Life with a newborn is quite interesting. He’s been great when it comes to getting out and about and running errands, but once I lay one butt cheek on my desk chair, all hell seems to break loose! I know some folks want to hear how everything went, so I will gradually blog my labor & delivery story as he lets me!
Once I started figuring out maternity leave options and my summer schedule, I really had my heart set on Charlie being born early–July 1st instead of his July 8th due date. As the summer wore on, and I busted butt trying to crank out work projects before my leave, that urge to have a baby earlier, rather than later, just became more intense. In the last couple weeks of my pregnancy, I felt awkward and large, I was sleeping poorly, and I experienced “nesting”–otherwise known as the intense compulsion to work all hours of the day, until collapse. It was both exhilarating and exhausting.
On Thursday, June 30th, several colleagues commented that they wished me luck and hoped I had the baby that weekend. I dismissed their hopes and told them what the midwife and the pregnancy books and the birthing class instructor had told me: first time babies are usually late. Five days on average. I started to expect that Charlie would make his arrival sometime on July 15th (the full moon) or July 16th (Evan’s birthday).
July 1st was a pretty uneventful day. I ran some errands (thank goodness–otherwise the cat would have been pretty darn hungry once we left for the hospital), and we had our weekly appointment with the midwife. Ursula told me again that the baby wasn’t coming anytime soon and gave Evan a list of massage therapists in our area with orders to treat me to dinner and a massage.
Evan and I made plans to spend the weekend having our last date night–and we were excited about it. We planned to go to the King of Prussia Mall (where we had a date night the day before taking the pregnancy test and learning we were expecting), go out to a nice dinner and see the new X-Men movie.
Friday night, Evan worked and I simply relaxed. Around 10pm, I bent down to pet my cat, who had been at my feet most of the night, only to feel a gush of warm water. I’ve never bolted for the bathroom so quickly. I sat on the toilet for 15 minutes in shock.
Did I just pee myself? No. Did my water break? My water couldn’t have broken. We’re not having a baby this weekend. First born babies are late, right?
All of those random pregnancy statistics ran through my head
- 85% of women don’t experience their water breaking until the later stages of labor.
- Most first time moms deliver approximately 5 days AFTER their due date.
- This can’t happen now… tomorrow is date night!
I called Evan at work. He picked up his cell phone on the first ring (which I totally didn’t expect given he works at a hospital ER and tends to be quite busy) and said “Yes, honey? Is there something you need to tell me.” I told him my water broke and I had mild cramping but wasn’t in labor yet. I told him he could stay at work for a little longer if he needed or wanted to and I’d call him to come home if true contractions actually started. He came home immediately anyway and quickly set to work finishing up some last minute packing (snacks for him, a playlist on his iPod for me, some magazines for both of us…).
I called the midwife to make sure we didn’t need to come in earlier. Our original plan was to labor at home until the contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and then go to the hospital, but I wasn’t sure if my water breaking so early would change that. Fortunately, she said I could stay at home and strongly encouraged me to get some sleep to conserve my energy for labor and delivery.
That was impossible. I was shocked and wired thanks to the adrenaline rush of my water breaking and realizing we had a baby on the way. I started working. I sat on a monster pile of towels at my desk and e-mailed the people who would be covering for me while I was on maternity leave. I sent them detailed information on where I left various projects, set up my away message on my e-mail and did the same for voice mail. Evan watched Avatar and kept an eye on me until I went to bed several hours later.
But first, we took a couple photos:
Around 3am, I was finally tired enough to try to sleep, and at that point, I started having contractions, although they were mild and 20-25 minutes apart. I slept until 9am, when the contractions were stronger and more frequent–about 5 minutes apart. I called the midwife again, thinking and hoping we’d go to the hospital within a few hours and meet our baby boy.
She could tell by my voice that the contractions weren’t strong enough to progress my labor, so she told me to stay home until they got stronger. Evan and I ran a quick errand, we walked laps around the parking garage (the only cool/shady space where we could get a decent walk on such a hot day) and we waited. My contractions were so inconsistent, sometimes happening every 2 minutes and at other times slowing to every 9 minutes. I napped from 3-5pm, only to be woken by the midwife calling. She said that since my labor wasn’t progressing, and it had almost been 24 hours since my water broke, we should come into the hospital so she could assess me and figure out if we needed to jump start this birth a little bit.
We set off for the hospital, wondering what the next few hours and days would bring for us. I was nervous, knowing that “jump starting” would mean pitocin. Although I didn’t have a birth plan, I wanted as few interventions as possible. No pitocin and no epidural if it wasn’t absolutely necessary. Both drugs can have negative impacts on labor and delivery:
- an epidural can compromise a woman’s ability to push during labor–partly because it’s difficult to feel the contractions
- an epidural can slow labor
- pitocin can cause fetal distress, making a c-section more likely and it can amp up the contractions so much that a woman needs an epidural
Fortunately, I had great midwives. Yes, that’s right, two! We had Peggy, the midwife on call and Ellie, a student midwife. Both also had nursing degrees. Despite Ellie’s relative lack of midwifery experience, we felt totally comfortable with her. She was comforting, knowledgable and monitored by Peggy every step of the way. It also helped that Evan and I would have named the baby Ellie if we had a girl–so having a midwife named Ellie made us feel as if we were in the right hands.
More to come…
And if you want to see Evan’s rundown of Charlie’s entrance into the world, complete with photos, click here.