Okay, Doc, what’s the verdict?
As the nurses and my midwife examined me, they determined that although I didn’t have any actual serious labor symptoms, in spite of my water breaking, and given that my 5-1-1 (five minutes apart, 1 minute in length, for at least 1 hour) contractions had just started, I probably wouldn’t actually give birth until late that evening, possibly even the next day.
Alright, that’s good news. And it was, even though it meant that I would most likely be in labor for 12 or even 24 hours, my mom would be able to arrive with time to spare.
With that long-term goal in mind, I settled in to labor the day away. When writing out my labor plan, I had originally intended to do my laboring in the water, maybe even delivering in the water, but the back contractions quickly put a stop to that to that idea. Throughout my pregnancy, any time I had the least amount of discomfort, I soaked in a warm tub and that was enough to soothe my tense muscles and aching back. From what I had read, that some strategy would work for labor pains, which actually made me a little excited about the laboring process, as I would be able to spend the whole day in the tub.
Oh, boy was I mistaken!
The thing nobody told me about back contractions is that you cannot-sit-still. As soon as a contraction hit me, I was up out of that chair and pacing the room, back-and-forth until the minute was up, then I would sit down for a few minutes until the next wave hit. The whole idea of soaking in the tub was completely forgotten as it was actually more painful for me to sit in that position when all that helped was arching my back and walking. At one point Micah did find one thing that helped, and that was my bending over so that my head was between my knees, and then he used the massaging sprayer to shoot water right at the small of my back. Oh, my! That felt good.
Since my labor had officially started, we contacted our families and friends to let them know the good news. I was a little occupied so Micah took charge up fielding the phone calls and updating Facebook for us. (I really wish I had my Blackberry back then!) Every few minutes we would get a phone call, text, or message, all of our friends and family just letting us know that they were praying for us and couldn’t wait to meet the little one.
As Momma reached each new layover she would give us a call to find out how far I had progressed, and to make sure that I hadn’t had the baby while she was in the air! Meanwhile, my brothers, Brandon and Tyler, had started a “race update” on Facebook: Momma against Baby, who would arrive first? Even in the midst of the contractions, it was fun for me to see how excited everyone was, and that helped the process along so much.
Two of Micah’s brothers live here in town, Matt and Nathan, and they both came by to see us and find out when their nephew/niece would arrive. It was shortly after eight when they arrived so my contractions had definitely started and it was interesting to try and carry on a conversation while trying to do the breathing exercises I had practiced. And yes, the exercises do help! After a while, Matt went off to work with the promise that we would let him know as soon as I got into the last stage, while Nathan stayed around for a little while longer before Micah went to drop him off at school. After dropping him off, Micah swung by the house and gathered the items that we had forgotten in our hasty departure, such as our cell phone chargers, the computer, my pillow, and my cushy socks. Just having those few personal items (especially my pillow!) made the room feel so much more relaxing.
By mid-morning, I had only managed to get about an hour’s sleep between all the quick-cat naps and was really starting to feel the exhaustion overcome my weary body. Since my water had broken at 11:30 the previous night, we had never had the chance to actually go to sleep and so I had actually been up since 6:30 the previous morning, nearly 28 hours by that time, and I could feel each and every hour of missed sleep.
Looking back, I do think that the exhaustion was the hardest part of the labor process. My body was so tired that I could barely stand, even though sitting was too painful and once a contraction hit, I couldn’t sit. Instead, I would pace back-and-forth across the room, painfully, slowly, just waiting for the minute to pass.
That was my whole mindset right there: It’s only a minute. One minute. I can do anything for a minute.
When you think about it, a minute is such a small amount time when compared to the grand scheme of things. Yes, my labor my take a whole day, or longer, and there will be wave after wave of contractions, but I only have one contraction at a time. And so if I focus on that one contraction for that one minute, then I can withstand anything.
Telling myself that over and over again really did help as I would literally watch the clock, sing songs in my head, quote Bible scriptures, carry on conversations with Baby, anything to make it through those 60 seconds. With a sigh of relief, I would sit down and rest my tired legs for a few minutes until the next contraction hit and then I would be back on my feet, watching the clock once more.
Yet, even my awesome contraction-management system was interrupted as the nurses had to come in every hour to plug me into the machine so they could check on Baby. In and of itself, that wouldn’t be so bad, except that they made me sit the entire time that I was plugged into the monitor. That, my friends, was torture.
The first nurse we had, from the time we were admitted until 8 am, was really sweet, and understood that I was most comfortable moving, so she was great about only leaving me to monitor the absolute minimum amount of time. But once they did the staff change, our new nurse was nice enough, but it must have gotten busy in the wing because she would hook me up to the monitor and then forget about me, leaving me there for 30 minutes while the first nurse only had me hooked up for 10 minutes. Let me tell you, the difference between 30 minutes and 10 minutes while you’re having contractions… it cannot be compared. Just know that it’s a huge difference, especially considering that I hit the real labor pains right in the midst of the shift change.
During this time, Micah was wonderful, so very wonderful, which I think is the only reason I didn’t go crazy sitting in that rocking chair. Unlike some men, he is quite comfortable with the idea of childbirth, having been there for several of his sister’s home births. For hours upon end, he helped me in and out of the bathtub, rubbed my back, rocked my chair, and simply held my hand and told me how amazing I was. Since the first few hours from 2-8 weren’t really that important, I had managed on my own while Micah got some much-needed rest, though I will admit that I was a little jealous that he got to sleep while I was stuck having his baby! But only a little…
At one point, our nurse told me that it was my last chance to eat before the baby came and handed me a menu to choose from. I was ravenously hungry, having eaten nothing since dinner the night before, when I was used to eat every 3 hours. Ordering a simple eggs and French toast plate, I called in the order and waited while I rocked. Once the food arrived, I took the first bite, sighing with content as the food hit my empty stomach. Then Baby realized what was happening and decided that he wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to make me miserable.
Within minutes, I was bent over the toilet, throwing up what little food I had managed to eat. Even on the day of delivery, even in the midst of labor, the morning sickness just would not leave me alone! Thankfully, that would prove to be my last bout with the most hated pregnancy symptom.
Since I was having our baby at the Native Hospital (since Micah is an Alaskan Native), I was blessed with the fact that they promote natural-births and as such did not push to have me medicate for the delivery. Not long after arrival, I was asked if I thought that I would want medicine, pain-killers, or an epidural. Adamantly, I told them, “No,” I want to do this naturally. I know that it will hurt like crazy, but I can do this.” And that is a decision that I do not regret in the least. Yes, it hurts. It’s hurts a lot, but as women, our bodies are designed to do this and often we find that we have a much higher pain tolerance that we ever imagined. For some woman, medicinal help or an epidural might help tremendously, perhaps even saving their life or the life of their baby, but in the end it comes down to what’s right in that situation and for me, this was right. It was important to Micah and me to give birth naturally, to breastfeed, and to not vaccinate our baby until he was at least a year old. We made a commitment to each other and to our child, and so no matter how great the pain, I was determined to keep that promise.
As the hours ticked by, nine o’clock, ten o’clock, eleven o’clock, we got closer and closer to finally holding our little baby in our arms. We had waited nine months, no, our whole lives for this moment, what was a few more hours? What was another day? We could wait… our moment would come.
Oh, little did we know how soon the moment would come.
-----Part 3 to come tomorrow------