Even though I know that giving birth to Camden is something that I will never forget, I wanted to write it down so years down the road - I can look back and remember the small details.
I went into preterm labor at 33 weeks, so each week that he stayed put was truly a blessing. At first we were thankful for each day, and just trying to hold on until 36 weeks. Days turned into weeks and eventually we hit 39. It felt a little magical.
I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions all day, every day since Halloween. Even though they weren't the real thing, they still took a toll on me mentally and physically. My doctors assured me that when real contractions and real labor began - I would know.
Saturday, December 8th, the real contractions started. They certainly felt different and a few even stopped me in my tracks, requiring me to consciously breathe through them. Although irregular, I knew that the big showdown was not far away. The contractions continued throughout the day and night and into Sunday. Sleeping wasn't happening due to the fact that the contractions would come, wake me up, I'd breathe through them, consider timing them, and then wait for the next.
After the previous two days/nights, I decided to work from home on Monday. If Monday was going to be anything like the weekend, there was no way I needed to be at work. I had a scheduled weekly appointment with my OB and was anxious to hear a hoo-ha status. At that point, I had never been so excited for a hoo-ha status.
She checked me and I was 1 1/2 cm dilated and 85% effaced. At the advice of our doula, I asked her about sweeping my membranes in hopes of getting things moving along. She was hesitant, but I think the exhausted look on my face and the telepathic pleading I was sending her worked. Even though she assured me that the sweep may not do a darn thing - I didn't care and was feeling somewhat rejuvenated.
I came home and continued working. The contractions were getting stronger and showing signs of regularity. At that point I could walk/pace them off in the living room, as well as breathe and talk through them.
My Daddio came over in the early afternoon and we went on a brisk 3 mile walk together. After the walk and a shower, my contractions seemed to almost stop. My immediate thought was, "Oh, hell no." I laid down and it didn't even take a full hour for the contractions to come back with a vengeance and for things really started moving along.
4pm came and so did active labor. Ryan had come home early from work and we were watching Game of Thrones while I went in and out of contractions. It was a nice distraction at first, but then every 4-5 minutes I was down on the floor in child's pose and completely oblivious to anything and everything going on around me.
I labored at home until 7pm when my contractions were consistently four minutes apart. Our doula, Laura, came over and discussed with us the hospital's procedure and treatment of women in active labor. I was in a lot of pain and unable to do anything to help ease the contractions, so I decided it was best we head for the hospital.
While in the triage area, I was checked. 2 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I was happy that all this work and pain was doing something, but I needed to get to 3 cm before they would admit me. I was in serious pain and the thought of being sent home to labor triggered another, "Oh, hell no."
After an hour of breathing, lunges, squats, and "other activities," I made it to a 3 1/2 cm.
We were admitted and moved to another room. My contractions were coming fast and strong. They were peaking and re-peaking two or three times before dying down. Needless to say that after two nights of no sleep and the general exhaustion that was setting in from laboring - this Mama was dog tired and ready for an epidural.
My platelets needed to be checked before an epidural could be administered and I swear the lab people were trying to kill me with how long they took to return the results. I was in the clear, and at 4 cm dilated, got my epidural - which wasn't nearly as bad or painful as I expected it to be.
I'm not sure exactly when it started happening but baby was having decels (decelerated heart rate) around this time. The nurses were keeping a very close eye on him, moving me into various positions to try and get his heart rate to go back up, and trying not to alarm me. But alarmed I was. They were able to get his heart rate back up and figured he was probably just grabbing onto the umbilical cord.
The epidural made me about 1,000,000 times more comfortable. I didn't like the heaviness in my legs, but when considering the alternative - I decided I could live with it. While the epidural made me more comfortable, it also slowed my labor down. They gave me some pitocin to try and kick things up.
Have I mentioned that this labor was not going exactly as I had planned or thought?
A very long and sleepless night (if you lost count - that 's three in a row) later, I made it to 5m and then 6 1/2 cm. At around 7:30am, my OB came in and broke my water.
I'm not kidding when I say that 30 minutes later, I was at 10 cm dilated, 100% effaced, and ready. to. go.
The nurse said that my OB was next door with another patient who was ready to push. It was up to me to wait until she was done or start pushing and have the baby delivered by a hospital laborist. I really wanted the baby to be delivered by my OB. I wasn't feeling any urge to push just yet, and Laura suggested that letting baby's head rest down in that position for a period of time would help stretch things out in preparation for birth. So, we waited.
During the hour we waited, Laura told me to practice pushing while I had contractions, and reminded me to push through my bottom like I was having a bowel movement. It was then that I panicked and realized that at that very moment, I didn't know how to have a bowel movement. I had no idea how to push through my bottom. I even think I said out loud, "I've been having bowel movements my entire life and at this moment, I am completely clueless."
After several awkward attempts - I remembered. Pushing started and I swear I've never felt more discouraged in my life. I felt like I was working harder than I ever have and yet was making absolutely no progress. I remember enjoying (or something like that) a nice combination of Ryan's encouragement (as well as having my Momma, Rachel, and Laura there too!), oxygen, a wet wash cloth on my forehead, and water in between contractions. I also remember saying, "I can't do this," about 100 times.
The progress came. I could feel the baby moving down and getting closer to making his debut. When the nurse said my OB was coming in it gave me a huge boost and confirmed for me that all my hard work was actually working.
He crowned and I felt his little head. I pushed a little more and felt even more. I think it was two pushes after that and he literally shot out.
When my OB held him up with his lower half still yet to come out and told me to take him, I couldn't help but feel like Kourtney Kardashian as I pulled him onto my chest.
At that moment I realize I had done it. We had done it. It wasn't at all as I had planned or expected, but in the end - I did what I felt was best for me and us and I have no regrets.
I had initially planned on only having Ryan and Laura in the room with me, but after having my Mom and Rachel in the room throughout all the laboring - I knew I wanted them in there too.
Lots of tears were shed by all as we welcomed Camden into the world.