Elena’s Birth Story–Part 1

Before I get started, I should warn that if you get squeamish about blood, and other very TMI related details, you might want to skip this.  I loved hearing birth stories while I was pregnant, so figured others may be interested in mine as well.  Plus, I don’t want to forget the details of the delivery, so this is very long!  Dividing it in two parts so when I start forgetting things, I can look it up here and remember the day our lives changed forever…

On Monday morning I went to the doctor to get my membranes stripped for the 3rd time.  I was hoping there had been some changes since my 39 week appointment, but sadly, I was still 1 to 2 centimeters dilated, 60% effaced, baby still at -2 station. 

For those of you unfamiliar with pregnancy terms, for a baby to be born by a vaginal delivery, you need to be 10cm dilated (that’s how open your cervix is so baby can come out), 100% effaced (meaning how thin your cervix is getting in order to allow full dilation), +3 station (it goes from -3 to +3, meaning if baby is high or has dropped).  So basically, I was barely dilated, walking around for 2 weeks with no change, and the baby was still very high.

I made an appointment to go back on Thursday, and the doctor was going to do an ultrasound to check if everything was ok to let me go overdue, and we talked about an induction when I reached 41 weeks.  I left feeling deflated, and as I was on my way out and told the secretary “see you on Thursday” she smiled and said “No…  I’m not going to see you on Thursday…” (Great intuition, no?)

I met a friend at Jamba Juice in the Fort after my appointment, talked about how little had happened, walked to her place with her since I wanted to get things moving, and as I was walking back to High St at almost 1pm, I texted Karl “This time I didn’t even have cramping afterwards 😦 ” 

At 2:15pm I sent Karl a text “Spotting and a bit of cramping now.  So at least the strip did *something*” 

At this point, every time I went to pee, I also had to wipe a lot of bloody cervical mucous.  The “bloody show” as they call it, can be a sign that labor is starting, but because I had the membrane strip, I was associating it with that, since that can cause spotting and cramping.  (The bloody cervical mucous never stopped, and lasted until my very last trip to the bathroom the next day.)

Twenty minutes later I wrote “Cramps come and go.  Don’t get excited though.  Decided to time them and they last 10 seconds each.  Def not labor.”

Karl had a facial after work, which I told him to go to.  At 6:45pm I texted “No labor.  Contractions stopped.”

Karl got home around 7pm, by that point things had started up again and they were coming strong, by 7:50 the contractions were lasting about 25 seconds, anywhere from 1.5 minutes to 2.5 minutes apart, and I couldn’t talk, walk or do anything during them. 

I had bought fondue cheese earlier that day, and since I didn’t meet my friend for dinner as planned because of the pain, I decided that it was a good day to make fondue, because if I was in labor we might not get a chance to eat it later.  So I cut up the baguette, cut up and boiled potatoes, prepared the cheese, and we sat on the couch to eat.  It took forever to get things ready, because I kept having to stop to deal with the contractions, the same thing happened while eating dinner.  At this point it was around 9pm.  The contractions were just as frequent but still not lasting more than 35 seconds.

At 10:30pm the pain was getting worse and more intense, I went with Karl to walk Lily, and when we got back I started talking about going to the hospital.  I couldn’t deal with the pain, and all the online tips we found (massaging back, counter pressure, being on all 4’s, sitting on the exercise ball, taking a hot bath, etc, etc) didn’t do crap to ease them.  Trying to do anything actually made the pain worse.

Karl was hesitant to go to the hospital and being sent back home, since everything we read said to not go to the hospital until your contractions are 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, lasting for at least an hour.  At that point, they had been anywhere from 1.5 to 3 minutes apart for about 4 hours, but aside from one contraction that lasted 3 minutes (!!!), they never lasted more than 50 seconds, and for the most part they were only 30-40 seconds long.  We didn’t know if it was only early labor (when you should stay home) or active labor (you should go to the hospital) because it didn’t follow any of the patterns we read about.  Contractions lasting only 30 seconds are usually early labor, contraction intervals lasting 5 minutes or less usually means active labor.  The last thing I wanted was to drive to the hospital in pain, only to be sent back home!

I texted the doctor to see if she could provide any guidance, but she never texted me back.  In her defense, I texted her at 11pm, and she had been very clear to CALL her when I went into labor (here the doctors actually give you their cellphone and home phone numbers, I’m so going to miss this personal care at my next pregnancy!).  I didn’t want to call her though, because it was late at night and I was still not sure whether this was anything so didn’t want to bother her for no reason.

I finally gave up, put make up on (I wanted nice postpartum pictures – spoiler alert: by the time I gave birth I looked liked crap, and got no good pictures), took this one last picture (I’m totally faking this smile in between contractions), and we headed out.  You can see from the picture, how my belly was still very high, and baby hadn’t dropped.


It was hard convincing Karl to go, I knew how unbearable the pain was, Karl was timing them and knew how frequent the contractions were, but still they weren’t following any patterns.  Since it was so late, I told him we would be in the hospital within 10 minutes, not having to deal with traffic, and if they sent me back then it would just be another 10 minute drive back home, but I really wanted to get checked because I couldn’t handle it anymore.

I should take this moment to say that the contractions were much much much worse than anything I’ve ever imagined.  It felt like my body was literally being ripped apart from the inside.  I had heard that in between contractions you get a break and feel normal, but in between contractions I still felt pain, they were just not as bad.  I really don’t think it’s a low pain threshold thing, as I’m not particularly weak (heck, my dental fillings were all done without anesthesia, because I’m more afraid of the needle than of the grinding pain), but I’m convinced that just like pregnancy is different for everyone, so are the contractions and pain of labor.  I mean, everyone’s body is different, so why assume that labor feels the same for everyone?  My grandmother had four pain free labors, and mine were the complete opposite of that, so it wasn’t just because she dealt better with pain.

The weird thing is that though I’m a crier, at no moment I cried, it was all just so painful, that I didn’t even have energy for that.  And at no point during labor did it even cross my mind “I’m having a baby!” or get excited about the end result.  All I could do was deal with the pain at that moment and concentrate on breathing.

So off we went to the hospital…

(To be continued, I’ll post the second part tomorrow.)


Filed under Baby, Foreign Service, Pregnancy

7 responses to “Elena’s Birth Story–Part 1

  1. Oh wow! I didn’t realize they were that specific about contractions. I cannot imagine sitting around waiting and timing and not knowing whether to stay or go!

  2. Pingback: Pregnancy Update: 2 Weeks Postpartum | Carla Runs the World

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  4. SO beautiful – and I love that last picture of you. By the time I went into labor a day short of 41 weeks I was ready.to.be.done. and not really smiling in any of my pictures. 🙂

    I had my membranes stripped too, and went into labor a day and a half later.

  5. Pingback: Gabriel’s Birth Story | Carla Runs the World

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