Not more than 30 minutes after the blog post last Monday, I started having contractions at 5:45 p.m. on Monday, September 20th.
Knowing that we wanted to labor at home for as long as possible, we began casually timing them and noticed that they were about 15 minutes apart for the first few hours and then progressed to 7 minutes apart by 10:00 p.m. that night.
Despite what we have heard in our Bradley class and from friends, there was no way in god’s green earth that sleeping was at all in my future. Even being in the bed while contracting was torture. I tried to at least lie down and rest and it was horrible. The contractions were more intense and I felt like crawling out of my skin to get away from them. When I was standing or rocking on the birthing ball they were much better, so that’s what I did. I sat on the ball at the foot of the bed, leaned over with my torso propped up on pillows. In between contractions I rested briefly, but they were coming every 6 minutes from 10:00 p.m. – 3:00 a.m. so I wasn’t sleeping too much. Lauren did rest though, which was good and got a few hours of sleep. Little did she know how much I would need her support as my birth coach over the next hours.
Around 3:00 a.m. the contractions intensified to about every 5 minutes and then got to be every 4 minutes by 6:00 a.m. At 6:00 a.m. my mother came over to provide the counter-pressure I desperately needed on my back during contractions while Lauren rested and prepared our bags. We had called the midwife the night before around 9:00 p.m. to let her know that labor started, so we gave her a quick call to let her know where we were. She said to simply call her when we were ready to meet her at the hospital.
Stephanie, Lauren’s cousin and Baby Bunny’s godmother, came over around 8:30 a.m. for some added support and encouragement. At this point in labor I was still talking, eating, walking and joking around. I was in a great mood and was communicating… this changed a bit later on.
At 11:30 a.m. I told Lauren that I think we should call the midwife since my contractions were every 3 or 4 minutes and had been so for a few hours. When she called, the midwife asked us to come into her office to be checked, since she didn’t want us arriving at the hospital if I wasn’t dilated enough. Well, much to our surprise and hers, I was 6 cm dilated and almost 100% effaced! She told us to meet her at the hospital around 2:00 p.m.
Upon hearing that we had 2 hours til the hospital, Lauren said it was time to start walking to speed things along and get the baby out! Our midwife’s office is in Baltimore, near Johns Hopkins University. To avoid having to walk somewhere and search for a bathroom every time I had to pee, which was often since I was drinking about 32 ounces of water an hour to stay hydrated and avoid an IV, we decided to stay near the office and just walk up and down the street. Well you should have seen it! Here is a very pregnant and laboring woman, walking down the street and stopping every 2 – 3 minutes to hold onto Lauren, have my back pressed on by my mom and MOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAANNNNNING through every contraction. We got lots of fun looks. I think our afternoon on the street served as birth control for many college students. The look of terror in their faces when we said we were in labor was enough to have a few of them order chastity belts, I am sure!
So, at 2:00 p.m. we arrived at the hospital and got set up. We had a fantastic nurse, Miriam, who was extremely helpful and kind — despite making me lie in the bed for 20 minutes while they did some monitoring. Those were the longest 20 minutes and I was extremely thankful when I could get up and keep walking.
By 4:30 p.m., my water had still not broken and I was still contracting at 2 to 3 minutes apart, so our midwife suggested a gentle sweep of my membranes. As much as I didn’t want it, I knew that almost 10 hours of contractions at the same pace was getting tiresome, so we agreed — and it was a good thing. When she swept the membranes and my water began to break, we saw that there was meconium in the water (baby had her first bowel movement in utero, which can be a cause for concern if she was to swallow it). Since we found this out, they called the NICU team to have on call when I delivered since they would need to check her out.
By 6:30 p.m. the contractions were coming harder and faster — about 2 minutes apart and 1 to 1 1/2 minutes long each. Yep, it was back to back to back to back to back… It was at this point that I truly got “in the zone” and was just in my own head. I stopped talking, stopped joking, stopped walking. My two positions were either leaned over the bed on the birthing ball or leaned backwards over a chair. The contractions were intense and there was not much of a break, but it wasn’t torturous or anything. I could hear what everyone was saying and the music playing, but I barely opened my eyes and was just concentrating on the baby. By this point in my labor, Lauren started using some of the relaxation techniques we learned. She was helping me visualize things that we loved and fun memories. That helped a lot. She also spent the next few hours telling me what the Washington Monument in Mount Vernon, of which we had a perfect view, looked like. She told me all about the Monument at dusk, twilight and when the stars were shining on it.
Around 7:30 p.m. the other midwife (shift change!) came in and checked me. I was 9.5 centimeters dilated and was beginning to feel the urge to push. She let me labor like this for another hour and then when nothing changed, suggested a teeeeeeny tiny drip of pitocin to get me past this last .5 centimeters. I knew I didn’t want pitocin and I was sooooo against having it, but something in me told me to just do it and see what happened, so they hooked me up to the drip. Then the fun began!
I began having pitocin contractions on top of my own contractions. I felt like my life was one big contraction. It was really intense, but the whole birth team of Lauren, my mom, Stephanie and Lauren’s mom (who arrived sometime after work when I was still talking) really pulled together to help me through them. By 8:30 p.m., I was ready and willing to push. And push I did. For 4 hours. 4 HOURS!
Lillian Patricia Debelius was born at 12:42 a.m. on Wednesday, September 22nd after a 32 hour, non-pain medicated labor. She is 7 lbs, 10.2 oz and is 20 1/2 long. When she was born, the cord was wrapped around her neck and she was pretty blue. They rushed her over to the table to work on her and trying to get her to breathe. The first couple seconds lasted for an eternity and I yelled at Lauren, who was standing there in panic, “TALK TO HER LAUREN, SHE KNOWS YOUR VOICE!” Lauren started talking to her and she whipped her head around to look at her and took her first breath and started to cry. All the eyes in the room were wet with tears.
They suctioned her pretty hard and she was doing a little grunty breathing which lead them to believe that she may have swallowed some of the meconium stained fluid, so they let me hold her for a minute and kiss her and then they whisked her away.
While all of this with the baby was going on — oblivious to me — I had some moderate to severe bleeding. The nurse later told me that it was a very good thing that I had the pitocin drip already in me since they used that to help stop the bleeding. If I hadn’t, there would had been a scramble to get the drip together and hooked up to stop the bleeding. And if you remember, the big concern of recent months has been my platelet levels and hemmoraging after giving birth. I think that sometimes things happen for a reason. Did I want pitocin? No. Did it probably save my life or some serious issues? Yes.
I had a second degree tear that I obtained during delivery, so they stitched me up and got me all settled. When I was sitting upright, I realized I was starving, so some of our birth team members went to go grab some food from the cafeteria while I was getting ready to be transported to our recovery room. At 3:00 a.m., we were allowed to go up to the NICU to see her. She was stabalized and they had already run some tests and done an x-ray of her chest. They said she looked good but needed to be monitored to make sure all was ok. They asked us to come back at 6:00 a.m. to initate breastfeeding with her, and so we went back to our room, slept for a tiny bit and then went back. She latched on pretty well and went up to the NICU every 2 hours to feed. They started her on some antibiotics as a precautionary as they awaited test results to rule out meconium aspiration and infection. She also was a little jaundice so they started her on some phototherapy — her sauna as we referred to it — to help that.
She is doing very well now and we are embracing our new life as a family. She is a fantastic little baby, so sweet and calm and cuddley. I am breastfeeding as much as possible, but one of the stipulations to the lights to help with the jaundice was that we needed to supplement with some formula to flush out the jaundice from her system. That was a long and grumpy conversation since this was something I was soooooo against, but just like the Pitocin, if this meant that a little formula supplement would help her get better and help us take her home sooner, than we were all for it. We had a long talk about it with our midwife and she suggested me pumping breastmilk to make sure that she is getting as much of my nutrients as possible while still breastfeeding and getting formula. It has helped and I am now producing milk for her and soon we should be able to stop supplementing.
Well, I think that’s it for now. We are all doing well and are happy as can be.
Oh — I guess you would like some pictures, huh? Well, here you go! More to come later 🙂