It all started late Tuesday night, August 28th - we were helping some friends move that evening and had pizza, so when I had a stomach ache when we got home around 10 PM I figured it was that. Plus, my office was going to the State Fair the following day and I was a bit nervous about heading there almost a week overdue, so figured the stomach ache could be nerves as well. We headed to bed, though I didn't actually go to sleep. Around 3 AM I started to feel more cramping, and since I didn't have much in terms of Braxton Hicks contractions, I figured this could be labor! I laid awake in bed through them and started timing with my app around 4:30 AM - they were coming every 10 minutes lasting a minute on average and were painful, but manageable. Since I wasn't sleeping anyway, I got up around 5:30 AM and took a shower then woke Tyge up around 6:30 AM and told him he should call his boss and tell him he wasn't coming in that day. He didn't believe me at first but then quickly realized this was it! We laid in bed a bit and continued to time the contractions, which were anywhere from 6-13 minutes apart and getting a bit more intense. Around 9 AM I started picking up the house a bit and finished packing the hospital bag, then watched TV in the living room while laboring (A Baby Story and The Price Is Right!). I was able to eat some Greek yogurt and a PB&J and keep that down, and drank lots of water. I also called my boss and told her I wouldn't be joining them at the State Fair and would be having a baby that day! The pain was still tolerable but the peaks of the contractions were pretty bad - we just continued to time them as they weren't yet close enough to head to the hospital. I labored at home on the ball, over the ottoman, on the bed all morning and nothing was comfortable, so Tyge suggested taking Keely for a walk around noon. We walked very slow and stopped with each contraction, where I had to hang on to Tyge for support when they got bad. It was neat to take a last walk as the three of us, and it was a beautiful day out. When we got home Tyge offered to get us lunch and I wanted mac and cheese from Noodles, so that's what he got! While he was gone the intensity of the contractions picked up a bit, and there were now 6-7 minutes apart on average - still not time. He got home with the food which I ate, and then promptly threw up moments later, as the pain was getting much worse. I was also needing to go to the bathroom after every contraction and wasn't sure if my water had broken or not. It was around 1 PM or so when I called my midwife clinic and told them what was going on. They suggested I come in and get checked to see where I was at and if we should head to the hospital. We packed up the house and Tyge loaded the car just in case, put Keely in her kennel, and off we went!
Just before leaving the house, trying to look as happy as possible!
I had several contractions on the 12 minute drive to the clinic, which was very uncomfortable. When we got there the awesome nurse Joanie put us in a room and said Mary was the midwife on duty so she had gone home to rest and prepare for delivery that evening, and Ann was in the clinic with a patient and would be in to check on me soon. She set me up laying down on a table and wanted me to hang out there so they could see if my water had broken. Laying flat on my back while having contractions was not fun...poor Tyge just sat there waiting with me. Ann's patient was taking longer than expected so Joanie kept coming to check on me - she could tell that my pain was getting worse so hurried Ann up a bit! She came in and was able to sample the fluid and determine that my water hadn't broken but was perhaps slowly leaking. During the time it took to run the tests, my contractions got worse and I was having to lean over the stool to manage them. She waited until one was over then checked me for dilation - she was happy to report I was between a 4-5 and in active labor! She said we could head home and wrap things up (aka say goodbye to Keely) then head to the hospital within the hour. However, I threw up again when she was in the room and had a few really bad contractions, so she changed her tune and suggested we head directly to St. John's. The whole clinic wished me luck as we headed out of there, barf bags in tow, to have our baby!
Tyge drove as carefully yet quickly as possible to get me there. On the way we called our parents to let them know we were headed to the hospital, and called our neighbor to let Keely out after work before Tyge's parents made it to our house from up North. My clinic had called the hospital and we were pre-registered so once we arrived they got us in a room right away. I honestly don't even remember checking in or getting to our room but it was around 2 PM. I changed into a gown (I was planning to wear my own clothes but had lost all sense of style and modesty already and just wanted to be comfortable) and called our doula Mary to have her join us. The nurse did some initial fetal monitoring and from there, we worked on laboring and managing the contractions as best as possible. Mary the doula and Mary the midwife both arrived around the same time and began to help me labor through things. The contractions were coming almost every 2-3 minutes lasting 30-45 seconds and this lasted for hours. I threw up several times due to the pain. I was most comfortable on the bed on my hands and knees or sitting on the ball bent over the bed, though nothing really helped. I was having some back labor so Tyge held the warming pack on my back to help with that. Around 5-6 PM I got in the tub. I had wanted to "save" that for the last piece of relief, but after 3-4 hours in the hospital of excruciating labor pain, I couldn't wait any longer. Being in the tub helped and Tyge would pour warm water over my belly with each contraction, which felt good. At this point, I was doing a low humming sound to get through each contraction and would start and stop my sounds with the pain. Tyge knew when they were coming and would squeeze my hand. He was so great at reminding me to breath, to relax my other muscles, and was a rock for me. I never got vocal or hysterical, I was just quietly in pain and trying to manage as best I could. Several times I did say that I couldn't do it, I was tired (I hadn't slept at all!), and I wanted the epidural and he did as I asked and reminded me that my body was made to do this, I could do it, baby was coming soon, etc. So I call this phase of the story Part 1 because it is night and day different from Part 2. I honestly blocked out most of Part 1 and don't remember many details, other than it was the worst pain I've ever experienced and I was not myself during it.
So around 7 PM I got out of the tub and figured I had to be dilated to at least an 8 - I had been laboring at the hospital for 5+ hours and came in dilated to a 5. The contractions had been so close together for those 5 hours that I just knew I had to be close, maybe even past transition as they were so intense while in the tub. Mary checked me and told me I was at a 5+. I was so defeated that I had made NO progress during those 5 hours. Everyone assured me that it was progress, that the baby was moving down, etc. but I was so defeated and felt those 5 hours of indescribable pain were for nothing. I asked Mary, in her experience, how many more hours I had to go. She didn't want to answer my questions as it wasn't cut and dry, but she let me know that on average I could expect to dilate a centimeter an hour. I did the math - that meant 5 more hours of pain that would only intensify, plus who knows how many hours of pushing. At that time I hadn't slept since the day before and was on hour 16 of drug free labor. I was so tired. I was in so much pain. I truly didn't think I could finish without getting some rest, so I asked for the epidural and meant it.