The Sunday to Forever: At Home
The Sunday to Forever table of contents:
(I don’t have any photos from the labor at home, so I just added another Dylan pic!)
I had been stressing out for a few days because I was almost 43 weeks pregnant, the latest I was comfortable going at home. I was planning to call a doctor on Monday, which I was extremely agitated about. For some reason, though, all the stress about that faded on Sunday. The day was simply perfect. Joshua and I hung out a lot together during the day, we had sex a couple of times, and I felt very peaceful and sweet towards him. The whole day seemed soft and gentle. I posted to Facebook: “Today is the calm before the storm. I’m worried about the storm, but the calm is so very, very sweet that everything else fades away.” Just after midnight, Joshua was watching TV while rubbing my back to help me fall asleep. I snuggled up to him and said, “Thank you for today.”
I had just barely dozed off when my water broke. I bolted upright in bed, completely startled by the instantaneous gush of fluid unlike anything else I’d ever felt. It was kind of like peeing, but from the wrong place and way too much at once. It was kind of like a menstrual gush, except way too much fluid of a completely different consistency. I later described it as feeling like vomiting from my vagina. I headed upstairs to the bathroom, gushing the whole way. I confirmed that the fluid was completely clear.
I felt a little unsure about what to do next. Obviously my water breaking was significant, but nothing else had happened – still no contractions! So here I was, the middle of the night, wide awake from the excitement but no reason to assume that anything else would happen any time soon. Joshua and I finished up the movie we’d started earlier before I got tired, then he went to bed. I knew this was likely my best, last opportunity to sleep, so at around 3:30am, I laid down, too.
Sure enough, that’s when contractions started! I’d just be drifting off when a contraction would kick in and jolt me awake. Since I was in a spacey almost-sleep state, I wondered if I was imagining that they were coming regularly, so I timed them. 45 second contractions every 10 minutes or so. Wheee!
Joshua was up by 9:00am, and I got started notifying everyone who needed to be notified. I emailed Sarah, Brian, Sean, Clove, Tunna, Robert, Lee, Kitty, Puck, Rebecca, and Troy – all the people who were invited to come hang out during my labor and birthing. I also opened up my birth chat room, which was available to a few more people to virtually hang out with us. Amniotic fluid was leaking constantly, which was a very strange experience. Every time I would move, a bunch more would slosh out. I was sure to be drinking a lot of water.
I hung out in the chat room (regularly typing “Contraction!” and giving other random updates) and played Facebook games. It really annoyed me whenever anyone in the chat room would ask something along the lines of “Are we there yet?” I could tell already that this would be a long labor. Monday morning/afternoon was no time to be asking about the end point!
Sarah and Declan were the first to arrive from Atlanta. Then Rebecca, Troy, and McKenna, then Kitty and Puck, then Lee and Robert. With people present to be witnesses, Joshua and I filled out medical powers of attorney for each other. We took bets on when the baby would arrive. Everyone’s answers annoyed me because they were so soon. The bets ranged from 9:01pm to 3:37am. I honestly didn’t think it would be until at least Tuesday night. I figured thinking it would never happen was a common feeling, though, and I’d be likely to be made fun of if I guessed that far. I split the difference and guessed 7:00am the next morning.
In the evening, Joshua and I fed the pigs and he measured them for weighing. Around 8:00pm or so, we settled into some chairs outside to watch bedtime chicken drama. Joshua was in the middle of integrating our two small flocks, which sometimes resulted in some bullying. Joshua and I had lately been sitting in chairs near the coop at chicken bedtime and watching the drama. Some contractions were getting strong enough that I really had to pay attention to get through them. It bothered me to be around people when that happened. I didn’t want anyone looking at me or trying to talk to me.
I’d been up for about 36 hours at this point, getting very tired, and hoping to get some rest. I took a shower, then laid down in bed, and Joshua rubbed my back a little. Contractions were 5-8 minutes apart. Some were as long as 2 minutes, and some were getting unbearable. On the bed, I started having trouble getting comfortable. Laying on my side felt good, but seemed to make contractions worse. Being on my hands and knees seemed best, but quickly wore out my knees. Being on my back felt nice but KILLED my lower back when a contraction hit. Joshua tried to rub my feet, but it was just distracting. I started saying things like, “This is stupid,” and “Who invented this?”
Around maybe midnight contractions were 5 minutes apart, lasting 45 seconds to 2 minutes. Sometime near there, I decided to make a nest on floor between my office and bathroom. I really needed a place to lay down, with every possible comfortable position available, right near the bathroom. I set up my favorite comfy chair, a comforter spread out on the floor, and tons of pillows. I was constantly having to pee and also gushing amniotic fluid, and sometimes it was hard to tell which was happening. That part of my bedroom has a tiled floor, so I just decided to pee/leak right there on the bedding I’d laid out, and the whole area ended up soaked. By laying on my side with tons of pillows propping up various parts, I was able to get a little bit of rest between some contractions. I was actually able to doze in between a couple. Joshua was timing contractions for awhile, but I think he laid down and might have gotten a little bit of rest, too. While I was resting the contractions spread out as much as 7 minutes apart.
Eventually contractions picked up again, accompanied by serious pain. The pain had been intense for awhile, but there was still some space between contractions, which gave me a chance to mentally recover. As the spacing picked up, though, I thought I was going to lose my mind. I simply could not keep track of my sanity during some of the contractions. I was saying, “No, no, no, no, no, no” a lot. Joshua said through the course of a contraction, I’d manage to say “no” in every negative emotion possible. I also said, “Help,” “I can’t,” and “I’m in misery.”
At 2:45am I took my blood pressure, temperature, and blood sugar and got a slightly elevated blood pressure but nothing to worry about. In general, though, I was getting a little concerned at this point. I felt like the pain was too much and that I wasn’t making any progress. All night I’d been wondering about the position of the baby, since I could still feel the baby in pretty much the same place as the entire last trimester. I didn’t feel like the baby was sitting low enough or that I was anywhere near the end and that the pain was too great to be so far from the end. I said, “That’s too much,” “I’m in trouble,” and “I don’t want to any more. It’s over.”
Contracitons kicked up to 1 minute long and a solid 2 minutes apart. Olivia (in the chat room) suggested a cervical check to give me some energy. I appreciated the suggestion (you never know what might help!), but I knew that I was nowhere near fully dilated. A check would only be depressing, not give me energy. Olivia and Sarah also started talking about me being in transition. I was hesitant to be too forceful in denying this, because I know that’s a symptom of transition, but I knew I wasn’t anywhere near transition. I was really worried that I was feeling this much pain and the contractions coming so close, yet making so little progress.
I started to get really light-headed. I was needing to go back and forth between hands and knees and standing, but getting up made me really light-headed. For standing contractions, I liked to be away from any support, just kind of pulsing my hands in the air in front of me, but eventually it became kind of hard to stay upright while doing that. I was afraid I’d fall over. A couple of times I did wobble and had to grope for Joshua to support me. I started to see black spots in my vision. Joshua started working with me to help me breathe through the contractions. The spots continued to bother me, and I kept feeling like I was going to fade away after a contraction was done, like the contraction just took everything out of me.
I found another semi-comfortable way to sit, backwards in a chair. It was comfortable enough that I felt like I could die between contractions. As soon as one was over, I just wanted to lay my head down and die. The contractions slowed way down, and I was telling Joshua about the spots and breathing really slowly, sinking, sinking. Joshua said I was passing out between contractions and stopping breathing. I remember him slapping my face at one point. Sarah came in, and I was thinking it was all kind of comical. People were asking me questions and saying things, but I was just going to die right here, okay?
For about an hour or so before the dying in the chair, I’d been contemplating the hospital. I knew if the light-headedness, the completely unbearable pain, and the lack of progress kept up, going to the hospital was a question I was going to have to answer. It was hard to think of it as an option. It seemed so scary. Once you make that decision, there’s a track laid out in front of you that you can’t get off of. It goes a certain way, and you can’t take back the decision to go that way. I found it really impossible to focus on that as a possible decision. Once I was sinking in the chair, though, I knew I was going to the hospital. I had trouble telling Joshua because I couldn’t form whole sentences. I was just saying, “Spots, spots” and trying to tell him about the dying. I felt like I was moving really slowly. I knew we were going to the hospital; to some extent I was just waiting for Joshua to figure it out, too.
Eventually the call was made. We were going. I leaned on Joshua going out the door to my bedroom, then he ran downstairs, and I was sitting on the stairs trying to get down. I knew I couldn’t walk because of the feeling in my head, so I was on my butt trying to scoot down. I remember thinking it was really funny that I was left alone on the stairs. Everyone was running around kind of crazy downstairs, and I’m in slow motion alone on the stairs unsupervised. It seemed funny to me.
Joshua ran a red light on the way and got me a wheelchair to take me into the ER. I answered a lot of questions. I could hear everything everyone was saying, but it felt like molasses in the air to try to respond. I felt so slow. It was hard to focus my eyes on things. I was moved to a different wheelchair and wheeled back to triage. They hooked me up to an EFM. I can’t remember if they started an IV there, too. Blood was drawn, I think. I peed in a cup. I think I peed on the bed, too, and amniotic fluid was still leaking, of course. The contractions I had in triage had returned to being super-painful. Contractions while being on my back hurt my lower back immensely. I couldn’t move or wiggle around like I wanted. I wanted to stand but I didn’t have the effort to even ask. Any amount of moving or talking was unthinkable.
I was checked for dilation, effacement, and station. 80% effacement. Negative one station. 4 cm dilated.
The Sunday to Forever table of contents:
Issa is a wild and rebellious mama who wants to live a carefree life where that little anxious voice is put on mute. How about you? As a writer she feels successful if just one other person feels any comfort or inspiration from what she’s written.