Wednesday, July 12th // 38 + 1 day pregnant
I went to my 38 week appointment expecting it to be my last. I was also prepared not to be dilated. With my first pregnancy, my cervix was still completely closed at my 38 week appointment, and I went into labor that same evening. Even though I knew from experience that dilation doesn’t mean much before actual labor, I still was hoping for some progress. You see, I had been having contractions since my second trimester. While they were textbook Braxton Hicks contractions (so not “real”), they had been getting stronger the few weeks prior.
My doctor said that I had starting thinning and was almost 1 cm dilated! I was shocked, but happy. The contractions I had been having must have been doing something!
That same evening, I was experiencing a lot of extra pressure and I felt “off”. Then around 9:00pm, I started having some contractions. I told Karter that I couldn’t explain it, but these felt different than the ones I had been having the past few months. I think this might be it! We sort of went crazy and decided to do laundry at midnight – “just in case.” I was up throughout the night with cramping, expecting it to pick up any time.
Thursday, July 13th // 38 + 2 days
The following morning, I was still having contractions, but they were very far apart and there was no apparent pattern. We decided to go on a long walk to try and get things to pick up. I had a few contractions during the walk, but they were pretty mild. When we got back to the house, I went to the bathroom and noticed that I had lost my mucus plug. Yay! I lost my plug with Violet during the first half of active labor so this was a good sign! Fully expecting to go the hospital by the end of the night, I ran to get a mani/pedi. I like to feel semi-put-together during labor and the hospital stay, and having my nails done makes a huge difference! I didn’t have any contractions for the next few hours, and by the end of the night, they had stopped completely.
I had a contraction here and there over the next few days, but it wasn’t time yet. I was pretty disappointed, because I really thought I was going to have our baby on Thursday.
Saturday, July 15th // 38 + 4 days
Fast forward to Saturday night; I started to cramp again. Throughout the night I started having time-able contractions, and by Sunday morning, I was sure I was in labor this time.
Sunday, July 16th // 38 + 5 days
I sent Karter and Violet to church without me, and tried to rest throughout the morning and afternoon. By the time they came home from church, the contractions had slowed again. I was pretty upset. This was 2 false alarms now. I had been through this before – I know what labor feels like, and I was definitely experiencing REAL contractions. What was going on? I was in such a sad mood the rest of the day, but Karter was so encouraging. He showed me love when I was not kind, and even brought me my favorite lunch from Panera to cheer me up.
That night, I was cramping throughout the night again. I was constantly in prayer, asking the Lord to give me peace. I wanted to trust in his timing, but it was so difficult.
Monday, July 17th // 38 + 6 days
The cramping started to get pretty painful, so I used my contraction timer, to see if a pattern was establishing. They were consistently 1 minute long and about 7-10 minutes a part. Karter woke up and noticed I was on my phone (timing) and asked if I was okay. I told him that I was having regular contractions again, but I didn’t want to get our hopes up. Karter seemed to be convinced I was in labor, because he suggested we turn on a TV show and brought my exercise ball up to our bedroom.
The contractions continued to intensify and get closer together over the next few hours. Karter helped me to breathe through them, and pressed on my back, like we learned in our labor and delivery class we took when I was pregnant with Violet.
The contractions were now 4-7 minutes apart, so we texted our parents to coordinate arrangements for Violet. This was moving much quicker than it had when I was in labor with her! Karter had asked me a few times if I wanted him to check my dilation (he’s a PA), but I said no. I didn’t want to be disappointed with little progress and I also wanted to limit my cervical checks to lower the risk of infection.
I finally let Karter check me, and he said I was 3-4 cm dilated! I actually had tears in my eyes. For some perspective, I went to the hospital after 24 hours of regular contractions with Violet and I was only 2-3 cm – so to be almost 4 cm after 4 hours of labor was shocking!
This was enough evidence for me that it was finally baby day!
Karter’s mom was watching our nephew down the street, so Karter took Violet over when she woke up. We also packed our bags and brought everything downstairs so that it was ready. I was still feeling energized and on top of the contractions, so I wanted to stay at home for a little while longer.
We ate, and relaxed for the next few hours (well, as much as you can relax when having contractions every 4-7 minutes). The only trouble was, they weren’t coming at consistent intervals. They seemed to go back and forth between 4-10 minutes – I even had a 12 minute break at one point. When I would have a particularly strong contraction, I would actually be HAPPY because that meant labor was progressing. How many women in labor do you know of that were happy to be having strong contractions? You see, after all the false alarms, and days of irregular contractions, I was so ready to be in actual labor that I was happy about the pain!
Karter and I tried taking a walk, but turned right back around when we realized I needed to hold on to something sturdy when contracting. We settled for the backyard because I really felt like being in the fresh air. I walked back and forth in our yard and would stop to have my contractions while holding on to the grill or chair. I’m sure it was a pretty funny sight!
I was starting to get antsy, so we decided to head to the hospital. For some reason, this brought on a bunch of anxiety that I hadn’t experienced yet. I only had 2 contractions during the whole 20 minute drive, and this made me even more anxious than I already was. With both pregnancies, heading the hospital slowed down my labor. I think the change of scenery and the thought of “this is really happening” makes me stressed and anxious, and slows things down. This was very frustrating!
Once we got to the hospital, Karter offered to drop me off and go get me a wheelchair, but I told him I would much rather walk. Walking helped my labor pick up, and I had to be standing when contracting. I remember having a painful contraction while holding onto the trunk of our car in the parking garage, but then did not have any more contractions until we arrived at triage.
The nurse in triage said that the midwife on duty would come check my dilation when she was available. Then she hooked me up to the fetal monitor and contraction monitor. The midwife came in and she was very sweet. She checked my progress and said that I was 4 cm, and that she would have the nurses page the OB on call from my practice and admit me! Woohoo!
We waited over an hour for a labor and delivery room to be ready. This was difficult because at this point I was strapped to a bed, with very painful contractions (things picked up once I calmed down and found out I was being admitted), and all I wanted to do was labor standing up.
I finally got settled in a labor and delivery suite and my new nurse said that I could get an epidural at any time. After being confined to the bed in triage for the past 2 hours, I was not coping very well and asked for it as soon as I could.
Two women came in to administer the epidural, and the younger of the two was the one inserting it. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was actually a nurse anesthetist student. I’m glad I didn’t know, because that would have made me nervous. The thought of the epidural really freaks me out! She did a great job and it went very smoothly. I quickly started to feel relief, and was thankful that it was working correctly. My epidural didn’t take effect evenly with Violet and I had to get a second one inserted. That was not a fun experience!
At this point, we texted friends and family to let them know we were admitted to the hospital and that we would be having a baby soon! I was really hoping that he would come before midnight because the next day was our anniversary. I wanted him to have his own day.
We made the decision not to have family in the hospital waiting room or delivery room this time around. It was very reassuring to have the support of our parents during our delivery with Violet, but this time, we wanted to experience birth as a couple. I have to say that this took a lot of pressure off. We were able to relax and sort of just wait for things to progress! We diffused lavender, prayed, and even watched some Netflix to pass the time.
The OB doctor on call came to check my progress, since I hadn’t been checked since triage 4-5 hours prior. I was at 5 cm. Although I was only 1 cm farther than before, I wasn’t discouraged because I knew that I progress very quickly at the end. She decided to break my water at this time too.
Once my water was broken, my contractions really picked up. They were coming almost on top of one another and I could actually feel them slightly in my upper abdomen area (even with the epidural).
I started to feel pressure and I knew it was almost time to push! This is the part that always makes me so nervous. I was already shivering from the intense contractions, but once there were nerves on top of them, my whole body was shaking! I let the nurse know I was feeling pressure and she called the OB.
The doctor checked my progress and I was pretty much completely dilated and effaced! She left the room and sent a OBGYN resident in to do some practice pushes with me. I warned her that I only had to push a few times with Violet so hopefully it will be a similar experience.
Sure enough, less than 5 minutes later (maybe 2 pushes) and his head was out! The resident quickly paged the OB to deliver him and told me to stop pushing. I really did stop, but he was in a hurry I guess because he kept sliding out! Karter said he was ready to catch him if the resident wasn’t ready. Her back was actually turned and we yelled, he’s coming!!! She turned around in time to catch him and due to the quickness of it all, I instinctively leaned forward and not only saw him slide out, but was able to grab him right away and pull him to my chest.
What an amazing experience that was. Words can’t express how I was feeling, but tears were streaming down my face as I held him for the first time. He was tiny and perfect. We named him Oliver Lane.
This is where things got dicey.
The nurse cleaned Oliver off while he was still on my chest, wrapped him in a blanket, and put a little hat on him to keep him warm. The OB had arrived by this point and was shocked that she missed the delivery. She and the resident started working on delivering my placenta.
After 10 minutes or so, I started to realize that something was wrong because it shouldn’t be taking this long. I didn’t even notice my placenta being delivered with Violet, so I expected it to happen as naturally and quickly this time – not so much. The OB had the resident step aside and kept working on me. She was massaging my stomach HARD and was completely silent while she worked.
After about 25 minutes, she said that it was apparent that I had a retained placenta. This meant that the placenta remained loosely attached and was not coming on it’s own. She had the nurses break down my bed and put my feet in stirrups (they hadn’t done this before I delivered because it happened too fast) and asked me to hand the baby to Karter. When she had me do that, I knew it meant this was serious now. Then she literally stuck her entire arm inside of me (thank goodness for the epidural!) and worked on loosening my placenta. I didn’t feel pain, but it was extremely uncomfortable and the pressure was intense. Everyone was silent as she worked. I didn’t know much about what was happening, but I did know that if she wasn’t successful, I would need surgery – and that was terrifying. I prayed silently that she would be able to deliver it and that I wouldn’t need surgery.
Finally, she started pulling stuff out of me that looked like globs of tissue and blood – gross. It turns out that she was pulling out pieces of my placenta. She was very thorough, in order to get all the pieces. She asked the resident to send the pieces out for testing, in order to make sure the whole placenta was removed and there were no abnormalities. If any of the placenta remained in my uterus, that would not have been good.
I have no idea how long this whole process took – Karter said it wasn’t more than 30 minutes, but it felt like hours to me. I only needed one small stitch, and was also administered antibiotics in case of infection (from the OB’s arm inside of me). Other than being a little extra sore, there were no further complications from the retained placenta. I am so thankful for the Lord’s protection in this. The OB joked afterwards that it was a good thing she had small hands, but for real, it really was! If it had been any other doctor (especially a man), there is a good chance I would have needed surgery to remove it. She was determined to get that placenta out, and praise God that she did! Surgery could have meant other complications, including preventing me from having any more babies.
We are so in love with our new addition! The Lord has blessed us. Now to tackle this “two under two” thing!
Oliver Lane Sell
July 17th, 2017
6 pounds 14 ounces