My daughter decided to make her appearance a little early.  I was 38 weeks and 2 days when I went into labor.  I woke up that morning feeling some contractions but I wasn’t quite sure it was the real thing cause they weren’t that close together, coming 15 to 20 minutes apart, and weren’t really that strong.  I decided I would see how things went figuring I was just having more painful braxton hicks as I had heard that those could get pretty intense as you approached true labor.  I started timing the contractions and went about my day.

I  had my regular scheduled appointment with my doctor that day so I figured I would just see what he had to say about the contractions and take it from there.  By the time I was getting ready to leave for my appointment my contractions were about 10 minutes apart but still not real strong.  For a few minutes I considered calling my husband to come home and take me to the doctor’s office but decided against it.  My doctor checked me out and we talked about the contractions I had been having all morning.  I was 3 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced (I had been 2 centimeters and 80% the week before).  He said I was definitely having “positive” contractions and that I would likely have the baby in the next couple of days.  He did warn me though that the contractions could abruptly stop as well and it could be longer than that before the baby arrived.  He said to make sure we had everything ready to go and to just keep an eye on the contractions.  The instructions were to head into the hospital when the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart, my water broke, or I just felt like things had really changed.  I went home still having contractions every 8 to 10 minutes, and still not that strong.  After talking to the doctor I figured it would probably be another couple of days.

Boy did things changed when I got home.  I called my husband to tell him about the appointment, and about the contractions, as I had not mentioned them earlier when he left for work figuring at the time they were just braxton hicks.  After giving him the scoop and telling him I would call him if things changed I hung up and laid down on the couch to take a little nap.  Within a few minutes I was hit with a much more intense contraction which was followed 5 minutes later by another contraction.  I timed the contractions for an hour and they were coming consistently at five minute intervals and lasting about a minute.  I called my husband and asked him to come home cause at this point I was freaking out a little.  It was very apparent that this was the real thing, our baby was on her way.  When my husband arrived home we decide to keep timing the contractions for a while to see what was happening and then decide from there whether to go to the hospital.  With stop watch in hand and my husband running around gather a few last minute things for our bag I timed contractions that were pretty intense and coming every 3 minutes and still lasting about a minute each.  It quickly became apparent that it was time to head to the hospital.

We arrived at the hospital at about 6pm, 12 hours after the first pangs of contractions early that morning.  I was sent to the triage room where I was hooked up to the fetal heart beat monitor so they could get an idea of how the baby was tolerating the contractions, and contraction monitor so they could see how often the contractions were coming and how intense they were.  While a nurse asked us a million questions I started suffering through contractions that were now coming every 2 minutes and lasting a minute.  It felt like I was hardly getting a break before the next contraction hit.  Once the questionnaire was complete the nurse checked me and determined that I was 5 centimeters dilated and 100% effaced.  I was in active labor.  Within a few minutes I was transfered from the triage room to a labor and delivery room and my doctor was called.  I was hooked up to the monitors in that room and I sat on the birthing ball (which by the way is really helpful during contractions) while I waited for my epidural.  Arrangements were made for the anesthesiologist to come in when he was available to give me an epidural, which I was told could be a little while cause they were going through a shift change.  Luckily he arrived within 15-20 minutes cause my contractions were now coming every minute or so, there was literally no break, they were just one right after another.

The epidural was administered and I was again laying peacefully in bed.  Surprisingly the epidural didn’t hurt going in.  It felt a little strange but was far less painful than an IV.  Once the epidural was in place I was given some pitocin,  which is used to help ensure the contractions don’t slow down too much.  Often an epidural will slow down labor so the pitocin helps to counteract that.  My husband and I turned on the TV and started watching “My Name is Earl”, wondering when our daughter would decided to come out.  The nurse came in to check me every so often and I just tried to relax and rest knowing the big event was drawing near.

At about 9:30 or so I felt what I thought was my water breaking so I called the nurse in.  She checked me and said she thought it was the “fore bag” as my bag of water was still intact and hanging down into the birth canal.  She advised she could not tell how dilated I was because of the bag of water being in the way and she was going to have the on call doctor come in to break my water.  The on call doctor was busy with another patient so I had to wait.  When she walked in the room she started to tell me what she was going to do and what it feel like all of a sudden I felt a big gush of water, apparently my body decided her services weren’t needed.  My water decided to break on its own.  The doctor checked me and determined that I was 10 centimeters dilated and the baby was at -2 station, we were ready to go.  I was told to relax as best I could, they would call my doctor and the nurse would come back in so we could start pushing.

At 10:30pm I started pushing.  The baby was already in a good position and my early pushing was going well.  After about 15 to 20 minutes of pushing my doctor called in to see how things were going, they told him to make his way in as my baby was ready to make her appearance.  I continued to push with the nurse and my doctor arrived a few minutes later. He joined in the pushing excitement and we continued to make good progress.

After an hour of pushing my daughter was born.  She weighed 7lbs 10oz and was 21 inches long.  Unfortunately when she came out her one arm was up beside her head.  After the placenta was delivered my doctor checked me and found that not only did I have a tear in my perineum but I also had a couple of tears inside along the vaginal wall.  For two hours my doctor worked vigorously to stitch me up.  My husband was over with the baby and when she was ready he brought her over so I could get a good look at her and give her a little kiss. Thank goodness for the epidural cause I didn’t really feel much as they stitched me up and I was able to remain calm.  My doctor said in most cases like mine they would have had to take me to the OR but since I was staying very calm they were able to do it right there and I didn’t need to be separated from my baby.

I was finally able to hold her and begin the first breast feeding session a little over 2 hours after she was born.  It went well.  I was understandably exhausted at that point as it was almost 2am but I was so excited to be holding my little girl that I hardly noticed I was tired.  Shortly after I fed the baby for the first time they began getting things ready to transfer me to the room we would be in for the remainder of our stay, however, I became very lightheaded and dizzy.  My blood pressure was checked and it was really low.  They decided to keep in the labor and delivery room for a little while longer until I felt better and my blood pressure stabilized.

Around 4am we were finally in our room and settling in for the evening.  I fed the baby again and we all fell asleep for a short time.

Our stay at the hospital was about 48 hours.  We had wonderful nurses and lactation consultants helping us figure out how to care for our little baby and taking care of me.  We are so thankful for all the nurses that helped us during our stay, they made things so much easier.  Leaving the hospital a couple of days after the delivery with our little bundle of joy was like nothing I can explain with words.  It was amazing to think we had entered the hospital as a couple and were leaving as a family Laughing.

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