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The funny thing about birth stories, regardless of how time passes, it's so easy to remember every detail because however the outcome, it will be one of the most important days of your life.
My first born I went in to see my OB for my routine 37 week appointment. Up until this moment, this had been a very routine pregnancy. One baby, healthy, blood pressure normal throughout, normal blood sugars, low risk. He was head down and I just had to cook him a few more weeks. So I thought. My blood pressure randomly spiked that day, and my doctor said "it's not that high, we'll just monitor it. Go home today, use your blood pressure meter and keep an eye on it, if it keeps going up, go to Labor and Delivery for monitoring."
Since it was our first and I'm an RN, I thought, no big deal, but I'm going to let my husband know. He can finish out his work day and maybe grab dinner on the way home. Worst case, we go to the hospital for some monitoring and we'll come back to have him in a few weeks. I recall going shopping at the Toys 'R Us that was having its closing sale. I got a shrimp burrito for lunch, and I went to prenatal yoga. I went home and took a blood pressure. Kind of high.. I take it in the other arm. Still high. I called the advice nurse, she advised to wait 20 mins and try again, still high and slightly increasing. Time to go in. Whoops I didn't shower and I didn't eat again. I throw our hospital bag in the car.
As soon as my husband walked in the door around 7pm, we were off to the hospital. Lucky it wasn't traffic time, so we got there in 20 minutes and got checked into the labor and delivery unit for monitoring. I was 37.5 weeks, technically term enough to deliver. They take about 10-12 blood pressures every 15 minutes and they start increasing to 220s/100s. I know that's too high. My son was letting us know it was time. I made the doctor say the words out loud "you're going to have a baby today, or tomorrow."
So I had a small charcuterie plate as dinner, and some other snacks we had in our labor bag that I had packed weeks earlier. I alerted our birth doula that it was confirmed that we're having a baby tonight. She said she was going to go to sleep now at 8pm and would be there when I hit active labor. Okay cool, I should be able to get some sleep right?
Turns out I was already 4cm dilated, the Braxton Hicks contractions I was having earlier in the week were doing some work. I was fortunate I didn't need any manual dilation to get there before it was unsafe for the baby. They did give me a small amount of pitocin and an IV line. This was annoying, I could have done without it, but it was good to have in case of an emergency. I had an oral blood pressure medication and that kept my blood pressure under control for the entire labor. I tried to get some sleep from 9pm-2am, but I was too anxious to sleep. I listened to my husband sleeping soundly in the cot by the bed. They also came in to check my pressure every 2 hours. Totally unnecessary, but we had a travel nurse so she didn't know the protocol.
Around 3am my contractions got more intense, I was in active labor, so I stopped trying to sleep and moved to the bathroom to sit in the tub, my husband rubbed my lower back. We texted the doula to come meet us. She got there quickly, greeted all the nurses she knew and had worked with previously, turned off the lights, put up flameless candles all around the hospital bathroom and set up a humidifier with essential oils. Lavender for active labor and citrus for transition and pushing. The doula cued position after position for 6 hours, allowing my husband to be fully involved in the labor. He likes to joke he worked as hard as I did. She made sure to make me take a sip of water between contractions.
When I thought I reached my breaking point, about 7am, and the baby was moving down, she said "reach down and feel your baby." He was there, his head was right there.. I could do this.
We moved to the bed, and labored at the top of the bed, face down with the head of the bed all the way up, I think I was squatting in bed, then at the end of the bed with the bar. They finally broke my bag of water and I did the final pushes on my right side. Right before he came, they told me to stop pushing and let the contraction take him through. I had a tiny tear and one stitch.
Looking back on the video the doula took for us, my husband (the second time I've ever seen this) was crying, the very experienced labor nurse was crying. They had change of shift around 7am and she walked in the room with my pushing, and said "Hi, my name is …" and immediately got in there and was holding my legs or doing something. She was amazing, and after all the births she has seen, mine made her cry!
My husband was able to assist in catching the baby and cut the oddly short umbilical cord. He described it as fibrous. My son was born at 9:13am after 6 hours of active labor. Thanks to minimal interventions and some luck everything worked out perfectly, I was able to move as much as I wanted to and from bed, in the bathtub, on the toilet, and have a relatively fast first time labor and I did it pain medication free. I walked from the labor bed to the post partum room pushing my son in the rolling crib. We were discharged 2 days later.