A Birth Story: Just call me ‘Precipitous’

Maybe you’re pregnant, maybe you’re not – Whatever the reason you’ve found yourself interested in a version of a labor and delivery story, I welcome you to read all you can, especially if you’re expecting your first baby or are a support person for someone who is. Before I had our baby I read and read, and even watched birth story videos all I could. I wanted to hear all of the first hand accounts available, to know what I could expect. The best piece of knowledge I gleaned from all of that reading and watching, is that every single experience was completely different. Not one was the same at all! So keeping that information in mind, I give you, my detailed, and some would say extreme, birth story:

(*Disclaimer: If you are a male who knows me, I strongly discourage you from reading the personal and intimate details below. Thank you!)

Precipitous Labor:
“The term precipitate or precipitous labor has been defined as a labor that lasts no more than three hours from onset of regular contractions to delivery.” (uptodate.com)

This is the term that describes my delivery in my discharge hospital report.
Thankfully, we live in a small town with an amazing hospital, so it takes us less than 5 minutes from our home to drive there. If I would have planned on driving to San Antonio from our home for delivery – I for sure would have had our baby on the roadside.

While pregnant, I wondered if I could do labor without needing an epidural. I wondered if I was strong enough. You can’t know what your pain tolerance is until you have experienced that pain before, and I also think that pain is relative to not only what you have experienced before, but also to each person.

I can’t say I ever got to the point of impatience with waiting as so many other pregnant people have complained about – but I also kept myself extremely busy with my work up until baby decided to come… and he also came three weeks early – but he was so ready to come!

H15A0319
Taken on January 20, 2018 when I was 34 weeks pregnant, 3 weeks before our baby was born.

On Tuesday, February 6th, I woke up at about 6AM and needed to go to the bathroom. While in there, I thought that I had lost my mucus plug, but wasn’t sure. (As I had only read about this pre-labor sign in my google searches.) Coincidentally, I was rescheduled to have my doctors appointment that day, instead of my original appointment day of that Friday. I was so thankful I had been rescheduled and waited the whole day in impatient anticipation for my doctors appointment. It was also my first appointment back with my doctor, since she had been out on maternity leave with her sweet baby she had had 6 weeks prior. At that appointment, we decided to do my first pelvic exam to see if I had dilated at all. To my absolute shock I was dilated to THREE centimeters and was about 60% effaced.

That is when the panic set in.
(I won’t type what I said as a reaction to her telling me how dilated I was.)

She said that there are women who walk around for weeks dilated that much without going into labor so it’s not an indicator that I would soon, but it wasn’t impossible either.

Just the thought that I ‘could’ set me into a whirl of things to do.
I hadn’t had a hospital bag packed, and the carseat wasn’t even in the car yet!

I drove straight home, and had my husband go with me to Walmart to get the all the things I thought we may need. My mind was racing, and I was experiencing a uncommon feeling of scatterbrain – I am not used to wandering around aimlessly in a store without a plan of what I need to buy – and I had no idea! At one point, I had about 7 different types of pads in my cart.. somehow I came to my senses enough to decide I needed to make myself focus – which didn’t really happen – but I did only purchase 3 different types of pads. We also bought a plethora of snacks we totally didn’t need. After a $200 checkout receipt of arbitrary objects that seemed dire at the time, we drove home and continued to (try to) plan. On the way home, we stopped and grabbed a fast-food burger to alleviate any cooking stress for the evening.

After scarfing down a burger while half-shaking in anxiety, my husband put the carseat in the car and I packed our bag. I was still feeling an immense amount of a sense of urgency and panic in my heart. I was so incredibly thankful that months prior I had made a packing list – I remembered it and found it stashed away in our ‘everything drawer’ in the kitchen where I had put it. Without it, I doubt I would have had half of the stuff we needed, and would have been worried about whether we did or not. It really put my mind at ease, and made packing so much easier.

By 6:00pm, I went to the bathroom again, and while in there… I thought that I felt my waters break. It was a trickle that felt like about a ¼ of a cup and I was relatively sure it was not urine… And so I texted my doctor… she said that if it was my water that broke, it would continue to leak, so put on a pad and sit upright for an hour or so to monitor it. She also said that if it was my waters that broke, even if I wasn’t having contractions I needed to go to the hospital immediately.

And so I waited. With my heart about to leap out of my chest. But I waited.

Slowly but surely, the sense of urgency in my heart went away over the next few hours, and with the calmness that overcame me, I convinced myself that maybe it wasn’t my waters I had felt break and my mind had just made it up because I was so anxious.

I went to bed around about 10:00pm while my husband decided to get in a workout at the gym. He got home at about 11:30pm while I was still asleep. At 2:15am I woke up with the teeny-tiniest tummy cramp, and needed to go to the bathroom. I got up and while in the bathroom there was so much more of a gush! I was certain then that THAT was definitely my waters that broke. Because it was leaking so much, at that point I didn’t have a choice but to put on a pad. I was still quite calm though, and so thankful that our bag was packed and ready!

I went to the bedside where my husband was sleeping, woke him up and told him that we needed to go to the hospital, it was definitely my water that had broke and he would meet his son today. :)
Little did I know how soon it would be from that moment!

We took our time getting dressed, and left the house at about 2:40am. When we were at the town square by the courthouse is when I felt my first contraction – although it was very mild and not painful at all. I started timing them with the app I had downloaded months prior that even had an iWatch app – which I was wearing specifically for that use. We got to the hospital at about 2:45am, and went to registration to go through all of the proper protocol. Thankfully, I had also pre-registered so there wasn’t a whole lot to set-up and sign. Twice, I asked my husband to go back to the car and grab a bag or two, and on his last trip he told me he wasn’t going back again right then, as we had plenty of time, he would go back later… While he signed the few documents they needed, the ER nurse, Shane, evaluated me and called my doctor. I was still smiling and not in any pain, but could feel mild contractions. While on the phone with my doctor, he said ‘she thinks her water has broken…’ and she said he could admit me to OB. When I stood up, and another huge gush of water came out, he then didn’t have any doubt that my water had in fact, broken. :)

He ran and got me a wheelchair and speedily took me straight to OB, leaving my husband by himself to finish signing. He said that he would have a nurse come and get him to show him to my room.

By this time it was about 3:15am or so.

By about 3:30am a nurse had hooked me up to the contraction and heart rate monitors across my belly. I loved seeing our baby’s heartbeat on the screen and seeing the graph of my contractions was pretty interesting. It was charting them before I could even feel them.

But feel them, I eventually did!

After getting hooked up to the monitors, the nurse, told me that she needed to go next door because the lady in that delivery room was about to have her baby. I said that that was fine – as I was still not in any real pain, and we all figured that I still had a very long way to go before it was time for our baby to come.

Over the course of the next 45 minutes, my contractions got progressively more strong.

IMG_5222
This photo was taken at 4:16am, 28 minutes before our baby was born, between contractions that still weren’t too intense yet.

After the first 15 minutes after the nurse left, I felt like I needed to sit up instead of laying back on the hospital bed in order to get through them. Me and my basketball belly sat up and sat on the side of the bed… after a while of that I felt like sitting on the exercise ball I could see around the corner of the closet in our room would help more… so I asked my husband to get that for me. I sat on that for about 20 minutes or so and then my contractions got exceptionally strong. My husband was so sweet to me and rubbed my back and listened to me intently. I think he was really concerned about the amount of pain I was in because it was happening so fast. Once they got pretty intense, I asked him to go get the nurse so that we could get me started on an epidural. If it was going to be hours of that level of pain (which is what I was expecting) I knew I couldn’t take it.

He went and got our nurse and she told me that before she could get the CRNA to come and give me the epidural, I needed to get hooked up to an IV and have a whole bag of fluids in my system. I told her that I really needed to go to the *bathroom*…. and she said that I should do that before I get hooked up to the IV. She asked if I wanted her to check me before I went to the bathroom and I said that I thought she better. She did a pelvic exam… and to her shock (and mine) she said I was at 9 ½ centimeters dilated! She said “You’re complete! He’s right there!”. I asked if there was time for pain medication or not… and she just stared at me and said nope.

I started to panic a little bit. I was still trying to come to terms that I was in labor at all 3 weeks early, and then I had to try to realize that in matter of a few minutes my baby would be in my arms!

I think I started to panic not only because I was in shock that THIS WAS HAPPENING NOW, but also because shortly after she checked me, my body started to push on its own when the contractions came. There was no stopping it – my body was doing its own involuntary motions. It was happening. And my doctor was still at home sleeping! She and I texted when I first got into the delivery room and we were both like – hey – see you in a few hours! … nope. More like one hour.

Thankfully, since another lady had just delivered her baby next door, a doctor was in the hospital! …and was that an experience. ha.

He came into the room after the nurse called him in panic that the baby was coming NOW, and he kinda just stood beside the bed, I guess waiting to see if he needed to deliver the baby or if my doctor would get there in time. I asked him how long it was going to be – like was this going to be five minutes of pushing? 45 minutes? How far progressed was I? His answer – “I don’t know anything about you.” … what?! In my panic stricken mind – I was like – Yes. Yes you DO know something about me. I asked you just the other day in the hair salon about C-sections. I have been to a birthday party at your house. I asked him how his wife was doing since her accident I knew she had recently … Probably not the best time to ask that. ha.

I don’t remember saying this but my husband said I told him to ‘do what needed to be done’ – baby was coming!

So he sat on the edge of the bed and started coaching me on how to push. He was so calm and so soft spoken – it did start to calm me down a bit. At that moment, my doctor came in. (YAY!) She didn’t even have time to change into her doctor’s jacket – she was just wearing her Des Moines University sweatshirt and her hospital badge. And thank goodness- because my body was PUSHING with every contraction. We started talking about how to push and when, and I asked the nurse if she would count to ten for me each time so I could concentrate. We did that twice, and on the third assisted push from me, I kept pushing after she got to ten because I could tell that if I kept going it would be over! My instincts were on point, because with that third push our baby came out!

IMG_5242From the time the nurse checked me to when my baby was in my arms was less than ten minutes. He was born at 4:48am. We left our house at 2:40am and I was only in the delivery room at 3:30am. I was in labor for just over an hour – apparently the only contractions my body feels are the transition stage contractions of active labor.

I think for a variety of reasons (sheer shock and let down of some intense hormones) the following moments after delivery are a little fuzzy in my memory. I don’t remember what I said. I just remember feeling relieved that it was over and kept repeating that to myself in my mind – I remember hearing his little cry, and I remember him lying on my chest and my husband cutting his umbilical cord, and blood squirting out from it onto my leg. I think I was concerned about the placenta coming out and if that would be painful because I had been told that it was. (It wasn’t at all.)

After that – they took him to the warmer to clean him off and weigh him (and do whatever else they do) and my doctor and I focused on the placenta… and then stitches. Lots of stitches. I had a 2nd degree (out of 4 degrees) perineal tear and it took her about thirty minutes (with my legs spread and blood all over me) to get stitched up. I remember my legs shaking. They had to give me a shot to help the bleeding and make my blood clot faster, but they did that while he was on my chest the first time.

After she was done stitching and I was given some dignity back by covering myself with a blanket, I got to hold my clean little baby and try to feed him for the first time. There were some tiny little sucks, but not too many. About an hour after he was born I got to take a shower and it was glorious. I took my time freshening up as best as I could with the haphazard hospital bag I had put together (and thank goodness it was NOT in the car!). During that time my mom arrived and got to meet him for the first time – she was our first visitor. The second was a dear friend who works at the hospital.

Then we were transferred to the ‘recovery room’ and stayed there (feeding every 2 hours) until the next day at noon. I was elated and so in love. It was hard for me to stop looking at our beautiful perfect baby.

My husband was the perfect labor partner. Even though it was fast, I couldn’t have asked for a better labor experience. The hospital staff were amazing and I enjoyed every second of being there. It was the most amount of love I have ever felt.

I love our little boy, and though he changes in front of my eyes every day lately, and I love him being so tiny and want this time to last forever, I am also excited to see him grow and develop a little personality. I am thankful to God that I get to be his mama and get to help mold him into the person he will be.

For more information on a precipitous labor, please see here and here.

Have you had a baby? How was your birth story??

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