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Abraham's Birth Story - Part 1

It was Wednesday afternoon; my estimated due date was Friday. I was at the tail end of a 12-hour shift at the pharmacy. I had additional coverage working with me just in case I went into labor because I didn’t want to use any of my time off before he arrived. Something told me I needed to take the next day off. I had one of my last OB appointments anyway, so it made sense.

Thursday morning, I headed to my appointment feeling ready to have this baby. My OB asked if I was interested in having my membranes swept or if I wanted to just wait to see what happened. I was really hoping to meet my baby that weekend so after a discussion about the pros and cons of a stretch and sweep I went for it.

When I returned home, I decided I was going to make the most of the day and my dog and I got to walking. I was able to walk about two miles before starting to feel some cramping. At this point it felt similar to the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing so I was not too excited yet. When I got home, I drank some water and put my feet up and the cramping subsided. Looking back these were my first signs of labor.

Last Photo Before Labor

What does labor feel like?

I went to bed at my normal time of 10:00pm and fell right to sleep. By 11:30pm I woke up to intense pressure and cramping. I still was not sure this was the real deal so I continued to let Chris sleep and moved downstairs to the couch so I could change up positions and walk around. By 1:00am I knew this was it. My stomach tightened with each surge, the cramping felt deep, internal (MUCH different than any menstrual cramps I had ever experienced), and the pressure in my genital area became more intense.

I decided to take a shower to relax and freshen up (I had to make sure my legs were shaved before I went to the hospital). The shower helped to provide some relief and just felt calming. I put some comfortable clothes on and headed back downstairs with my dog to snuggle on the couch, start listening to my hypnobirthing relaxation and affirmation tracks and trying to catch a few Z’s if possible.

I slept on and off for the next couple of hours and by 6AM my surges were ~5 minutes apart and lasting anywhere from 30-45 seconds each. I decided to wake up Chris and tell him this was the real deal. We fed our pup, confirmed our pet care for the next 48 hours, grabbed our meticulously packed hospital bag and headed to the hospital.

Labor will stop if you don’t feel safe.

Upon arrival to the hospital, I was quickly triaged by a nurse who could tell I was actively in labor. I changed into a hospital gown and waited for one of the OBs to come and evaluate. I was breathing through surges and getting really excited for what was to come.

Then I heard a knock on the door. A young woman entered with her white coat on and a young man at her heels. She introduced herself as Dr. Something who was an OB/GYN resident then told me to lay back, scoot to the bottom of the bed and spread my legs so she could check me. At this point I still had no idea who this strange young man standing in the corner of the room was. He looked like he wanted to speak up but apparently knew better. (I later found out he was a medical student on rotations in the OB department for the month of August and he felt terrible for the bedside manner I had received.)

Being afraid to question the circumstances (which I regret looking back on the situation) I just let her begin the vaginal exam. She was taking what seemed liked forever, especially when compared to any other exam I had experienced. When the resident finally finished, she looked at the nurse in the room I said “I think she might be at 4cm, maybe 4.5cm, I can’t really tell. Maybe you should check.” The nurse looked appalled & stated “you are the doctor.” The resident went onto say, “you are definitely 4cm. We will keep you here and monitor your progress over the next hour and decide if you will be admitted or not.”

This was the first time I realized how real the fight-or-flight response in labor and birth really was. I went from regular surges for the last 5 hours to nothing. Not even a little twinge. I mentally knew and my body subconsciously knew this was an unsafe environment to birth. Needless to say, that with no surges registering on the monitoring devices I was sent home.

Getting labor started again.

We arrived back home by 10AM and I tried going back to sleep because I was exhausted from being up most of the night. I was able to sleep until noon when I was again awakened by the start of labor. Chris and I cuddled and watched funny movies. I had my relaxation and affirmation tracks playing on and off while I crab-walked my stairs, stretched, and bounced on my birthing ball. I ate and drank freely at home and listened to what my body needed.

Surges REALLY started to pick up by 5PM and Chris urged me to go back to the hospital.

I knew shift change was at 7PM and therefore refused to go back until I knew that initial doctor would be gone. We left our home at exactly 7PM and arrived at the hospital by 7:20PM (the longest 20 min car ride of my life because getting comfortable in labor while sitting in a car with a seatbelt on is near impossible).

I was again quickly triaged by a nurse and a new resident OB physician came in the room with her. He formally introduced himself, discussed his training up to this point, who his attending OB was for the evening, and that he knew I had already come in earlier that morning. He then told me had a student following him until 11PM I wanted to know if I would be okay with him coming in to observe and if I wasn’t that it would be totally okay. Now this was how you are supposed to treat a laboring person.

I allowed the student into my room and the resident performed a vaginal exam and discovered I had progressed to 6cm while laboring at home throughout the day.

To be continued…

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