The short version: After a couple nights of mild and inconsistant contractions, we went in the our doctors office on Monday morning for a non-stress test and learned that I was already 5-6 cm dialated and 75% effaced! We took the doctor's advice and met him at the hospital for a controlled breaking of the waters to avoid a prolapsed cord. After he broke the waters, my midwife checked me and said I was already 7 cm dialated. I couldn't believe I was this far and not yet feeling any pain and hardly any contractions. It took a couple hours before contractions really started picking up. For about an hour and a half I was in hard labor but dealt with the contractions using the relaxation techniques TJ and I had practiced from the Bradley Method. At around 7:00 I started pushing and within 10 minutes Vivian was born! No drugs, no epidural, no IV, no internal fetal monitor, and no episiotomy. Vivian's birth turned out to be easier, shorter, and less painful than I had expected. What a blessing.
The Long version: It all started on Saturday night. At 8 days past my due date I was running out of time before they would want to induce my labor using drugs. So, I used my breastpump to help get contractions started. This was not my first time using the pump to start contractions. I had also tried Friday evening and Saturday morning. Both times resulted in a couple hours or consistant braxton hicks contractions, but never any pain and the contractions usually started close together only to slow down and finally stop within a couple hours. Saturday evening wasn't much different. I pumped, and then TJ and I went out to my parents house to visit for a while. As expected, the contractions faded away within a couple hours. When we headed home though, I started getting contractions again, this time accompanied by slight menstral-like cramping. I was very pleased to find that these new contractions were coming about every 13 minutes. We thought for sure this was it! So, we packed our bags, left Estelle with TJ's parents and prepared for labor.
By Sunday morning though, the contractions had died down and were only coming sparatically throughout the day. We spent the day sitting around the house waiting for things to pick up. I went to bed discouraged. Sometime during the night though, the contractions came back, painful enough to wake me from my sleep every 6 minutes. I breathed through the contractions pretty well by myself and only woke TJ up a couple times. By Monday morning though, we were back to square one. The contractions had quit entirely. We thought it best for TJ to stay home from work and he joined me for my non-stress test (routine when you go past your due date). Vivian did fine through the non-stress test, but when the doctor checked me, he said I was already 5-6 cm dialated! Talk about shocking! The doctor recommended a controlled breaking of the bag of waters because Vivian's head was not engaged and was not angled correctly to block the pelvis. He was worried that if I waited for my waters to break on their own, the cord might slip in there before her head, resulting in a prolapsed cord and emergency c-section. Not wanting to risk that, we agreed to meet the doc at the hospital in a couple hours.
We checked into Memorial hospital at around noon and waited for a couple hours before the doc arrived. When he arrived, he broke the waters while the midwife helped to push vivian's head into the appropriate position so it was engaged. This went very smoothly. After that, the doc left and Sylvia, my midwife stayed. She checked me shortly after Doctor Hucker had left and said I was already 7 centimeters dialated and almost entirely effaced! Now that was shocking! I had expected to be in severe pain by the time I got that far! The next couple hours were spent walking the halls, talking with Sylvia and the nurses, and watching TV while we waited for things to pick up. I was having contractions but they weren't very close together. We prayed they would pick up soon.
By around 5:00 they were closer to 5 minutes apart and were finally starting to feel a little more serious. By 5:30, they were strong enough to take all my attention and I remember having very little time between contractions. Just enough time to eat a bite of my popsicle and prepare for the next contraction. The next hour or so I moved from the bed to the shower, to the birthing ball, and walking around. Close to 7:00 I told sylvia I felt like I could push. She checked me and said I was 9 cm and that we could try a push to see what happened. That next contraction I pushed and Vivian's head moved down and started crowning! At this point they told me NOT to push and it took every ounce of effort for me not to. Sylvia had to put her gown on and all the nurses were rushing around trying to get ready for the baby. I was on my hands and knees at the foot of the bed and decided this wasn't a good position for baring down, so I tried another contraction standing up, but this too proved to be ineffective. I wanted a position where I could really bare down. So, with vivian's head already crowning, I climbed back on the bed and turned around so I could grab my legs and really push. Within a couple pushes her head was out. Then they told me I needed to push the shoulders out now! I was so exausted from pushing her head out, I said that I didn't have the energy to push her shoulders out. But they told me that I had do so I finally decided to give it all that I had left. Sure enough, her shoulders came out with that next contaction.
Vivian was handed too me as soon as she came out and nursed like an old pro almost immediately. I felt on top of the world. I couldn't, and still can't, believe I'd given birth entirely without drugs. I honestly thought I'd be begging for an epidural before I hit 8 centimeters. I couldn't have been more thankful for my support team. Sylvia, my midwife was WONDERFUL. She encouraged me to do whatever felt natural during labor. I wasn't pushed into doing things I didn't want to and I felt like she was there helping to make sure that I got the birth expereience I wanted. TJ was an awesome coach just like last time. He so supportive and encouraging me all the way through. My mom was there and even got to catch Vivian when she came out. And my friend Erin, who'd had a natural birth herself, both took pictures and helped encourage me during labor.