This birth story is shame free and uncensored. There will be description of graphic birth scenes, maybe some details about bodily functions and parts, and if you're already turned off by even reading this mini-paragraph, you should probably go read the news instead. That written, don't tell me you haven't been warned. That, and, birth is amazing and no woman (or her hubs) (or her family members) should ever be ashamed about it - so I'm kind of stoked to be graphic with this!
It all started while my papa and I were at choir practice on Wednesday night this week. I had been experiencing normal mucus plug escaping my body for over a week, and had myself a fancy panty liner on to keep things... sanitary. And it's a good thing I had, because part way through a worship song we were practicing, I experienced some leakage.
This wasn't like your normal "oh, look, 2 teaspoons of liquid just hit my under-roos" it was more like, "oh, snap, all I have on is a thinner-than-paper panty liner and that mini-gush of water just filled it completely, overflowed onto my underwear and dripped a little down my leg, and I have another hour of choir practice to stand, sit and sing through...". So what did this girl do? I designed a futuristic and fabulous do it yourself absorbent pad with toilet paper and stuck it in my underwear. I returned to choir after slightly panicking for a minute or two about labor maybe greeting me softly.
Of course, my dad instantly asked me if everything was okay, since I had been gone for a while (home-made absorbancy pads take time and effort, I tell you! You can't rush a masterpiece) and I told him about my water maybe breaking but not being sure. We chatted off an on, one sentence at a time between singing and rests, about how to handle the rest of choir practice. Do we stay? Do we leave? Does everyone ask us what's going on? Do we look suspicious? Is it rude to talk while the choir director is trying to teach? Do I tell the lovely lady behind me what is going on? Do I tell the two lovely ladies behind me what might be happening? I did. We left, I checked my fancy toilet paper pad, and, not to my surprise, it was full, soaked right through. So toilet paper pad #2 came into existence for at least the car ride home. And one of the lovely ladies I had spoken to was accompanied by another singer who is an RN, and we chatted excitingly about what may or may not be going on. Then papa and I made a mad dash for the front door, his truck, and my home.
My dad had sent a text message to my mom about "Nicole's water maybe breaking" and she quickly and simply responded, "seriously" without any pronunciation marks. I'm telling you, no one had any idea that baby Carrillo was going to arrive on the Thursday of my 39th week of pregnancy. I had people joke about labor happening in August, my hubby was certain that we'd have a baby by this Saturday, Mexico's Independence Day, and personally I had thought that it'd be September 20th before anything took place. So even though my mom had been expecting the message, or phone call, telling her labor might be happening, it took her for surprise, as well. I called her once we were driving to my home, and told her the choir-practice story. We decided to stay in contact through text messaging throughout the night, and that she would head over to my place once labor took place for reals.
I arrived at home, kissed my papa for the last time as a pregnant lady, and walked up stairs to tell hubby the news. He had the work pager this week, so when I made it to the bedroom he was in the middle of a call, but it didn't stop me from whispering to him "fuente rota" (water broken) and the call didn't stop him from looking at me in complete disbelief as if he had seen a ghost, terrified of what I told him. I took out home-made pad #2 and placed a real one on, just in case a gush of water did eventually come, and changed into something more comfy while I waited for Edu to finish his call.
Once he got off the phone, I told him the choir-practice story and he told me to page the midwife. I thought it was really too soon, and I was in denial that this was truly labor, so I tried to keep him from worrying. I kept saying, "no, let's wait a little bit, I don't think I need to call, only if there are consistent contractions" but he was nervous and certain this meant labor, so I grabbed the notebook from the midwives office, and we did some light reading. Under "when to page us" column it said, among other things, "if water is leaking from the vagina". oh snap...I thought - I have to really do this, we're really doing this, can I do this? We paged the midwives (there are 2), left a message, and were told to expect a return call within 10 minutes.
I also began to experience some real contractions that made me stop in my tracks, bend over, and rock back and forth 'till they disappeared. They felt like a rough case of diarrhea, to be honest, since following each one I had an extreme urge to have a BM - and did. Thankfully, this only happened once every 30-40 minutes at the time, and with each bathroom break was a feeling a blissful relief. They made me laugh, too, as I bent over the bed with my hands on the ledge - we had been waiting for this for so long, was this really going down? Edu and I were caught so off-guard, all we could do was laugh at this point (well, I laughed, his heart just started pounding faster than it was before). In between those more intense contractions were slight contractions that I could handle, and they felt a lot more like mild menstrual cramps. They were friendly little buggers, and I accepted them happily.
It was somewhere around 8:30pm or 9:00pm. One of the midwives, Cindie, returned my call within 7 minutes or so. I gave her the run down. She, in short, told us to try and get some sleep and to come into the office the following morning so they can check to see if my water did indeed break, and that sleep was important since we might have a full-on labor day in our near future. I called my mom, sent a message to my boss about going into work late the next day, and Edu and I tried to go to sleep after taking a quick home-video of "the first signs of labor - Carrillo style." Yet, sleep didn't really happen.
Once our heads hit the pillows, those every-40-minute bowel movement-causing contractions started to happen every 25 minutes, and I could not lie down through them. The Bradley Method was all about the "ultimate relaxation pose" which is like this: Except you're more on your belly, the top arm you see is actually an arm going under and behind you, and your back knee should be a little bent. Oh, the details! Enjoy the done-in-2-minutes art piece in Microsoft Paint!
The thing is, I could not hold this pose during those intense contractions. They made the contraction so difficult to breath through, and the weight of the tummy while it contracted was unbearable. Each time, I found myself sitting up as soon and carefully as I could so I could sway these out in a standing/arms on the edge of the bed pose. That, or I would make a straight shot to the toilet, where I could rock and roll in a sitting-position, and then let any BM or urine exit immediately afterward. I then had to breath the end of the contraction out a little bit and then sigh and make my way back to bed.
This continued for 2 hours, that exact sequence of events I just gave you, with the mini-contractions in between that I could hold the relaxing Bradley position through, and at 12:30am I decided to text my mom and give her the "what's going down" with labor (which, at the time, I still was not truly a believer that it was indeed labor. silly pregnant woman). I mentioned "I think my uterus is being ripped out of me - baby Pumita (baby's nickname for the past 9 months, meaning "little Puma" in Spanish) is using a chain saw to it or somethin" She took that as this is my daughter in labor and told me she was heading over. 7 minutes later she confirmed she was heading over and asked if I had called the midwife. I had not. but she convinced me to.
Cindie told me over the phone to keep in contact with her, until the contractions were all intense and were about 4 minutes apart. I was still in a cheerful mood (the first "Emotional Signpost: excitement" of labor per Dr. Bradley) and she could probably tell, so she didn't immediately hop into her car and arrive at our home. This was good, too, 'cause honestly I felt a little bad for having a middle of the night birth and making her come over (I know, stupid to think that) and I was happy she could sleep a little instead of be at our home as I contracted every 15-20 minutes with probably little progress in the cervix opening up.
My mom arrived and I'm not sure where I was, either lying on the bed or in the bathroom or something. It was a little before 1:00am. Labor was about to get real from here on out, whether I was ready, Edu was ready, or my mom was ready or not. Yet, I really didn't know this was the start of the Second Emotional Signpost: Seriousness, because it definitely was a gentle ease from the excitement stage. I can't remember how things really went down from here, I recall telling my mom she could put her foam mattress next to my side of the bed and that she could sleep as we tried to sleep. Then suddenly I remember laboring on the toilet for a bit, with one of the "bowel-movement" contractions, and then not being able to make it back to the bed. I labored in the bathroom with my head on my arms leaning over the counter, swaying and rocking my hips from side to side.
Coach hubby and coach mami got straight to work in a beautiful way. Edu started to massage my lower back as I swayed, and my mom brought me a pillow to rest my arms on (beats a cold, hard bathroom counter any day!) and I didn't have to ask for anything. They just knew, they were in the zone and I was so thankful (even thought all I could focus on was the contractions). I stood up between the intense moments, I think, and don't know what I did in between. I was able to breath deeply with each "mountain peak" sensation, and I couldn't focus on anything else.
A contraction, in my experience, is best explained like this: they creep up slowly, or quickly, but no matter what, they are not sudden feelings. They are gradual much like the incline and decline of a mountain. So I was always warned and ready when one was going to hit. Whether they lasted 40 seconds or 90 seconds, there was always a moment where I needed to focus 100% on my breathing and soon enough (or what felt like 5 hours later) the decline of the mountain greeted me, but I still had to breath it out.
My mom saw that the contractions were taking control of my body completely since I was no longer taking between them, or cheerful. She had only been over for less than an hour at this point. She asked me if I wanted to call the midwife again, and I said "I don't know" or "I don't care" (sounds like what Bradley would call the third emotional signpost: self doubt, where all the birthing woman says is "I don't know" - since I didn't really have a mind to make decisions at this moment in time). I must have experienced another contraction or two, because mom said it was time to page the midwife, and she was talking to her the next thing I knew. Cindie was on her way.
It was just about 2:00am. Cindie was setting up all of her equipment in the bedroom, I was still laboring over the bathroom counter, and soon made my way to the bed. I'm not sure what brought me to the bed, but I found myself there and we opened up the Bradley book (or was that before...? hmph...) to find the alternative position for birthing "sitting with an incline" which was basically this:
I think we can appropriately title this one, "pillow mania" - which we tried to re-create, but it never really happened this way. You see, with each contraction I kind of slid down lower on the bed, and each pillow moved a different way. Maybe Bradley's Method included some fancy Velcro-to-bedsheets pillows? Maybe I was controlled by insane amounts of lower abdominal sensation that took over my entire physical and mental self? Maybe...just maybe... I was just going to birth this baby however my body (and my slippery sheets that were over a giant mattress bag for protection from the ...fluids...) would allow me to. Even if this meant partial dehydration from not wanting to drink h2o or coconut water, since every time I took a gulp I felt it want to creep its way back up my esophagus since I was lying down so low. But that is beside the point. Point is: pillow-mania position was much more comfortable for me than any other laboring position. So I went with it.
Remember kids, it was 2:00am. I didn't know this. All I knew was that it was, in fact, birth day on this day. And if you had told me that I had almost nine more hours until we would meet our little monkey, I don't know what I would have done to you. But thankfully, only our good God knew this little detail, and He didn't share it with any of us. Turn on the hymns playlist on iTunes, hubby, this labor is getting real crazy, and I need to focus on my Jesus.
tune in next time for.... part 2! of 6? We'll see!