I was 36 weeks pregnant on Monday November 14th and at that point was officially released from bed rest. I had been put on bed rest two months prior, at 28 weeks, because I have an incompetent cervix. This means that my cervix, which is supposed to be around 3.5 cm, was only 1.5cm. This can cause pre-term labor and is often treated with bed rest. I had been having some irregular contractions for several days. That Monday they became more regular, although they were not that painful, basically like bad menstrual cramps, but because we were still so early I called my Doctor who had me come in. She checked me and said the contractions were monitoring at 3 min apart and I was dilated 2 cm and fully effaced. She said the baby could come as early as that night or it could still be a few days. She told us to go to the hospital to get checked if the contractions intensified. Because I was already so effaced she was a little concerned about the baby coming really fast. We decided to make the following day my last day of work. The contractions continued throughout the following day. I had an appointment that day to meet our pediatrician. I told her I was in early labor and that our baby would likely arrive that week. We were able to discuss some things I could do to help breastfeeding because babies that early often have serious challenges breastfeeding. That evening the contractions intensified and we headed to the hospital to get checked. I was 3 cm and the contractions were regular and more painful but I was still in early labor so we decided to go home and wait.
That was one of the best decisions we made. We went home, the contractions subsided and we both had a wonderful night sleep. Wednesday morning Chris made me banana pancakes for breakfast and we had a nice morning together. I was really relaxed and looking forward to a day at home to finish last minute baby things. My step mother came over and we made pom poms for Margot's room. Midway through our craft the contractions started back up. Throughout the morning and early afternoon they progressed. By 1:30 they were quite painful and I had to stop what I was doing and work through them. I called Chris at 2:30 and told him he'd better come home. We left for the hospital once they were 3 minutes apart and I had to breathe to get through each one. That was around 3:30. When we got to the hospital I was only 4cm and so we walked and walked and walked some more! As we were walking the halls of the labor/delivery ward we saw this couple leaving with their baby and I so wanted to be there!
Because the results of my strep b test hadn't come back the nurse had to hook me up to an IV to administer an anti-biotic at about 6pm. The IV had to stay in for 1 hour and during that time I had to stay in the bed. That hour was pretty awful. The contractions were much more painful in the bed and it became very difficult to work through them. I was horribly nauseous and thirsty. About that time our nurse from the night before Ralynn came back on. I was so happy to see her. I had really liked her the day before and was hoping she could be our labor nurse. Once the IV was done she helped me get into the jacuzzi tub. We were at McKenzie Willamette hospital in Springfield which has wonderful labor delivery recovery rooms. You check into your room and can stay in the same place until you go home. The rooms have bathrooms with jacuzzi tubs. That tub was AMAZING! Once I got into the tub I felt so much better. My contractions felt much more bearable and I felt relief throughout my whole body. I stayed in the tub until I became too hot and then we walked some more. For the next couple of hours we just went back and forth between the tub and walking. At 9pm I was 6 cm and the doctor had arrived. She told me I was doing great and that I could either keep going or she could go ahead and break my water to speed things up. Chris and I talked it over with her and decided to break my water. I was getting very tired and I was worried about my ability to work through transition if I still had several hours to go. She broke my water at 9:30pm. The next half hour was the worst part. I was in the tub and the contractions were almost unbearable. Ralynn and Chris stayed with me and it took both of them helping me through each contraction. Ralynn kept telling me to stay on top of the pain. She had me vocalize the contraction to the peak and then she would help me breathe my way back down. After 30 minutes I was pretty close to tears. I was so tired and so discouraged and I honestly didn't think I could do it anymore. Chris told me later that I looked terrified. But then Ralynn checked me and I was fully dilated and ready to push. I started pushing on my back but that did not work and so I switched to my side. I'd wanted to try and push in a squatting position but I was too tired to attempt it. Pushing was much more difficult than I had anticipated. It took me awhile to get the hang of it. After a while I was able to feel Margot's head and the doctor came in. Form that point on things are a little blurry. There were more people in the room and a lot of lights. I do remember I kept saying "this has to be over, we have to be done". But Chris, Ralynn and the doctor were really encouraging and finally I felt her slide out. I vaguely remember them holding her up. But I do remember feeling the biggest wave of relief. I can't even describe how relieved I was to be done pushing. I had pushed for an hour and twenty minutes and it was awful. They put Margot on my chest immediately and her eyes were wide open. She was looking right at us and it was wonderful.
But...yes there is a but. I felt horrible. I had read all about oxytocin, which is a hormone that floods your body after birth. I had somehow gotten the idea that I would feel great after the baby came out because of all the oxytocin in my body. That was NOT the case. I actually asked the nurse (who I'm sure laughed), "how come I feel so horrible? what about the oxytocin?". To which she responded, "you just pushed out a baby". I was in a lot of pain and my legs were shaking so hard I could hardly keep my hands steady. After a while I was able to lay my legs down, which helped. I was able to hold Margot on my chest for almost an hour. During that time she began to root and actually latched on. After an hour the nurse told me I was still bleeding too much and that they needed to have me empty my bladder so the baby nurse and Chris took Margot over to the weighing table and the heat lamps (which were still in our room) to weigh her, measure her, diaper her and swaddle her. Then Chris was able to cuddle with Margot while I was cleaned up and taken care of. All this time my family was waiting to see us. Margot was born at 11:16pm and at 2am my Mom, sister and Step-mom came to meet her.
In the end we were so very blessed by our birth. The baby nurse said it was a beautiful birth which really meant a lot to me. I attribute it to God. So many things could have gone wrong considering Margot was early and I was considered high risk. I think it helped that we were both very determined to have as natural of a birth as possible. However, we were also glad to have the guidance and support of our doctor and nurses. We did a lot to prepare for such a birth. I read a number of books and did pre-natal yoga until I was put on bed rest. And we took a natural birthing class together. We did have a birth plan which said we didn't want to be offered pain medication. All of our nurses respected our wishes and nobody offered me pain medication even when I was saying, "I can't do this." We were also very lucky to be delivering at such a wonderful hospital. We can't say enough good things about McKenzie Willamette. All of our nurses were great. The room was very nice and felt comfortable and private. I think we just both felt very comfortable.