Because everyone loves a good labor story… Here is mine.
I was due with our second baby girl on January 14th. A few days prior I started to have irregular contractions and on my due date the contractions started becoming regular enough that I could time them.
It was around 5:30pm on the 14th and without saying a word to Rafael, I began rushing around the house, completing tasks that I wanted to have done before the baby came. I made tacos for dinner, but hardly ate. I wrote a list of things to do for our babysitter (Camille). I asked Rafael to give Sofie a bath. “Right now?” he asked. Yes, right now. He didn’t understand why, but I didn’t want to tell him I was in labor because I didn’t want him to start freaking out. Not yet anyway. It wasn’t quite time to freak out.
I started timing my contractions sometime in the 8 o’clock hour. They were 12 minutes apart to start. By 9:30 (ish) they were down to 8 minutes, but there was one contraction that just seemed to stick around. I decided to call the doctor because of the tightness that didn’t go away even though my contractions still weren’t very close together. She suggested I go to the hospital to get checked. Rafael and I finished packing our bags and waited for Camille to arrive so we could go.
When we got to the hospital (about 10:30pm) I was sent to triage where they set me up to the monitor to check on the baby. My contractions were about 6 minutes apart by this time. They checked my cervix (which had not been checked until this night) and I let the nurse know how painful it always was for me. I was in tears from the pain and from her sour attitude. “You’re getting an epidural, right?” She mocked me because I was crying from the pain. I was planning on it, but her attitude made me angry. Who has the right to tell a woman in labor that her pain tolerance is weak?
I was at 4cm. The nurse told me I needed to walk around for an hour and they would recheck me. I walked around with Rafael and my mom came to join us for the last few minutes. Though my contractions were getting closer together and stronger, they were still somewhat irregular. Sometimes as close as 3 minutes and up to 5 minutes apart.
Around midnight I was rechecked. The rude nurse told me my cervix hadn’t changed and neither had my contractions. Contrary to what she said and what she noted on the monitor, my contractions had become much stronger. It was hard for me to talk through them and they were notably closer together. She and the doctor didn’t listen. They listened only to the monitor. According to them, contractions are always stronger when you’re walking and will calm down once you’re sitting again. The monitor wasn’t showing them as being very strong.
They gave me two options: I could walk around for another hour to see how I progressed, or (their favored option) I could go home with a shot of morphine, get some sleep, and come back when I was really in labor. I told them I couldn’t physically walk around for an hour because I was in too much pain and that during Sofie’s labor the pain meds had no affect on me so I wasn’t too excited to try them again. These were different meds, the doctor tried to assure me. I didn’t believe it, but because I couldn’t walk around, I took the only other option they gave me. Around 12:45am on the 15th I reluctantly went home with a shot of morphine in my hip.
We got home around 1:00am. I tried to lie down and rest, but because my contractions were so strong and regular, I tried to no avail. Just as I had told them, the morphine had no affect. By 2:45-3:00 (ish) my contractions were growing increasingly painful and I decided to time them again. The first one I timed was 5 minutes from the next. By the third contraction I timed, they were 2 minutes apart. I woke Rafael and told him that we needed to go back to the hospital. If they still didn’t think I had progressed enough, I didn’t care. I wanted an epidural for this pain. In the amount of time it took him to get ready (get dressed, use the bathroom, put on shoes), I woke my mom up and told her we were going back. By this time it was around 3:30am and my contractions were so painful I couldn’t sit or stand properly and most definitely couldn’t talk through them.
We went to get in the car and I couldn’t. I couldn’t sit down. I tried a couple times before telling Rafael that I had to go in my mom’s car because it had more room so I could stretch out and not have to fully sit down. I got in my mom’s car and the whole way to the hospital I had to push. I told her I had to push, so she drove faster. I screamed at her not to drive too fast because every bump made my contractions more painful.
We arrived at the hospital around 3:45am (ish). The security guards recognized me. “Weren’t you just here?” they asked. Yes, I was and they sent me home, I told them. I refused a wheel chair because, again, I couldn’t sit down, and I walked myself to the elevator and up to the 7th floor, accompanied by Rafael and the security guard. The whole time I still had the urge to push the baby out.
When we got to the maternity floor I told them I was in active labor and they took me to my room. I told them I had to push and they wanted to check my cervix. Let me say that again. I told them I had to push and they wanted to check my cervix. Ok, so they started to check and the nurse pulled her hand out quickly and said, “Nope! We need to go.” …Or something close to that. I was in labor, so I don’t remember her exact words. I was crowning. Baby girl’s head was right there. She was ready to meet the world.
But of course they made me wait longer. The doctor wasn’t there. She went home at approximately 3:20am after waiting a couple hours for me because she thought I wouldn’t go into active labor. They called another doctor in. He’d been asleep so they had to wake him up. While he was waking up they were running around frantically getting the room set up to deliver a baby. They put in my IV, set up the light, got the doctor’s tool kit. I was screaming the whole time: I have to push! But they made me wait.
Finally the doctor arrived and I was allowed to push, but before my first push the doctor broke my water. It was such a relief from the pain. Pushing was so painful. Because, you know, they sent me home so I couldn’t get an epidural. I’d had one for this part with Sofie, so this pain was new to me. My contractions were still steady, probably 1-2 minutes apart, so I got breaks between pushes.
By the second push the delivering doctor who had gone home was back. I screamed, “I can’t do this!” The doctor told me, “One more push and she’ll be out!” Seriously? One push. I could do that. On the third push, her head was out. On the fourth, my baby girl was born and brought to my arms.
At 4:17am on January 15th, Nellie Jo was born into the world.
They had to take off my shirt still in order to have her skin on mine because there wasn’t time to fully undress when I arrived at the hospital. I delivered the placenta without a hitch and asked to see it. Amazing. There was that life-giving organ that sustained my baby girl inside me for so many months. No stitches. No new hemorrhoids.
Everything was great with our little Nellie Jo: 7lb, 12oz. 21in. 13in head. Tons of hair. Beautiful in every way.
We had trouble keeping her temperature up for a while, but lots of swaddling and cuddles cured that.
My delivering nurses were incredible and so kind. I never did talk with the rude nurse again, but if I’d seen her I might have let her know that this one I did without an epidural. And it was painful. But I did it. It was empowering. Next time I’ll make sure they listen. I know when I’m in labor and I really don’t want to have my next baby at home. (Because a few more minutes of waiting and I can assure you, this little girl would have been born in the car. Thank God that didn’t happen.)
Welcome to the world, Nellie Jo. It’s rough at times, but there’s beauty here too, and it’s a little more beautiful now that you’re here.