Labor for my daughter Abigail, my third child, began on Friday,August 17. I was having contractions every 10 minutes that felt like bad menstrual cramps. That night at about 11 p.m., my husband and I went to the hospital to see what was going on. By then,I had been having the contractions all day. I had been told at my doctor's appointment the day before that I was 2 c.m. dilated.
At the hospital, I was found to be between 3 and 4 c.m., so something was definitely happening. They put me on the monitors and waited to see how things would progress. Well, by about 2 a.m., I had not dilated any more, even though I was still having the same type of contractions every 7 to 10 minutes. Since I was only 36 weeks along, the doctor on call was reluctant to break my water or start Pitocin to augment the labor's tempo, and the decision was made to send me home.
I didn't really want to go home, since I was worried that I would not know when to come back. The nurses assured me I would know. When the contractions became five minutes apart, or when I was no longer able to talk through them, it would be time to come back. I responded that with my previous two children I had likewise not known when to go to the hospital, and that it was through sheer luck that I was in the right place at the right time.
For my first child, only the fact that I had a routine doctor's appointment that morning saved me from delivering at home. I was 8 c.m at my office appointment and was sent right to labor and delivery! For my second child, I took a wild guess on when to go in and was already 5 c.m. when I did. I was 37 weeks along at that point with my second baby, and they let me stay and broke the bag of waters.
As I told the nurses, at no point during my previous two labors did my contractions get closer than 7 to 10 minutes apart, nor did they get too painful to talk through until the very end. If that pattern was any indication of what would happen, I really would not know when to come back!
However, the doctor had given the order to send me home so home I went.
All day Saturday, Aug 18, I had the same type of contractions. Every 7-10 minutes, and they did not get any more painful or any closer together. I was so unsure of what to do. It wasn't as though I could just drop everything and run to the hospital to be checked. We had the other two children to think of, and it would mean finding care for them, among other things. So I waited.
Finally at about 10:45 that night, I lay in bed and prayed for a sign. Right about then, my water broke. It had never broken on its own before! I was so relieved... that was my sign. I hopped out of bed and went downstairs to tell my husband, who was watching TV, that we had to go NOW. The other children were in bed, so my husband went to the neighbor's house (thank goodness they were still up) and the neighbor came over to sit with the children while we went to the hospital.
Now I don't know how many centimeters I was dilated when my water broke, and I never will know... but what I do know is that about a mile from the hospital I began getting an urge to push. "This can't be happening now!" I remember thinking as I panted and panted to keep from pushing. I didn't tell my husband, since I didn't want him to panic, but he said he could tell from the way I was breathing that I was getting that urge. By the time we got to the hospital, I could barely move. My husband went in to get a wheelchair and took me up to labor and delivery. All I could do was pant and blow. The nurses (two of them were the same ones that had been there the night before) immediately took over and got me into a room. Somehow I managed to get into a gown and lay on the bed.
"There's no time!" I kept saying as they tried to hook me up to monitors and get an IV started.
One of them checked me and said, "She's complete and the head is right there! Don't push, the doctor is on her way!"
"She won't make it in time," I said. "The baby is coming now!" I wasn't pushing... at least, not pushing with the all-out, bone-cracking type of pushing that is usually common to delivery. My body was pushing all by itself. I was still panting and blowing and trying to hold back, but there was no way I could.
Abigail's head popped out of me and onto the bed, and there was no one there to catch her! The nurse who was putting in my IV yelled, "Someone get some gloves on and catch this baby!"
My husband was standing to the side totally freaked out. There had been no time for him to get into scrubs or anything, either. Another nurse quickly pulled on some gloves and caught Abigail as she slipped out. They clamped and cut the cord, but had to wait for the doctor to do anything about the placenta.
It was over... just eleven minutes after I had gotten into the labor and delivery room!
I am very thankful I at least made it to the hospital before I delivered. I have read a lot of stories about babies being born on the way or at home, and I am glad that didn't happen to me. It was frightening enough the way it was, but at least we arrived in time for Abigail to be taken care of right away. She weighed seven pounds, four ounces and was nineteen inches long.