My contractions started in earnest on Wednesday, February 25. For most of the day, they were 5-10 minutes apart and lasting pretty close to a minute each, some much longer. Not active labor, but progress! My parents live closer to the birthing center than we do, so Wednesday evening when it appeared as though things were not going to slow down, we packed up and went to my parents' house to be close by when it was time to go in. At my parents' house, we were joined by my dear friends Leah (who was the Maid of Honor in our wedding) and Jen. Around 7 o'clock, my contractions were still coming, so we decided I should take some Tyelenol PM and try to get some sleep while I could since I would likely be in labor through the night.
I was not able to get to sleep, so at about 11 o'clock Ben and I met Robyn, my midwife, at the birthing center so she could see what was going on. I was 3cm and 80% effaced. She gave me some stronger Benadryl-type medicine and sent me home to try and sleep. I was able to sleep but was awakened throughout the night by increasingly strong contractions. Finally at around 3:30 or so, I noticed that they were coming at about every 5 minutes. While everyone else slept, we got the laptop and went to contractionmaster.com to time the contractions. Sure enough, an hour went by and they were within 5 minutes of eachother, lasting at least a minute each!
I decided to go ahead and call Robyn at about 5; after speaking with her, we decided to meet at the birthing center at 7 unless anything changed. As soon as we got off the phone, I had a bunch of contractions that were only 2 minutes apart. Ben called and Robyn said we should go ahead and come in. On the drive over, things seemed to slow down somewhat. When we arrived, Jennie, another midwife, checked me and I was still at 3cm. She suggested we head home and walk or get some rest, so we headed home and I parked myself on the sofa where I labored for a number of hours. As the contractions increased in intensity, Ben started timing them again. By that time, it was early afternoon. We called Robyn again, and she said we should go ahead and come in so she could check me and see what was going on.
I was feeling somewhat discouraged at this point, because I was concerned that things weren't progressing. However, when Robyn checked me, I was between 5 and 6cm and Katie had dropped more. This was quite an encouragement! At that point, we drove home to grab some lunch, gathered everything up, and headed to the birthing center. At the birthing center, I got comfortable in a rocking chair in "the blue room" (this was the room I had decided to use for my labor and delivery) and settled down with a big glass of ice water, my beloved husband, my parents, and my friends and enjoyed their company between contractions. Thus far, everything was looking good, including my blood pressure.
At about 4 o'clock, Robyn decided to check me again and I had progressed another centimeter. That was good news! However, when she checked my blood pressure, it was at 140/88--a little high for comfort. Robyn gave me a few homeopathics and I got in the birthing tub, in hopes of getting it down. About half an hour later, she checked my blood pressure again and it was 140/94. It was at this point, she began talking about transferring me to the hospital if it didn't come down. Five minutes later Michelle, the student midwife attending my birth, checked it again and it had continued to rise. So, we got ready for an unexpected transfer by ambulance to the hospital.
Michelle came with me on the ambulance so she could check Katie's heart rate regularly on the drive over and Ben followed right behind us, with Jen and Leah behind him. Upon arriving at the hospital, we were able to get right into a labor and delivery room because both the doctor and Robyn had called ahead of time to tell them to expect me.
Once in the delivery room, it was all business. The nurses asked me lots of questions, and then I overheard them say the doctor's orders were to start me on magnesium sulfate (this prevents seizures when your blood pressure is too high) right away. Robyn told me that this would likely be what would happen, but she had said that Dr. Edwards mentioned the possibility of trying an epidural to lower my blood pressure before we tried the magnesium sulfate. I did not want either, but an epidural is preferred over the other, so I asked the nurses. They told me it was unlikely that Dr. Edwards would change his orders, but they would check. Sure enough, he said yes! But, before they could start the epidural, they had to wait for labwork to come back.
At 7 o'clock, there was a shift change and my new nurse came in to introduce herself. Missie was certainly a Godsend! I could not have asked for a better nurse. She certainly made the hospital experience much better than I had expected.
By the time my labwork came back, my blood pressure had stabalized on its own and there was no need to do the epidural or the magnesium. Praise the Lord! It was certainly tempting to get the epidural, because at this point, the contractions were getting amazingly intense. Missie asked me how I had been laboring at the birthing center, and was kind enough to get me a ball to sit on rather than having me lay down in bed. At about 8 o'clock, I was feeling incredibly exhausted and really considering getting an epidural so I could get some rest. Missie checked me and said I was right at 7cm, and the baby had dropped considerably. She told me that because of Katie's position, she would not be surprised if I was pushing within an hour, so she encouraged me to stick it out another hour without the medicine and then if I hadn't started pushing, we would talk.
After a few unbelievably intense contractions and a few "I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE"s from me, I got the urge to push at about 8:40! Mom ran to get the nurse who checked me and said I was at 9+ and the baby was way low. She told me I had to wait to push until Dr. Edwards got there and said that when I got the urge, I could breathe like "hee hee hoo." Right at that moment, I got the urge to push and said I couldn't wait--so I pushed and my water broke just as Dr. Edwards walked into the room. To make a long story short, about 10 minutes and 4 pushes later, Katie Lee was born screaming at 9:01pm!
When my water broke, there was meconium in it, so they had to take her right away, instead of giving her to me, to make sure she was okay. After a few minutes of poking and prodding and measuring (she was 8lb, 1oz and 21" long), I got to hold my precious daughter for the first time. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes.
Katie and I the morning after she was born
So, my birth did not go quite as I had expected, but it was certainly the most amazing experience of my life. Each time I hold my daughter, I am amazed at the grace of God upon a wretch like me. All I deserved was His wrath, and He has given me blessings beyond measure. Not only did He save me from the depths of my sin, but He has made my dreams of being a wife and momma come true, and I can never thank Him enough.