Abigail's Birth Story

After 41 weeks of pregnancy and having my membranes stripped twice (the first time it barely hurt, the second time I didn't even feel it), I went into labor. The contractions started and stopped many times during the last week, making every day be a mixture of expectation, frustration and disappointment.

Finally, on Sunday, when the doctor stripped my membranes the second time, the contractions started to get stronger. I felt that I was going to go into "real" labor soon, so I went to the shopping center and walked around for a whole hour, having contractions every few minutes. When I got back, the contractions were pretty regular. Finally, I told my husband & he came home from work. We took a leisurely drive to the hospital and I promised myself we'd go eat Chinese food if they ended up sending us home.

My contractions had slowed down & the midwife wasn't impressed by the monitor. An internal exam showed dilation of 2-1/2 to 3 centimeters & she wasn't even convinced that the doctor would have been able to strip the membranes since the cervix was so far back. The baby was also very high. So they sent us home...

When we left the hospital, the contractions got stronger. We went to look for a place to eat & by the time we got near an area with restaurants, I was ready to eat just about anything. The contractions were really strong & pretty close together, but we managed to eat a great dinner (not Chinese food) and drive 30 minutes to pick up the kids who we'd left at my parent's house.

At 10:30 we went to sleep & the contractions had pretty much stopped. Once in a while I would have a strong contraction, but I was able to sleep pretty well. A little before 3:30 I had a strong, really painful feeling, as if something were exploding. The next contraction led to a gushing, that I immediately knew must be my water breaking. We turned on the light and saw that the water was greenish - meconium.

I started to panic, knowing it could mean that the fetus was in distress. I asked my husband to wake the kids & tell them we were going to the hospital (he did). I took a quick shower. My husband called the hospital & told me that the midwife just said to get there & that from her voice it didn't sound like it was an emergency. He took a really quick shower & I went downstairs to hug the kids (except Judy, who didn't wake up) and then we left. The bags were still in the car from our earlier trip to the hospital.

It was a long ride. Almost 30 minutes with no traffic. My husband drove 140kph (over 85mph) most of the way while trying to calm me down & promising that everything would be OK. I was trying desperately to feel the baby move. It either didn't move much or the speed at which we were driving made it difficult to feel anything. Toward our arrival at the hospital, I did feel some movement, which reassured me a bit.

My husband grabbed a wheelchair (I just wanted to get up to labor & delivery as soon as possible) and we waited for the elevator (L&D is on the 9th floor there...) and zoomed in at 4:18am.

The midwife put me on the monitor right away. The heartbeat was OK, no decelerations... I was 4 cm dilated. After 15 or 20 minutes on the monitor (I was still worried, even though the monitor looked basically OK) I asked to go to the restroom & I hung out there for a while (the midwife yelled to me 3 times to make sure I was OK). When I came out, she put me back on the monitor. We discussed pain relief. I had wanted to avoid pain relief, but she told me that because of the meconium I wouldn't be allowed to get up at all during the labor & knowing I was only at 4 cm, I knew the labor could still be several hours. I decided on an epidural.

It was only my 2nd contraction back on the monitor when I begged to stand up. Controlling the pain while lying down was too much. The midwife said that I could get up & that she would admit me. I walked to the delivery room, stopping on the way with a killer contraction that practically knocked me off my feet.

My husband came in, I got up on the bed & saw the midwife getting the IV ready. I was happy because I knew that 20 minutes after getting the IV I could get my epidural (the pain was really strong). I begged for pain relief NOW & they quickly brought me nitrous (laughing gas). My husband held the mask over my face & it was a big relief -- it didn't dim the pain, it just made me care less about it -- made it more tolerable (I was still able to shout in pain, even with the mask on -- fortunately I had warned my husband that when the pain got really bad I was likely to shout).

I had only had a few contractions in the delivery room when I said that I must push. I was sure that the midwife would tell me to wait, but instead (without ever getting a chance to even check if I was fully dilated) said to do whatever I want.

I pushed and the urge to push got even stronger -- actually, no matter what she would have told me, I don't think I could have stopped pushing. The next thing I heard was the midwife saying that the head was out. I thought she meant (like in my first birth) that she could see a little bit of the head, but then my husband said, "Wow, there's so much hair!" and I realized that she was serious. She asked me to give another push, which I did & then I felt the rest of the baby being born. The midwife turned the baby over and told us it was a girl! It was 4:58am. We had gotten to the hospital 40 minutes earlier & had been in the delivery room just 5 minutes.

Apparently there hadn't been any fetal distress. My husband cut the cord and they placed the baby on me. We were given over an hour with her in the delivery room.

First I called the kids. Judy answered the phone & asked, "Mommy, who's on the phone?" I answered, "I'm on the phone." (She thought I was on another extension in the house.) and she asked if the baby had been born. I said yes & she yelled, "Mommy had the baby!!!" and then I told her it was a girl. I talked to the kids who were all really excited. Harry was disappointed that it was a girl, but quickly asked if I had seen her birth. When I told him that I hadn't, he was really happy -- he's the only one whose birth I did see. After that we called our parents and all our siblings (hey, how frequently do you get a chance to wake people up so early?)

I had prepared treats for the kids to take to their classes in school & they got ready on their own & my parents came to pick them up & drive them to school. When they got home, my husband gave them the sweatshirts that I had made for them & presents that we prepared so that each would have something to give the baby. They came to the hospital to see their new sister for the first time & each got a chance to hold her.

I had literally walked out of the delivery room (no IV, no epidural, no stitches...) and was anxious to get home. We surprised the kids by checking out of the hospital the following morning (Tuesday) and meeting them as they got off the schoolbus, with their new sister in the stroller.

In my family, we reveal the baby's name during a special ceremony. Both sets of grandparents & all of my siblings came for the naming. We named our daughter Abigail. (Abigail, in the Book of Samuel is described as "a woman of good understanding, and of a beautiful countenance" - i.e., smart & pretty). Her middle name, Rebecca, is after my maternal grandmother and my husband's paternal grandmother.