Eve’s Excruciatingly Painful, but Lightning Fast Birth

June 20, 2016

On Sunday, June 19, 2016, we went to church. I was struggling a lot because we were three days late, and each passing day was getting more and more uncomfortable.  It was just a waiting game.  Nothing unusual happened, but we were just waiting around for the real contractions to come.

Darren and I spent the evening mourning the big fail of the Warriors on their NBA finals game.  We had just put Abby to sleep, and Darren had to deal with the loss for the rest of the evening.  I did a few things around the house that evening, including decorating Daniel & Cheryl’s teacup/saucer set, as well as comfort Daddy about his big loss.

Sunday, 8:31pm – we messaged Nancy, our doula, because I was experiencing persistent cramping that night, but no contractions.  It was just a progress update.

Going to bed, I was hoping, but not expecting to go into labor.

At 1:00am or so, I went downstairs to sleep on the couch because the heat was keeping me up in the bedroom.  Remember, this was in late June in California. This was the first time I slept downstairs on the couch during this pregnancy.

I woke up in the middle of the night because I dreamt I had a contraction, which I actually felt in my lower back.  When I looked at my cell phone, it read 3:07 am.  

I wondered if this was the real thing, so I timed the contractions, which weren’t painful per se, but they were strong enough that I couldn’t fall back asleep.  The next 3 contractions ranged from 6-8 minutes apart.  I thought about when I should text my mom and Nancy, and when I should wake Darren up.

At 3:30, I texted Darren that my real contractions started.  Remember, he was sleeping upstairs, hence the text message.  I don’t know why I didn’t call him instead.  [Pain level: 3/10]

At 3:43 am, I texted Nancy to let her know contractions were 6-7 minutes apart, and that she would probably be making her way to the hospital this day!

By 4:00am, Darren called my mom to let her know that she should come.  My mom was our assigned babysitter for our oldest daughter while we were at the hospital.

From 4:30 to 5:30am, I labored in a warm tub.  This was planned because I was too scared to labor in water with our first birth.  I thought that I could try water therapy to help relax the body and lessen the pain.  At this point, Darren was getting our hospital bag ready and started packing the car.  In the bath tub, my contractions got stronger and more intense, but not more frequent, still ranging 6 minutes apart.  I leaned over the tub and closed my eyes because I knew a relaxed body helped open the cervix.  However, I didn’t like laboring in the water because I could feel the overwhelming power of the contractions in the water…stronger than out of the water.  The force was too strong for me to handle.  That’s when I decided to get out of the tub. [Pain level: 5/10]

5:30 to 6:00 – I labored in the bedroom, walking and moving in between contractions.  Unlike the first labor when I was fearful and passively waiting for contractions, I was actively participating in this labor!  By this point, I had to use massages around my tailbone to put counter pressure on the force of the contractions.  Contractions quickly moved to 3-4 minutes apart.  They also started getting more painful. In between contractions I was trying to remain calm, yet stay on my feet to help the baby descend.  Since we were directed to go to the hospital as soon as contractions were 5 minutes apart, I told Darren that we should make our way to the hospital.  We called Nancy, and she said to give it 20 minutes.  Sometime during this hour, my mom also arrived and waited downstairs.  [Pain level: 5.5/10]

By 6:24, we told Nancy we were on our way to go to the hospital because the contractions were progressively more painful and more frequent, and we couldn’t wait any longer.

At this transitioning point, I carried a range of thoughts and feelings on our way to the car that was packed and ready to go.  

  • I said “hello” and “goodbye” to my mom, who would help us to watch Abby for the next few days.  I didn’t want her to see me during a contraction, so I quickly made my way to the car
  • I wouldn’t be able to say “goodbye” to Abby.  While I was thankful that Abby didn’t see her mom in labor, I knew it would be sad for her to wake up to find that Mommy and Daddy were gone and wouldn’t be back for a few days.  This was the first time I would be separated from Abby overnight and for so long.  I was going to miss her.  
  • The next time we came home, we would be bringing the newest addition, and our family of 3 would be a family of 4.  The weight of this reality was bittersweet.  For all I’ve known at this point was how to be a family-of-3.  All I’ve ever known was how to love one child.  The unknown of how to be a family-of-4 was intimidating and daunting.

Laboring in the Sienna van was not fun.  Thankfully only a ten minute drive, I held onto the top handle bar in the van for support.  I think I only had 2 contractions during the car ride, but the movement of the car and all the sounds in the environment brought the level of intensity of the labor pains to the next level.  I had to close my eyes to focus through them.  Both of my hands were pressing on my tailbone each time a contraction came. I yelled at Darren to slow down when he approached a bump in the road. Thankfully, there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the road during this hour, so it was a relatively smooth ride…it could have been much worse!

7:00 am – We arrived at Methodist a little before 7:00am, I was a little self conscious and embarrassed as a contraction hit me while walking in the parking lot.  Approaching the hospital, a hospital staff brought a wheelchair out to me, seeing that I was in labor.  Thank God!  I saw nurses entering the hospital building – made sense – their working day was about to start.  I was wheeled to the admissions desk, then to the Labor and Delivery front desk.  This time, they took me straight to a L&D room, to which nurse Annalissa checked us in.  We learned they were very short on staff due to last minute cancellations, and she (being the Charge nurse), had to make arrangements for more nurses to help that day.  Nancy was excited that Annalissa was going to be our nurse because she had worked with her in the past.  That reassured me that we’d be in great care, based on Nancy’s approval!

7:25 am – dilation check by Annalissa.  It was painful, as expected, but I wasn’t afraid to let her check me.  She couldn’t get a good reading because she said my cervix was too posterior, so she got me to place my bottom on a pail and did the check again.  I was, 4-5 cm dilated, 80% effaced, station -1 to 0.  (This was the same baseline we entered the hospital with Abby’s birth).  At this point, they notified Dr. Grady to come.  I was wondering why Dr. Grady was messaged to come, since they didn’t call my OB until I was 9 cm dilated with Abby!

7:15 to 7:40 am – I labored on the bed while Annalissa set up my IV heplock and gave me antibiotics.  She also put the baby’s heart monitor and contraction timer to take 20 minutes of data.  Nancy was by my bedside applying pressure near my tailbone during each contraction.  The physical support was much needed!  Meanwhile, Darren was emailing family and friends to let them know we were laboring in the hospital. [Pain level: 7/10]

7:40 am or so – I finished 20 minutes of data collecting, so I got off the bed to labor on my feet.  I held onto the bed rail during contractions for support.  Then one powerful contraction hit me and I felt a slow leak of water run down my leg.  My water broke!  Water continued to slowly trickle down my leg during each contraction.  I could feel my uterus squeezing the amniotic fluid out!  I apologized for the water leakage, and continued to apologize each time my amniotic fluid spilled to the ground.

Nurses started setting up the station for delivery (a rolling table with tools, binders, etc.)  I wondered why set up was so early (this was completely different from Abby’s birth).  Contractions were now about 3 minutes apart.

8:25am – Dr. Grady came into the room to greet us and let us know he was going to be around.  I was laboring on the exercise ball that we brought, and then a bigger, stronger contraction came that caused me to let out a loud, intense squeal.  I shouted “I NEED TO PUUUUUUUSH!!!” because my body tightened so hard and I felt a sudden force from my uterus.  At this point, Dr. Grady needed to check my dilation. It measured 9 cm, with some cervix left around baby’s head.  WHAT?  I’m almost 10 cm dilated…THAT WAS FAST!!!  He also noted that I needed 2 more contractions to get to the point of pushing.  I guess this meant I entered the transition phase (last stage of labor)…which also meant these few contractions were extremely intense (rather than breathing through the contractions, I was yelling through them as my body took over and did the work of contracting).  I lost all control over my body and just allowed my uterus to do its great work of helping the baby descend to the  opening. I told Nancy I couldn’t resist pushing anymore because contractions were too strong.  (You are not supposed to push until your cervix has reached 10cm). [Pain level: 9/10]

Dr. Grady left to get dressed for delivery.  He came back around 8:30 and checked my cervix again (without warning), to which he said there was still some cervix left around the head.  He used his fingers to move the cervix out of the way, and this maneuver was painful!  He also stretched my perineum without warning. Dr. Grady was definitely more intrusive than Dr. Chou. The sensation of the perineal massage/stretches reminded me of Abby’s head crowning (a very large stretch around the vagina as the top of the head is appearing).  The stretching was definitely uncomfortable, painful, and very unpleasant. He told me to widen my legs to make room for the baby.  I didn’t want to comply because I was in a very uncomfortable position and still laboring!  Dr. Grady coached me on how long to push and when to push.  His perineal stretches also made me fearful to push because I already felt so stretched, and I thought that if I pushed in that already painful position, I would tear more.

During the next two contractions, while Dr. Grady’s hands were still stretching my perineum, I gave 10 sec pushes (x3) during each contraction (this is how he was directing me to push).  At this point, I was really struggling to follow Dr’s orders on the pushing because I was just REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE on my back in the helpless beetle position, but I was willing to work with him because the end was near, and I knew that all I had to do was PUSH the baby out!  I think Darren said he saw black hair appearing at this point.  The first time I didn’t push “properly” because I didn’t take a deep breath and hold it during the pushing.  The pushing was excruciatingly painful!  During the 2nd contraction, I held my breath and pushed 3x for 10 sec each.  I felt Eve’s head lodged right at the opening of my vaginal canal.  It was incredibly uncomfortable, and painful, since her head was emerging from the birth canal.  Everyone was looking at me while we waiting for another contraction.  I gave a final push during the next contraction with my eyes closed, and I pushed through the pain with all my might.  Eve came flying out crying!  Evangeline was born at 8:52 am, about two hours after we arrived at the hospital.  Total laboring time was less than 6 hours (3:07 am to 8:52 am).  This was surprisingly short compared to our 21 hour labor with our oldest daughter.  [Pain level of the last 3 contractions combined with Dr.’s stretching and simultaneous pushing was 10/10].

They placed her on my chest, and I was so relieved to be done!  I looked at my baby for the first time and fell in love.  The 9-month journey of pregnancy and the labor pains was all a blur in comparison to the gift of getting to meet her!

Dr. Grady said I had a first degree tear.  Eve weighed 8 lbs and 1.5 ozs.  What?  How was that possible to begin with?  How did I push out an 8 lb baby?  Estimated blood loss was 100ml (500 is average, and more than 500 ml would be considered hemorrhaging).  Her apgar score was 8/9.

After Eve was born, Annalissa continued to finish the pre-birth paperwork she started, but never finished.  Dr. Grady massaged my uterus to help birth the placenta.  Pushing down on the uterus was painful, but the placenta slid out quickly and painlessly.  It felt like it did last time; a warm soft mass slipping out!  Darren cut baby’s cord.  Then I was given Licodin to numb the area so I could get stitched.  I felt a slight sharp poke, but nothing as bad as a needle for drawing blood.  I held Nancy’s arm the entire time I was getting stitched, while Darren tended to Eve as the nurses assessed her vitals.  The stitching was nothing compared to the pushing…just felt like a tug.  I think it took him less than 20 minutes to stitch me up.  Still, I was not enjoying my “helpless beetle” position (legs straddling the stirrups).

I had my golden hour with Eve while we discussed the rapid events of the morning with Nancy.  It was truly golden to hold my baby skin on skin on my chest.  I let her explore and find both breasts to nurse.  She nursed first on the left, then on the right.  It was very natural and lovely.

Close to 11am, the nurses helped me get out of bed to use the bathroom. When I first stood up, I felt an intense pain in my stomach, probably from an overworn uterus! I went pee very little.  My stomach felt very heavy.  Urinating for the first time after giving birth wasn’t as painful as I had anticipated.  I was given mesh underwear and an ice pack/pad to wear.  Then I changed into a new gown with the nurse’s assistance and Nancy’s help, and I was assisted to sit in a wheelchair to be wheeled to our recovery room.  I got to carry Eve while I was rolled to our room.  I was finally able to relax in the privacy of our own room with my new baby!

As for the aftermath of birth…the worst and most painful part was over so recovery was a breeze in comparison.  I didn’t need any medication, and turned down the offer each time the nurse asked me for meds because oxytocin kicked in and all was good.

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