Kayleigh is almost a month old already, and I realized I hadn’t shared her birth story yet, so here it is!
I was pregnant with Kayleigh for 41 weeks. I was seriously beginning to think she would never come! Throughout my whole pregnancy, I always thought I would go into labor early – 35 weeks, 36 weeks… I never imagined I would be a week overdue!
By week 39, I was practically tearing my hair out. I was so unbelievably uncomfortable, huge, exhausted, and just ready to not be pregnant anymore! I cried my eyes out on a number of occasions just wishing she would come out already. I. was. done.
I had contractions off and on for an entire week before Kayleigh arrived. They would start to get into a regular pattern, and then all of a sudden, just stop. It was absolutely frustrating! I would think “Oh, this is it!!” and get myself and John excited, and when the contractions stopped, I would be devastated. It was so exhausting.
On Monday, May 13th, I started having contractions very early in the morning. They were pretty strong and regular, about 10-15 minutes apart, and lasted all day and night. I thought for sure I was going into labor. John stayed home from work that day, once again thinking this was “it”. But, it wasn’t. The contractions ended up tapering off sometime around midnight that night and we finally went to bed.
Nothing much happened all day Tuesday. John went to work, and it was a normal day. He came home, we ate dinner and went to bed fairly early, since we had stayed up so late the night before.
At around 12:30am, I woke up from a deep sleep. I was having period-like cramps, contractions, and they felt a lot different to me than previous ones. I just knew these ones were the beginning of labor. They were coming regularly at 6 minutes apart right from the start, and they stayed that way.
I finally called my birthing center at around 3:30am to let them know what was going on. The nurse told me they usually don’t have people come in until their contractions are 3-4 minutes apart, but I live 45 minutes to an hour away from the birthing center, and I was terrified I would end up having my baby on the side of the road on the way there if I didn’t get there in time (I now know that was an absolutely ridiculous thought!). I also reminded her that I tested positive for Group B Strep, so I needed to be administered antibiotics early on in labor. She told me I could come in if I felt like it. They would evaluate me and either keep me there, send me home, or have me leave for a while and come back. I needed peace of mind, so I told her we would be there in 45 minutes to an hour.
We arrived at the birthing center at around 4:30am on May 14th. I had contractions every 6 minutes on the way there. As soon as I arrived, they hooked me up to the contraction machine, and confirmed that I was definitely having contractions. They evaluated me, and I was 2 cm dilated. Thinking I was further along than that, I was a bit disappointed.
The nurse suggested that I stick around the hospital for an hour and a half until the midwife arrived. She wanted to see if I progressed any further during that time. So, for the next hour and a half, John and I walked up and down the halls of the Labor & Delivery unit trying to keep the labor going. I continued to have contractions every 6 minutes.
Once the hour and a half was up, the nurse examined me again, and said that I was now 3 cm dilated. She was pleased with my progress. The on-call midwife arrived at that time, and also examined me. She agreed that I was 3 cm dilated and was in early labor. She told me I could either stay there, take a sedative and try to get some rest for a while, or go out and get some breakfast, and come back. John and I were pretty hungry, so we decided to head out for a bite to eat.
We went to a little cafe down the street and had a wonderful breakfast. I continued to have contractions every 6 minutes while we were there, and they were getting stronger each time. We had to walk across a very busy street to get back to our car after breakfast, and I had a pretty painful contraction while crossing. John asked me if I wanted to go anywhere else before heading back to the hospital, or if I just wanted to go straight back to the hospital. I felt I had to go right back to the hospital, as the contractions were getting to be very uncomfortable.
We headed back to the hospital, and the midwife examined me again. I was now 3.5 cm dilated, and admitted as a patient. While the midwife was examining me, Kayleigh’s heartbeat suddenly dropped to 60. I was given oxygen, and told to turn over onto my left side. Thankfully, her heartbeat came right back, but it sure did give us a scare! The midwife thought she probably sat on her cord, but wanted to keep me hooked up to the heartbeat monitor to make sure it didn’t happen again. Being hooked up to the monitor was kind of a pain in the butt, but it was very comforting to hear her heartbeat. I also had an IV in for antibiotics because I tested positive for Group B Strep. Going to the bathroom was a bit of a chore with all these things attached to me!
My labor didn’t progress very fast. I spent quite a bit of time sitting on the birthing ball, working through my contractions.
John and I in between contractions.
Listening to Kayleigh’s heartbeat kept me going.
When the midwife checked me four hours later, I was only 4.5 cm dilated. Another exam two hours later showed that I was between 5.5 and 6 cm dilated. At that point, I headed into the tub to continue my labor.
I spent several hours laboring in the tub. The warm water felt so great and really helped me to relax. I was able to freely move around, which really made the contractions easier to bear. The midwife came in to check on me and asked me to get out of the tub so she could examine me again to see how much progress I had made.
At this point in my labor, things were getting real. My contractions were really strong, and getting closer together. I sort of stepped outside of my body, and wasn’t really there in the room anymore. I knew people were talking to me, but I didn’t really know what they were saying. The midwife, nurses, and John helped me slowly get out of the tub. After being in there for so long, my legs were very weak and wobbly. I remember commenting that I felt like Ariel with her new legs.
After I got out of the tub, it took me quite a while to actually make it over to the bed for my exam. The contractions were really painful, and I could not move through them. I just stood there, leaning up against the wall, the midwife and John holding onto me so that I wouldn’t fall.
I finally made it over to the bed, and the midwife examined me again. I think I was about 7 or 7.5 cm at that time. The nurses drained and refilled the tub with warm water so that I could get back in, but I was in too much pain to move at that point, so I stayed on the bed, and finished my labor there.
The contractions were very painful. If I had to describe them to someone, I would say that it felt like someone stabbing me in the stomach with a knife and twisting it, tearing my insides apart. My mother and mother-in-law both thought I would have back labor like they did, because I had a lot of back pain during my pregnancy, but I didn’t have any back labor at all. It was all in my belly.
At around 9:30pm, the midwife examined me again. Since my labor was progressing so slowly, I thought I would probably only be around 8 or 8.5 cm. I was completely shocked when she lifted her head up, looked at me and said “I think it’s time to start pushing!”
After I heard that I could start pushing, I thought Kayleigh would come pretty quickly, maybe in 20-30 minutes. My midwife even said “I think we’re going to have a baby today, on the 14th!” Little did we know…
I started pushing with each contraction. The midwife and nurses kept asking me to push four times per contraction, but I was so exhausted by then that the fourth pushes were just not doing anything. I was barely able to get three pushes in on each contraction. I pushed, and pushed and pushed. I wasn’t making much progress at all. The midwife told me that Kayleigh was stuck under my pubic bone, so it was going to be difficult to get her out. I kept at it though.
A while into pushing, the midwife and nurses asked me to get up out of bed, to sit on the birthing stool, and change my position. I was just absolutely wiped by that point, and I didn’t want to get out of bed, but they all pushed me to. It took all of them, plus John, to get me out of bed. I had no strength left in my legs. I sat on the birthing stool and pushed a few times. Pushing in that position was absolutely horrid. It was the most painful thing I’ve ever done. After a few minutes pushing on the birthing stool, they told me I could get back into bed. I felt like I had to push a few times while standing up, so they helped me up. I leaned up against John and pushed a couple of times. He and I were both really hot though, so I let go of him and held myself up on the tub and pushed a few more times.
Everyone helped me get back into bed, and I continued pushing three times with each contraction, sometimes four. I was completely out of my head and didn’t really know what was going on anymore. Even more so than earlier that night. My body was there, but my brain was somewhere else. I think that was in response to the pain I was in, and also a result of being just completely exhausted. I’d never been so tired in my life. I remember the midwife putting an oxygen mask on me again, and I thought it was just to help me breathe during my contractions. John told me later on that they lost Kayleigh’s heartbeat then. I had absolutely no idea that even happened. The midwife did her best to hide that from me. She knew I would freak out and tense up, and I couldn’t do that because it would hinder my progress, and we needed to get Kayleigh out.
I vaguely remember the midwife saying she could see Kayleigh’s hair and she had me reach down and feel her head. I kept pushing, and with each push, everyone cheered me on. They kept saying how close I was, but I felt like I was still so far away. With each push, Kayleigh’s head came out a little bit, but then went back in. It was so frustrating. I felt like she would never come out!
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity later, I remember feeling the “ring of fire” everyone always talks about. A couple of pushes after that, they told me Kayleigh’s head was completely out. One more easy push and her body came out. I couldn’t believe she was finally here! After 2.5 hours of pushing, it didn’t seem possible.
The first words out of my mouth were “I did it!” I had been so set on having a natural, unmedicated birth, and I was proud of myself for doing it, especially with such a long, exhausting labor. Before I went into labor, everyone told me it would be ok if I changed my mind and asked for medication. Once I have my mind set on something though, I have a very difficult time changing it. I never liked the idea of having an epidural, and drugging my baby. I wanted to feel my labor. I wanted it to be real. I wanted an easier recovery after Kayleigh’s birth. I know epidurals are necessary sometimes, but if I could do it without, then I wanted to. During my whole labor, it never crossed my mind to get medication. The nurses and midwife were awesome and did not ask me even one time if I wanted medication.
Upon seeing Kayleigh for the first time, I just could not even believe this was my baby. I could not believe that she was finally here. I had several ultrasounds during my pregnancy, and I thought I knew exactly what she was going to look like. I had this vision of her in my head. I thought she was going to be blonde, with blue eyes, and look just like me. She looked just like me in the ultrasound pictures. I was very surprised when she came out with a head full of dark hair, brown eyes, and looked just like John!
I asked John what time it was when she was born. It was the middle of the night, and I didn’t know if she was born on the 14th or the 15th. The midwife overheard my question, and responded that she was born at 12:06am on the 15th.
Kayleigh was very clean when she came out, and they immediately put her up on my chest to bond with me. The midwife said the cord was done pulsating, and John cut it. They let me breastfeed her for a while before they took her away to weigh and measure her. She weighed 7 lbs., 5 oz., and was 21.5″ long.
We spent 2 more nights in the birthing center so they could monitor Kayleigh because of my Group B Strep. We spent the time bonding and getting to know our baby.
I am thoroughly enjoying motherhood!