(This is a long story, so settle in!)
Labor was confusing for me this time around. With my previous 2 pregnancies, Braxton Hicks contractions were always centered low in my uterus, below my belly button. Real labor always started at the top & back and crept its way around & down. So, when I felt the same tightening I had been feeling for several months below my belly button, earlier on Tuesday June 23rd, I just assumed that they were practice contractions even though they were starting to get painful.
I got the kids to bed at 8:00 and set about getting some tasks done around the house while I waited for my husband to get home from work at 10:30. I started wrapping birthday presents for Anna (who's birthday is June 25th) and noticed that the "practice" contractions seemed to be coming pretty regularly. I wondered if that meant that real labor wasn't far behind. It was about 9:25 p.m. when I decided to keep track of the contractions.
The contractions, which I still thought were painful practice contractions, were coming pretty regularly at 10 minutes apart. After my husband got home, we got ready for bed and sat on the couch to "veg" for a little while before bed. Jason had gotten me a bowl of ice cream, but I just couldn't enjoy it because every 10 minutes (or less) I had a pretty intense contraction. I ended up getting up and pacing the floor because I was so uncomfortable. I was still thinking these were practice contractions because they stayed centered on my lower uterus and never left that area. After a while of that, Jason called my parents (who were going to watch the older two kids while we were at the hospital). We decided that after my Dad finished his bed-time shower they would come over and my husband & I would go to the hospital so they could check and see if it was indeed labor and if anything was progressing.
While I waited for my parents to come, I finished packing the hospital bags and got everything ready, just in case it was "go" time. I knew I felt too "good" (that word can't really apply any time during labor, but there isn't a word that describes it well enough) for it to be time to deliver soon, but I was beginning to realize that this was real labor, just different than before. After my parents and niece and nephew (who were staying with my parents for a week) came over, my husband and I left for the hospital. As soon as we got to the ER, I had a contraction which I sat and waited to finish before getting out of the van, so the guy inside the ER brought out a wheelchair. It was about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning the 24th of June when we got to the labor and delivery department of Saint Mary's hospital. They brought me to triage and hooked me up to the baby heart-rate monitor and contraction monitor.
After being checked a couple times and laying there painfully for several hours, the doctor came in and said that my progress was still just 4-5 cm and wasn't progressing at all, so there wasn't anything they could do at that point. She said they could give me some pain killers, but suggested I just go home until the contractions were more intense and closer together. I didn't really want to go anywhere, but the thought of laying around on that hard hospital bed hooked up to monitors and being poked and prodded at for hours and hours wasn't at ALL pleasant to me, so I decided to go home. My nurse urged me to go home because she knew I wanted my delivery to be as natural as possible. She told me if I stayed they'd probably want to break the bag of water and possibly try inducing, give me medicines, IVs and stuff I didn't want.
It was about 4:30 when we left for home. I stayed in the kitchen and labored on my knees with my arms resting in the seat of a chair I had at the back door. This went on for about an hour when the contractions started getting so intense I reached the "I can't do this anymore" stage. That's the point where I knew I really should be at the hospital, but at that point, I didn't want to move. I was trying to relax through a pretty intense contraction when suddenly I felt the urge to push. I said "Oh, no!" And Jason said "What?!" I said, "I feel like I need to push!" Jason said "We're GOING!" I was wearing PJ bottoms because they were more comfortable than the shorts I had been wearing, but I didn't want to take the time to change, so I just slipped on my shoes and Jason grabbed my purse and we took off for the hospital as quickly as possible. It was about 5:30 a.m. when we left for the hospital.
This time, when we got to the ER, the guy knew exactly what we needed. He brought the wheelchair again and started pushing me to the counter. The guy who brought me up to labor and delivery the first time came again this time and he said to me "Is it TIME?" I just nodded my head. It didn't take Jason long to park the van and catch up to us. They brought me up to the 9th floor/Labor & Delivery. I just wanted to go straight to a labor & delivery room. But, the nurse wheeled me to triage. Jason was protesting, saying that I already had the urge to push, but she insisted. She wheeled me to a bed and was telling me to get into a gown and get on the bed. Between contractions, I told her that I had the urge to push. She said to get on the bed because they needed to check my progress. I finished a contraction then quickly got on the bed, where I had another contraction. After that one, the nurse & Jason helped take my shorts off so my cervix could be checked. After she checked it, she said I was 7 cm dilated and said cheekily: "We're going to have a baby!" I didn't say anything, but in my brain I was saying "I COULD HAVE TOLD YOU THAT!!!" She wanted a wheelchair to take me to a labor & delivery room but I refused to get out of the triage bed. So, they covered me with a blanket and wheeled the whole bed through the hall to a labor & delivery room. After they locked the bed outside my labor & delivery room and I finished a contraction, I quickly got out of bed while a nurse held the blanket around my waist. I quickly got into the labor & delivery room bed where they already had the elastic bands to hold the monitors laying on the bed. They quickly hooked up the monitors while I tried to relax through another contraction laying on my left side.
A nurse asked me if I could possibly roll to my other side because the baby's heart-rate had dropped and he seemed to like it better on the other side (this surprised me, because usually it's the left side that is the best for circulation). I rolled over, and promptly had another contraction. I think I said "Oh no!" again, because I had a very strong urge to push and I was thinking I was still only 7 cm dilated. But, my body decided that now was the time, so it pushed and pushed and suddenly I felt the water breaking and I could tell that Peter was there, probably crowning. I heard one of the nurses say "She's pushing." and someone told me to roll over onto my back. As I was rolling over, I said "I can't NOT push!" The doctor that had told me to go home (who was surprised to see me back so soon) said "That's ok, your baby is crowning." So, with Jason and the nurse's help, I partially sat up in bed and pushed. At one point, the nurse said they were going to give me an episiotomy because the baby's heart-rate had dropped and they needed to get him out as quickly as possible. God's beautiful design kicked in, and I just looked at the nurse without saying anything for a brief second before the next urge to push. I pushed, and Peter's head came out! Another push and his body was out. The urges to push were so strong this time, it almost surprised me, but I was thankful for them because I felt like I could participate more rather than just being told to push, if that makes sense.
The nurse had to hold Peter's head while his body was being delivered because we knew the cord was around his neck. As his body came out, it sort of did a little flip over his head and the doctor and nurses quickly unwrapped the cord. It had been wrapped around his neck twice and his arm once! They quickly whisked him away, much like they did with Benjamin, but this time I didn't even get to touch him for a second. They brought him to the warming bed and tried to get him to cry because he was silent when he came out. They told me it was because the delivery went so fast that he was stunned. After a while, his color improved and he began to cry. Though, they could tell he was working hard to breath.
Jason & I were told that because he was born so quickly, he didn't have the contractions that are needed to squeeze the last of the liquid out of his lungs. Because of that, they needed to put him under an oxygen hood until his breathing improved. They let us hold him for a tiny little while before they whisked him off to the nursery. He was so bundled up when they handed him to us, all we could see was his little face, but we lavished it with lots of kisses. I just wanted to hold him and never let go, but I knew he needed to be under the oxygen hood so we gave him back to the nurses.
I had been officially admitted at 5:45 a.m. I was in the labor & delivery room for 9 minutes before Peter was born at 6:00 a.m. and I only pushed for 4 minutes! Peter was 20 inches long, but they didn't get a weight on him for a long time since they hurried him off to the nursery & the oxygen hood so quickly. Later, we got the weight as 7 pounds 3 ounces.
The whole thing was so quick, I was very relieved it was over. To top it all off, things happened so fast that no one had closed the shade to the labor & delivery room, so I got to watch the sun rise through the windows as the doctor gave me my one stitch and helped deliver the placenta. It was such a beautiful moment, to know that I had safely brought my son into the world and the pain of labor was over. As I watched the beautiful colors spread across the sky it was like a special extra gift from God in celebration of Peter's birth.