The afternoon of Saturday May 20th Chris and I went to The Village Cafe in Ridgewood to eat a late lunch and write thank-you cards for the baby shower. The weather was kind of strange, at first it was sunny and beautiful, then the wind would get really strong and a big rain cloud would blow in and it would rain lightly for a few minutes. We wanted to sit outside, but had to move in twice when it started raining.
At 5 pm after we were done we walked down to shop at Mango Jam and it was there that I felt the first little cramp. It surprised me and I looked at Chris and told him what I had felt. We laughed at the thought that it might have been a contraction. We decided to walk down to Starbucks, about 5 blocks away, to see if that would make the cramps go away or get stronger. During the walk I got a few more cramps, but they were mild and I could continue walking through them. I figured I was having strong Braxton Hicks contractions or maybe I was having false labor. I was still a week away from my due date and I didn't want to get too excited in case it wasn't the real thing.
When we got home around 6 pm I went upstairs to lay down. I put on the Hypnobirthing CD and kept an eye on the clock. I would get a cramp about every 5 minutes and they were lasting about 20-30 seconds. We were supposed to go over to Chris's parents house at 7 pm, but I decided it would be better not to go. I wanted to stay in bed, but Chris thought it would be a good idea to keep moving around and to go about doing normal things as long as we could. We decided to take the dogs for a walk. I brought a watch and we timed a few contractions. They were very irregular and I could still walk and talk through them. We still kept saying, "if this is really labor".
When we got home at 8 pm I went back upstairs and laid down. Chris started timing the contractions, they averaged about 6 minutes apart and lasted 30-45 seconds. By now I was accepting the fact that the contractions were not going away and that this was really it! We called our doula Lynn at 8:45 to let her know what was happening and that we might need her that night. She told me it sounded like early labor and that I should try to get some rest. We stopped timing the surges and I took a bath. Baths in early labor can slow down the contractions, but they kept coming. I had the urge to turn over onto my hands and knees and sit like a frog for each one in the tub. I said to Chris, if this is labor and these are my contractions, this is easy!
I got back into bed around 9:30 pm and we put on the Hypnobirthing CD again, I listened to it 2 or 3 times but the contractions kept coming and were getting stronger. By 10:30 pm I couldn't stay in bed with each contraction and it felt better for me to stand up, grab the shelf and rock side to side. We got out the birth ball and I bounced on that for a few of them too. We started timing them again at 10:45 pm. We were averaging 3-4 minutes apart at 30-45 seconds, but they were still not coming at regular intervals and we had been told that they needed to be 60 seconds long and at regular intervals before we could go to the hospital. We didn't even bother to video tape anything or get ready for the hospital because we thought we still had several hours to go.
I kept having the urge to go to the bathroom and at 11:15 pm I passed the mucus plug. We thought, "This is it! We can go to the hospital now", so we called our midwife. Lonnie spoke to me on the phone and figured we were in early labor since between contractions I was very lucid and felt great, and during a contraction I wasn't screaming or anything, even though I had to pass the phone to Chris. She told us to go back to bed and try to rest between the contractions. Even though they were coming quickly, they weren't lasting very long or seemingly hurting very much. She thought we had a way to go.
At 11:45 pm we stopped timing again and got back into bed. I dealt with the contractions by moaning and having Chris press on my lower back as hard as he could with tennis balls. They were certainly getting more painful but I was still able to cope pretty easily. This was our only mistake. Instead of listening to my body, which wanted to be standing up and rocking side to side and listening to Chris, who's instincts told him that it was time to go to the hospital we stayed at home laying in bed.
At about 12:30 am I felt a pop and said, "What was that?!", then realized it was my water breaking. I jumped out of bed and rushed into the bathroom. My pants were soaked, but I managed not to get anything on the bed! Right after that I had the "bloody show" and the contractions ramped up to the point that all I could think of to get through them was to get into the shower. I fumbled around, managed to get the shower going, my clothes off and myself into the tub. I was barely coherent and started making a lot of noises like moaning and grunting.
Chris got on the phone to our doula Lynn and they decided she should come over. I started to feel the urge to push. He then called our midwife Lonnie and told her that my water had broken and that I felt like I needed to push. She could hear me moaning in the background and told us to go to the hospital right away and to call Lynn back and tell her to meet us there.
Chris got off the phone and tried to talk to me, but I was confused and only able to focus on what my body was doing. I was on auto-pilot and acting on instinct only. I didn't want to get out of the tub and I told him that I was going to have the baby right there. Chris asked me to look him in the eye and he told me that we had to leave for the hospital right away. He said I had to get out of the tub, get dressed and get going. Maybe it was the tone of his voice, but I knew I had to listen to him. I managed to get out of the tub and he helped me find clothes to put on and got me moving toward the car.
Chris hurriedly gathered together our bags and let the dogs out of their cage. We pulled out of the driveway and I said, "Did you block the dogs off from going upstairs?" We had left our bedroom and the bathroom in complete shambles and I didn't want the dogs getting into any trouble while we were away. Despite the fact that I was about to have the baby, I asked Chris to pull back into the driveway and go back inside to put up the barriers. When we got going again, Chris started heading in the wrong direction. I guess he was a little distracted! We went around the block and finally we were on our way. I was sitting up as straight as I could, my head practically touching the roof, gripping the hand-hold and chanting " don't push, don't push, don't push". Chris thought he might have to pull over and deliver the baby on the side of the road! He kept driving though, carefully running 3 red lights and we got to the hospital in record time at 1 am.
We pulled up to Emergency and parked in a spot for an ambulance. As we were getting out of the car, our doula Lynn was also arriving. We walked through the doors in a whirlwind of noise and energy and I immediately went to the wheelchairs to sit down for another contraction. I remember seeing all the people who were there stop what they were doing to watch us. A nurse asked a few questions and then took the wheelchair and started running full tilt to the maternity ward with Chris and Lynn not far behind.
When we got to Labor and Delivery there was no one around. We had to wait in the hallway for a few minutes. I stood up and put my arms around Chris's neck for a couple contractions. A security guard showed up looking for Chris and asked him to move the car. Chris said he wasn't leaving and handed the guy the keys and 10 bucks to move it for us. The guy ended up leaving the car where it was, but didn't bother us about it anymore.
Someone finally attended to us and got our room ready. Earlier our midwife had reserved the room with the tub for me but it looked like I wouldn't have time to use it. Once we got in there I immediately climbed onto the bed to have a contraction on my hands and knees. Our midwife Lonnie arrived then and I remember hearing the nurse tell her that I had the urge to push. Lonnie said, "Go ahead, she can push, I'm here now." She immediately did an internal exam and was surprised to find the baby's head "right there". She said I was fully dilated and the baby would be here soon. Everyone in the room kicked into high gear.
It took me a bit to get refocused. I had been spending the last half an hour trying not to push and letting all the energy out of my mouth by making a lot of noise. Lonnie let me squat for a bit, but it wasn't a very effective position for me at that moment, so she asked me to lay back. I ended up kind of sideways in the bed and on my back. Chris was on my left and Lynn was on my right with each of them holding up a leg. I was also holding their hands as tight as I could. Every time I pushed I could feel the baby come down a bit and then go back up. Lonnie told me to stop making so much noise. She said to close my mouth and redirect the energy down.
With the next couple contractions I pushed much better but the nurse had a monitor on me and the baby's heart rate started to drop down to 80 from 130 with each pushing contraction. Lonnie said I needed to get the baby out, it wasn't serious, but she would feel better if he were born and that I was so close. With a couple more good pushes the baby crowned. Lonnie asked me to reach down and feel it, but I was too focused and it was hurting too much! She used oil and gently stretched the tissues around the baby's head to help ease him out so I wouldn't tear too much, but to me it felt like she was running a metal instrument around the edges. I remember saying, "Ouch, ouch, ouch!" With the next contraction the head came out fully and then I felt his shoulders turn in my pelvic bones like a key and the rest of his body was delivered! Milo Jett was born at 1:55 am, a little less than an hour after we got to the hospital!
They placed him immediately on my belly and I put my right hand around his head and onto his back. I was still gripping Chris's hand with my left hand. It was amazing to look at our new baby. He came out with his eyes wide open and crying. Lonnie suctioned out his mouth, checked out his vitals and clamped the cord after a few minutes. Chris cut the cord and they took him off me for a minute to swaddle him, put on a hat and do his footprints. I delivered the placenta easily with one small push. Chris held him for a little bit and Lonnie gave me 2 stitches for a small tear.
They gave Milo back to me and Lynn helped me remove his blankets and get skin to skin with him so I could bond and breast-feed. It took him a little bit to latch on, but when he did he ate for a long time. Chris called all our close relatives to give them the wonderful news even though it was 3 am. After a while Lonnie came back to check on us. She told me that I did a great job, and that next time I aught to consider a home birth because I probably wouldn't make it to the hospital in time!
They moved us to the recovery room at about 3:30 am. The nurses came to our room to check his vitals and to finally weigh him. He weighed 7 lbs, 7 oz and was 20 inches long. Lynn stayed with us for a little bit longer to make sure that I was breast-feeding ok. Milo's core temperature was lower than what they like, so I kept him skin to skin on my chest to try to raise it up. Chris's parents had driven to the hospital despite the late hour to see us. They visited with us for a short time but couldn't really get a good look at the baby because I had him all covered in blankets. Chris's Mom had tears in her eyes the whole time she was there she was so happy for us. After they left the nurses came back to check his temperature but it had decreased further. They decided that he needed to go under the warmer in the nursery for 45 minutes to raise it up. While he was gone Chris and I marveled at everything that had just happened. It was so fast! We were so happy and felt so wonderful to have accomplished the birth of our son the way we wanted to: mostly at home, relatively quickly, without drugs or interventions and in awe of the power of giving birth.
Finally Milo was returned to our room and we fed him and held him and stared at him and fell completely in love. I don't think we slept until the next night we were on such a high. He is such a beautiful boy and we are so lucky to have him in our lives.