It began on a Sunday, I was very suspicious that my water had maybe started leaking because I woke up with wet panties and I had some light spotting. I knew that I didn’t pee on myself and as gross as it may sound, it didn’t smell like urine either. That morning I couldn’t sit still at church because I was so excited at the thought of my water maybe leaking and then also thinking that maybe it hadn’t and I was making a big deal out of nothing. However, later at lunch I began having some very mild period cramping. After lunch we went to visit our friend who was actually hospitalized at the same hospital that I would be delivering at and while I was there I decided to make a quick call to the on-call midwife to let her know about the possible water leak. I knew that if your water broke that there is a risk for infection and other complications if you don’t have the baby within 24 hours, so I wanted to be safe rather than sorry. The midwife on-call actually had me come downstairs to a room and get tested. Well, after a couple different tests we learned that my water in fact had not broken, probably hadn’t leaked, oh and that I was 0 cm dilated and that the babies head still wasn’t super low. I was super discouraged as this was the day after my due date, and I felt like I had made something into a bigger deal than it really was. However, I do think this day was a blessing because I got to meet Katie the midwife who would eventually catch Conley and help me bring her into the world.
That night as we were laying in bed I began having contractions at 10:45 pm. I hadn’t experienced any Braxton Hicks contractions in my pregnancy, or any other contractions up until this point, but I knew that’s what this was. It felt like more intense period cramping, and my lower abdomen felt like it was tensing up very tight and then releasing. I woke up Kyle to tell him and then I downloaded an app on my phone so that I could track how far apart they were and how long as well. The contractions were never super consistent. I started timing them and had some that were 5 min some that were 7 min some that were 15 min. Early Monday morning I texted family members just letting them know that I thought things might have started happening. But, contractions slowed down and pretty much stopped around 8 am. I was so confused and a little bit discouraged because maybe it was that I was too excited, but I couldn’t sleep a wink that night.
Monday, I bounced on the exercise ball nearly all day and took several very long walks hoping to see if anything would start again. I think I had a contraction about once every hour that day. By 3 pm contractions started again, they were about 10-11 minutes apart for awhile, but they became closer and closer together at times, however once again they were pretty irregular, but I do think these had increased in intensity from the night before. I took a bath that night thinking maybe it would relax me and it would tell me whether the contractions would slow down or not, however they got more intense afterwards. I knew this would be another sleepless night. I tried my best to close my eyes but ended up watching Friends and bouncing on the ball so that Kyle could try and get some rest. I truly believed things were progressing at this point, not only were these contractions hurting, I couldn’t sit still through them. I woke Kyle up at 3:00 am on Tuesday and told him we needed to think about going to the hospital. Contractions were lasting 60-90 seconds and coming 3-4 min apart, but sometimes I would get a break for more like 7 min apart. I was confused. I told Kyle it was time to go either way because with some being as close to 3-4 minutes apart I was anxious to get to the hospital just in case. At this point I started crying because I thought we would be leaving to go to the hospital to have a baby and for whatever reason I felt so bad for our dog, Gus. I was pretty emotional, and also scared that my contractions would stop again just as they had done the day before.
We got to the hospital and were taken to maternal observation, where immediately I started throwing up. I’m pretty sure it was all nerves, but I got a kick out of the fact that the nurse watching through the camera in the hallway saw me stop and toss my cookies in the trash can before letting us in the door after hours. Unfortunately, my biggest hesitation about going into the hospital came true and my contractions slowed WAY down. By the time I was checked in by my nurse they were so far apart and I felt so embarrassed for coming all the way in to the hospital. This would surely be my second false alarm. My nurse was the absolute sweetest woman I’ve ever met, she was so gentle and kind and helped validate me and all of my concerns. She said she went into the hospital three times before she was in active labor, which actually did make me feel better. I really didn’t believe I was making it up, and I was still feeling pretty sick at this point so my nurse gave me a shot of medicine in the butt to help me to try and sleep since I really hadn’t slept in 48 hours.
After they monitored Conley for about half an hour the midwife came in to tell us (2 hours or so later) what she was seeing on the strip. I was having contractions but at this point I was only 1 cm dilated (are you kidding me?! Call me a wimp, but these contractions were actually really painful) and normally they would have sent me home in this situation, however Conley was having some decelerations during contractions meaning her heart rate was decreasing with them. She said had I been 35 weeks they would have sent me home, but because I was already past my due date, she felt more comfortable admitting me and getting the ball rolling and to get Conley out. I thought for sure when the nurse checked me and I was only 1 cm I’d be headed back home and I was so disappointed, but instead we were getting checked in officially and were were going to have our baby!
It was shift change at this point and my next nurse came in, did all my lab work, started my IV, and started an IV fluid bolus because the decelerations could be caused by low amniotic fluid (so maybe my fluid had leaked a little?!). We also had a new midwife as well for the day shift who came in and told us the plan for our now induction. Y’all I had no plans to be induced, none of this was going according to my plans. I thought for certain I’d labor at home and make it to the hospital around a 4-5 cm and get my epidural, and hopefully have a baby within 12 hours, but nope, we were starting the induction process instead and I’d labor for a lot longer than 12 hours. Since my cervix was ready and I was already having contractions we ended up starting with a cervical balloon dilator catheter (I have no idea if that’s what it’s called). Basically, the catheter was inserted and a balloon was blown up with sterile water in my uterus and the another on the other side of the cervix. The balloon could take up to 8-12 hours she said in women who weren’t dilated yet, so I thought this could take awhile, however within 2 ½ hours mine fell out and I was 3 cm dilated.
At this point I did start feeling some more pain and the contractions became more intense. My nurse ended up giving me another dose of medications to help me rest because at this point I STILL hadn’t slept since Saturday night. I slept for a little while but it didn’t last long because I was still hurting pretty bad. The pain also moved to my back and I began having back labor. I talked to my nurse about my desire for an epidural at some point, but she suggested I walk around the halls and see how things went. We had been at the hospital for almost 10 hours at this point and I hadn’t slept the last 2 nights for more than 3 hours, I was exhausted and needed some sleep. I walked a couple laps and visited with our families in the waiting rooms. And after that, I called my nurse and said I was ready for my epidural now. Thankfully the CRNA was quick, he was in my room within 10 minutes ready to get things going, I wasn’t nervous at all because I knew the pain would be gone soon. The epidural wasn’t bad AT ALL. I didn’t feel any of it after the lidocaine injection, and the medication started working pretty quickly. I loved that thing! I loved that I could enjoy this part of labor and have family come in the room and visit. They broke my water about an hour and a half after the epidural and we found out that the baby had her first poop in the womb because my fluid was green. This now unfortunately meant that the baby was at a higher risk for aspiration and that the NICU would have to be present for delivery. Also Conley had turned and was in my back which is why I began having back labor, which was significantly more painful.
At 6:45 contractions slowed down and so they ended up inserting a pressure catheter to measure the strength of the contractions and at about 7:00 they started Pitocin to get things going again. Things start to get pretty fuzzy for me at this point because I was finally starting to sleep a little bit more, however the nurses had to come in lots to turn me and get me in better positions because of Conley’s heart rate. Everything was pretty uneventful as far as I remember. We had family in and out of the room, we took turns resting and I remember around 11:00 pm I was 8 cm had to sleep sitting up to encourage Conley to drop down lower into the birthing position. By 2:00 am she was FINALLY down low enough, I was 10 cm and it was time to start pushing.
I started pushing at 2:20 am and unfortunately all of that pushing was putting our girl into some distress. She was having some variability and decelerations between contractions. I was being moved into different positions, I was put on an oxygen mask, and also we had to wait at least 10 min between contractions to allow her time to recover before we went again. Through all of it as stressful as it was, I actually think this was probably my favorite part. We were so close to meeting Conley and it was the first time I felt like I had an active role in the process and I could really focus on pushing her out. Kyle and my cousin, Samantha were in the room with me and both of them who didn’t think they wanted to watch any of it actually became very involved and were the greatest cheerleaders through the pushing process. About an hour and half into the pushing we had to take a long 20 min break, Conley was in distress and we had to discuss some options about a potential assisted delivery because we needed her to come sooner. I told Kyle I would do a C-secton if it needed to happen because I hated knowing that she was struggling and I just wanted her to come out. I asked for a mirror at this point as well because I remember friends telling me the mirror really helped them when they were pushing and I needed to see what I was doing. The mirror was actually a game changer and I highly recommend asking for one if you’re having trouble. I could see my baby girls head and I was determined to get her out quickly. Less than 20 min later she was finally here at 4:22 am. Thankfully, she came out pink and crying and she was able to be placed directly on my chest, it was such a surreal moment and I’ll never forget those first moments we spent together. We never actually knew why she was acting up so much while I was pushing because the cord wasn’t wrapped around her neck or anything. The nurse also told me that if Conley hadn’t been struggling through my contractions I probably would have pushed for around 45 min instead of a long 2 hours. The NICU checked her out on my chest and said she was healthy as can be, which put our hearts at ease.
We got to spend nearly three hours of just the three of us getting to know each other in the delivery room because it was shift change. It was such a special time and Kyle and I fell so in love with our girl. All in all it wasn’t the labor story that I had always imagined, and it definitely took a lot longer than I expected, however it ended just perfectly.
Recovery has actually been a lot better than I anticipated and I am quickly feeling a lot more like myself. We’ve been taking our time adjusting to our new normal as a family of four (with Gus). If you made it through all of this, great job and I’m sorry if it was super long, but it was a very long process! I am excited to share more with you all about the first four weeks of Conley’s life and all the things that we are learning along the way. Thank you for giving me time to love on and cherish the sweet days with a newborn that I know are flying by all too quickly. I’ll be getting back to more of the blog ASAP.