Friday, May 20, 2016

Adam's Birth Day: My Labor Story

{My Labor Story with Grayson}

Adam Jacob Curley was born on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 7:04 PM. He was 8 lbs 3 oz and 20 1/2 inches long.

My labor with Grayson was textbook - each thing happening in the proper order as depicted in so many movies and books, and all happening in a timely fashion. In fact, I even had him on his due date!

I assumed my labor with Adam would be roughly the same. If there were any major differences, I guessed it would be that he came earlier and quicker, being the second baby and considering how quick my labor was with Grayson (7 hours). I was not prepared for a long, drawn out ordeal with false alarms and frustrating starts and stops.

I had a few Braxton Hicks contractions with Grayson, but they were always sporadic. Maybe one or two a day, and usually happened when I was walking across campus in the heat. Other than that, I had no contractions until the day I had him. With Adam, contractions became almost a given in my daily life.

At exactly 39 weeks, I started having contractions. They were not coming in predictable intervals yet, but they were consistently coming throughout the day. That afternoon, I started timing them and they were about 10 minutes apart, lasting around a minute each. The only thing was, they weren't painful yet. But it was definitely contractions. My entire abdomen would tighten until it was rock-hard. I felt certain that it was the beginning of early labor. I knew I could realistically be in this stage for several hours, maybe even a full day, but I assumed I would go into active labor within the next day or so. I had a work event that evening that I did not attend because I wanted to get some rest in preparation for labor. Unfortunately, the next morning I awoke feeling rested and without contractions.

This was frustrating, but I had another work event that evening, this one a banquet to celebrate the graduating seniors who I advise, and I was hoping I would be able to attend (but I wouldn't have complained if I had a baby instead!). I also was sort of hoping I didn't have my baby on 4/20...for obvious reasons, but also because it's Hitler's birthday. Eek! I made it through the work day and the banquet with only a handful of contractions. The Lit/Phil department chair and I decided that Saturday, April 23rd would be an excellent time to go into labor because it is Shakespeare's birthday. So, I jokingly told everyone that was the new plan.

The next day, Thursday, around 11 AM, I started having contractions again. I timed them and all afternoon they were consistently 10 minutes apart and lasting about a minute each. Most of the time they were not painful, but they were getting more intense. Around 4:15 PM, I used the restroom and discovered I had lost a large piece of mucus plug. I had read that this does not necessarily mean labor is on its way, but given the increasing contractions and that I had lost my plug with Grayson hours before going into labor, I felt pretty certain this was the start of the real deal!

We left work at that time because Scott was freaking out a bit (he might deny it, but he was!). We went home and I called my mom. I told her it was up to her whether she wanted to head up then or wait until I went into active labor, but we all assumed that my labor would be super quick and she wanted to be there for Grayson. She said she would go home and gather her things and be on the road.

Scott, Grayson, and I went for a walk to try to move things along. Though, I realized that I wasn't having many contractions anymore. We started timing them again and they were very infrequent and irregular...some coming as long as 30 minutes apart. I informed my mom, who hadn't left yet. Since it was going to be about 2 AM by the time she would get here, she decided to wait and leave first thing in the morning. I told her she could wait to make sure I was in labor, but she felt like I would be going into labor within the next day or two anyway so she wanted to go ahead and come up.

Scott and I stayed home from work the next day (Friday), in hopes of labor starting. We spent the entire morning keeping busy. Scott did yard work while I did detailed cleaning inside the house...lots of squatting and whatnot! Much to my dismay, no contractions whatsoever!! My mom arrived around lunch time. We went to Olive Garden so I could eat eggplant Parmesan. Yes, I tried all the typical labor-inducing things! We then went for a walk...lots and lots of walking! Still...nothing!

That night we went to a Georgia Southern baseball game because clearly I was not having a baby that day! Saturday morning I still felt totally normal with no contractions. We took Grayson to the Arts Fest at Georgia Southern with some friends. I walked all around, carried Grayson, bounced around as much as possible...nothing! I bought some red raspberry leaf tea and started drinking 2-3 cups of that each day. Scott gave me foot massages and tried acupressure since we had so much luck with that with Grayson.  I bounced on the ab ball while we watched TV. I danced. Seriously, I did ALL the things (except for castor oil!).

Sunday I woke up feeling crampy, much like I did the morning I had Grayson. That was promising! I went to church and had contractions throughout the entire service. In fact, they became so painful that I had to sit down during worship. For sure, this must be labor! We went by my office to get my laptop and I recorded an out of office greeting on my voicemail. I was officially going on maternity leave! Especially with my mom already in town, going to work seemed silly. Besides, I was planning on having a baby hopefully before work started on Monday!

Contractions came and went in a maddening way. Scott went to work on Monday and I stayed home with my mom. I barely had any contractions that day, and I was getting more and more stressed. My mom was only staying through Friday of that week which meant I had 5 days to have a baby or she was going to miss it! And we would have to find someone else to watch Grayson while we were in the hospital. Plus, I was already using my maternity leave time. The pressure was on to have a baby and my body was just not cooperating! My mom and I went for long walks and ate spicy food...but alas, nothing!

Tuesday was my due date. I had Grayson on his due date, so I was hopeful that it would happen again, no matter how unlikely. I woke up having contractions! I had an OB appointment that morning. They hooked me to the fetal monitor and saw that I was having fairly intense contractions about 5 minutes apart! They weren't exactly painful yet, but they felt more "real" than any of the others had. I was still only dilated 2 cm, but that's what I was before going into labor with Grayson, so I wasn't discouraged by this. The doctor swiped my membranes, just like he did when I went into labor with Grayson... he joked that no one has their babies on their due dates and here I was about to do it twice! He felt certain I would have the baby within 24-48 hours. Unlike with Grayson, my waters stayed intact, but the contractions were promising and I felt confident this was really it!

That afternoon, contractions came and went again and Scott and I both felt like I was never going to have Adam. I would just be pregnant forever, I guess! Around 5 PM, my contractions came back and they were stronger than ever! I took a bath and skipped out on all the bedtime routine with Grayson. The bath felt wonderful, but unfortunately it slowed down my contractions. I got back on the ab ball, and by 9:30ish, the contractions were back. Scott started rubbing my back and we played soft music. But by 10:30, they were pretty irregular again. Scott decided we should go to bed and try to get some sleep, especially if I was going to go into labor overnight. As I tried to go to sleep, my contractions started coming every 15 minutes like clock-work. And they were painful! Like, I had to do labor breathing to get through them. My groaning and deep breathing was waking Scott up every 15 minutes, so I moved to the living room to read. I figured if I was sitting upright, maybe they would start coming closer together, at which point I would wake Scott up.

Around 12:30 AM, my contractions were still 15 minutes apart and painful. I decided to sleep on the couch so I wouldn't bother Scott but could still get some rest. Unfortunately, those contractions woke me up every 15-20 minutes. And that kept up all night long!

My doctor told me to wait until contractions were 1-2 minutes apart before going to the hospital, since I wanted to labor at home and didn't want an epidural. So on Wednesday, Scott stayed home with me and we continued to time my contractions. Still...15-20 minutes. I spent about an hour pacing around the house, but I didn't feel like leaving to go on a walk anywhere else. By mid-morning, I had taken up camp on the couch and didn't want to move at all. With Grayson, I didn't want to sit still during labor. I walked around, I rocked on the ab ball, I took a shower...but I think a full week of contractions and trying to make myself go into labor had exhausted me, not to mention the lousy sleep the previous night.

My mom, Scott, and I sat around watching The Voice on Hulu. My contractions were still 15 minutes apart, but they were getting much more painful. So painful that I was having to really breathe and moan to get through them. My mom was clearly worried and desperately wanted me to go to the hospital, not being a big fan of this laboring at home thing to begin with. But I was trying to stick to doctor's orders. No sense in going to the hospital just to do the same thing there for who knows how long. But by about 2:30 PM, the pain was getting really, really bad. I wanted contractions to keep coming, but I was also dreading each one. Even though they were still 15 minutes apart, we went to the hospital.

I could tell the staff checking me in didn't expect I was really in labor, given the length between my contractions. But even so, I filled out all the paperwork, had a bad contraction right there at the front desk, and made my way to a delivery room. I really had to pee, so I did that as soon as I got there. Then, my labor and delivery nurse came in and scolded me for using the bathroom when she needed a urine sample. We told her that no one had said anything about it when I got to the room and she wasn't there at the time, at which point she got defensive saying she had to use the restroom too which was why she wasn't there when we got there. Then, she proceeded to tell me that I couldn't labor in my own clothes because it would be too difficult for her to check me. We were not off to a good start!

I didn't fight her on the clothing issue because, really, I didn't care that much. I changed into the gown and climbed into bed. Scott asked if I wanted to walk around or use the ab ball, remembering the things I did when I was there having Grayson. Nope. I didn't want to move! I laid in bed on my side, just waiting for each contraction to rock through my body. The nurse continued to be a real treat. She looked over my birth plan, which I told her was the same one I used with my first son and had no issues following through with it, and then told me it would be fine unless I had which case I would need an IV. We told her I didn't want pitocin. She said well, I would have to have it if they broke my water. We don't want them to break my water, we told her. Well, it just depends on how long I'm in labor, she told us. Overall, she didn't seem to believe that I would be having the birth experience I wanted. Scott did an excellent job as my birth partner and coach. I had little fight in me, but he was adamant that I would receive no unnecessary medical interventions! I was so thankful to have him on my side! :)

The nurse checked me and I was at a 6! I was so relieved that all the contractions I had been having since the night before were actually doing something. She called my doctor to inform him, and then came back to tell me he recommended I go back home until my contractions were closer together (they were still 15 minutes apart, but very painful). I was discouraged. The nurse said it was my decision whether or not I left. I didn't know what to do. Thankfully, she came up with a solution. She would let me stay until 5 PM, at which point she would check me again. If I hadn't progressed by then, I could go home. Until then, I was not getting the heplock or finishing the check-in process.

Within those 2 hours, my contractions increased to 10 minutes apart and even more painful. But still, 10 minutes was not ideal. They were so painful, though, that I thought I must be around an 8 or 9 at least! The nurse came back to check me...I was at a 7. In 2 hours I had only dilated one more centimeter. I was so upset. If each centimeter took 2 more hours...I wanted to cry thinking about it. Actually, I think I did cry! But my contractions were so painful that I was definitely not going home at that point. She finished checking me in and took some blood, put in my heplock...all while I was having contractions. Scott asked her to please wait until I was not having a contraction, but she responded rather sharply with, "I'm not DOING anything!" Although she was...she was sticking me with things! We really didn't like this lady!

For the next 2 hours my contractions picked up. Scott rubbed my back with lavender massage oil, let me give his hand the death grip, and talked me through each contraction. I got to the point that I was yelling during contractions, punching the bed rail, and pleading with God to make it stop. Fortunately, unlike with Grayson, I got breaks in between contractions. Even during transition, I managed to rest for a couple minutes between each contraction. I was so exhausted that I actually dozed off a few times. Eventually, the pain became so consuming that I had to ask Scott to not touch me or talk to me at all during them, other than holding my hand. The pressure in my hips was unbearable. I felt like they were going to crack apart! I knew I was supposed to breathe deeply and relax and make low moaning sounds, but the pain was so intense that I didn't care. I had to do what I had to do, and at that time, it was screaming things like "OWWWW!" and "AHHH!!" If there were any ladies nearby, they were probably kicking up their epidurals in fear just listening to me! ha!

Scott told me it was almost over, almost time to push. I looked up at him in between contractions, my face sticky with sweat, and said, "How do you know? What if it's not?" And he just said, "It has to be!"

Thank the good Lord, he was right! He paged the nurse and asked her to come check me. She checked and said she couldn't feel any cervix, the baby's head was "right there," and my waters were ballooning out of my cervix! That explained the pressure I was feeling! The doctor came in and broke my waters manually. That was something I didn't really want to do, but considering I was completely dilated and ready to push, I saw no harm in it. I'm glad we did it because I felt immediate relief! So much of the pressure was gone! I felt like I could actually push without fearing for my poor hips!

I delivered Grayson on my knees. I didn't have a plan for how I wanted to deliver Adam. Scott read a Bradley Method book, and there is a modified squatting position the author suggests. We decided at the last minute to try that way. Unfortunately it's not something we ever practiced in advance, so I wasn't sure how to do it. I ended up more on my back in the traditional delivery position than I wanted to be. But I was so ready to push that I didn't want to move to something else! I pushed the first time, and I could tell it wasn't right. The doctor stopped me and told me I wasn't doing anything. I told him I knew that already, and I was ready to try again. I pushed again, and this time I could feel the pressure of Adam's head. I stopped to gather my strength and pushed again...this time with all my might. Everyone was shouting that the head was coming and to not stop! I felt his head emerge, and the doctor said, "Keep pushing if you can!" So, I didn't stop. I gave it all I had, growling all the while, and I pushed him out all at once! That's right, I delivered him in one push! (Well, two, if you count the ineffective first one.)

My entire body was shaking as they handed Adam to me. I was afraid I might drop him, but the nurse assured me that she had him and wouldn't let him fall. I don't remember much about the time immediately following delivery with Grayson, but with Adam everything felt more sensitive. Delivering the placenta hurt, getting my stitches hurt (yes, 2nd degree tear, but it wasn't too bad). I felt like my entire body was a bundle of exposed nerves. I felt both strong and fragile all at once.

Despite the pain and frustration with labor and delivery, my angel baby made it all worth it! I kept congratulating him on the awesome thing we had just accomplished together. And we continue to tackle challenges together, and so far...we are slaying it! :) So, I made it through another labor and delivery with no pain medications or medical interventions (other than manually breaking my water)! Will I do it again? Ask me again in a couple years! ha! ;)

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