My 3rd pregnancy was a very planned and desired one. My husband, Phillip, and I tried for 16 long months to conceive this child. When I finally did, I was so excited. My pregnancy was a rocky one at best. At the beginning I had high blood sugar – so much of my first and second trimester were spent dieting and testing my blood 4 times a day. Finally, at the start of my 3rd trimester, my blood sugars leveled out. Usually, that goes just the other way around. Things were finally going smooth until my 30th week hit.
I had given birth to my first 2 children prematurely – so the words “preterm labor” were not a shock to me. However, I did carry my son for 35 weeks and my daughter for 36. They were perfectly fine, both crying at the moment of birth. My son was a vaginal birth and my daughter was a cesarean due to breech presentation. So this third time around, I wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and I wanted to do everything possible to have a vaginal birth again. Because I had planned this pregnancy, I thought I was doing a good thing by exercising to prepare for the birth.
I walked a mile and a half each day in hopes of building myself up for the VBAC. I was on my last round at the track when I felt a contraction and a lot of pressure. Being only in my 30th week, I tried to reason with myself that I was okay. I did nothing until the next day when I finally called my doctor. I was having contractions every 10 minutes and when he checked me, thankfully, I wasn’t dilating or effacing. He put me on Brethine to stop the contractions.
Unfortunately, the Brethine didn’t help. By my 33rd week, I was hospitalized and given the Brethine injections and magnesium sulfate twice to stop preterm labor. I also received the steroid shots in case my baby did arrive early and I had dilated to 3 centimeters and 85% effaced when my labor finally stopped. Over the next 4 weeks, I was on complete bed rest, hospitalized twice again and finally made it to my 37th week.
37 weeks is considered full-term and it was a point I had never reached in my other pregnancies. That day, I actually got out and went to church. It was invigorating. I had gained the most weight ever and was feeling very uncomfortable. Because I had been contracting almost all the time since my 30th week, I really paid no attention to them and I asked God to give me a sign that I was in labor – blood and water.
I awoke on the morning of Monday, October 23 at 6:30 am. I did my usual by going to the bathroom and, as I was getting up from the toilet, I heard a “plop.” I quickly turned on the light and discovered that blood and water was leaking out of me. I put a sanitary napkin on and woke my husband up telling him he wouldn’t be going to work that day. I was contracting and feeling a little more pain, so I phoned my mother to watch my children, and my husband and I headed to the hospital, 45 miles away.
I wanted to try for an all-natural birth with no drugs. I had an intrathecal injection with my son, which made me nauseous and sick. Plans sometimes don’t always go as we expect. On the way to the hospital, my contractions were coming every 6 to 7 minutes and each one was getting progressively more painful. About halfway there, I told my husband that I did want an epidural. Because of all the preterm labor I was having, I did not get to attend any childbirth classes and did not prepare myself properly for a drug-free birth. I was expecting my labor to last a good long while – with my son it was 16 hours long and I pushed for almost 2 hours. With this thought in mind, I was scared to keep going with the pain I was feeling.
Upon arriving at the hospital, I told the admissions man that I wanted an epidural and he laughed and told me to head to labor and delivery where they could give me one. We arrived at labor and delivery and I, an old pro by now, put on my gown and gave a urine specimen. The nurse checked me and stated that I was still only 3 centimeters dilated and 85% effaced and that my cervix was still very posterior and had to be anterior for the birth to take place. This was at 8:15 a.m. The nurse talked like I most likely wouldn’t be staying. But the pain was bad, I kept saying.
At 9:30, she came back into my room shaking her head. Because my contractions were still 6 to 7 minutes apart, she said I was not progressing. I was beginning to get angry because, with each contraction, I was feeling more pain. My doctor – the God-send – finally arrived a little after 10 a.m. and checked me. Ah, 5 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Hand me an amniotic hook – let’s break that water the rest of the way! He said my forewaters had broken at home. One punch and warm water gushed all over my bed and soaked my socked feet. “Get this girl an IV and call anesthesiology to get her epidural set up.” Oh, such sweet words!
Over the next hour, true labor hit. I literally had to squeeze the bed rails and be reminded to breathe through them. By the time 11 a.m. came around, I was whimpering through each one. Because I was given my IV at 10:00, in order to receive an epidural, the IV fluids had to run through my body first. When the anesthesiologist finally arrived, my contractions were coming every 4 minutes. While she set up and administered the epidural, I had 3 contractions, making her stop while I got through them.
Finally, the epidural took effect. I lost feeling in both legs, but what mattered the most to me was no pain with the contractions. Another hour went by and I waited for one of my best friends to arrive to take photos of the birth. My labor nurse came back in and checked me because my contractions were 2 minutes apart. She said I was 10 centimeters and complete and had me do some pushes.
This is where I thought the long haul would take place. With my first baby, I pushed for almost 2 hours, which was very hard work. Everyone was predicting that the baby would arrive at around 1:30 or 2 PM. I pushed 3 times and the nurses eyes grew large. She jumped up and ran to the door and hollered for my doctor. “She’s crowning!”
I was told not to push until my doctor arrived and my friend came in right before my doctor did just minutes later. While he suited up, she took photos – everything was happening so fast! At almost 12:30 when my doctor situated himself to “catch” my baby, I was allowed to push. One push, two push – “Oh my, the baby has a lot of hair,” and my doctor performed an episiotomy. Third push – baby’s head comes out and I hear my precious child cry for the first time before the body was delivered. What a blessed sound! We didnâ€™t know the sex of the baby – we had decided to wait to find out at the birth. Fourth push – I feel the baby slide out of me – such a huge relief – all the pressure was gone in an instant.
At 12:36 PM, my nurse spoke first, “Phillip is right, it’s a girl!”
Arielle Nicolette began to cry healthy long cries and scored a 9/10 on the APGAR. Weighing in at 6 pounds/11 ounces and 18 3/4 inches long, she had a head full of dark hair and eyes that look like they may turn green or brown. She latched on right away before she was even an hour old and took to nursing like a pro.
This was by far the easiest birth I’ve experienced. My doctor told me all the preterm labor I went through helped the birth go faster. He also said that Arielle’s birth was the most perfect one he’d ever experienced.
While I miss being pregnant – pregnancy to me is such a wonderful time – I am absolutely in love with my new baby daughter. She fills my days and nights with added joy and her older brother and sister love her and are extremely happy to have a new baby. My 2 year old daughter is now asking me when will we have the baby boy, too…Oh my!
PS – On September 8, 2002 I gave birth to my fourth child – another daughter; another great momhood moment!