I was so bummed when I woke up Sunday morning to a warm, urgent gush of fluid. It was unquestionably my water breaking and I jumped up and ran to the bathroom just in time to avoid a mess on the carpet. Having tested GBS+, I had been hoping that my water wouldn’t break until well into labor, but I wasn’t having anything more than the same incessant Braxton Hick’s contractions when it broke. It was 2:30AM, and I debated whether or not to tell my husband, but decided to let him know that something was up. He thought we should call the hospital, but I wanted to wait since nothing was happening.
About 3:00, some very easy contractions kicked in. I told Saki to go back to sleep as I was just going to try to rest myself and hope things moved along quickly. I knew I was on about an 18 hour time limit because of the GBS, and wanted to get through labor with as few risk factors as possible. The pressure waves started out at about 7 minutes apart and stayed that way for several hours. I probably could have slept, but I kept having occasional, annoying gushes of amniotic fluid that kept me running to the bathroom because I didn’t want to get wet.
When the pressure waves started at 3, I decided to start using my Hypnobabies tracks while I rested (and surfed the net). I began by listening to the Painless Childbirth track a couple of times, followed by Birthing Day Affirmations. At 5 I switched over to the Easy First Stage track, although in hindsight the first stage was almost over by then. Throughout this whole phase, the waves were not painful at all. After an hour or so I hit on the best description for how they felt: it was like I was on a long road trip and I had to use the bathroom really, really badly, but I had to hold it until the next rest stop. When I realized I was mentally and physically fighting the urge to pee, I was able to let go of that feeling and the waves got even easier.
About 5 AM, I started spending more pressure waves sitting on the toilet, and by 6 when I decided to call my doula, they progressed quite quickly to 4-5 minutes apart, but still very comfortable and easy; so easy, in fact that I was a bit confused. I knew by the timing that things were moving along, but the peace and composure I felt seemed at odds with where I intellectually knew my labor was headed. All I could think was that either I was tricking myself into thinking things were moving more quickly than they actually were, or the Hypnobabies was really working like it was supposed to.
I had been trying to wait until 6 to call my doula because I knew she would be up by then, and I wanted her to get as much rest as possible, especially since I was enjoying my solitary birthing time so much and didn’t really need anything from anyone else. When I got on the phone with her, I soon realized things were happening more quickly than I previously thought, so I told her we would probably head to the hospital around 7. I decided it was time to wake up Saki then so he could finish packing up and get ready to go.
He suggested that we get in the shower, which sounded nice to me, so we did. As soon as I got in the shower, I immediately had a several strong pressure waves one after another. I was in a peaceful place and not timing them, but he freaked out. “Are you having ANOTHER ONE?” Yes. “That was only about a minute apart! We have to go!” I know. He hopped out of the shower and started rushing around gathering stuff. He told my mom to get ready to go and get Tommy up because we had planned to take everyone as long as it happened at a reasonable time of day.
I reluctantly got out of the shower, sat on the toilet again for another pressure wave and called my doula to let her know we were definitely heading to the hospital. About that time, I also started feeling a little pukey…SURELY I could not be close to transition!? It was all too easy and peaceful! But the pukey feeling was enough to convince me I better get moving just in case my mind wasn’t playing tricks and Hypnobabies was actually working. (Although I guess technically, Hypnobabies working IS the mind playing tricks. ?) Ha.
I got dressed, got my iphone and headphones and resumed listening to my Easy First Stage track and got in the van for the rainy drive to the hospital. That was about 7:05 AM. At that point everything became decidedly uncomfortable and it was a struggle to remain positive and not say bad words at every bump on the road. For the record, I was in transition during the ride, but I didn’t realize it. I believe if I had not had to get in the car and drive 30 minutes to the hospital, I would probably have experienced a virtually pain-free birth. As it was, it wasn’t really painful; just decidedly uncomfortable going through transition in a vehicle. Thank God it was Sunday morning and not a weekday, so there was no traffic to contend with. We got to the hospital triage unit about 7:30, and Mary, my doula arrived right behind us. The triage nurse told me to go into the bathroom and change out of my clothes if I wanted to.
Fortunately Mary followed me into the bathroom. I sat on the toilet and suddenly felt the need to push—or poop—I wasn’t sure. Mary knew though. She said I had that smell of imminent birth. She told the nurse I was feeling pushy, then she took my clothes off of me because I wasn’t capable of doing much of anything else at that point. When I got a little break, we went back into the triage room where the nurse wasted valuable time strapping a fetal heart monitor on me. I agreed to let her check me and she said something about a 9 and something-pushy and immediately sprang into action, calling for backup. She handed me a blanket to cover myself and off we went down the hall to birthing room #3. I was relieved that it was a small number and I didn’t have to walk all the way down the hall.
I walked into the empty room, and stood there wondering what to do next. The bed was not set up for any type of delivery position (nor was anything else), and suddenly people were directing me to get into it. I stared at it blankly thinking “um, HOW?” It just didn’t seem possible, as I couldn’t think of any way of getting into that bed that would accommodate how I was feeling right at the moment. In a second I decided the only thing I could do was kneel and start pushing. I clumsily dragged a pillow off the bed to kneel on and took up a prayer position at the bedside. A very nice lady introduced herself as Kit, my midwife, and said “If you can get on the bed that would be great because it would be softer for you, but if not, we’ll just have this baby here.” I wordlessly chose “here.”
She said, “I’m going to touch you and see where the baby is. Oh, it’s right here! PUSH!” And then it seemed like everyone was shouting at me to “PUSH! One more push and you’ll have the head out!” I totally thought they were lying and just saying that trying to encourage me. There was no way the baby was coming yet. We just got to the hospital! Mary was kneeling across the bed from me and she was the one who convinced me that the baby really was coming out NOW! I was totally shocked. I think I even said “Oh, you’re not lying!” Then sweet Kit told me to spread my legs wider and push hard again and baby would be out…and she was! The time was 7:42 AM. Counting the pushes in triage, I think there were no more than 6 or 7 total and we were at the hospital for 12 minutes before little Maggie was born.
Kit said “Ok, get ready, I’m going to pass the baby to you through your legs.” After untangling the basically useless fetal and contraction monitors, we accomplished the hand off and I finally made it into bed. The total time from start to finish was less than 5 hours. I sat there on the bed holding my new baby saying “Wow, that was amazing” for about an hour, I think.
I keep thinking that if I hadn’t woke my husband up right when I did, I could have easily had an unassisted home birth. I wish I could have, but it still worked out great and I feel so blessed to have had such a totally amazing, empowering experience.