It was February 19, 2011 and I was 38 weeks 3 days pregnant. I woke up that morning at 6:30am with contractions that were semi-regular, but only about 7-10 minutes apart. I really didn't think anything about it, even though some of them were fairly painful. Up to this point in the pregnancy, I had not had a single contraction (not even Braxton Hicks), so I assumed that this was nothing - just my body starting to prep for the labor process. Plus I was only 38 weeks and I had been assured by everyone in the world that there was no way he would arrive before I was at least 41 weeks (yay for encouragement, right?)
I couldn't seem to get settled once the contractions woke me up that morning, so I got up and started trying to be productive. It was a Saturday and Andrew was home, but I just let him sleep, figuring there was no reason to get him excited yet. I gathered up the camera batteries and my ipod and spent a little time clearing my memory cards, just in case it turned into something. All of these were things on my list to do before his birth anyway, I thought I should just go ahead and get organized even if it wasn't an immediate need.
I also started packing our hospital bags. (note to self. pack them sooner. always.) Lincoln's was easy to fill with way more things than he would actually need. Mine, of course, was just sitting on the living room chair and I would throw things in as I thought of them. (not a good packing method)
Around 1pm, I took a shower. I had a couple of contractions while in the shower that forced me to stop and breathe through them. That was when I thought...wow, maybe this could be it! But when I got out of the shower - the contractions slowed to one maybe every twenty minutes. I was bummed. I assumed it had to be just a false alarm and started working on the nursery organization project (Lincoln's dresser had finally arrived the night before), resigning myself to be pregnant for a few more weeks.
At about 3pm, the contractions picked up a little bit again, but it wasn't anything different or more intense. Since I had just had two hours of basically nothing, I didn't think anything of it. Andrew was helping in the nursery by this point, and we started to make a list of things to return to Target, and what items we still needed to purchase to complete our baby registry. I wanted to go out and do something, after waiting around all day to no avail.
I was lying on the nursery floor organizing Lincoln's tiny shoes at about 4:40pm when I had a contraction that felt weird - a little bit stronger than most and with a strange popping sound/feeling. I still didn't think anything of it! But when I stood up - whoa. That was my water breaking!
Suddenly we were in a crazy flurry of activity, as we looked at each other and said "um...we're having a baby today!" I started rushing to get the rest of my things packed - which is a lot more difficult to do when you are gushing fluid. At that point, I was pretty much just throwing random things into my bag.
I called my OB - he was out of town, so I talked to his partner. I was told I likely had 12-16 hours of labor ahead, if my water had indeed broken. Believe me, it had. He said I could go ahead and come to the hospital, so we layered the passenger seat with towels and headed off. The hospital was about 25 minutes away and my contractions became a lot stronger during the drive. They were about every four minutes apart and I was having trouble sitting still. It was about this time that Andrew accidentally took the wrong exit and added another ten minutes to our trip. Whoops!
We arrived at the hospital at 5:50pm and got signed in, then I was transported by wheelchair up to the L&D unit. When I arrived at my room, the nurse looked at my literally soaking wet jeans and said "I think we can skip the test to see if your water has broken." She checked and we were all surprised to find that I was already dilated to 4-5!
We had let our parents know that we were on the way to the hospital, and about this time Andrew's mom and dad arrived. We hadn't expected to have any promising news by this point, but since it appeared things were moving fast, we called my parents and told them they might want to head that way as well.
My nurse came back in after about 30 minutes and looked at the contractions on the monitor. She mentioned that they looked a little stronger and asked if I had noticed a difference. I hadn't really seen a big increase but said maybe. She checked me again and I was at 7. She immediately sent someone to page the doctor because obviously I was not going to be in labor for 12-16 hours! The contractions began intensifying and I started freaking out because I had not yet had an epidural. My entire "birth plan" was: Go to Hospital. Have Epidural. Have Baby. So I started asking when they could get that underway. We waited what seemed like forever as they had to run some labs and had managed to lose the epidural consent form I signed during our hospital tour. By the time the anesthesiologist got to my room, I was dilated to 9, in a lot of pain, and very much becoming out of control. I had not even given thought to giving birth without meds, and I was not handling transition well as a result.
Finally they put the epidural in - it was so difficult to be still through the back-to-back contractions! It didn't seem to take at first and I was pretty upset. Finally though, I began to feel some relief and started breathing normally again as the pain subsided. My nurse told me at that point that if I hadn't had the epi, Lincoln probably would have arrived within twenty minutes. It probably wouldn't have done any good, but I wish she would have told me that before!
In the moment, I was totally fine with the fact that the epidural slowed my contractions from constant to every 4-5 minutes. I was so relieved that the pain was gone! Since I had been basically fully dilated when they finally got my epi in, I was able to start pushing as soon as the drugs had kicked in. It was slow-going, however, since the labor had slowed so much with the medicine. I pushed for about an hour before the OB came in and told me that he felt we should do a vacuum delivery and that he was going to perform an episiotomy.
I had not done much research on any of these things, so I just assumed that these were things that were necessary, said "okay" and the flurry of activity began as everyone was prepping for baby's arrival. I was shocked at how many nurses and assistants came into the room just before delivery! With the aid of the vacuum, Lincoln was born after just three more contractions. I didn't have any pain with the contractions, but the pressure was still pretty incredible even with the medication.
Lincoln James entered the world at 9:27pm on February 19, 2011. He weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces and was 20 inches long. He was born with very chubby cheeks and the saddest little wailing cry I had ever heard! His hands and feet were so big - lots of people commented on this in the first few days of his life. Andrew was snapping photos constantly as the teams of nurses started cleaning up Lincoln and taking care of me.
|Meeting Mommy for the first time!|
I couldn't believe how beautiful he was - and that he was mine! Such an amazing feeling.
Once both of us were all taken care of, Andrew brought in all of the proud grandparents to meet the little man! Everyone was smitten at first sight.
|First family photo!|
After the grandparents had each had a chance to hold him for a few minutes, we were left alone and I was able to try nursing for the first time. A lactation consultant was there to watch me - I don't honestly remember much about this experience but I seem to remember that Lincoln did pretty well for his first time nursing.
Lincoln had been born late Saturday evening, so we were in the hospital until Monday afternoon (President's Day). It was tough to get any rest between the new little boy who wasn't sure about being out here in the world and all of the checking of vitals throughout the day and night. We were pretty exhausted by the time we were finally cleared to go home.
It wouldn't be until several weeks/months later that I would think back on my hospital birth experience and wonder about some of the choices that I had made, or that had been made for me. At the time of his birth, however, I was fine with the whole process and just so thrilled that my little boy had arrived safe and sound!
It was bright and sunny outside when we left the hospital. We were so very excited to take Lincoln home with us and start a brand new adventure as a family of three!