Becoming the Patient
Registered Nurse – Labor & Delivery
Birth is such an incredible and unpredictable process. As a labor and delivery nurse, I really went into labor with Windsley expecting everything and nothing all at the same time! One thing I was absolutely sure of was that I would go after my due date. At the time, I was working in an OB office and worked a 10 hour day Tuesday, May 23rd. I wasn’t feeling well that day – I was very flushed, swollen and emotional! I had an appointment the day before and she said I was dilated 1-2cm and 80% effaced. I started thinking maybe I would have the baby sooner than later but also was prepared to walk around like that for another couple weeks. I was only 37 weeks 2 days so my expectations were low.
That night I went on a nesting rampage. I took Unisom and went to bed around 10:00 pm. Around 11 o’clock I got up to pee and got back into bed. I felt 3 little gushes of fluid. I wasn’t sure if my water had broken or if I peed myself. I decided to put a pad in my underwear and try to go back to sleep while monitoring her movement. I knew if my water had truly broken and I went to the hospital they would keep me there and I did not want to go into labor without a good night’s sleep. I dozed lightly until I had to get back up to pee at 12:30 am. The pad was soaked and so were my underwear. I was convinced that my water was indeed broken so I woke my partner up and he suggested we should go to the hospital. I had hoped to labor at home for a while, so I really didn’t want to go yet. We got up, finished packing our hospital bag and I took a shower. I still wasn’t feeling her move as normal (probably the loss of fluid and the unisom) so around 2:00 am I decided I wanted to go in to check on her. I was contracting a little bit, but only every 5-20 minutes or so.
We walked into triage and saw a midwife and nurse I knew. I felt relieved to see a familiar face. When I took my pants off and walked to the gurney I left a trail of fluid on the floor and the nurse, Maggie said –“ um yeah you are definitely ruptured, you’re going to L&D”. My mom was planning to come for the birth so we called her. She said she would get on the next plane out from Virginia to Denver. By the time I was admitted and received my IV, it was 4 o’clock in the morning and I was contracting every 10 minutes.
“I was 4 cm dilated – which was encouraging to me“
My eyes were burning, I was so tired. I tried to sleep between contractions but the contractions were already feeling so intense without my bag of water. I felt the need to move through the contractions and quickly felt irritated with hoisting my full term body in and out of bed with each contraction. I gave up on the idea of sleeping and sat on the birthing ball for a while. Around 6:00 am I got into the bath. I loved the tub; it was so relaxing. I wanted my cervix to be checked about four hours later by my Midwife, Eliza so I could know if I had made any change from my last check-up. I was 4 cm dilated – which was encouraging to me. I got back into the tub after and my contractions were still very irregular coming every 2-3 minutes, then spacing out to 6-9 minutes. I was so thankful my birth team was expectantly managing me and letting my body have time to kick into labor by itself. I was also not hooked up to the fetal heart rate monitor constantly. They were listening to her heart rate with a doppler every hour while I was in latent labor to make sure she was doing well.
At this point my mom arrived. I got out of the tub and started moving to see if I could get the contractions to come more regularly. Walking definitely kicked the intensity up and around 2:00 pm I told David that if this was not transition, I was considering getting an epidural. I started to feel out of control with the contractions and I noticed a difference in the sounds I was making – they were more desperate. I was grabbing onto David wishing somehow he could get me out of “this”. I asked to be checked again and I was still only dilated to 4cm. I hadn’t made ANY cervical change. It was then that I lost all coping ability. I needed to do something different, but I wasn’t quite ready to get an epidural. My birth team suggested IV pain medication so that I could rest. The medication took the edge off and I was able to sleep for about 45 minutes in between contractions.
As 5:00 pm came around, I decided that if I wasn’t progressing, I did not want to continue without an epidural. I had seen so many first time moms make better labor progress after they got the epidural and I hoped I would be the same. I wasn’t able to relax into the contractions and allow my body to take control. I felt like I could potentially keep going, but I just didn’t want to. The epidural placement went so smoothly and didn’t hurt compared to the contractions I was experiencing. After the epidural set up Eliza checked my cervix. I was 6 cm and confirmed what we had suspected – that Windsley was positioned sunny side up (occiput posterior). That position had been contributing to my lack of progress, irregular contraction pattern and intense discomfort. I asked if we could start pitocin because my contractions were 5-10 minutes apart and I knew that wouldn’t get me my baby anytime soon. My body was feeling hot and wanted to avoid developing an infection.
The nurse put a peanut ball between my legs to facilitate Windsley getting into a better position for turning and descending. My midwife told me she would come back and check me at the end of her shift, even stay to deliver the baby if I was close. I thought there was NO WAY. My progress had been slow all day and first time moms usually push for hours. Eliza came back to check and sure enough, my cervix was completely dilated and her head was right there! I pushed for 10 minutes and she came out. Windsley was born on May 24 at 7:37 pm (a shift change baby). David was able to have his hands next to the midwifes, helped catch her and bring her right up to my belly for skin to skin.
As a labor and delivery nurse I was so, so thankful for how smoothly things had gone. There were no emergencies, she never dropped her heart rate and was such a perfect little newborn.