After several weeks of cramping and Braxton Hicks, my actual labor began on Monday, September 24 at 2 in the morning. It was then that I was woken from sleep by what was probably my first true contraction. Through the rest of the night, I continued to have periodic contractions that would wake me from sleep. Some required deep breathing, some required me to roll onto my hands and knees to rock through them, and by 6am, I was no longer able to sleep.
I enjoyed a quiet day at home with Eva while Cecelia was at school. We made banana bread, did some laundry, took a nap and double-checked the content of my hospital bag. I was sure Monday would be the day.
As the day progressed, my contractions remained consistent, just never got close enough or strong enough to make me think it was go time. All day I prayed that they would strengthen so I could head to the hospital. But, as nighttime approached, things seemed to slow and I was feeling pretty discouraged.
Scott and I headed to bed around 11pm, but only one of us fell asleep. As soon as I laid down, my contractions picked up. At first, I tried to sleep in between thinking I was in for another night like the one before. But, I never managed to fall asleep. Instead, I rested between contractions and did all I could to relax during contractions. I bounced on my birthing ball and rocked back and forth on the toilet (don’t knock it till you try it!). I got on my hands and knees and swayed my hips from side to side. I put my Hypnobirthing deep breathing to use.
2am. A full 24 hours since early labor began, the real deal started. My contractions increased in intensity, but still remained quite far apart. The timing of the contractions made me doubt myself and I was reluctant to say it was time to head to the hospital, until I made a trip to the bathroom. After peeing for the 100th time that day, I wiped and found a small amount of blood on the toilet paper. After my experience with a placental abruption when I had Eva, I went into full panic mode. I woke Scott and told him it was time to go.
I knew the blood wasn’t even close to what I experienced with my abruption, but at my non-stress test the Saturday before, my triage nurse had scared me a bit as she tried to convince us to induce that day. One of her stipulations for letting me leave triage was that if I found any blood, I would head straight to the hospital. So, even though my contractions weren’t occurring regularly, I took the blood as a sign that we needed to go. So we went!
Scott’s dad headed our way to pick up Eva and I hopped in the shower while we waited. Eva woke up excited to go with Grandpa and Cecelia woke up excited to head to the hospital with us. I made a few more phone calls, waking my friend Diana to come to be Cecelia’s chaperone and making sure my birth photographer, Mary, was ready to go as well.
My father in law arrived to get Eva. I gave my current baby a big hug as I held back tears. Labor is such an emotional time!
The drive across town sped by, but I started to get nervous that I would get bad news about the state of my labor once we arrived at the hospital. I had very few contractions on the drive. I started to think that my “true labor” was all in my head. But there was no turning back now. Once we arrived at the hospital, I walked excitedly into the ER, ready to have a baby. I kept joking we’d have a baby by breakfast, but in reality, I was just hoping the baby would arrive by mid-afternoon. I still wasn’t truly convinced I was in the active stages of labor.
We got checked in, I was put in a wheelchair (Ugh, I would have preferred to walk!) and taken to the birthing wing of the hospital. In the triage room, the nurse hooked me up to monitors to track my contractions and baby’s heart rate. Everything looked great, but my contractions were not very close together, though they were continuing to get stronger.
The triage nurse did a test to see if the leaky feeling I had been experiencing was my water breaking. The test was positive, which was encouraging! She then checked me for dilation and I silently prayed to be dilated to at least a four. A four would mean progress had been made since my non-stress test just a few days earlier.
I about fell off the bed when the nurse announced I was at five centimeters, six when contracting, with a bulging bag of water. Apparently, my water leaking was a very slow leak. I was giddy! Maybe this was active labor after all, despite the inconsistent contractions.
I figured the hospital would be eager to break my water and hurry things along. I was so relieved when the on-call doctor from my practice suggested having me labor for a few hours before taking any steps to speed things along. I was so relieved to hear this as I had never met the on-call doctor. I was grateful that she was encouraging of allowing my body to do its thing.
Around 5am we moved to our labor and delivery room. Due to being a VBAC, I had to have continuous monitoring, so I was hooked up to a machine and opted to make myself comfy in bed. I had the option to labor on the birthing ball or even standing and moving about, but it just didn’t appeal to me. For the next 45 minutes, I laid in bed, talking between contractions then relaxing through them. Scott would rub my lower back with a racquetball during contractions to help with the back labor.
At this point, my contractions were still quite far apart, but at 6am, they changed. They felt different and I was experiencing a fair amount of pressure. Not time to push pressure, but pressure nonetheless. I asked Scott to grab our nurse so she could check me. She announced that I was dilated to seven, eight while contracting. That was just what I needed to hear. I felt optimistic that things would continue to progress somewhat quickly. I was getting more and more excited to meet our new little one.
Within minutes of the nurse leaving our room, my contractions changed yet again. Suddenly, there was no relief in between. Scott checked the screen and reported that I was contracting every 2 minutes but each contraction was lasting a minute or more. I truly was getting no relief. I started to doubt my ability to birth naturally as I was scared I would have to labor for a long time with contractions one on top of another. But I hardly had time to worry. After maybe 5 contractions, I felt the urge to push.
The room filled with people and my main nurse yelled for someone to call the doctor. And the hospital’s on-call doctor, because she didn’t think my doctor would arrive in time. At this point, it was about 6:20am and I was struggling to maintain control. I could no longer relax at all and I started to lose it a little, even crying to Scott that I should have gotten an epidural. The hallmark of labor coming to an end!
At this point, the baby’s heart rate dropped drastically, going from the 140/150 range to 60. Just 60. I was given oxygen and the on-call doctor came running in, demanding a vacuum to help get the baby out. I was told to push and Scott excitedly told me he could see the baby’s head. The doctor began to attach the vacuum and nurses instructed me to push as hard as I could. This was definitely the worst part of the entire delivery. Attaching the vacuum was the most painful part of the whole experience.
I did my best to push, but in all honesty, it felt like my efforts were quite sloppy. I had reached the point of no longer feeling in control, of feeling like my body was doing its own thing. But, apparently, it did what it needed to. After three big pushes, with the help of the vacuum on the very last one, our sweet baby boy, Turner Lionel, entered the world at 6:28am, following a big gush as my water broke all over the doctor. He arrived just 2.5 hours after we got to the hospital, and just over 4 hours after true, active labor began.
Cecelia was in the room during the birth but opted to move out of the action during the pushing stages. She and my friend Diana stood by the door until right as Turner was born, at which point Diana held Cecelia up to let her see Turner’s arrival.
Turner was immediately placed on my chest where Scott and I couldn’t stop touching him and saying over and over again that we couldn’t believe he was a boy. He was so perfect! The doctor delivered my very healthy placenta, which gave me such peace of mind. She also checked my c section scar which was also perfect.
Other than having to wait until 41 weeks 6 days to meet him, Turner’s birth was a breeze. Labor didn’t really feel like labor until maybe 20 minutes before he was born. I loved having Cecelia there, as well as Diana and my photographer Mary. Turner’s birth was truly healing after Eva’s traumatic birth. I couldn’t have asked for a better VBAC experience.
Looking for more birth stories? Check out the fast and furious arrival of our fourth baby, Lincoln Scott here!
All photos taken by Mary Kriss of Mary Kriss Photography