In the days leading up to the evening I went into labour, I had been suffering from some nasty pre-labour contractions in the wee hours of the nights. They were a consistent time apart and lasting for hours before fizzling. So when I felt my first contraction around dinner time the night before Oliver was born, I was understandably skeptical that it would go anywhere.
For about an hour the contractions were fairly mild, about 10-15 min apart. Once we got Molly to bed, I was feeling quite achy and decided to take a bath. While in there I felt something leak out of me during a contraction…
“Um, either my water just broke or I peed…” I said to A.
I got out of the tub to find out. No more leaking. False alarm. It appeared I had peed. Never mind that I had peed, in the toilet I might add, before getting in the bath. Pregnancy is so glam 🙂
We made our way downstairs to watch some TV and I started timing my contractions. At 8pm they were about 10-15 min apart still but starting to get stronger in intensity. I headed up to bed at 9:30, hoping to sleep, just in case, but they started getting stronger and closer together as soon as I laid down. For the next few hours I timed them, noticing them get closer together and feeling them get stronger, to the point where I had to focus on breathing through them.
I think it was around 1am where the average for an hour was 4.5 minutes apart, 1 min in duration. We decided to go to the hospital and I put in the call to my mom to come watch Molly.
It felt weird to make the decision to go to L&D. With Molly, there was no question as to whether to go in, since my water broke at home and it wasn’t clear (she passed meconium in the womb). But having had false labour the previous two nights, regardless of the fact that my contractions never got as close together or as intense as I was having them at that moment, I was worried this was another false alarm and we would be sent home. Still, I was conscious of the fact that second labours tend to progress faster than your first and I had gone from having contractions 10 min apart to sometimes 2-3 min apart in a matter of just over an hour. Birthing at home was not part of the plan and so to the hospital we would go!
My mom arrived at 1:30 and we packed up the car and headed out, making sure to stop at Tim Hortons for coffee and a snack on our way. By 2:30 am we were in triage listening to the baby’s heart rate as they monitored my contractions. After a half hour or so the doctor on call came in to do a cervical check, my first of the entire pregnancy. I was expecting to hear that I was only 1 cm, blah blah, go home, blah blah blah but was shocked when I heard her say I was 4 cm and that it looks like I would be admitted. I was definitely in labour! The only drawback: baby’s head was still quite high. But there was time to work on that.
The doctor did say something that gave us pause. She asked how big my first baby was. When she heard that Molly was 8 lb 12 oz, she said “oh good, you’re used to delivering big babies” Um, say what? My doctor had mentioned he was a bigger baby but said not to worry, that he was average. The way this doctor phrased things made us wonder if we should be concerned…
By 3:30am we were in our room and I was hooked up to an IV. I realized on my way to the hospital I would want an epidural. I was already exhausted and it just makes labour more pleasant. Why shouldn’t I try and enjoy it? I remember liking the pushing process with Molly and was able to focus well because I wasn’t in pain.
Once we were settled, A and I started walking the halls, hoping to encourage our little man to move down. Turns out I wasn’t a fan of walking and stopping with contractions though, so we headed back to our room so I could recline a bit and relax. I’d been uncomfortable on my feet for weeks at that point, so it made sense.
I’m quite proud of how I handled the contractions for the next hour as they got stronger. I would hold A’s hand and just focus on breathing and relaxing. The great thing about this labour was that there was a few minutes gap between them, giving me a chance to relax and recover. When I was just 3 cm with Molly they were one on top of the other without relief. This time I often felt positively grand between contractions. Still, I knew it would get worse and I was exhausted. At 5 am I asked for the epidural and by 5:30 was living the good life! I can’t say I slept (hubby did though…men!) but I dozed and was able to rest.
At 7am the day nurse came on and told me that because the baby’s head was still high (“that happens with big babies” she said…seriously, how big was this dude going to be??), my doctor had recommended an oxytocin drip. It’s purpose was to strengthen my contractions and help move the baby down. I knew the pros and cons of this drug, but the biggest issue to me was the likelihood of a c-section if he didn’t drop. I was willing to try it rather than risk a section. I have nothing against c-sections, and if I had ended up needing one I would have made that choice with no regrets, but with a toddler at home who would not even remotely understand if mommy couldn’t pick her up, I wanted to avoid it if possible. The oxytocin kicked in almost instantly and I began feeling the pressure of the more intense contractions.
At 8am I felt what was like a huge punch from the baby and a gush of fluid shot down between my legs. My water had broken! I woke A to call the nurse. A brief exam confirmed it: my membranes had ruptured. She also confirmed that I was still 4-5 cm dilated but that the baby had come down a bit. She upped the dosage of oxytocin and the next hour was a whirlwind! My contractions got stronger and a lot closer together. Little man also got finicky about what position I was in. Every couple of minutes the nurse had me turn from one side to the other when his heart rate would dip, not an easy feat when you’re partially numb. But we managed. I was given oxygen a couple of times to ensure adequate air was reaching the baby. At 9am I was feeling a lot of pressure in the bum area. Another cervical check revealed I was almost fully dilated and the oxytocin had done it’s job in encouraging our wee man to descend into the birth canal. His head was engaged! I woke A up and preparations began for delivery.
I started pushing at 9:22. At 9:30 the nurses commented that they didn’t think the doctor would make it! But a minute later he showed up. Turns out my own OB was on call. “Where’s the baby?” He joked. Funny man. He did a quick assessment and suggested an episiotomy to help things along. I consented and 30 seconds later at 9:34 am, Oliver Gregory entered the world!
Because there was question as to whether there was meconium present when my water broke, the medical staff erred on the side of caution; I didn’t get to hold him right away and instead he was taken aside to see a respiratory therapist (this happened when I delivered Molly as well). He was never out of my sight though. Once he was given the all clear, the nurses proceeded with their exams. One of them commented when he came out that he was a big boy. The respiratory therapist actually stuck around to see how much he weighed. They placed him on the scale and A was so shocked he couldn’t speak to me for a few seconds! Finally the nurse said “tell her” and he revealed our little man was in fact 10 pounds 1 ounce! Good god. I cannot believe I birthed a baby that big! No wonder I’d been so uncomfortable towards the end of my pregnancy.
I was finally able to hold him and they placed him on my chest, skin to skin. A few minutes later we started to breastfeed. He latched fairly well and we stayed that way for a bit. Peace followed. Our family was complete.
It was sometime before we got our first visitors, my parents and Molly. They came after her mid day nap, around 3:30. Their first meet could have gone better. Oliver was in the midst of having his blood sugar tested and screaming his lungs off. That scared miss Molly and it broke my heart to see her lips quiver and turn down. My poor little girl! She gradually warmed up to him, and to me being in that weird place, and by the time they left she willingly gave him a kiss, though had yet to really interact with him. Which was fine. I was patient. She’s so little and I didn’t want to push her!
We had hoped to go home the day of, but our big boy had some blood sugar issues, apparently common in larger babies. We had to stay until he passed three tests in a row. I’ll be writing a post more about how we managed to get those positive tests, since it involved a bit of a change to my preferred way of feeding.
Luckily by noon the next day his sugars were back up and despite an elevated bilirubin, we were given the go ahead to go home as long as we came in for an outpatient follow up for the jaundice.
And that friends is Oliver’s birth story. Blissfully shorter than Molly’s and with no regrets. I’m left feeling that things happened just as they should have and am confident in the choices I made throughout the process. In the long run, labour and delivery is such a tiny blip considering the years of parenting we have ahead but I’m so lucky that the birth of both my children was a positive experience for me.