It started around 7:00am on June 2, 2008. Joacim had gotten up for work and was taking Murphy outside to do his business. I got up to use the restroom, and noticed a strong pain in my lower back. It didn't last long, but it happened a couple of times. I had started to lose my mucous plug a few days before, but there was definitely a change that morning. Once Joacim came back inside, I told him that I thought I was having contractions. It seems funny now that I didn't really know for sure that I was having contractions. I kept waiting for my stomach to turn "rock hard" like everyone told me it would, but it never did. At this point, I just figured that I slept in a bad position and was going to suffer the rest of the day with it. I laid back in bed for a little while, tossed and turned and then decided to get up because I couldn't get comfortable.
I had a lunch date with my friend Katie and her son Jared, so I went ahead and showered and straightened my hair. I met Katie and Jared at Paradise Café at the mall and we had a nice lunch, but I did notice the pains getting stronger and more frequent. Katie kept telling me that I was having contractions, and I thought that it was possible, but I wasn’t really convinced. After lunch with Katie, I decided to go into the mall because I wanted to get Joacim something for Father's Day. I had a feeling I'd have the baby before then, and I wanted to be prepared.
After I made my purchase, I tried to do some more walking, but the pain in my back started to get pretty intense. I had some other errands that I wanted to run, but I thought it might be a good idea to go home instead and try to start timing the contractions. It was a beautiful day outside, and I wanted to relax, so when I got home I put on my bikini and laid outside in my loungchair. I tried to time the contractions, but apparently I'm not good at it, so I just decided to play with Murphy instead. We didn't stay out there too long because it started to get a bit warm, and it was getting more and more uncomfortable to lay on my back. We went inside, and I got out my birthing ball and tried to sit on that to bring some relief.
I started to update my blog because I hadn't done it on Sunday like I normally do. At this point, I'm getting a little more convinced that this was the real thing because no position was comfortable, and nothing was helping. By around 4:00pm, I called my doula, Erin, and told her what was going on, and called the photographer, Brandy, to give her a heads-up as well. Brandy wanted to be there for the last hours of labor and for the delivery because she was going to take photos for a book. Based off of what I described to Erin, she said that it sounded like I was in early labor, but that I was doing really well because I could talk to her and I sounded calm. She told me to call her back in 4 hours and let me know if anything had changed. She also told me some positions to try in order to alleviate the pain I was having. I had nothing but back labor the entire time. Then I called Joacim to tell him that I didn't think he should plan on playing soccer that night because I thought that it could really happen that night. I also asked him how soon he could be home because I really thought I could use some help getting through the contractions.
After I got off the phone with him, I went to the spare bedroom to lay on that bed in the positions Erin suggested. I figured that I could watch TV in there, and snuggle with Murphy a little too. I think he knew that something was going on because he was pretty glued to my side most of the day, and he was VERY calm. He seemed to sense that Mommy wasn't feeling very well. I laid in the spare room for about 45 minutes, or until Joacim came home. I was SO relieved when he got there. We then moved into our bedroom to try to time contractions. The were coming about every 2-5 minutes, and were generally 20-30 seconds apart. I'm figuring that they aren't long enough to really be productive contractions, so I try to get a few things done when I have a break. Joacim made us some macaroni and cheese and tuna to eat, because I figured I better eat before I have to go the hospital. All along it's getting harder and harder to talk and stand through the contractions. After we ate, we timed the contractions some more, and they were definitely increasing in length and intensity. I started having to moan through them because it's the only thing that felt good.
Around 7:00pm, we decided that it would be a good idea to call Erin to let her know that things were not slowing down and that we'd like her to come over. She said she'd be there in around an hour or so. We went ahead and both took a shower just in case we'd be heading out to the hospital later. At this point, I can't talk through the contractions...I can only breathe really hard. I'm just focusing on breathing....The only positions that I could get through them were to be standing but leaning over something (like the couch or the bathroom counter), or down on all fours on the floor or on the bed with a bunch of pillows under my head.
It was around 8:30pm when Erin arrived. I think she might have been a little surprised at my state, seeing that my labor had become quite active since I last talked to her on the phone. She immediately began trying to help me through the contractions with some hip squeezes and back rubs. She made sure I had eaten and was getting enough water (Joacim was great with helping at that too). While she was supporting me, Joacim was timing contractions and taking care of Murphy. As the contractions got stronger, I started making this low, almost primal moan, and Murphy wasn’t really liking that too much. There wasn’t much I could do, but he definitely knew that Mommy was not OK. Joacim took him out of our bedroom (thankfullyJ) and that helped me focus more.
Probably a little more than half an hour had passed, and I asked Erin, “Sooooo, how long and how far apart do these contractions have to be before we go to the hospital?” And she answered, “I usually rely on the mother’s intuition.” And I’m thinking, “Well crap. I have no intuition…that’s what YOU’RE here to help me with!” I remember the pain being so bad that I didn’t think I was going to make it. I couldn’t figure out how I was going to handle it getting any worse, and I started to freak out in my head a little. At that time, if the opportunity was there, I would’ve taken any drug offered to me to help. I started to worry about the car ride to the hospital, and how that was all going to work since I couldn’t even sit down. I started to worry about the wait in triage at the hospital, and how I was going to have to lie there with a monitor attached to my belly. FREAKING OUT!!! About 10 minutes after I asked Erin that question, I decided that I’d had enough and was ready to go to the hospital. I think Joacim and Erin both thought it might be a bit early, but no one really questions a laboring woman, so they quickly started to get things moving toward the car.
I made it to the living room, and had a contraction while leaning on the arm of the couch. I started to feel really nauseous, and I got even more scared, because I knew that it could mean I was going into “transition”. But then I also thought that I was crazy and just being a wimp, especially since even I thought I might be going to the hospital too early. But there was no turning back, and I needed some relief!
We got all the stuff to the car, and I got in the front seat, but I sat on my knees facing the rear and hugging the back of the seat. It was the ONLY position that I could manage the contractions in, and I had 2 more in the car before we took off. The bumps at the end of the driveway were THE WORST THINGS I HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED. Once we got going, it was the tiniest bit better, but the contractions were coming stronger and faster, and my moaning got worse. And I found out later that Joacim wasn’t even stopping at the stop signs on the way there!
We turned into the drive at St. Francis, and I’m cognizant enough to realize where we are. I notice that Joacim is not turning left where he needs to but instead is going straight into a contruction zone. He must’ve forgotten that he couldn’t get through, but I kept yelling at him, “YOU CAN’T GO STRAIGHT HERE! YOU HAVE TO TURN LEFT! THERE’S CONSTRUCTION!!!” And as soon as he backed up and turned left, my water broke in the car.
I kept screaming, “Oh my God my water broke. Oh my God!!!” And then the urge to push came. I started grunting whenever a contraction came, and I felt the urge to push, and there wasn’t anything I could do to stop it. I was screaming, “OH MY GOD I GOTTA PUUUUUUUSH!!!!” And I don’t remember Joacim saying anything at all. He was so calm and together. AMAZING….
Joacim pulled up to the door of the hospital, and helped me get out. There was fluid everywhere, and everytime I moved, more came out. Who knew that there could be that much water in there! I started having another contraction, so I just leaned over the seat of the car and started moaning and grunting. I’m sure it was quite a site to see and hear, as I realized that I’m a screamer. A very LOUD screamer at times. But I figured heck…just go with it, and I stopped caring what it looked or sounded like.
As I was having that contraction, I heard someone ask if we needed a doctor or something. Joacim said, “Yeah, we might need someone in a little bit.” And I jumped in and said, “No, we need someone NOW. I need a wheelchair NOW!” All of a sudden I’m being put in a wheelchair by two very nice strangers. These people must’ve been on their way into the hospital to visit someone, but saw us pulling up and helped out. Erin caught up then, and Joacim went to park the car, and we were on our way. I swear, if it hadn’t been for Erin helping me focus, we would’ve had the baby in the elevator. I don’t remember if those people said anything at all, but I must’ve been quite a sight for them!
When we got off the elevator and were going to the labor and delivery, I remember how bad I wanted to push. We rounded the corner and there were nurses at the door waiting for me. Guess they heard me coming! I remember how hard it was to get out of the wheelchair…the contractions were happening so frequently that I was barely getting a break, and I was still gushing fluid (and it didn’t feel too good !). There were so many people in the room!
Once I finally was able to get out of the wheelchair and into the bed, the LDR nurse Barb started to strap on the belts that monitor the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. I remember Erin saying, “Listen, it’s your baby’s heartbeat!” And I remember saying, “I can’t hear anything, just get it out!!!” I know that Barb wasn’t having an easy time of it, because I couldn’t keep still, as the contractions were pretty much continuous at this point. Barb then checked me to see how dilated I was. It seemed like she was taking forever, which made me think that I wasn’t very far along. I was totally set for Barb to tell me that I was only 5 or 6 cm dilated, but happily, she was that I was 10 cm and ready to push. It was 9:30pm, and she told me I could go ahead and start pushing which was a huge relief because my body was already doing it, and there wasn’t anything I can do to stop it.
Somewhere in there, someone tried to call the doctor on call, which ended up being Dr. Perkins. He wasn’t at the hospital at that time because things were going pretty slow with the other women there in labor.
I didn’t even think about trying to get my feet in the stirrups. I was lying diagonally on the bed, and Barb had one leg and Erin had the other. Pushing was the scariest thing, and I didn’t want to do it. I knew how much it was going to hurt, and I was terrified. After the first push, I could feel her head crowning, and the pressure that comes along with that. There were definitely a couple of times where I tried to breathe through the contractions to avoid the pain, but little Miss Izzy was not to be delayed. On the 4th push, I could feel her head come out. I remember Erin trying to slow me down so that I couldn’t tear, but I wasn’t thinking about that. I was only thinking about how good it was going to feel to get her out, so I gave one final big push, and she was out! Dr. Perkins didn’t make it in time for the delivery, so luckily Barb was right there to catch her when she came out. Barb was fantastic, and said that she felt pretty lucky because she doesn’t get to deliver babies very often.
After she was out, Joacim got to cut the cord, and then they put her on my chest. It was an incredible feeling to look at her for the first time. She was so quiet, and her eyes were wide open, looking around and check things out. I had such a feeling of calm joy, and Joacim was a bit overcome with emotion, as he was tearing up a little at the side of the bed. We just looked at her, and enjoyed her for the longest time. That contact with her is something I will always treasure.
The nurses then took Izzy because I was scared to hold her while I was getting stitched up. I had a pretty bad tear from the quickness of her birth, so it took awhile to stitch me up. While the doctor’s were stitching me up (yes, it took 2 doctors…a family practice resident that was there, and eventually Dr. Perkins as well), Barb took Izzy to check her Apgar scores and her measurements. Joacim was by her side the entire time, talking to her, getting to know her. Erin had asked if they could give Izzy a bath in the room with us, and Barb happily agreed, so we all got to watch that too! Once all of that was done, I was able to breastfeed her for the first time, and she took to it immediately. I was expecting that to be most difficult thing, but it turned out to be quite natural for Izzy and me.