My doula took notes (bolded), which I thought made a good outline of the entire process.
March 24, 2016
4:00 a.m. water broke
I woke up to use the bathroom during the 2AM hour. I could still smell the herbal scent of the shampoo that the salon had used yesterday when I cut and blow-dried my hair. I was in a dim half-asleep, half-awake state an hour later when I felt a warm trickle between my legs. My first thought was that half-asleep, I’d lost control of my bladder. But then it kept coming and I snapped wide awake. I stumbled down the stairs and went to the bathroom as more trickled down my thighs. I sat on the toilet and more came. I checked the water–it was colorless. I grabbed a towel as I went back up the stairs and laid it down on the bed.
I woke up Carter–“I think my water broke.” It only took a few seconds for him to be wide awake. I asked him for more towels to tuck under me. I called the nurse line at my practice and a nurse called, and said that it did sound like my waters broke. They advised I go to the hospital within two hours since I was positive for Group B Strep.
4:30 called J, recommended resting, eating, etc…
I called my doula after that; instead, she advised that we go back to bed, eat a big breakfast, and then go to the hospital at 9 in the morning.
I couldn’t sleep, but I could hear Carter snoring. I kept thinking–my life was going to change. Everything was going to change.
7:00 we talked about slowly getting ready to go to AB
I got up a little before 7 and went downstairs to call the doula again. We got up in a leisurely way. We ate breakfast sandwiches and smoothies and fruit, and took Beast out for a walk along Ohlone Greenway. The day was full of sunshine and blue skies.
11:00 at hosptial, admitted to L & D rm #15
We arrived at the hospital. I heard a nurse say to another nurse that my bag of waters had been “grossly ruptured” outside the curtain. I piddled more amniotic fluid on the table while we waited. They put me in a wheelchair and took me to our room, where we settled in; they moved me briefly to another L&D room where a pigeon was nesting on the windowsill outside before taking me back. I called the doula, who advised me to take them up on their offer of inducing labor rather than sitting and waiting to go into labor naturally, since I’d said I wanted a epidural anyway.
The entire time I sat there on the bed on a puppy pad, leaking here and there. I went into the hallway to walk, and made a mess on the floor. Oops. I got my first bag of antibiotics (the first of four).
12:45 first dose of miso, contractions starting after the miso
It was a tiny half pill of misoprostol but I could feel the contractions ramping not long after that. Labor started in earnest. Carter went to Tai San to grab lunch–I got garlic green beans and ate between contractions.
3:30 J came to AB, we walked the halls, etc….ctx had slowed down a bit so we agreed to check in later
The doula did some light acupressure, but the contractions began to taper off. Around 4PM, I got another half pill of misoprostol. The contractions were more intense this time, and showed no signs of slowing down. Carter brought a chicken burrito from Whole Foods and a smoothie; I ate part of it, along with some tasteless veggie soup. It was harder to eat this time between contractions.
9:45 phone check in, Carter going home to sleep, all still quiet
I sent Carter home to get some rest, since it seemed like I’d just be in labor for hours and hours yet. Not that anyone knew, since the doctors didn’t want to do cervical checks on a woman whose waters had broken. Still, I wanted one of us to get some rest, and sleep didn’t seem like a likely prospect for me. I mindlessly watched a nature documentary about Indochina and flopped back and forth in my bed on my amniotic fluid-soaked puppy pads.
11:45 B called J, asked for meds at hospital but it’s taking them a long time, she asks me to come in to give support to her.
The contractions got worse. The nurse has gone AWOL with my pain medication. When I managed to hobble to the bathroom, I saw more and more blood. I call my doula and ask her to come. Frankly, I just wanted someone to chase down the nurse and get me my drugs.
12 a.m., I arrive, labor seems more active, B quiet, focused, inward. Doing really well breathing. Lots of bloody show.
I don’t remember much about the pain, but the breathing was in through the nose, out through the mouth. The doula put her hand on my shoulder and reminded me to relax my face and neck and shoulders.
12:15 nurse gives dose of nubbin, in your IV and also a shot in the leg.
I have no idea what that painkiller was, but it didn’t do a thing for me.
12:30 nurse shift, new nurse, Zoe. B in bed, lying on her side, trying to rest.
Zoe was the coolest. She had purple hair and a Vonnegut tattoo–so it goes.
1:30 we talk about epidural, nurse calls Dr. T who thinks it’s probably too early but says she’ll come check her cervix.
The doctor was a little patronizing. I asked for the epidural and the doctor said something to the effect of well you may be in this same state this time tomorrow, so…
2:00 Dr T comes in, recommends morphine to sleep because she thinks it’s still too early for epidural. I tell her I’ve been watching this labor since yesterday and a lot has changed, so she checks and B is 6 cm!!
The doctor finally, reluctantly, laid the responsibility on me for choosing to do a cervical exam. Lo and behold, I’m ready for the epidural.
2:05 nurse gives a dose of fentanyl
I ask for ALL THE DRUGS.
2:10 Dr. S comes in to do the epidural
The anesthesiologist was mellow. He remarked that the mood in my room was so calm, having apparently come from a room where there was a lot more screaming. I never screamed during delivery. I had thought about a few choice swear words in advance that I could use while in labor, but when I tried them in labor it didn’t do a thing for me. Screaming–meh. Groaning–I didn’t really make much noise. Doula said I made some faces and that I “focused inwards.”
2:30 epidural in, B lying down resting
The insertion of the epidural was painless and the effect was immediate. It felt like I had some buzzing in my legs and thighs and feet, but could still move my legs around with some effort.
3:30 begins to feel rectal pressure
I ask Zoe the nurse what I should do if I need to poo, since I couldn’t walk anymore due to the walk. She said bluntly that what I was feeling was probably the baby’s head. She asked if it felt like I had to poo all the time, or if it was only with contractions. It was only the latter. The doula patted my shoulder and told me that it was a good sign.
4:50 B saying she feels like she needs to poop, nurse does cervical check, 10 cm! and baby super low (+2/+3 station). I called Carter and told him to come back to AB.
5:10 Dr T stopped in, says she’ll be back in a few minutes. Zoe set up the bed and got the room ready.
Carter arrived, a little shocked at how far along I was (and appalled that I hadn’t called sooner). This was a blur. I wanted to push so badly. It was hard holding the baby in for Carter and the doctor to arrive. The doctor, again, didn’t seem to believe that I was ready to push. Zoe asked me to do a practice push while we waited. She told me that the push I did was more of a kegels and asked me to try again. The baby moved down slightly with the push–the nurse could easily feel her head!
5:20 Dr T returns, B starts pushing at 5:23
The overhead lights switch on, focusing on my business. Probably the only time in my life when my ladyzone will get spotlighted. Everyone gathered around the bed, two people grasp a leg each. I push about three times per contraction for a total of 10 pushes.
5:32 baby girl!!
Nine minutes later, I could feel the head stretching me–the ring of fire, if the ring of fire was just a sensation of pressure. All I can hear is encouragement from the nurses and my doula. You’re doing so good! The baby slid out in a slippery rush, like she’d come out on a wave of liquid. I glimpse a bawling baby above me and then she’s on my chest, her dark eyes blinking, the cry going out of her a minute later. We look at each other. I smell her–her vernix smells like the amniotic fluid. She’s warm. She has my eyes.
I barely notice this coming out. A nurse presents me with the placenta after labor, showing me the ruptured amniotic sac attached to one of its sides. The doctor sews me up–a second degree tear–and leaves the room without so much as a good-bye. The baby is weighed and tested and vaccinated. I try breastfeeding for the first time–her latch is good although I can’t help but wince.
The fading epidural has left me feeling warm and buzzy and sleepy. I clutch the baby on my chest as they massage my abdomen, examine the baby over and over and prepare to move me to the recovery room. Eventually I’m wheeled out of the room and taken to a spacious room with a view of one of the hospital’s inner courtyards.
How fast it all went! It didn’t feel like that at the time, especially in those long, elastic hours before 5AM, but it went so, so fast. I was stunned in the aftermath of it all–grateful that it was over, sure, but also stunned by the little human being in my hands.
I tried to sleep, but of course I can’t stop looking at her.