I had been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions for the last several weeks. Nothing regular or consistent so I never got too excited. The morning after my appointment the contractions I was having seemed more regular than normal, about every 10-12 minutes. I also noticed they were a bit stronger. I also started losing pieces of my mucus plug and it was blood tinged. "Is this it?" "What's happening?" Never having gone into labor on my own before I had no idea what to look for and I had no idea what it felt like. I had a chiropractor appointment that morning and when I went my doctor said, "You smell like you're in labor, are you having contractions?". He massaged some pressure points to help move things along and told me to call and schedule an appointment after delivery. I was trying not to get too excited, but it was hard not to. I continued to have contractions throughout the evening and into the night. I slept okay, but was woken up by the contractions frequently. Thursday morning there wasn't much change. They were still 10-12 minutes, a little stronger but not much. I was continuing to lose my plug and I was starting to get frustrated and confused. Emily suggested pumping on my electric breast pump to see if that would get things going a little faster. I did it and it made the contractions stronger for a little while, but then they went back to where they were. I was scheduled to go to work the next morning. I was really hoping that labor would pick up so I wouldn't have to go in, but by that night I could tell that it just wasn't happening. I slept terribly because of the contractions and got up for work at 5:30 am. Throughout the morning the contractions picked up in frequency and intensity. I felt awful. Around 2:00 p.m. I started getting very nauseated and my boss sent me home. I felt guilty for leaving, but also relieved. After I got home I tried to rest, but soon my older boys were home and that became impossible. I had to stop every once in a while to breathe through a contraction, but it wasn't every one so I just chalked it up to more prodromal labor. I did more inversion exercises and some stretches that Emily showed me. I took a bath and tried to sleep. I didn't sleep very well that night either because the contractions would wake me up every so often. Saturday was the annual Czech Festival in the town we live in. We decided to go and take the boys so we could have one last "family of four" outing and maybe the walking would get kick my labor up. I also had been craving funnel cakes for the last two months and once I found out there were funnel cake stands there I HAD to go! That evening the contractions were still the same frequency, same intensity. I felt like I was going insane. Emily came over and brought a special hot chocolate recipe that came from her grandmother in law who was a baby catcher in Mexico. I drank a cup, took another bath that night and headed off to another night of restless sleep. Sunday, we got up and nothing really had changed. I drank another cup of the special hot chocolate. Around 5 o'clock that evening something shifted. The contractions spaced out more, about 16-20 minutes, but they were much stronger. I had gotten so used to having them they had become more of an annoyance, but these contractions demanded attention. I noticed that instead of just waiting for them to pass, I was wishing for them to pass and I would breathe a huge sigh of relief when they were over. I slept even worse that night due to the strength of the contractions. I was constantly reaching over and grabbing my husband's hand to alert him to apply counter pressure to my back during them.
My NST was scheduled for Monday morning. My mom offered to go with me because James had to work and I didn't want to be there by myself, especially with a doctor that I had never met. I called her that morning and told her what was going on and added that I didn't think I could drive myself to the appointment; and asked if she could pick me up. The contractions at this point were 6-7 minutes apart. We showed up to the appointment and I was hooked up to the monitors. Contractions were 6-7 minutes apart and baby was tolerating everything well. The doctor comes in all smiles and says everything looks great and she is going to check me to see if we needed to head to L&D. She goes to check me and asks me prop my bottom up with my fists. Ugh, I know what this means; my cervix is still posterior. She asks what I was the week before and then says, "Well, you're still about a one and 30% effaced:. Then her attitude completely shifted. She started asking me if I had a "delivery date" (aka c-section) set. When I told her no she made a face and sighed. She asked me when my next appointment was and what my doctor's plan was. When I said, "he's just waiting and seeing what happens" she said that she wished she had better news for me and walked out. I was in shock and completely disheartened. Didn't she see that I was having regular contractions? Didn't she watch me breathing through them? She said baby was fine. If he was fine why were we in such a rush to schedule something, especially when it was clear my body was doing something? I barely spoke to my mom on the way home except to voice my frustration that the contractions I was having apparently weren't doing anything. I just kept saying, "why is this so easy for some people?" "What is wrong with my body? I'm doing everything I can. WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME?" She dropped me off in tears at home and said she wanted to stay with me, but I told her to go because I really just wanted to be left alone. I talked to Emily over the phone. She reassured me that she believed this was the real deal and not to let the doctor's words affect me. She also said I needed to send the boys somewhere to stay the night because I needed to be able to focus on laboring. My mom came to pick up the boys around 5 that evening and James came home from work about 6. I had all the lights off and was cranking my labor playlist. The contractions were picking up in intensity, but not getting closer together. James was helping apply counter pressure and allowing me to hang on him while swaying during contractions. I took another bath and James helped me with some stretches. Around 12:30 a.m. I was starting to get nauseated and I felt like I was crawling out of my skin. I kept grabbing my hair and wanting to pull it out. I told James I thought it was time to call Emily. While he was talking to her I had a contraction. She spoke to me after it was over and said that it sounded really intense that she thought we should meet her at the hospital.
We got packed up and arrived at the hospital around 1:10 am. During the drive over my contractions got closer together, around 4-5 minutes apart. I stood in the dark atrium with tears in my eyes from the contractions while James parked the car. I had to moan through a few contractions while I waited. I remember my voice echoed through the huge room. It was just me and the security guard. I wondered how many times he'd witnessed a sight like this. Normally making that much noise would have made me embarrassed, but I didn't care. Emily arrived at 1:20 and I was SO relieved to see her. We made it up to Triage, got put on the monitors and the nurse checked me. Again, she asked me to prop myself up. I looked at Emily and she nodded. I never confirmed this with her, but it was like we had one of the those telepathic conversations (a la How I Met Your Mother). My look said, "crap, I'm still posterior," and her nod said, "I know, it's okay". The nurse told me I was 3 cm and 50% effaced. Some progress so that gave me a little hope. They said that they would recheck me in an hour or so and I could either stay in the triage room or walk around. I chose to walk around. Emily said, "you're going to hate me, but we're going to the stairs." We started heading that direction and my contractions started coming every 2-3 minutes. Emily had a piece of cloth and through every contraction we were doing lift and tuck exercises from Spinning Babies. I was moving pretty slow and having to stop for contractions every 4-5 steps or so. "We're not going to make it to the stairs," Emily said. I apologized, but she just smiled and said, "It's okay. You're doing great!". We made it to the end of the hallway and I felt like I couldn't walk anymore. I was exhausted from not sleeping for nearly a week and the constant contractions. James went to get a wheelchair and I sheepishly asked Emily, "are you going to think I'm a horrible person if I ask for an epidural?". She immediately and genuinely said, "no, not at all." We wheeled back to triage and was rechecked. Still had to prop myself up, still 3 cm, still 50% effaced. The nurse said she was going to speak to the doctors and come back. I was starting to panic. Why wasn't anything changing? Emily and James were able to talk me down. Emily assured me that my body was working and that I was doing great. About 5 minutes later a resident walked in and announced, "We're going to go ahead and admit and at this time because of your previous medical history; and we recommend an immediate c-section." I was bewildered. All I could say was "What?". She went on to say, "If you want to continue trying for a vaginal delivery, it's up to you. You've signed all the consent forms, you know the risks, would you like to continue?" I looked up at Emily who had her eyes fixed and her brow furrowed at the resident. Her strong face gave me the courage to say, "Yes". The doctor said, "fine, we need to do an ultrasound to make sure baby is head down and get your IV then we'll get you to a room." It took 5 attempts to get my IV placed and while the nurses were working on that three different residents had to do the ultrasound to confirm his position. I had to stay flat on my back while they were doing the ultrasounds and my contractions were starting to come on top of each other. While they were doing the ultrasounds they kept saying things like, "If he's breach that's a game changer. You know that, right?". He had never been breach before. I was confused and frustrated that they were having such a hard time getting it. Every time they had to switch doctors Emily would say, "You're doing great. Don't pay any attention to these doctors who clearly don't like VBACs. I hate the way they're talking to you." They finally confirmed head placement and moved me into a room around 4:45 a.m. I was sitting on the edge of the bed about ten minutes after I arrived and my water broke during a contraction. They noted that there was meconium in the fluid. My nurse asked if I was considering an epidural and I said I was. She then said, "Well, we recommend you get one because you're a VBAC and if we have to do a c-section we will put you to sleep." She was very abrasive and made me feel uncomfortable. I was leaning forward during the contractions and the monitor would move and start reading my heart rate instead of the baby's. This was very frustrating to my nurse and about five minutes after my water broke I had all three residents from earlier and my nurse standing in front of me wanting me to give consent for an internal monitor. I didn't want internal monitors and they wouldn't leave it alone. They kept saying things like, "we're not trying to force you, but you really need to consider the safety and health of your baby." James spoke up and said, "the language that you're using is very threatening and it actually does sound like you're trying to force her". They argued a little more and then Emily finally asked everyone to step out so we could talk it over among ourselves. Because of all the IV/ultrasound trouble we hadn't been left alone for over two hours. We discussed everything and ultimately decided that I needed to rest and be left alone and the best way to do that would be to get the epidural. Also, they would be able to get a better tracing on the external monitors because I wouldn't be moving as much. We called them back in and told them what we decided. They didn't like it, but shrugged their shoulders and left. The epidural was placed at 5:45 a.m. I was able to relax for the first time in nearly six days. I kept asking, "Am I too weak for doing this?" "Do you think I'm a wimp?" James and Emily did not hesitate when they said no.