Cora’s Birth Story

Week 39: The doctor asks if I want my membranes sweeped  (A procedure where the health care provider puts her or his finger into the cervix and uses the finger to gently separate the bag of water from the side of the uterus near the cervix).  Jon and I talk it over for a few minutes and decide to decline.  With Cameron, I did the sweeping and it was successful in kick starting labor, but only after two days of painful cramping.  So this time around I decided to hold out to see if baby girl would come on her own.

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Spent the rest of the week staring at the clock.

40 week appointment/2 days before my due date: Decided to go ahead and do the membrane sweeping.  Why?  Because I was already uncomfortable and miserable so I figured that even if it got worse for a little while, I would rather just get on with having this baby.  So the doctor did the sweep (around noon) and I went home to rest as much as possible.

Once Cameron awoke from his afternoon nap we hung out around the house since it was in the upper nineties outside.  Blah.  After a while though I could tell that Cameron was getting restless, so I offered to take him to the park at the elementary school down the street.  He scootered to the park and I walked behind him as quickly as I could.  Once there, he played on the playground and ran around a wide open grassy area.  I snapped this photo of him running away.

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When we returned home, we found that Jon was home from work.  Jon and Cameron played football for a while in the backyard and I found myself back on the couch.  I kept a heating pad on my belly to help with the cramping and only had some very mild bleeding.  I couldn’t stop wondering if the sweep was going to work or if I had another week of pregnancy ahead of me.

Once it started to get dark I asked Cameron if he wanted to make popcorn and watch a movie – one of his favorite things to do.  I purchased The Land Before Time on Amazon Instant Video because I really wanted to make the night enjoyable and special instead of just constantly thinking about not wanting to be pregnant anymore.

After the movie, I discovered a text from one of my best friends telling me to call her if I wasn’t in labor yet.  We connected with her and her husband on Face Time and got to celebrate their happy news – that she was pregnant with her first child!  We all stayed on Face Time until about 10 pm.  After hanging up, we quickly put Cameron to bed and we rushed to get ready for bed since we were all up much later than usual.  Especially if labor was around the corner I needed to get some good sleep.

Just before 11 p.m.: Finished brushing my teeth and washing my face.  I chatted with Jon as I picked up a few things in our room.  He was already lying in bed and I could tell he was getting ready to drift off in the middle of one of my sentences (that happens pretty often…okay, very often).

It was then that I noticed myself having some increasingly painful cramping in my abdomen.  I asked Jon if he had packed his hospital bag yet.  He said no, so I asked him if he wouldn’t mind throwing a few things together quickly.  He looked at me reluctantly since he was already half asleep.  I told him that I thought there was a chance that we may need to go to the hospital before morning.  He again, looked at me reluctantly and told me he really didn’t think that was going to happen.  I told him I thought there was a chance so that if he could pack his bag that would be really great.  He quickly packed some basics and crawled back into bed saying, “Well I better get some shut eye if I’m going to have an early morning.”

At this point, some instinct must have kicked in because I suddenly felt more revved up than tired.  Weird.

By ten minutes later I was having what I thought were contractions.  They were painful enough that I was leaning over to brace myself on the bed at times.  At this point I also texted Pam, a friend who was planning on watching Cameron whenever I went into labor to tell her that we may need her to come over sometime during the night, just so she could be ready.  I wanted to give her a heads up, just in case.

I told Jon that maybe we should time my contractions.  Reluctantly, (theme word here?) because he still kept trying to drift off to sleep, he sat up and pulled out his phone to use the stopwatch feature.  At this point I could tell he thought I was overreacting because just a very short time ago I was completely fine and nothing was happening.  But sure enough, it seemed that these pains I was having were five minutes apart and lasting for about a minute each.  Those numbers sounded familiar, but we couldn’t remember what numbers like that meant so we Googled it.  According to whatever source we found on Google, it was definitely time to go to the hospital.  Five minutes apart and lasting a minute are when first time mothers are supposed to go to the hospital.  For second time mothers, it is recommended to go even earlier at seven minutes apart since second labors tend to go much quicker.  Considering that we had a forty minute drive to the hospital I knew I didn’t want to stay at home too long.

After a few more rounds of contractions I realized that the intensity of the contractions was escalating very quickly.  This was very surprising considering that I’d only been having contractions for about twenty minutes now.

Ten minutes later Jon called Pam to tell her to come over. I worked through contractions while Jon hustled around to pack up the rest of his things and the last minute items on my list.

Pam arrived and we chatted for a few minutes.  She prayed for us and off we went.  As soon as I got into the car I realized that I was hungry so I had Jon run back inside to grab me a to-go bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats so I wouldn’t feel queasy on the drive.  It’s a good thing too because at that time I wasn’t even thinking about how once you arrive at the hospital they don’t let you eat or drink anything other than ice chips until you give birth.  So looking back I am reaaaallly glad I had that last minute bowl of mini wheats.

It was midnight when we drove away from our house.  The ironic thing was that multiple times over the weeks leading up to that day I had told friends, “I just hope my labor doesn’t start at 11 p.m.  I want to wake up in the morning, after a good night’s rest, drink a cup of coffee and then realize that my labor is starting.”

So off we drove into the night to the hospital, exactly what I hoped WOULDN’T happen.  However, even though leading up to that point I had hoped it would happen differently, in the moment I was feeling incredibly thankful that all this was happening while Cameron was soundly sleeping in his bed, not having to deal with any kind of stressful transition as we headed off to the hospital.

Just as we left Rio Vista we were greeted by a man holding a STOP sign on the highway.  Construction had been going on all summer long on the highway out of town and at night they switched over to one-lane traffic.  After a minute of waiting I was wondering how long we were going to be stuck.  The contractions were strong at this point and I was needing grip onto something during each one.  I asked Jon to ask the construction worker how long it was going to be.  “Three minutes,” he replied.  This was reasonable enough that I wasn’t going to make Jon insist that we get to go any sooner.

Shortly after we started driving again I felt the urge to start groaning through the contractions.  I wanted to listen to something that would hopefully distract me during the drive.  Out of all things, Jon turned on a motivational high school graduation speech that he’d stumbled across earlier that day.  So random.  So during the drive we listened to a military officer talk about doing something meaningful with your life.  I remember trying to listen for the first ten minutes or so and then just blocking it out.

It was a very peaceful drive to the hospital.  Not the contraction part, but otherwise.  I think we passed only a couple cars the entire way.  The drive to Vacaville is a two-lane highway that runs through miles and miles of fields home to herds of sheep and cattle.  I remember the moon being bright and it feeling like we were the only people out after midnight on a Tuesday…probably because we were.

By the time we arrived at the hospital, the contractions were starting to undo me a bit.  We hurried from the car in through the spinning glass doors, now stopping each time that I had a contraction.  When we arrived at Labor and Delivery it was a bit like checking into a hotel.  Whatever man was behind the desk calmly asked for my ID and my medical insurance card.  He slowly typed information into the computer and looked unphased as I doubled over groaning now once every few minutes.  After what seemed like a rather long check in process, a nurse escorted me and Jon into a room with a hospital bed and a machine used to monitor contractions.

Once I was in the room my contractions escalated to yet another level and felt incredibly thankful that we had left the house when we did.  I couldn’t imagine getting through contractions that strong while still having to sit in the car.  At this point, I was in the rocking-through-contractions phase and I asked for an epidural.  Right before I did I second guessed the decision.  Nobody had even asked me yet if I wanted one.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to be the person who walked in the doors and instantly asked for an epidural.  However, after one more contraction I realized that I was already approaching my breaking point so I put in the request.  The nurse told me I was at a 6, which was encouraging, but I still wanted the epidural.

In my labor with Cameron I made it 23 hours before I agreed to an epidural, but it was a much more slow and steady build of contractions.  I labored for 12 hours at home and then 12 more at the hospital.  I had gone into my first labor so sure that I would have a natural childbirth.  After 23 hours I was still only dilated to a 4 and having almost no break between contractions…at which point I broke down and got the epidural.  After receiving it I gave birth to Cameron 15 minutes later.  The epidural relaxed my body and boda-bing boda-boom.

So while part of me still wanted to try for a natural childbirth this time around, I had promised myself that I would not let myself get to my breaking point before asking for an epidural again.  With Cameron, I waited until I felt I could not handle even one more contraction before I asked for it.  Then the anesthesiologist still had to be called and had to ride his bike to the hospital.  In the meantime, I started hyperventilating and they had to put an oxygen mask on me.  I felt like I was dying and it wasn’t a pretty picture.

So I asked for the epidural and I was still amazed at how long it took from the time I asked for it to the time I actually got it.  Much too long, let me tell you.

They moved me into a delivery room and started to go through the routine procedures of putting an IV into my wrist and getting everything prepped.  It was about an hour and a half from the time I asked for an epidural to the time that I got any relief.  I actually had to have it done twice because after receiving the first one everything still felt the same.  So the anesthesiologist said she’d try it again.

Once the epidural kicked in and the nurse administered a narcotic pain killer I went from experiencing some of the worst pain of my life to just chillin in my double wide hospital bed.  It was so incredibly wonderful to have the nurse tell me that I was actually in the middle of a contraction and not be able to feel it at all.  The nurse turned down the lights in the room, Jon took a nap, and I tried to nap, but found myself unable to really sleep.  I wanted to sleep, but even though I couldn’t feel the pain anymore I was still wildly aware that I was about to have a baby and therefore, couldn’t turn my brain off enough to sleep.  I talked to God for a while and got incredibly emotional at one point over the fact that I was about to meet my daughter.  I also kept checking Facebook because I was bored, but there was not a lot happening on there at 3 a.m.

Around 4:45 a.m. the nurse came in to check on me.  She found that I was a 10 and that my water had broken sometime since the last check.  She told me that she would get everything ready, but that I should be careful not to sneeze or cough very hard or the baby might just pop out.  At first I thought she was kidding, but when I realized she was serious I made myself very careful not to do either of those things.  At this point I started telling Jon to wake up.

About an hour later it seemed that everything and everyone was ready.  Nobody was in a hurry and I wasn’t either since I was just enjoying not being able to feel my toes.  A smiley, bright eyed medical student was also present.  Apparently this was the first birth he had witnessed.  Having him there was amusing because the whole time he looked very amazed slightly shocked at what was happening.

I had the midwife set up the mirror so I could watch the birth.  She told me to do a few quick very small pushes.  I did this a few times and before I knew it I was holding my daughter, Cora Bethany.

From the first contraction until I met her was 6 hours.  Cora was born before Cameron even woke up that morning and realized we were missing.

It was one day before my due date, September 23rd, at 5:49 a.m.  She weighed 6 lbs, 14 oz and was 20.5 inches long.  She was perfect and healthy and beautiful.

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