After being discharged from the hospital my husband insisted I go home and rest. He was a nervous wreck from this point on, because everyone he worked with had told him their personal horror stories with pre-eclampsia and eclampsia. So thanks to those ladies for scaring my husband.
He took the next two days off, did everything around the house and I lounged around. We went back to the hospital as promised for another NST. The nurse said everything looked good, and eventually the doctor was giving me the clearance to go home.
At 39 weeks I went to my regular prenatal appointment with the midwife. I gave her a recap of what happened from my point of view, though I left out a lot of my personal thoughts and feelings. I was still bitter. She got on with the appointment. Dilated between 3-4, still effaced about 70% and baby still at -2. She offered to scrape my membranes. She knew I was set on a VBAC and was trying to give me that chance, if my body was ready anyway. She said since my blood pressure was still a little high she wanted me to come back in a couple days instead of waiting a full week.
I went in three days later and my blood pressure was great. She offered to scrape my membranes, but acknowledged it might not do anything but make me uncomfortable. The husband had taken off for this appointment, and joked that I should "take one for the team" and they got a kick out of that one. As if I haven't been doing any of the work up until now. I was still dilated to 4, and she said I looked good, but obviously it's still a waiting game.
We did ask about the risk of waiting and the pre-eclampsia, but she said mine is on the mild side. She said if I had any symptoms though, I was to go straight to the hospital. Otherwise, if I didn't go into labor over the weekend, she'd see me at 40 weeks. She also said if I was there, she'd probably pick some brains about how to proceed with me. I knew they were watching me like a hawk with the pre-eclampsia.
A Due Date Baby!
The night before my due date, I was having some back pain and pressure with contractions, but I didn't think too much of it. The next morning I woke up early with contractions that were 6-8 minutes apart. When they were consistent for about an hour, I realized the Husband was about to leave for work. I jumped out of bed, and as he was reminding me to call if anything happened, I figured I better tell him I was having some contractions. He stopped cold, put down his work things and asked if he should stay home. I told him he might stay for a little while just to see if they picked up. At that point, I didn't know what to expect.
Yes, this might be my 4th pregnancy, but #1 was an induction, and with both VBACs my water broke without contractions, so I really never had to time them, because they wanted me to go to the hospital at that point.
Of course once I was up and moving around my contractions started to slow down, so I considered it might be false labor. The contractions never stopped though. The kids went to pawpaw's house, and husband took me to my 40 week appointment. While I was giving the good ole' urine sample, my husband was filling the midwife in on our morning. My blood pressure was a little high, but she threw me that special paper blanket and said she was checking me and she was probably going to stir up some trouble. When she came back to examine me, there was a very surprised "Ohhh..." as I was already dilated to almost 6. I walked around for several days at a 5 with Eleanor, so I wasn't thinking much until she started talking again...she didn't even ask, she just said "Okay, this is what we're going to do. I'm stripping your membranes and you're going walking." She wanted me to go to the mall for a brisk walk, come back in two hours and she'd check me again. She figured that would be enough to send me on to the hospital, but if my water broke or I had any problems I could go on myself.
We hit the mall, and as soon as I started walking the contractions started hitting fast and hard. My husband joked that my water better not break in public. Remember how I said in my VBACs that my water broke without any contractions to warn me labor was starting? Yeah...the first time that happened, I was at work and only 38 weeks, so I was not suspecting a thing!
Anyway, we kept an eye on the time, because I wanted to have a few minutes to stop for a quick lunch. If we were going to the hospital, I was not going on an empty stomach. Husband asked if I wanted to wait in the food court while he went to the get car, but I said no, I'd walk back through the mall. That's when contractions started hitting every 3 minutes. I did decide to wait at the door while he pulled the car up to the door since it was raining, and I sat in the package pickup area of Sears, trying to find a comfortable way to sit without drawing attention to myself. As soon as I sat down I had the first contraction that made me really stop and wince in pain. Husband stared at me, and asked if I wanted to just go to the hospital, but I said no. What can I say? I still wasn't 100% convinced I was actually in labor.
When we got back to the office, I was already dilated to 8 and 90% thinned out and my waters were bulging. Maybe I really was in labor. Get dressed, get to the hospital, you're having this baby soon. Maybe not her exact words, but that was the idea anyway.
We could hear her half of the conversation as she called the hospital. She explained my situation, and then she informed them that she was first on call and she was doing this delivery.
I'm Going Natural
We got to the hospital about 2:00 pm. The entrance was packed, so I told Husband to just park, that I didn't mind walking. In reality, I didn't really want to stand around the lobby having contractions alone with a bunch of strangers.
We parked in the garage, and I regretted that decision when it came time to walk down a short flight of stairs to the street. I regretted it even more when we stepped outside, because it was still raining and I could no longer speed walk, so by the time we got inside my shoes were soaked through.
We finally made it to our destination, and they were waiting for me with my room ready. Tables and medical instruments and baby bed and everything were already in there.
On the way to the room they were asking about the epidural. I had been unsure and had waffled back and forth during the entire pregnancy. On the one hand, I am a pretty big wimp. On the other hand, I had told myself with Eleanor that if I ever had another baby, I wanted to go natural. Really, I just wanted to know that I could do it. Back to the other hand, I am such a wimp. All I said was that I didn't know yet.
The nurse seemed completely okay with me not having one. She actually said that since I wasn't that uncomfortable yet and already so far along, I might not really need it, and by the time they could get an anesthesiologist up and get it going, it would probably be time to push anyway. She didn't try to talk me into it, but she did say that if I waited too long and changed my mind, it might not be able to keep up with labor.
I took that as my answer and just told her I would go without it. She said no matter what, I could do this and they would coach me through.
Once I was all hooked up, the nurse wanted to check me. I was "nothing but anterior lip" and she said to call the midwife now. She acted like it was going to happen quickly, but I was in doubt since my other labors had lasted so long. There was a doctor from the office already in the hospital, and the midwife let him know I was coming and asked him to stay, because as a VBAC a doctor has to be immediately available. This doctor stopped in to ask how I was feeling, and told me he wasn't going to break my water since it was moving along so quickly, but he reminded me that he was there if I couldn't wait for the midwife.
The midwife arrived in another twenty minutes or so, and said I was definitely ready. She did break my water and noted there was meconium so she let the nursery know, but they didn't seem overly concerned. Or else they hid it well from me. She said contractions might get more intense, but we could wait until I felt the need to push. She left the room for a few minutes to update my records, but came back so she'd be there when I was ready. I was still smiling and talking between contractions at this point. Although during each contraction I would close my eyes and breathe through it, only to open my eyes to see the nurse, midwife and my husband staring at me, just waiting.
Finally the contractions were getting very intense and the pressure was building. I remember saying "okay" and nodding, and seeing the midwife throw her gown on.
I started pushing at 3:37 PM and that's about the time I started thinking perhaps the epidural wouldn't be so bad. I told my husband later that labor was actually relatively easy. There were only a few contractions that really hurt. Delivery, not so much. There was no such thing as as comfortable position for pushing. I know there was some crying, and other vocal expressions of not being able to do it. My husband, my otherwise silent warrior, would stop me. 'Yes you can, Brittney, you can do this!"
I wanted to quit. I didn't even want to open my eyes and look at them telling me I could do it when I felt so defeated in that moment. Between contractions they had to remind me to rest and breathe slowly. I couldn't get comfortable. Finally she told them to call the nursery in. I felt relief knowing it was coming soon.
When her head came out, I thought I might lose it. I know now why it's called the Ring of Fire. I remember wanting to scream at the midwife to just pull her out already. As I was freaking out, they were basically telling me to stop and calm down. The nurse kept telling me to open my eyes, and I whimpered that I couldn't do it. Finally the midwife said very firmly LOOK AT ME! The nurse grabbed my face and told me I could do this and to look up. I made eye contact with the midwife long enough for her to tell me in no uncertain terms that I had to calm down and let her do her thing. I just kept breathing the word "okay" over and over to calm myself.
Finally I could push again. Once she slid out, I remember just collapsing back on the bed and feeling pure relief. And exhaustion. Eloise was born at 4:05 pm. (Shortest delivery time for me; I told you my kids don't come fast!) She looked so tiny. 8 lbs, 3 oz, and 21 inches. Or maybe not so tiny! She was only two ounces smaller than her big sister, who holds our family record for weight, but she didn't have the chubby cheeks. She sure was beautiful though!
I felt utterly exhausted for the next half hour. I got the chills and had to be covered with a heated blanket. Afterwards I was on an adrenaline rush. I was texting family and posting pictures. Someone joked about just having a baby and being on Facebook (where I shared some pictures with family) and I told her without pain medications to knock me out I was on a natural high! Daddy was cuddling Eloise after I did, so I had to occupy myself somehow, because I couldn't sleep for several more hours.
We waited until the next day to bring the big kids to visit. We weren't sure how Eleanor would act. When she walked in, she ran to me in the rocking chair "Mommy, mommy!" and started shaking she was so excited and overwhelmed. Then she saw the baby . . .
She was full of hugs and kisses and kept saying "I love baby Eloise!"
The boys loved and doted on her as well.
This right here folks, is my perfect family.
If you like birth stories, here are the others:
Elliott's Birth Story - My c-section
Emory - My first VBAC (coming soon)
Eleanor's Birth Story
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