Thursday, February 08, 2007

Minnow's birth story (part 1)

(So I didn't succeed in posting every day this week. So what? Instead yesterday I enjoyed a lovely visit from my cousins, whom we hadn't seen in months even though we live only a few miles apart. We took Minnow to fish's work to introduce her around, and then to Kmart, where they do NOT sell foldable changing pads like you would put in a diaper bag. And in the evening, fish went bowling and I went to craft night, where the little angel fell asleep in my friends' arms for over 2 hours.)

Minnow's birth story - early labor

In retrospect, Wednesday was the burst of “nesting” energy that people talk about. I woke up feeling great, and spent the day writing a status report on my work. I went to the office for a few hours and on the way home stopped at the co-op to buy fresh produce. That evening I made lentil soup and went to craft night. It was the most productive/refreshing day I’d had in weeks.

Thursday morning found me feeling sluggish and a little under the weather. I had none of the energy of the previous day. I had an OB appointment in the morning, and just before I left for the doctor’s office, I noticed a bit of bloody show. The doctor did her first internal exam and reported that I was effacing (cervix thinning and softening) but not dilated at all. I was totally discouraged, and we talked about my options if I went overdue. I spent the rest of the day at home, mostly just goofing around on the computer and working sporadically on a quilt. Every once in a while, I’d notice some discomfort in my belly but nothing that kept me from doing what I was doing.

My mom came over for dinner ~5:30 and I noticed a cramping sensation while we were eating, but I kept talking through it. After that I drove to Blockbuster and checked out some videos for what I thought might be a long weekend. On the drive there, I noticed another cramping sensation and vaguely wondered what would happen if I had a “real” contraction while driving. At this point, I wasn’t sure whether what I was experiencing were Braxton-Hicks or what – they were very intermittent and short-lived.

Fish came home from work at 8:15 and we watched some TV. I was lying on the couch and noticed cramping more frequently. I complained that nobody had warned me there would be menstrual-like cramping for hours or days before going into labor. Fish said: “I don’t think those are cramps; I think they are contractions.” I replied that contractions were supposed to start high up in the uterus and these were really low – near my pelvis. We consulted some books and decided to start timing the contractions. They were between 8 and 12 minutes apart, so we called our doula to let her know we were in early labor. She advised that I have something to eat, because it would probably be a long night, so Fish made me some macaroni and cheese.

We continued to time the contractions, which were now intense enough to keep me from walking or talking through them, and called the doula again when they were 5-6 minutes apart for an hour. She came over to our house around 11:30 pm and made me start walking around the house between contractions (I had been sitting on my yoga ball) and showing her the nursery and the quilt on which I was working. We labored this way for several hours, but contractions didn’t seem to be getting closer together or more intense. About 3 am we bundled up and went for a walk outside. It was a cold, clear night, and I immediately started shivering intensely, so we didn’t get very far.

Back in the house, the contractions still weren’t “very strong” according to the doula so she encouraged me to lie down and try to sleep for a while. Fish fell asleep in his recliner, and the doula and I curled up in bed. Both Fish and Doula got about 2 hours of sleep, but with contractions coming every 6 minutes or so, I don’t think I managed to sleep at all. The contractions were really uncomfortable lying on my side, and about every 20 minutes I would get up to pee to relieve the pressure on my bladder. Throughout the night, contractions were closer together but less intense when I was on the toilet compared to any other position.

About 6 am, I got up and moved around the house a bit, waking up Doula and Fish around 6:30. Contractions started getting closer together and at 7:15 Doula suggested that we get breakfast at the hospital cafeteria. That way we’d be close by should I decide it was time to check in at the hospital. I thought that we might as well wait until 8 am when my OB opened up and go get my dilation checked. Plus food didn’t sound at all appealing. Doula and Fish tried to get me to chew a calcium supplement, but I had to spit it out because it made me so nauseous. By 7:45 contractions were 3 or 4 minutes apart and more intense than anything else had been so far. The Jacuzzi tub at the hospital sounded very appealing. So I decided it was time to go to the hospital. Fortunately, it is only about a 5 minute drive, but I did have two contractions in the car.

What others can learn: (1) Everybody says you "know" when you are in labor, and eventually you DO know, but those early contractions may not feel like what you expect, and at the time you may not know you are in labor. (2) Eat when you first think you are in labor, because you might not be able to later on.


Rose Connors said...

I've been looking forward to this one. Thanks for posting.

Anachronism said...

I'm expecting, due next month. I've been following your blog for well over a year. I'm glad you are sharing your experiences with Minnow, it's been reassuring to see another scientist tackle the big maternity/motherhood experiment!