So I included the picture above for those of you who don’t REALLY want to read the details of a birth story. I thought the fact that The Dude is still covered in vernix and my ‘bits and pieces’ are nearly showing would be a good indicator of exactly how much detail we’re about to discuss. If you’re up for it…read on!
We saw Dr. Hammett weekly for a few more weeks. All was going well…The Dude (we didn’t know if he was a ‘dude’ or not at that point) was growing, my blood sugar was stable, etc. I was still working 40+ hours a week at the bank and by the time I hit 31 weeks, I was literally in tears every day walking out to my car. Given, I was HUGE at that point and everything on me was swollen. See photo below for proof:
Nonetheless, Chase is the 2nd largest flat-topped building in the US and the parking lot reminds me of the airport. After working all day and finally getting ready to the leave the building, half the time I couldn’t find my car and the other 1/2, I just didn’t feel like I could walk to it. I was worn out to the point of tears every single day.
Hubs finally insisted that I mention it to Dr. Hammett at my next appointment so, on September 17th, 2007, I waddled into Dr. Hammett’s office and told him I felt like I was losing it! He talked to me for awhile and then suggested that perhaps I was trying to do too much. He mentioned that sometimes, stressful careers and pregnancies don’t go together all that well and that perhaps I would benefit from a reduced work schedule. He offered to write me a note for work to make that happen. Just as we were about to finish out conversation, he looked at my chart and said, ‘We haven’t done a cervical check on you yet and it’s just about time for those to begin, would you like me to go ahead and do that today?’ I agreed and learned exactly why people complain about cervical checks and pray for doctor’s with small hands!
Here’s where things got interesting. Dr. Hammett, while doing the cervical exam, says, ‘Remind me…how many weeks along are you?’ I responded, ’31.’ He immediately said, ‘You’re not going back to work at all. You are three centimeters dilated. It’s no wonder you feel terrible…you’ve been laboring!’ And with that, I was put on bed rest.
Now, those of you who know me know that I’m pretty Type A…and especially when it comes to my work. I had planned to be at work for another 9 weeks and was not AT ALL ready to hand off my responsibilities to someone else and be ‘out of the office’ for bed rest plus 12 weeks of maternity leave. I called my husband in a frenzy, called my boss in a frenzy and spent the entire evening freaking out on the laptop trying to get everything under control so that I could ‘go on bed rest.’ I know, it was crazy but I was caught off guard and completely unprepared. I was also a 33 year old career woman who thought her job was the most important thing in the world. Bed rest started the process of showing me the truth about that but the arrival of The Dude definitely finished it.
Bed rest, for me, consisted of staying flat on my back, whenever possible, until the baby came. I was allowed to get up to get something to eat, go to the bathroom and take a shower once a day. Hubs was working…so I spent most of that time alone although a number of friends did pop by and check on me.
For the first few days, whenever Hubs came home, I was sobbing. Unfortunately for him, bed rest did not mean that I couldn’t use the computer. I spent 1/2 of the 8 hours a day he was gone surfing the internet for information about ‘premature babies’ and ‘babies born at 32 weeks.’ Of course, stories with happy endings don’t often make the internet so I was reading nothing but sad stories that were horrifying to a 32 week pregnant, hormonal woman on bed rest. I think Hubs was about to institute an internet ban!
Luckily, as each week passed, I calmed down knowing that The Dude was another week more developed. I napped a lot…a friend came over and taught me how to knit…I read and watched a lot of Jon and Kate Plus 8. (That one, I can’t really explain.) I was concerned that I wouldn’t be allowed to attend my own baby shower but was given permission, as long as a stayed sitting for the entire thing, to go.
We had a couple of instances where we thought I might be in labor and traveled up to Grady but were always sent home. Until finally, on the evening of October 25th, some friends (including Kylene, our doula) came over for a gathering. I was still lying around but they came over to keep me company. We were getting close to 28 weeks and I had been given permission to get up and move around more since The Dude was pretty much full-term. As I walked Kylene out to her car (she was the last to leave) we noticed the full moon. I distinctly remember lifting up my shift and showing my belly and saying, ‘Ok full moon…I’m ready for this baby to come!’
I went back in the house. It was about 9:30 pm on a Thursday night and we had missed Survivor because we had a house full of people. We had Tivo’ed it and Hubs and I sat down to watch. I sitting on the couch with the coffee table in front of me and just before the show ended, I started to feel a little crampy. I leaned forward to stretch out my back and felt a hard punch to my pelvic floor. Now remember, I had had terrible UTIs all through my second trimester and, after an abdominal ultrasound, had been told that The Dude’s head was compressing my bladder. In our last weekly appointment before the 25th of October, we had seen Dr. Lin and she had indicated that his head was now resting on my pubic bone. I didn’t know it then but I’m pretty sure now that that ‘punching’ feeling was his head slipping off my pubic bone and engaging in the birth canal.
Within 30 minutes, I was feeling super hot and sweaty and had started to feel some regular surges in my abdomen. Hubs started timing them (they were about 10 minutes apart) and we began working through one of our HypnoBirthing scripts. I felt like I couldn’t concentrate AT ALL and found the attempt at hypnosis annoying. I also could not cool down. I remember going into the downstairs bathroom and stripping out of all of my clothes. I was just incredibly HOT!
Somehow (I don’t remember how) we ended up upstairs in our bedroom. Hubs continued to time contractions and put my HypnoBirthing CD on for me to listen to. I remember leaning against our bed (it’s pretty high off the ground) with my belly resting on the mattress. I would swear that I was there for a few minutes but Hubs swears that he watched me stand there, on tip toes, for over an hour and half. We had called Kylene from downstairs and told her about the contractions and she advised that we call her again when they were closer to 4-5 minutes apart. Hubs was under the impression that the contractions had stopped because I had stopped mentioning them while I was leaning on the bed. Kylene called back around 12:30 am though and, when I heard Eric tell her that the contractions were no closer together, I yelled out, ‘No…I just stopped telling you about them!’ Oops!
I also suggested that Hubs ask Kylene to come over and that we should call Dr. Hammett. Hubs called Hammett and he said that we should give him another call when we were ready to head to the hospital. Shortly after that, Kylene arrived. I still didn’t have any clothes on (you’ll notice that’s a theme in this story) and had moved onto my hands and knees on my bed. I was continuing to get more and more uncomfortable and, every 3rd or 4th contraction, would tell Hubs and Kylene that it was time to take me to the hospital. We had agreed, however, to wait as long as possible to go to the hospital (to avoid interventions as much as possible and allow me to labor in the comfort of my home) so they supported and reassured me and waited to see if I would ask again.
At some point in the next hour, I began to insist during every contraction that I needed to go to the hospital. I had reached a place where I couldn’t deal with the discomfort effectively and I had only been laboring for about 3 hours. I had heard that first labors can last 24-36 hours and I was in a panic: there was just no way that I could maintain that level of discomfort for another 21-33 hours! Kylene and Hubs agreed that it was time to go. Just before we began to pack to leave, Kylene asked, ‘Would you like me to do one cervical check before we go?’ We hadn’t done any because I knew that I was competitive…if I had been 3 centimeters dilated at 3 hours, I would expect to be 6 centimeters at 6 hours. We had ‘no cervical progress checks’ written into our birth plan for just that reason.
I agreed to a cervical check from Kylene…I was curious about how far along I was. As my doula, she was incredibly kind and supportive and had continued to reassure me by saying things like ‘You are doing this!’ and ‘Everything is going great!’ She had gently helped me find positions in which I might be more comfortable and had rubbed my back to help relieve some of the pressure. In general, she had been all ‘peace and light’ throughout my labor. So, it was with a fair bit of anxiety that I heard her turn to Hubs and say, ‘We need to go to the hospital now! I don’t feel ANY cervix!’
We’ll head to the hospital and FINALLY deliver this baby in Part 4!