Late in the night of November 26, 2012, I awoke from a very uncomfortable pain radiating from my lower back and into my hips. Thinking it was my normal nightly hip pain, I tried to ignore it and go back to sleep. Despite my best efforts, about every 15-20 minutes I was rudely awakened by the same pain. After several hours, I admitted to myself that I may be in early labor. My first clue had been earlier that day when I was using the restroom and noticed that I may have lost my mucus plug. I didn’t know for sure; after all, I’d never had a baby before, how was I supposed to know what a mucus plug looked like? But now with the somewhat regular bursts of back pain, I was pretty convinced that my labor had started so I opened my handy contraction timing app on my iPhone and started timing the pains.
Several hours passed and it was finally morning. When my husband woke up I let him know that I thought I was having contractions. Much like how he responded when I told him I was pregnant, he said, “Uh…what?” and then promptly jumped out of bed. After I assured him that the baby was not coming anytime soon, we tried to go about our normal morning routine while also preparing to head to the birth center later in the day. Being the Type A, slightly crazy person that I am, I decided that morning was the perfect time to finish making my DIY baby wipes and make a lasagna for freezing. So I spent Tuesday morning in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, taking frequent breaks to lean against the kitchen island and time a contraction.
As Tuesday progressed, so did my contractions. By mid-afternoon, we contacted my midwife and doula to let them know what was going on. By my description of the contractions and how far apart they were (still between 8 and 10 minutes apart but getting stronger), they agreed that I was still in early labor and that I should just continue to do what I was doing and keep them updated. By that night, the contractions were becoming less “uncomfortable” and more “painful” but they were only coming between 5 and 7 minutes apart. We called the midwife again and she suggested that I have a glass of wine and take a bath so that I could try to get some sleep that night. We followed her instructions and the bath felt wonderful. My contractions slowed down considerably and I was able to relax a bit. I hoped that I’d be able to get some sleep so that I could continue to labor in earnest the next day. Unfortunately, as soon as I got in bed, the contractions intensified again and I knew very shortly that there would be no sleep for me that night.
I moved into the living room and lay on the couch, hoping to give my husband an opportunity to get some rest. Of course, he couldn’t let me labor alone so he sat up with me for several more hours timing contractions and trying to keep me as comfortable as possible. Throughout the night we were updating our midwife and doula and by around 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, our doula arrived at the house. Within the hour, we decided it was time to head to the birth center where we met our midwife.
Although much of what happened over the next 24 hours is a blur to me, luckily my doula took excellent notes of what occurred. My contractions continued to be about 5-6 minutes apart and by 5:00 a.m. I was only at 5 centimeters and it appeared as though the baby had moved into a posterior position. At that point our focus became getting baby back in a good position so I began walking and lunging and we did a couple of rebozo sifting and belly lifting sessions. By my next vaginal exam at 8:45 a.m., my midwife noticed scar tissue on my cervix (from a LEEP procedure a few years ago) and that my cervix was starting to swell on the left side. By 10:00 a.m. my contractions had slowed to around 10-12 minutes apart and another vaginal exam showed no change in my cervix. After a series of homeopathic remedies to try to intensify my contractions again, they revved back up to being around 5-6 minutes apart and by 3:00 p.m. my cervix had dilated to 7 centimeters. Needless to say, I was exhausted, hungry (I hadn’t eaten anything but fruit and Gatorade since Tuesday night), and starting to lose hope that my cervix was ever going to cooperate.
Indeed, by 5:15 p.m., another exam revealed no change in my cervix. At this point, my husband and I discussed our options with our midwife and doula. After praying about it, we decided to try breaking my water, hoping that the increase in the intensity of contractions would help my cervix to dilate the rest of the way. Immediately after breaking the waters, my contractions became extremely intense and very close together. I continued to labor under these intense contractions for the next five hours until another vaginal exam revealed that my cervix was still only 7 centimeters dilated. At this point, I had nothing left. I was sobbing between contractions and I knew that I needed help to get this baby out. As much as I wanted my daughter to be born at the birth center, I knew I could no longer take the pain and physical exertion on no sleep and very little to eat. My husband and I decided it was best that we go to the hospital so we all packed up and headed out.
To read Part 2, click here.