the labor that kept on stopping–my third birth

babyabbyIt is often said that a woman’s first labor is long, her second labor is easy, and her third labor is unpredictable. Whoever said this must’ve been at my births because it mirrors my experience.

At 34 weeks gestation, I had 2-3 contractions an hour all day long. A few days later at my prenatal visit, my midwife wanted to check me to confirm that the baby was head down since she was so low. I was 2 cm dilated. I continued to have occasional contractions for the next six weeks. I had not experienced pre-labor at all with my first two pregnancies except the occasional Braxton Hicks while walking. So this was something new for me.

On a Tuesday night, my contractions started at 11 P.M. and quickly fell into a 4 minutes apart pattern. After an hour and a half, I called my husband Todd at work and asked him to come home. Then I got in the tub and labored there for a couple hours. We left for the hospital at 3 A.M. During my first contraction in the car, I moaned a little and after it was over, my boys ages 4 and 2, imitated me and started to hum. Even in my laboring state, I couldn’t help laughing. They were so funny!

The labor nurse assigned to me was somewhat clueless. She was going to take me to my room when a contraction started so I just leaned on the counter and she wondered why I wasn’t following her. Anita, my doula, had to explain to her I was having a contraction. Then later after getting settled into bed, the nurse asked me how long I had been shaking. I ignored her. She asked again. I still ignored her. She asked again. My nerves were frayed. I snapped,

PLEASE don’t talk to me while I’m having a contraction. Just a sec!

When my certified nurse midwife arrived, she just sat next to me and started peeling the EFM (electronic fetal monitor) off me. How awesome is that?? I never saw the likes of that thing again. Hooray! Eventually, I stopped shaking and my midwife said I was shaking because I hadn’t been relaxed. She checked my cervix and I was 6 cm dilated. Then a little while later, my labor really slowed down.

Todd and I walked the halls. I took a shower. Todd and Katie rubbed my feet to stimulate labor. I was having a light contraction every 20-30 minutes or so. We walked some more. I was tired. It was 7 am so I went back to bed. Almost immediately, my labor picked up and my contractions were once again four minutes apart. I was deep into my Enya music
and my labor while Todd slept on the chair. I was glad I didn’t need him so he could get some sleep. Occasionally, my new and improved labor nurse came to listen to the baby’s heartbeat and to check my blood pressure.

Two hours passed. I got up at 9 am because my contractions stopped again, and then called my mom. By noon, I was beginning to wonder if we had done the wrong thing in coming to the hospital because it had been3 hours since I had had any contractions worth mentioning.

Maybe I was still just having a lot of pre-labor. (When I shared this with Todd, he said he didn’t think we were going to make it to the hospital in time for the birth so he thought we did the right thing in coming to the hospital when we did based on the circumstances at the time)

I was back to having 2-3 light contractions an hour. Ho hum. What to do??? I was thinking it, but Todd finally said it out loud.

Let’s go home.

We were considering at least leaving the hospital for awhile even if we didn’t drive the 45 minutes to go back home. I really needed a change of scenery. I didn’t want to be at the hospital if I wasn’t in active labor.

Meanwhile, my midwife kept busy. I kept hearing baby cries. When we arrived at 4 am, I was the only one there. Now the labor hall was full and babies were coming out in every room but mine! When would it be my turn?
I talked with my labor nurse about our plan to leave, and she said I’d need to go on the monitor for a half hour so they could document my stalled labor. My midwife came in and we asked her about leaving, and I asked her to check me. I was 9 cm dilated. I freaked out.

Here I was totally coherent, talking on the phone, eating turkey and gravy for lunch and 9 cm dilated. Which thing doesn’t go with the others?? I changed my mind. I didn’t want to leave the hospital when my cervix was so close to being completely dilated. Four more hours passed with no contractions.

I had been considering AROM (artificial rupture of membranes) for awhile and my midwife said she’d do whatever I wanted and listed a host of other possibilities (none of which I wanted.) So I had her break my water. My cervix had closed a little bit since the last check; I was now at 8 cm.

We waited and waited and waited. Nothing happened. Yikes. Did I do the wrong thing? Did I just put a needless time limit on the labor now that my water was broken? Approximately an hour and a half had passed since the AROM. I would have a strong contraction when the nurse checked Abby’s heartbeat with the doppler, so we did that a little more often.

Then it happened. Transition happened, that is. You know what I’m talking about. No turning back now. Contractions were long and strong with no breaks in between. I don’t know how much time elapsed. It could’ve been 20 minutes or perhaps only five minutes. But I had had enough and asked Katie to check my cervix and make me complete if I was almost there. That’s exactly what she did. I’d have to say that was the worst part of my labor. She had her hand up me and I was lunging forward, screaming and gagging, (everyone thought I was going to throw up in her hair; I didn’t, thankfully), yelling,

No Katie NO!” And she just yelled back, “PUSH. PUSH” So I pushed and then she was done. I was complete. Whew! Katie told me to get on my hands and knees and push with the next contraction so my cervix wouldn’t close back up. Abigail crowned very quickly. Katie poured olive oil on my perineum and did a lot of stretching. I followed her instructions as to when to hold off pushing during the next contraction.

My labor nurse was right beside me, helping me breathe and telling me when to push. Todd caught Abigail. In my hands and knees position, I couldn’t see a thing except the wall. I thought she had already been born when it was just her head and I wanted to turn back over and sit down. (the head was such a tremendous release I didn’t realize her body was still inside me).

My second stage was 14 minutes. And third stage was quicker at 6 minutes. My midwife asked me if I wanted to push the placenta out and I said no, I wanted to wait for it to release on it’s own. She said, “It already did; it’s sitting right here. I know you don’t want me to go in there and grab it–just give a little push!”

Baby girl. Abigail Helene. 8 pounds, 1 1/2 ounces. 20 1/2 inches long. I’ll always wonder when (and where) Abby would’ve been born had we been at home when my labor stopped. We wouldn’t have known I was 9 cm and I would’ve chalked all those hours of contractions to another round of pre-labor.

Read my other birth stories: