Valentine's Day was never going to be a big, jewelry-filled gush fest like the past ones have been. I knew I wouldn't be up for going out to dinner or anything and I also knew that splurging on jewelry was just a bad idea with a baby on the way. *Yes, I know... I turned down jewelry. I was pregnant, and thinking more practically for once!* So instead, we spent our Valentine's Day 2011 by going to the doctor for what was going to be the first of our bi-weekly appointments. And since the ladies of the practice had been so awesome to us over the last nine months, I baked them all brownies. I mean, come on, it's Valentine's. Chocolate is mandatory, isn't it?
I hadn't made much progress at all- like none. The week before I had been dilated 1 cm and 50% effaced. No progress at all in a week. However, I had, in two weeks' time, gained 10 lbs and swelled up like Violet in Willy Wonka and seen my regularly quite low blood pressure spike up. I waddled around wearing my biggest, widest Birkenstocks, because that was all that would fit on my swollen feet. I was definitely getting quite uncomfortable, but Dr. Heidi was content to let me try to remedy my high blood pressure at home with homeopathic remedies (eating lots of celery, soaking in epsom salt baths, drinking gallons of water and keeping my feet up) and continue my bi-weekly visits to the chiropractor. Valentine's Day I had an appointment with my chiro as well, and I asked her how she thought Hayden was doing. She said that he was running out of room.... It gave me good hope that Our Time was fast approaching.
I had been experiencing some backaches, but I just chalked that up to my enormous belly throwing my already messed up back out of whack even further. Hoo boy way I wrong there... My weekly massages, bi-weekly chiropractic appointments and various other relaxation and soothing techniques were helping me out, but the backaches were getting worse. Around 5:00am on the Tuesday after Valentine's Day, I woke up with a killer backache. Now, I've got a pretty high threshold of pain. I never take Tylenol for headaches, took myself off prescription pain meds for my chronic knee pain and basically try not to complain too much about hurting, ever. But this backache was enough to wake me up- so I went into the office and played on Facebook for awhile. I thought the pain had subsided enough, so I tried to go back to sleep around 6ish and in the process of getting comfortable (no small task for a woman almost 40 weeks pregnant), I felt a very distinct pop in my general uterus/cervix/baby area. I thought to myself that it could be one of two things: either the baby just had a seizure or the most intense hiccup ever, or my water had just broken. And of all the stories I've heard about pregnancy, I have never heard anyone say that they felt a popping sensation when their water broke. So I waddled my way to the bathroom, and [**squeamish types, avert thine eyes**], I felt a gush of fluid down my legs. Now, I'd had some leakage for a few weeks, so I had been wearing some pads and had one on at this time, so I didn't make a big mess... But I still knew something was up. Poor sweet Hubs, he had to be awake in less than an hour to go to Memphis for a game, so I didn't want to bother him- but I knew I should mention it to him. So, much in the same manner that I told him I was pregnant, while sitting on the commode, I sweetly but insistently said, "Honey? I think my water just broke." Well, I'm pretty sure that's a good way to get anyone's attention, and this seemed to have worked. "How do you know?" he asked. "Well, I felt a pop and a gush. So either my water just broke, or I just [peed] myself." Ever the rational one, he asked, "Well, what do you want to do?" I decided I'd better call my doctor, and told him so.
He went back to dozing, and I went back to the office (after cleaning myself up) to look up the phone number and call the doctor's office. Being not quite 7am, I got the doctor-on-call. He suggested that we go on to the hospital for monitoring. All of my preparation went mostly out the window at this point... I know that we had decided we wanted to labor as long as possible at home, but I wasn't sure that was exactly what was going on... I got out my iPhone and started timing my contractions on my Sprout application, but I was in such a tizzy, I would forget when one ended or another started. So Hubs and I got busy packing our stuff and making phone calls. I called my parents, he called his. I called Dalia and he activated his "Holy $#!+ the baby is coming" phone tree for his replacement for work. We were out the door and stuck in traffic before 7:45. I knew that we'd get stuck in traffic when I went into labor, but my earlier prediction of it happening during a major snowstorm was off by one week. Thank God Dalia, our amazing super doula, (rather forcefully) suggested that we stop somewhere and get some breakfast. Chick-fil-A it was, and by the time I got my breakfast burrito, my contractions had started in earnest. And it's a good thing we did stop and get food, because that turned out to be the only thing I ate for over 24 hours.
Fast forward an hour and a half and we roll up to Brookwood Medical Center. Yes, I'll mention them by name because, overall, our experience there was a good one. The one regret we had, at this point, was that we didn't take the hospital's class on childbirth. We had no idea where to go, where to park or what protocols to follow, but lucky for us the valet parking attendants (yes, they have valet parking at the hospital) knew what we needed to do. So, clutching the rest of our breakfast, my purse and my pillow, I plopped into a wheelchair and Hubs rolled me into the maternity ward. The nurses were expecting us and we were ushered into our LDR (Labor, Delivery & Recovery) suite. Our nurse, Amy, was amazing. The poor dear was dealing with a sinus infection and sounded awful, but she was really on top of things. I gave her copies of our labor and post-delivery birth plans and she was completely on board with our desire for a natural childbirth experience. She'd done it and was very supportive of our wanting to do the same.
Hubs got busy settling us into our temporary space, setting up my iPod player, putting our little Crock Pot and lavender oil to work heating up the washcloths (which are a great idea to use... the washcloths/compresses keep the perineum loose and the lavender makes the room smell amazing all at the same time) all the while keeping all our family and friends informed as to what was going on. It was about this time that I started to have some doubts. A small but persistent, yellow neon sign was blinking in the back of my mind saying quietly at first, "nubane... nubane... nubane..." I looked at Hubs and said, "I don't think I'll be able to do this without drugs." He gave me the following pep talk: "Honey. How can you say that? This is just the first play of the game! Just because you got knocked into the dirt by a linebacker doesn't mean you don't get up, dust yourself off and get back into the huddle! You've got to finish this game!" I think I looked at him, blinked, and asked for clarification. In hindsight, it makes sense. But hell, for me it's basketball season... he just used the wrong analogy.
The contractions were getting more uncomfortable and stronger. And all the pain and pressure was centered in my low back. It wasn't until later the next day that I realized that I was having back labor and it wasn't until later that afternoon that we all realized that Hayden was turned "sunny side up", which explained the back labor. It was coming up on noon-ish and my doctor came in to check on me. Of course, she said, I decided to go into labor on her half-day. She told me that her partner would be taking care of me and that I'd like him. She said he knew of our birth plan and he was on board, too... When she checked me for progress, I was 100% effaced, but only 3 cm dilated. So we went on... And the neon sign got a little bigger, a little brighter and a little more insistent: "NUBANE... NUBANE... NUBANE..." I told Hubs to call the nurse, that I wanted to discuss my options for pain relief. Now, I didn't realize that this was happening, but Nurse Amy was following my birth plan to the letter. I specifically stated I did not want to be offered pain medication, that if I needed it I would ask for it. So when Amy came in and I told her I wanted to know my options with regard to pain relief, she skirted the subject, and I hinted back. We went back and forth for a bit, while Hubs realized what was going on and called Dalia for reinforcements. Amy never offered any medication and I never asked, and Dalia was on her way.