Born August 2, 2011
8 lbs 12 oz
20 1/2 inches
Before Gavin arrived, I fantasized about what his birth would be like and how excited I would be to share my birth story. I didn't really have a "story" to share with Raya since her birth was a planned c-section, so I was really hoping I'd have a good one to share this time. Well, I got it. And I gotta say, be careful what you wish for...
On July 30th, at 1:17am, I awoke to a pretty intense contraction. I had been having contractions on and off for weeks, so I tried not to get too excited. But this one did feel different so of course I got super excited and immediately started timing them (with the Contraction App on my iPhone - hehe). By 3am I was typing out an email on my phone to tell Sarah I was in labor, and by 4am I was out of bed and timing contractions on my birthing ball. Mike came out around 5:30am to see what the heck I was doing - then went back to bed, knowing it would likely be a little while at least.
At 8:35am I texted Jenn, my doula, to let her know about all the contractions and asked to her call me when she had the chance. Then around 9:40, Mike, Raya and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. My contractions became much less noticeable on our walk and I started to worry that it was false labor. Jenn called around this time and insured me that it definitely sounded like early labor and that it was normal for the contractions to be less noticeable while walking - in fact, it was a good thing as it was giving my uterus a little break. When we got home, the contractions returned. My attempt to take a nap was pointless. We went for another walk that afternoon then decided it would be best to have Raya stay the night at Grandma's in case we needed to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. I went to bed around 9:30 hoping that things would pick up the pace soon!
At 12:38am I awoke (though I hadn't really been sleeping much) with a more intense contraction than before. I started timing them again - they were ranging between 8 and 11 minutes apart and I couldn't sleep so I got back on my birthing ball. By around 2am, Mike was up with me and I decided to call Jenn. She was at our house an hour later and helping me through the contractions which were now about 5 minutes apart. Had she not been there, I'm sure Mike and I would have gone to the hospital by now. Jenn knows when that change occurs - the shift from early labor to active labor. It hadn't happened yet. We labored together while watching old re-runs of Beverly Hills 90210. I tried to go back to bed for a bit but couldn't sleep. I took a LONG shower which felt awesome, then got back on the birthing ball. By late morning, Jenn said she thought we could go to the hospital. I don't think she was completely sold on the idea, but I was anxious to go and find out how far along I was. I braced myself for "the worst car ride ever" but traffic was light and I only had one contraction during the 10 minute drive - not so bad. We checked into triage and I climbed up on the worlds most uncomfortable bed. Laying on your back when you're having strong contractions every few minutes is nothing short of torture. I was so ready for the nurse to check me and to get off that bed and into my delivery room. When she finally came in (which was only really a few minutes later) she had to wait while I labored through another contraction. When it was done she told me I was amazing. I kicked that contraction's ass. I loved her. Then she checked me and said I was only half a centimeter dilated and half effaced. I hated her. My doctor came in at that point and suggested I get a shot of morphine and go home and rest. Tears were involved, but I did as suggested and managed to get about 5 hours of sleep. I woke up around 9pm (it was still Sunday, July 31st) and continued to labor on the birthing ball. The morphine was still taking the edge of the pain... but not for long.
I knew there was no hurry. Even when my contractions were sometimes right on top of each other, I didn't feel the need to call Jenn (who went home when we were sent home from the hospital) nor did I think we should go back to the hospital. I spent several hours laboring on the toilet. Sounds weird, but with a big pillow behind my head, I could breath through the horrendous contraction then sit back and practically lose consciousness for a few minutes before awaking to another monster contraction. The exact time of when things occurred from here on out is a bit of a blur, but I think we had Jenn come back over around 6 or 7 that morning. I was hesitant to go back to the hospital, but I wanted her with me. I just felt stronger with her around. She was the keeper of my confidence :) She was awesome.
We went back to the hospital around 8 or 9 that morning (it's now Monday, August 1st, my due date). Back to triage where we were greeted by a new LOUD nurse who drove me CRAZY! I can't imagine anyone in labor would be able to stand having this woman around, especially not one who had been in labor over 2 days already! So when she checked me and said I was about 1 and a half to 2 centimeters dilated, I wanted to rip her stupid face off. But I barely had enough energy to cry and I needed to cry. I was devastated. She said we could give it an hour and she'd check me again. I intended to get up and really work my contractions during that hour but I was so exhausted that I sorta fell asleep (if you can call it that - more like deliriously lost consciousness) between each excruciating contraction until Nurse Loudmouth returned and informed me that nothing changed. She said she would consult with the on-call doctor and let me know what my options were. Turns out there were 3 options this time. 1) Get another shot of morphine and go home and rest. 2) Walk around the triage floor for 2 hours then get checked again. 3) Opt for the repeat C-Section. The last thing I wanted to do was go home, and a repeat-c was unfortunately starting to sound tempting at this point... so I clung to option 2 as my saving grace. I told Jenn I wanted to do everything I could during those 2 hours to make these contractions more effective. Her expression had a look of, "Game on!" and we were on our feet and on a mission. We walked those halls through and through, pausing every few feet to hang from the handrail in a squatting position and sway back and forth while loudly breathing in and out for all to hear. Mike was on one side of me with barf bin at the ready, Jenn was on the other side talking me through it and pumping out that confidence I needed to keep me going. I have to admit, I did sorta kick ass. Those contractions hurt more than anything I could have ever imagined, but I OWNED them. I got right in their face and said, "Listen BEYACH, you're gonna do what your supposed to do. Now open me up damnit!!"
They didn't listen. When our two hours were up (I think it was around noon) Nurse Loudmouth checked me again and informed me that I was still at 2 centimeters. Another morphine shot and we were on our way home again. I went to bed but the contractions were too intense for the morphine to do any good. No sleep for me. Around 4:00pm, I felt my water break. I was so relieved. I screamed, "MIKE! MIKE! MY WATER JUST BROKE!" - violently waking him from his nap. We called Jenn and she said there was no way they'd send me home this time and she'd meet us at the hospital. After the VERY worst car ride ever (3rd time's a charm) in peak commuter traffic, we checked back in with Nurse Loudmouth. She made me sit on a pad for awhile to make sure my water had actually broke (I swear she just wanted to torture me). When she confirmed that it had, she checked me and announced that I was 4 and half centimeters and 90% effaced. I wanted to kiss her right on her big loud mouth. I was being admitted!
My plan had been to have a natural birth. No epidural. But I had been in labor for nearly 3 days now and I had zero energy left. I was nervous to break the news to Jenn (I didn't want to disappoint her) but I knew I needed some relief. And to my relief, Jenn completely understood and was supportive of my decision. After all the laboring I had done, she didn't blame me one bit for needing it.
Some time around 5-6pm my Mom arrived. I came out of a major contraction to find her standing next to me in the delivery room. I had no idea how much she witnessed and could only imagine how horrifying it looked so I immediately informed her that I changed my mind about the epidural and would be getting it soon. She later told me that I looked beautiful and focused. I sure love my Mama. Sometime around 7pm on August 1st, after about 67 hours of labor, I received my epidural. I was so grateful for the anesthesiologist. If I weren't already in labor and 100% aware of how painful it was, I would've offered to have his babies. Okay, not really. But that's how much love I felt for him at that very moment. I could breath normally! I could lay down! Most importantly, I could SLEEP! That's what I call heaven on a hospital bed.
Around mid-night they woke me up to check my progress. Before the epidural I was 6 centimeters dilated. Now, 4-5 hours later, I was only at 7. On top of that, my baby's heart rate was going down with each contraction and they were worried about cord compression. He was recovering well between contractions so it wasn't an emergency... but a repeat c-section was looking very likely. The doctor said we could give it an hour and check again, but she wanted me to be prepared. When she left, I couldn't speak. None of us could. Are you kidding me? After 70 hours of labor, you're telling me I need a c-section? Jenn tried to console me - saying it's not certain. I may not need the c-section. But all I wanted to do was lay there and talk to my baby. I focused on those contractions and asked him to work with them and prove the doctor wrong. I told him I loved him and couldn't wait to hold him in my arms. I didn't want to let the stress of what the doctor said prevent my body from doing what it was supposed to do so I tried to relax. When she came back to check me, I felt mostly numb but still a little hopeful. I watched her face and it immediately lit up. She said, "Amazing! You are fully dilated, 100% effaced and the baby is RIGHT THERE!" She couldn't believe it. My contractions had been so ineffective this entire time but in the "final" hour, when I needed it more than ever, they kicked some serious butt.
She wanted to allow baby to continue to move down on his own before I started pushing, so we waited one more hour. Around 2:30, with just the nurse, Jenn and Mike in the room, I gave my first push and could already see his head in the mirror. Just after 3, they were frantically trying to track down my doctor (who had been called into an emergency) and I was instructed NOT to push until she arrived. I wish we had caught her expression on video when she finally walked in to see me laying there with a baby head poking out! 2 or 3 pushes later and Gavin Densmore Thompson was laying on my chest, crying in my arms.
3 days and 2 hours after my first contraction... and worth every moment.