right away. I know that he wasn’t crying right away, so they whisked him over to the side to do some suctioning and get him breathing properly. D tells me that he cut the cord, although I definitely don’t remember that part. The team worked on the baby for a while but then all was declared fine. I remember asking, “is it still a boy?” Turns out no one announces the baby’s gender when it’s born. They confirmed that it was, in fact, a boy. We had a son! We were so happy that our Littleman was finally here and healthy!
Our big Littleman!
One of the first reactions that the doctors and nurses had when Littleman came out was about his size. I guess he looked massive to everyone. I still hadn’t seen him at this point, so I took their word for it. Once his heart was checked out and he was all cleaned up, they weighed him. 9 lbs 5 oz!! What a little chunky monkey!
While Littleman was being tended to, Dr. P was still down between my legs finishing up the work. I had torn during the birth so he started to stitch me up. Argh! The epidural had worn off and I could feel everything! He tried using some lidocaine but it did not work AT ALL. He had to call back the anesthesiologist, which took a bit of time, but finally I was all sorted out.
It was so amazing to finally hold our Littleman in our arms. After all those months of being pregnant, of worrying about his heart, of waiting for him to arrive, he was finally here with us. We were so excited (and nervous) to start our new life as a family of three!