....and then my water broke. That's just how labor goes, right?!
I also told you that I am a 42-weeker. That part IS true because even though I was 3 days past my due date and my water broke, I was not in labor yet.
Bekah was kicking and wiggling a lot Wednesday night. As Brandon and I were getting ready for bed, I felt a small spurt of fluid, followed a few minutes later by another. It was such a small amount that I wasn't sure what to make of it. I gave Brandon a heads up that my water MIGHT have broken and then as we crawled into bed the floodgates let loose.
Instantly all of the calm and confidence I had about this labor vanished. "My water broke. My water BROKE! This could change the entire labor! Do I need to rush to the hospital? Is this going to be fast?" I pondered as I waited for some crushing contraction to come upon me.
I called my midwife and she recommended that we come on in to the hospital. She explained to me that once your water breaks, you and the baby are at more risk for infection. I test GBS positive during all my pregnancies, which puts baby at an even greater risk for infection. She suggested that I come into the hospital to make sure baby was head down and to start IV antibiotics while we wait for labor to begin.
We called Brandon's parents to watch the kids, texted friends, and packed bags. I started having a couple contractions right before Brandon's parents arrived. I had a couple painful ones on the way to the hospital. "Alright, I think we're in business!" I told Brandon as we checked into the hospital. We talked to the midwife about our labor plan.
I preferred to have a natural labor, but I wanted to go with the flow. I had no interventions with my labor with Joseph and it was amazing. I labored at home for 12 hours, checked into the hospital, and quickly pushed Joe out two hours later.You can read the whole story here if you want. My labors with Kai and Caleb were less than ideal. I had to be induced. I had an epidural. I pushed for 2 hours because I couldn't feel what I was doing. They had to use the vacuum to pull Kai out and I had 3rd degree tears that took months to heal. At this point, my natural labor was a much better experience than my labors with interventions. My water didn't break until I was pushing with my natural labor though. I didn't know what to expect with this twist.
Brandon and I tried to rest before the action started. I fell asleep for an hour or two, only waking up at the peak of a few contractions here and there. When I got up in the morning the contractions were gone. Nada. Zip. Gone.
We spent all morning walking around trying to kick start things.I had the most contractions during the car ride to the hospital so we decided to try taking a drive too. Brandon had been wanting to test drive a car at a dealership nearby so we actually popped over there and took it for a spin while we had the free time. Are we crazy? Yes. Did our nurse have any idea we left the hospital grounds? Nope. ;)
The walking and the car ride didn't get us anywhere so by the afternoon we had some decisions to make. What I LOVE about the group of midwives I see is that they inform us about the choices in front of us and then let us decide. They're never pushy or make labor sound black and white. My midwife recommended that we have labor going by midnight to reduce the chance of infection. She let us know that, of course, it was our choice and if we really wanted to wait and let labor happen naturally then we could. It could be a few days though. As much as I wanted a natural labor experience again, the baby's health is top priority. Also, I didn't want to get worn out waiting and then not have any energy for the labor. We decided to take the afternoon to nap and then start pitocin after dinner.
By 7:00 I started having contractions on my own, but only 10 minutes apart. Pitocin was started by 9:00 and the smallest amount put us in action. Within an hour I was having contractions 1.5 minutes apart and they had to turn the pitocin down to the lowest dose to slow the contractions down to 3 minute spacing.
It was intense. Judging just by the pain, I thought I might be pushing before midnight. My labor with Joe was natural and by the time I had contractions that painful and close together during his labor, I was 2 hours away from delivering. I requested that the midwife check me for dilation. I hadn't been checked yet because we were trying to avoid introducing any bacteria to the area after my water broke. Bad plan. The midwife announced that I was 4 cm dilated.
"Shut up! There is no way. Not just 4! Ugh. I hate the number 4!"
I was 4 cm dilated with Kai for a month before I even went into labor with him. I was sure I had to AT LEAST be a 6 with that kind of pain going on.
I felt defeated, but tried to get it back together. Just take it one hour at a time. The numbers don't mean that much. I might dilate really fast from here.
My labor coaches, Brandon and my mom, were both by my side and doing a great job keeping the atmosphere positive for me.
We rocked the birthing ball for a while. I don't know how people had babies before these squishy things of bouncy bliss were invented.
We moved to the bed as the pain worsened and I needed to rest more between contractions. I focused on deep breaths and used the same imagery that I used during Joseph's birth. I heard it from Ann Voskamp's blog, "See yourself as a bag of sand. And there's a hole rent in your toe. Let all the pain run through the broken and rent places."
I made it to midnight and started to run out of patience. I got into the bathtub (nothing fancy, just a regular low down tub) to try something new. I made it another hour in there. The contractions remained 3 minutes apart, but the pain was getting worse and I could no longer relax between the contractions. My legs would not stop shaking and they were driving me crazy. At 1:00 I requested that the midwife check me again to see where we were at. 6 cm now. We made some progress. I guessed that meant I had 2 or 3 more hours to go before pushing. I ran the numbers in my head--that would be about 40-60 more contractions to get through before pushing. Was it worth it to keep going?
Nope. It just wasn't worth it to me anymore. I wanted the natural labor that I had with Joseph, but this labor was already a different beast. With pitocin and without the cushion of having my water intact, the experience had already turned from ideal to torture. If this is what 6 cm felt like, I didn't want to know what transition and pushing felt like this time. When it came down to the wire, I wanted a good experience more than I wanted a natural experience.
The epidural was in by 2:30 and it took beautifully. I had one small spot where the epidural did not take with Kai and Caleb's labors, but this time the epidural knocked all the feeling out of my lower half. It was amazing. In fact, I fell asleep right away and woke up an hour later ready to push.
I didn't get anywhere with the first couple pushes, but everything was peaceful and I didn't mind. The contractions spaced back out to 5 minutes apart now for whatever reason. There was a long rest in between each push. Looking at the contractions spacing out, the midwife smiled and said, "Your uterus was just not ready to let go of this baby yet!" Yep. 42-weeker. Bekah was ready to get out though and kicked her way into the world. It's good. She'll need that kind of attitude with 3 older brothers at home. ;)
The midwife brought in a mirror so that I could see what I was doing with the pushing. I had never watched myself push before and it was incredible. "Look! She's right there! Look at that hair!" the midwife said with the next contraction. Was that MY baby with long, dark hair?! No way! With the mirror, I could figure out just how to push. It felt more like I was watching a movie than living real life as I saw that little head full of hair slowly come into the world. She didn't cry, but I did!
She was calm and curious as they cleaned her off. When they brought her back to me, I tried to nurse her and she latched on perfectly with the first try and guzzled furiously. Now that I think about it, I think the girl knew just what she was doing. She decided one night that she was hungry and kicked her way right out to the milk station.
I looked up at the chart on the wall to see the numbers the nurses were recording. 4:40 am. My 4th child was born on 4/10 and 4:40 am. Maybe I do love the number 4 after all.
Now I understand why some women who have natural labors rave about it and why others say "I don't think I ever want to put myself through that kind of pain again". I treasured the natural experience with Joseph, but with Rebekah's labor I was thanking God for that epidural. Joseph's birth was beautifully intense and powerful. Calm, peaceful, and surreal--that is how I will always remember Bekah's entrance to the world.