We finally made it home safe and sound, and found a few minutes between cuddles to write about our eventful birthday with baby Maddox. I apologize in advance for the length.
Monday, at 41 weeks and 1 day, we had an appointment with our midwife. She scheduled an induction for the following Monday (the 28th), hoping that we wouldn't make it that long. At the appointment we found out that I was 3-4 cm dialated, and 75% effaced. That made me very hopeful that we wouldn't be waiting too much longer! That afternoon I was having mild contractions on and off, nothing really regular. Matt worked until 6 or so and we spent the evening relaxing around the apartment. I fell asleep around 8 and woke up at 9 with a stronger contraction. Nothing painful, just stronger than the Braxton Hicks I had been feeling for weeks. Again, I felt hopeful, but was sure that it was nothing. I continued to have mildly uncomfortable contractions for the next hour, not bothering to time them because they were not painful and not close together. At about 10, I realized I was having these mildly uncomfortable contractions about 5 minutes apart. Feeling hopeful yet again, I woke Matt up. I told him that my contractions had become very regular, exactly every 5 minutes, but that I didnt think I was really in labor because they weren't painful. I was sure that it was just wishful thinking and that somehow I was tricking myself into believing that I might be having regular contractions. I also knew that first time moms can have hours and hours of labor, so I thought to myself "even if I am actually in labor, it probably will still be 12 hours until I am in active labor".
I called my midwife out of pure optimism that she might tell me I was in labor. She told me I sounded too pretty on the phone to be in serious labor. She said any "fake" contractions I was having would go away if I took a warm bath. She instructed me to call her back when my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and lasting a minute each time for a solid hour. After I got off the phone, I got into the bathtub, and almost immediately my contractions went to 4 minutes, lasting a minute each. Then they dropped to 3 minutes apart. Continuing to be only mildly uncomfortable. Still believing that it wasn't painful enough to be real labor, I was hesistant to call the midwife back, I didn't want to bother her. (She herself is 40 weeks pregnant, so I knew she would rather be sleeping than dealing with a patient who wasn't really in labor).
Matt was insistent that I call, so I waited until midnight, and called her. She said I still sounded great on the phone, but since I was having regular contractions I could go to the hospital and get checked. YAY! She said she would have the nurse check me when I arrived and call her if I was in active labor. They won't admit a labor patient to the hospital unless you are 4 cm dialted. She didn't want to come all the way to the hospital to turn around and go back home again. She also said that if I wasn't 4 cm, Matt and I could do some walking at the hospital to help get things going. I was just glad that we were actually heading to the hospital, although I was thinking in the back of my mind that it was still wishful thinking on my part that I was actually in labor.
Around 12:15 we left for the hospital. Just as we were leaving, I had a contraction that literally made me double over. At that point, I knew it had to be the real thing.The hospital is a 25 minutes drive, and the roads were slick, so Matt had to drive slow. In the car, my contractions finally became painful. I kept telling Matt "I better be 5-6 cm when I get there, if these are the contractions of only 4 cm dialated, I won't be able to do it". We got to the emergency room and I waited at the desk. Matt had to go park the car, and was supposed to meet me on the labor & delivery floor. I waited about 10 minutes before I was helped at the emergency reception desk, then waited another 10 minutes for a tech to come get me from the E.R, then waited another 10 minutes before a labor nurse came to get me and wheel me up to the delivery floor. Come to find out, they forgot to come get me, and Matt had arrived upstairs by this time and was asking where I was. That was when they finally came downstairs and got me. All the time I was contracting (and still dealing with it pretty well) and it was about 1:15am by the time I got upstairs.
Standard procedure for patients using the Alternative Birthing Center is that upon arrival, they are checked, and baby is monitored for 20 minutes on a fetal heart monitor before admitting you to the labor room. So, I was taken to an exam room, where the nurse left me to change into a gown. Contractions were picking up, and I just wanted to get into the labor tub to help cope with the pain. I did not want to sit on a monitor for twenty minutes. We waited and waited for what seemed like an hour (maybe 15 minutes) without the nurse coming back for the exam/monitoring. Matt (my hero) finally went to look for someone, and not one nurse could be found. He stumbled upon a resident doctor who said that it was a liability for her to check me, but I think she could see the desperation in his eyes, because she agreed to do the exam. They came in the room, she checked my cervix and said "call your midwife right now, she is 8 cm dialated". At that point the original nurse came back, called our midwife, and hooked my up to a monitor. She said we just needed to do 15 minutes, and she would take us to the labor room. My contractions were starting to become unbearable, but I felt great in between them. Still about 2-3 minutes apart. After 15 VERY LONG minutes we walked to the alternative birthing room. This was at about 1:45am. At this point, my memory becomes very dreamlike as the contractions became very intense as soon as we were in the room. I couldn't stand, I couldn't lie down, I couldn't sit, I couldn't breathe through them. Julie (our midwife) arrived as they were filling the birthing tub. I remember looking at the nurses and seeing them prep the baby paraphanalia for Maddox's arrival, and knew that it wouldn't be too long.
By the time the tub was ready, I was very eager for the hot water, which was immediately soothing. Better than lying on the bed. When I got in the tub (at 2:00am) Julie checked me and said "She's ready to go. You're fully dialated". Which terrified me more than anything in my life. However, my water still had not broken at this point. She said that was normal, and sometimes babies are even born in their bag. So I started halfheartedly pushing, not really committing myself to doing it. I was scared and in very intense pain. I kept saying, "I don't want to do it, I'm scared, I don't want to do it." A couple contractions came and went, without any pushing on my part. Matt and Julie were both very encouraging. In between contractions I felt completely pain free. I even commented during this stage "It's nice that you get a break." However, the contractions at this point were indescribable. Unless you have been there, you cannot grasp the concept of what it feels like to be 10 cm dialated with a baby ready to be born. It was the most intense experience of my life. Although I was hesitant to push, Maddox was eager to get out, and was definitely going to do it with or without my help. I finally decided at about 2:15 that I did not want a 2 hour labor, and I knew that as soon as I pushed him out, the pain would be gone. So I committed full force, and about 2 or 3 contractions later, I was holding his slippery, screaming, perfect little body in arms.
8lbs, 14oz and 21 inches long