Birth Story
Written by: Mom

Contractions began at 3:08 am on Sunday, November 15
th, 2009. I had gotten up to use the restroom and was accustomed to feeling a braxton hicks contraction when getting up in the middle of the night, so when I felt my uterus contracting, I didn't think much of it. Laying back in bed, what I wasn't accustomed to was the cramping that came along with the contraction. "Is this it?", I thought, starting to get giddy with excitement. I grabbed my iphone and started to track contractions using an application called "Contraction Master". I'd used it to track Braxton Hicks contractions before and it worked really well.

I didn't want to wake Ben until I knew if it was really it - or was at least relatively sure. Thoughts of false labor flashed through my head as I laid there waiting. I felt some lower back pain, but no abdominal pain. After about 11 minutes, I felt another one. A slow, warm, cramping sensation spread across my abdomen - tightening down as the contraction progressed. Another few minutes passed, and again I felt an intense pain in my lower back. Then another abdominal contraction. So by 3:45am I'd had 3 definite contractions that were 11 minutes apart - it was time to wake Ben.

I shook Ben lightly, and said, "Uhhh... I think I might be in labor." Groggy, Ben stirred, but seemed dubious that it could be the real thing. I told him my status and asked if he thought I should call Jen. We agreed to wait for a few more contractions to make sure it was the real thing. By 4am, contractions were coming in a strong and steady pattern. I could track the abdominal contractions to approximately every 11 minutes, however, during the time between each abdominal contraction, I was also having intense back pain. I was uncertain of whether or not to count those as contractions, but I figured I would call our doula, Jen, regardless. I mentioned the back pains to her, but at the time she didn't think they could be contractions (later, when things had progressed quite quickly, we started to think otherwise). Jen recommended that I lay back down if possible and to rest for a bit. I got some water and laid back down, but soon felt very nauseated. After a few minutes of lying there, I ran to the bathroom and the water I'd just drank made it's way back up. I tried to lay back down, but every time I did, I just felt more nauseous.

I tried lying down, standing up, sitting on the yoga ball, etc, but no matter what I did, I was really uncomfortable. The only position that was halfway comfortable for me was leaning over, forearms on the bed and swaying my hips from side to side. I tried breathing through contractions - amazed at the force in which they were coming and the fact that I couldn't stand up straight between them. I'd expected contractions to be painful, but didn't think I'd have much pain between contractions. I questioned my decision to do this without drugs. "What was I thinking?" I thought. I didn't think I could make it if the pain was this bad and it was only the beginning phases of labor! I wasn't ready to cave yet, but I was seriously questioning my sanity when making the "no drugs" decision. Little did I know that I was already well in to transition at this point.

Ben had run out of the bedroom to quickly set the out of office message on his computer. I leaned over the bed in the bedroom - bracing myself for the next contraction. It came and went, and I called out for Ben to come back to the room. I needed the emotional support - it was just too much pain to go through on my own. He joined me quickly and tried to help ease my pain. He rubbed my back and applied a hip technique we'd learned in birthing class. Both seemed to help some, but having him there was the best comfort for me. He grabbed a trash can for me to use as a vomit bucket as the nausea got worse, which I was grateful for.

Around 5am, I took heed to the advice our birthing class instructor had given. She suggested showering during the secondary phase of labor, as you couldn't be sure when you'd get the chance to shower again! I handed my phone to Ben (so he could continue tracking contractions) and hopped in the shower. I tried to wash up and wash my hair as quickly as possible, but the contractions were faster than I was. I had a one quickly after getting in to the shower, which was also associated with severe nausea and vomiting. Gross! I struggled through another contraction before finishing up in the shower and rinsing off. Pulling my hair back in to a pony tail, I knew there would be no chance for blow drying as I'd hoped for. (later on, I'd be so happy for the cooling effect wet hair gave me!)

Just before 6am, we decided to call Jen again. My contractions were too close together for me to call and talk to her (around 3 to 4 minutes apart), so Ben called for me. I didn't know it at the time, but when Ben told Jen that I was vomiting, her response was, "Don't tell Suzy this, but I think she's in transition. You should head to the hospital as soon as possible." Ben got off the phone with her and before he had a chance to suggest it, I told him that I thought we should go to the hospital. He called the hospital to explain our current status and let them know we were on our way. They asked if we wanted anesthesia - commenting that if we did, we needed to tell them then because it would take the anesthesiologist 30 minutes to get to the hospital. Ben confirmed with me one last time that I didn't want anesthesia before telling the hospital that we wouldn't need it.

As we drove to the hospital, I sat with my trash can / vomit bucket in my lap. As much as I was dreading the drive, it went surprisingly well. Because it was so early in the morning, the roads were clear. The sun was just rising and the day was a bit gray and misty. It was actually quite pretty. Labor had slowed down a bit for the drive. I think the anticipation and excitement of it all helped slow things down. I only experienced two or three contractions on the 20 minute drive over.

We called Ben's parents on the way over to let them know we were heading in. They were following along on Ben's tweets, as well.

We arrived at Mercy Folsom Hospital around 6:30am. Jen pulled up and parked the same time we did. I shuffled through the parking lot - determined to make it to the labor & delivery unit before the next contraction hit. They were ready for us when we arrived, and guided us to a room directly. I immediately asked for a vomit bucket and an IV. Though I'd hoped to avoid the IV (in order to be able to walk around between contractions), I was feeling very dehydrated and knew that I wasn't going to be walking around any time soon!

I patiently answered as the nurses asked their admission questions. "Didn't I already answer all of these questions on my pre-admission form?", I thought. Too distracted to ask, though, I allowed them to rattle on and I responded accordingly. About an hour after admission, I felt an incredible urge to push during one of my contractions. I told the nurse and they explained that most first time moms push for a while and asked me to try a "practice" push on the next contraction. So I did... puuuuush... and I heard the nurse ask, "Dad, do you want to see the head?" At the end of that contraction the nurse said, "Okay, we need you to stop pushing now. We have to wait until the doctor gets here."

Dr. Phelan arrived around 8:20. Walking in with his jacket on, he joked, "Should I take my jacket off? Do you think you're going to have this baby soon?" "YES!" we exclaimed back at him. After "blowing through" contractions for over thirty minutes, I was in no mood for jokes. He also asked for a "test push" with the next contraction, and seemed surprised to see how close the baby was to being born! He quickly shed his jacket, washed up, and put covers over his clothes. The nurses brought the mirror in so I could see Claire as she arrived. Dr. Phelan asked if I wanted to touch the top of her head. After 20 minutes of pushing, we heard Claire cry loudly and Dr. Phelan told me to reach down and pull my baby girl towards me! I felt a slight sense of panic as I reached down. I knew she would be tiny and slippery, so I thought to myself, "Get a firm grip!" I reached down with both hands and pulled Claire up to my chest. I was stopped short, however, quite literally. Her umbilical cord was rather short, and kept me from being able to pull her up to nurse. We'd asked the doctor to delay cutting the umbilical cord until it had stopped pulsing (so Claire could receive the full benefit of the cord blood), but because it was so short, he went ahead and cut it early. Unfortunately, (Ben recalling the events to me later) it appeared that he didn't clamp the cord before cutting it, and Ben watched as blood shot out from the unclamped cord, so it's unclear whether the delayed cutting really made any difference. Regardless, Claire was a healthy baby girl.


After delivery, things seemed to be going quite well. Claire had taken to nursing instinctively and was happily suckling away. The doctor sat and waited patiently for the placenta to be delivered. After about thirty minutes, the placenta came out, but my uterus didn't start to contract like it should have. The nurses massaged my stomach to encourage it to contract, but finally the doctor made the call to administer medications to help get things going. Each time the nurses pushed on my stomach, I would gasp in pain, and in turn, Claire would start to cry. My nausea had never really subsided, and the pain intensified it, so I asked for my vomit bucket back, and asked Ben to hold Claire with skin-to-skin contact. The doctor administered three different medications before the bleeding finally stopped. Altogether, I had lost about 1,200 ML of blood - four times the normal amount for a vaginal delivery, and much more than the doctor was comfortable with. They gave me a catheter and asked that I stay in bed (fearful that I'd pass out if I got up).

After delivery, I was still feeling quite nauseas, so they gave me anti-nausea medicine, which did the trick quickly. After that, I felt fantastic! I amazed all of the nurses and was back on my feet by 8pm (just 12 hours after delivery). What a day!