Unsure of how I should handle this, I searched the internet to see how long this pre-labor, achiness might last... Several days was the answer. So I continued on with my day like normal, although I did text Mike to let him know that I was starting to have regular contractions (even if they were small and far enough apart that we wouldn't really need to worry about it).
Once we both got home from work, we prepared dinner together and then I started prepping for my visiting teaching appointment that I had scheduled for that evening. Exhausted from the physical toll of managing my achy lower back I took a nap, then drove over to the Sister's apartment my visiting companion and I were to see.
When we got there we chatted for a while, I shared the message that I had prepared, and then we asked if we could help this Sister with anything. "I could use some help with my laundry," she replied. So we got up and my vt companion went to get some dirty clothes baskets from this Sister's back room. When they came back I offered to take the load that was in the Sister's hands. She set it down in front of me, and when I bent over to pick it up I felt a rush of warm water go down the insides of my pants. I quickly straightened up, thinking, "Crap, I've just peed my pants in this Sister's house." Since I was wearing dark pants I thought, maybe they won't notice, so I bent down to get the basket again. Woosh! Another gush of water flowed down the inside of my legs. This time it dawned on me that my water may have broken. Still unsure I straightened up (with the basket) and turned towards the front door. Another trickle.
By this time, my visiting teaching companion and the sister we were with noticed something was wrong.
"What's the matter?" the sister asked.
"Well, either I just peed my pants, or my water has broken," I replied.
With that announcement, the laundry basket I was holding was whipped away, a phone brought out and my driving privileges denied. After a quick call to my husband to share the news, and spur him into packing our hospital bag, my vt companion led me to her car and drove me home.
Once at the house I changed out of my wet pants and proceed to call the hospital to verify that my water had broken. During the course of the call I completely soaked the new pants that I had just put on. The nurse, upon hearing my story urged me to come in where they would do an examination to determine wether or not my water had truly broken.
At this point the "cramps" that I had been experiencing throughout the day started to get closer together and greater in strength. After changing into another pair of pants (because apparently I didn't learn my lesson the second time around), we left for the hospital, complete with an extra pair of clothes (as well as a pair of clothes for the baby), toiletries and snacks.
Upon arriving at the hospital Mike and I were directed to the Labor and Delivery rooms where we saw the lead singer of Fictionist (random). I would have stopped to tell him that I really enjoy his music but we were all pretty busy.
Once we got into our room the nurse had me change and sit upon the hospital bed with a towel below me. She had me answer a couple of health insurance questions then she came over to examine me. Upon inspecting the drenched towel below me she happily announced that my water had indeed broke, so we would be staying the night!
She then attached a variety of monitoring equipment to me and the baby bump and proceeded to tell Mike and I that because my water had broken I would need to stay in the hospital bed until the baby was born so that there wasn't any risk of the umbilical cord getting caught under the baby. Well, although I wan't to do everything in my power to all a safe delivery for the baby, I did not like the idea of suffering through all those contractions on my back. :( Particularly since the contractions were starting to come faster and stronger. To help alleviate the pressure/pain I asked to get up and used the restroom (since the pressure also made it feel like I needed to use the bathroom really bad). She allowed it and so I quickly got on my feet and waddled over to the bathroom (with a towel between my legs to soak up any amniotic fluid that leaked). Well, squatting over the toilet felt a whole lot better than laying down, so I got up to use the "bathroom every time a contraction came. After 20 minutes though, the nurse wasn't having that anymore so she suggested I get a catheter instead.
With my bathroom excuse gone I was left with only one other option (in my mind), and that was an epidural. Luckily the anesthesiologist was on the floor, so within 20 minutes he was in our room. After he inserted the needle, and handed the "give-me-more-drugs" button I tried to lay back and relax. As my body adjusted to the cool medicine being dripped into it, I began to shake uncontrollably. For those of you who have never had an epidural, these are normal, but they completely freaked Mike out. Gradually they subsided and sweet relief from the pain replaced everything else. Mike and I tried to relax, and let my body do it's thing, but it was incredibly hard for me to fall asleep. Mike stayed up with me for as long as he could, and eventually took about an hour nap.
I shifted constantly, since my butt would start to feel numb if I laid on it for too long. And with each contraction I still felt like I needed to use the restroom, but there was no way the nurse was going to let out of the bed now. So she suggested a catheter, and I relented thinking it would help ease the pressure. After doing so the nurse informed us that if the labor looked like it would last longer than 12 hours, they would need to give me pitocin to move things along, that way there wouldn't be any cause for infection.
Luckily though, little Genelle progressed quite steadily, and within 7 hours of my water breaking I was told to start pushing. At first my contractions didn't feel any different than they had earlier, but since I was dilated enough the nurse had me push anyways. Within 20 minutes I could feel a pressure building in my nether regions. The nurse had me push every other contraction so that Genelle's heartbeat could have time to recover in between pushes, but man, it was so hard waiting, knowing that if I pushed the pressure would be at least a little relieved.
When I could feel the skin start pulling tight, the nurse ushered the doctor in. He started chatting with me, and asked me to breath through the contractions, but not push yet. Eventually he sat down in front of me and gave the go-ahead to push as hard as I could.
A couple of hard pushes later, she was out! The nurse cleared out her nose and mouth and asked Mike if he would like to clip the umbilical cord. He eagerly did so and they tied it off and placed her on my chest.
I felt like I was in shock. Just minutes previously this tiny human being was INSIDE me, and now she was out, and would need to be consciously fed, clothed, and sheltered. I couldn't believe that I had been trusted with such a sweet, little daughter of God.
I was also extremely grateful that I had Mike with me throughout the entire night. He stayed by my side, spoon-feeding me flavored ice, rubbing my feet, and hands, pushing my drug button when I was too embarrassed to do so myself, and helping to alleviate my fears. I honestly don't know how I would have gone through the birth without breaking down if he hadn't been there. He was my rock.
Within an hour of Genelle's birth, I was moved to my more, permanent room. Mike escorted Genelle to the Nursery, where she was bathed, inked and clothed and then met up with me afterwards.
It was such a relief to be able to walk again, and as soon as I got into the other room I made a bee line for the bathroom. Perhaps on par with the relief I felt from being able to move around again, was the sweet relief of using the bathroom, something that I had held off doing ever since I was told not to leave the bed.
Once Mike and Genelle joined me we all took a much needed nap. The lactation consultant visited us, and while I didn't quite understand her instructions, Genelle seemed happy. Her sucking was painful, but I tried to relax as best as I could. Once a second lactation consultant came in and suggested I use the Medela Nipple Shield, breastfeeding became much easier. It wasn't as painful, and I could tell that Genelle was getting something to eat. I was nervous to go home, and be without the nurses and their onslaught of knowledge, but I knew that I could call any number of women to ask for help and so I felt at peace again.
While we were in the hospital, Mike's parents came to visit, bringing some fresh cut flowers from their garden.
They held Genelle and told her how much they loved her. It was very sweet to watch.
My ex step-mom, Jeanne also came by, and she also held and poured out her love to Genelle.
After that first night caring for Genelle, I realized how much I enjoyed having Genelle right beside me. I could hear her cries and reach for her easily, and so I petitioned Mike to move Genelle's bed into our room. He and Matt, his brother did so, while I was at the hospital. After they moved everything Matt came by and held his new niece as well.
We spoke with Grandparents and parents on the phone while we were there and definitely felt our family and friend's love.