Saturday, December 20th at 4:00 am I got up and went to the bathroom as one does frequently at 37 weeks and 5 days, but this time I also lost my mucus plug. I continued to leak fluid throughout the morning and deep down I knew it was happening, but I was in denial. We were not ready. Nothing was packed for the hospital or even washed, furthermore we were having a Christmas party that evening and my home wasn’t decorated, no tree.
I spent some more time in denial, then about an hour later I texted our doula, who was in RI with her family for Christmas waiting for her sister to go into labor, who was due that very day! She advised me to get some rest and keep her posted.
Of course I couldn’t really sleep. I finally told Phil at some point when he rolled over and then got up to do the laundry and pack. Downstairs in the laundry room I ran into my neighbor and it flew out of my mouth as I started crying. I decided not to tell anyone for now, I was a wreck about being on the clock. I didn’t want any indirect pressure; I needed to relax and let my contractions start on their own.
Leaking picked up and continued so I came to terms that this was happening. We decide to wait until the late afternoon to see if anything starts before we call the midwives. We cancelled our Christmas party for that evening with over 20 of our friends over the guise that Phil had the flu. Phil texted everyone from my phone for our best cover. The best part was we cleaned the apartment for the party but we still had a lot to do. Phil ran out to buy items, we needed to labor at home that were in the mail scheduled to arrive on Monday. And we cancelled the Zipcars for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as we would be home with our son for Christmas.
At 3:20 pm contractions still had not yet begun, we decided call the midwives to let them know what is happening. Our midwife said it could just be the mucus plug leaking but when I elaborated on how much leakage, she said I have to come in to get checked. She convinced me to leave then (I wanted to finish packing our bags.) “You are not in labor, you are going back home unless you are not ok. And if you are not ok, all you need is your husband.” Still I threw essential items on the couch (prepared for someone to pick up in case) and give our neighbor a key and we head to the hospital. We planned on taking the subway, but Sabine requested if I started to have contractions to get a cab. I had one contraction on our walk and one in the cab this is sometime before 4:30 pm. The cab took forever with holiday traffic we ended up getting out at 5th Avenue and walking because it was faster. Of course we ran into someone from Phil’s High School and his family! As Phil is talking to them, I did my best to politely and discreetly keep moving.
We left the midwife at 6:30 pm feeling good. My water broke, but there was still enough fluid. She suggested we go home, rest and do some squats to get his head further down. She calmed me as much as possible regarding induction and assured me that we had a lot of time. If contractions didn’t start in 24 hours from then, we would meet her back there. She gave me more time and I overheard her respond to a nurse’s “So she’ll be back in 24 hours” with “No I think she’s going to be ok; she just had to breathe through a contraction while were talking.” I was so worried about my labor starting it didn’t occur to me until that moment that my labor started these contractions were for real. We called Bonnie on the way home and gave her the news. Walking down 57th street was weird. I walked it everyday to and from work. I wouldn’t be returning after Christmas vacation; good thing I took all my shoes in case. We took the subway home, stopping along the way for a Christmas tree and birthday cake mix for early labor. Once home, we put on Christmas music and decorated the apartment and the tiny Charlie Brown Christmas tree, which provided me with much squatting opportunity. By 10:30 pm, my contractions were about every 15 minutes, about a few an hour.
At this point, Phillip urged me to to come into bed and rest by 11:30 pm my contractions were less than 10 minutes apart, but still less than 20 seconds long and I was able to falling asleep in between. At 12:30 am, my contractions were consistently less than 10 minutes apart and 30 plus seconds long and more intense. But mood still happy and cracking jokes. Not quite sleeping, but relaxing in between.
At 1:00 am my contractions were 50 seconds plus to 1 minute and 8 minutes apart. I was feeling shaky and cold, shivering a bit. Bonnie got on the road to head to us from RI and we called the midwife. She said to call back when more serious and I couldn’t talk through a contraction or first thing in the morning. We stayed in bed for a long time until we anticipated our doula to arrive soon and moved to the living room to try to get things going. At 4:00 am my contractions were 4 minutes apart and 1 minute long.
Our doula arrived at 4:45 am. My contractions started to get long, some upwards of 2 minutes long, some coming back to back. At some point, Phillip went to take a nap.
At 7:45 am our doula and I awaken Phil with shrieks of celebration from the bathroom. Bloody Show! We call the midwife. By 9:00 am I have rectal pressure, I am still not serious in between contractions. We then straightened up the apartment in between contractions. Refolding blankets that our doula had folded was my last and perhaps most OCD moment. We left for the hospital at 9:30 am, and debated a bit about if it was too soon since I still wasn’t serious. But we were at 3-1-1, with bloody show and rectal pressure and in Queens so I decided to go.
We checked in to triage around 10:30 am and I was 6-7 cm. I didn’t want our doula to leave my side. She intuitively knew what I needed. Her calm, comforting, empathetic presence and touch kept me feeling safe and supported. Sometime before 12:30 pm I lost it, I sat up and started moving around and in doing so the machines came off me. I could not sit on my back and I could not stay still it was absolutely impossible. Our midwife came in to chat, I got risked out of birthing center because Orson’s heart rate at one point. She promised everything else would be the same and she would just have to have me hooked up to the monitor for a little longer. I was desperate to leave triage and trusted her as we moved into Labor and Delivery.
There they gave me some slack on the machine although I still needed to be hooked up. I was able to labor standing over the bed and on all fours on bed for a while. Pretty soon nothing felt good and there was no relief. I threw up. A lot. Just when I was really doubting myself I asked Phil and our doula to “Tell me I want to do this” they encouraged me that I was doing it, but I really didn’t care. Maybe the midwife heard us or it was coincidence but she suggested a second check and it was exactly what I needed to hear, she said I was 9 centimeters and to let her know when I had the urge to push. Rectal pressure brought me to labor on the toilet and wait for the urge to push.
2:00 pm pushing began on the toilet, which was great and then got uncomfortable quickly, then on all fours on bed and finishing sidelying. Pushing was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I really didn’t get it. I forgot everything I learned. A huge part of me wishes I waited longer. But the truth is in the moment I wanted the baby out and welcomed some coaching. When I really thought I couldn’t continue, I focused into Phillip’s eyes and pushed like my life depended on it.
At 2:47 pm on Sunday, December 22nd Orson Thomas Chorba was born!