NOTE: Content may be too detailed for some readers!
Isaac's due date of December 22, 2003 came and went. I wasn't worried. Teri, the midwife, predicted that he would be around 6 lbs based on abdominal exams in comparison with my stature (5'4" and 118 lbs). I had occasional episodes of contractions for the previous few weeks, the longest one lasting around 7 hours, so when I started contractions at 12:30 on Christmas night, I didn't really think anything of it.
I went to bed when the contractions started. I had a busy day; making Christmas dinner for my family, doing dishes for six people and cleaning the house. My hubby jokingly said that tonight was "the night" because I had accomplished so much (many pregnant women report having a burst of energy dubbed "the nesting instinct" up to 24 hrs before delivering a baby). I reminded him that frequent bursts of energy was one of my traits. I went to bed despite the excess energy. Around 2:30 am, I awoke with the "get up and pee" routine that's oh-so-common in late pregnancy. My contractions had become more intense at that point, so I decided to sleep on the couch so as not to wake up Ben, my hubby, with tossing and turning.
About 3 am, still on the couch, I felt this huge release of pressure in my abdomen and knew that my water must have broken. There wasn't leakage of fluid until I was halfway up the stairs. I spent a few contractions in the bathroom, collecting my thoughts, then woke up Ben.
Me:"Sweetie, don't be alarmed, but my water just broke"
Dear Hubby:"Now don't expect me to jump right up!"
Me: *tries to stifle giggles between contractions
After a few short minutes of scratching his head, Ben called the midwife's office, but my midwife (Teri) wasn't on call. The other midwife of the practice (Lisa) called back. I had only been through about an hour of contractions since I woke up, so we hadn't started timing them. She told us to come to the hospital anyways. It was around 3:30 at this point.
Well, we didn't have our hospital bags completely packed, so I started throwing clothing on the floor between contractions and Ben stuffed the clothing into bags while trying to comfort me (bringing me ice and such).
By now, contractions had become quite intense, so I went downstairs to labour and let Ben finish the packing. I was told in Childbirth prep classes that low moaning may help with the pain, so I tried that (I think that actually made things worse in my case). I noticed that I started to grunt at the end of each moan (this is a cue the body is getting ready to deliver). I figured that I must be an exception to this grunting thing, because I had just started labor. I was also getting to the point where I wasn't sure if I could handle the pain any more (which is a sign of transition). Again, I told myself that I was a "first-timer" and that I probably had around 7 more hours of these contractions. This was very disheartening, as I had my heart set on a "natural" (drug-free, no epi) birth and I didn't know if I could maintain that goal if the contractions got too much worse for very long.
Ben had the station wagon warmed up and loaded by now, so we headed outside to go to the hospital. I was about to climb into the way back of the car (there was no way I was actually sitting down) when I stopped for a contraction and my body actually started pushing (I had no control over it)!! I told Ben to call Lisa, because we weren't going to the hospital (I had secretly wanted a home birth for the last month)! He did as requested and I slowly walked back to the house. Lisa, bewildered, called us back and told us to go the hospital. I decided that I should comply so I crawled into the station wagon and away we went. Unfortunately, we had never gone to the emergency entrance (the women's center entrance is closed at night), so we got a tiny bit lost. The hospital is a large facility!
Anyways, we finally found the entrance and Ben pulled up right in front of the ambulance garage. I think Ben was a bit shell-shocked at this point.
Me: Uh...Ben, I don't think you should park here. *contraction starts and I begin to moan violently.
Ben backed up the car and parked it in the drive-up in front of the entrance. I climbed (or rolled) out of the car. We were quite a funny sight. I was wearing nothing but a long t-shirt, bathrobe and sandals, and I was holding a towel between my legs to catch dripping amniotic fluid, while maintaining full cover with the bathrobe. I imagine that I had a very intense expression on my face. Ben was wearing pajamas, combat boots, and a very attractive black wool coat. I didn't bother to look at his face, but it probably bordered between bewilderment and absolute horror. Ben helped me to the entrance and asked for an elevator. We then had around 12 different emergency personell, one-by-one (all in each others' presence) ask us if I wanted a wheelchair, and each time I grunted "no!" Then another person asked and I yelled at her "I don't want a wheelchair! Get me the f*ing elevator!!" This was during a contraction, so I wasn't quite myself. Really, I'm a very sweet, polite girl. I've been called a kindergarten teacher on several occasions (here it generally means that a female is virgin-like and gentle), but I meant business! She led us to an elevator and after that contraction, I apologized, saying "I'm sorry! I'm not usually like this!" We went to the third floor and then to the Women's Center, and were shown to our LDR (labor-delivery-recovery) room.
A nurse asked me to get onto the bed so she could put me on an EFM (external fetal monitor) machine. I didn't want to because I thought it would make the contractions worse, but I did anyways, leaving my bathrobe, towel and sandals on the floor (I'm generally an extremely modest person when it comes to things of a physical nature, but there were more pressing issues at hand). It felt so good to be on the bed and not have to support myself. This whole time, I was still **pushing through contractions. At this point, I noticed there were 4 nurses in the room (they appeared to be just standing around) and the calm one operating the EFM machine told me to "blow" through the contractions which really helped. I heard someone say that the baby's heart rate was at 90 (it had been around 140 throughout the last trimester). They gave me oxygen, which also felt good, and Ben stayed at my right hand (I liked having him so close) as he offered me water between contractions.
Suddenly, I could tell that this baby was coming so I lifted my top leg (I was lying on my side). Luckily a nurse took the cue and started to hold it up. Then, I started to bear down with each contraction while yelling like the mighty Amazonian warrior that I am (deep down inside). This yelling really frightened Ben, as he has never even heard me raise my voice before. Coincidently, Lisa arrived just as I started yelling/bearing down (Teri lived further away, but she was coming as fast as she could) and ten minutes later I gave birth to Isaac. I think Teri finally arrived just as Isaac was placed on my stomach.
Isaac was born at 4:21 am, on Dec. 26th, weighing 8 pounds, 3oz. and was 21 inches long. So much for a small baby! He is so sweet! He eats every hour and sleeps all the time (including during feedings), and I feel great. I had no drugs (except for the local anesthesia used while stitching the 2nd degree tear) and no epi! I was calling relatives in the waiting room (cell phones are only allowed in the waiting room for some reason) only 3 hours after delivery (it would have been sooner, but I didn't want to stop watching Isaac sleep). Ben, Isaac and I left the hospital on the afternoon of 27th after wading through all of the annoying hospital discharge policies.
**As an afterthought, I wasn't really pushing. I really didn't know how I needed to respond to this pushing urge so I was just grunting, holding my breath, and letting my body do whatever it needed to. I didn't start pushing until the midwife arrived.