From the moment I found out I was expecting, I was convinced this baby was coming early, hopefully by mid June. I felt very distinct baby flutters as early as 10 weeks, and was in maternity pants just as soon. In my first pregnancy I didn't bother with maternity pants most of the time and wore my regular low rise jeans right up until birth. This time around, those same jeans were too uncomfortable to wear even in the first trimester.
After a grueling 8 months of hg, I started contracting regularly during the afternoon of May 29th. They were coming every 3-5 minutes apart and kept going through me eating, napping, and walking. Although not particularly strong, they were consistent and lasted for 14 hours before disappearing. They picked up again for a few hours on Sunday, coming a bit stronger but disappearing after only an hour or two. This pattern continued every few days. Sometimes they lasted for an hour, sometimes half a day. Sometimes I barely noticed them and other times they could be painful. Exhausted emotionally and physically from the endless prodromal labor, I tried every trick in the book to kick start labor. Some did nothing, others produced enough contractions to interrupt my day but not to start active labor. The beginning of June came and went with my hg once again getting worse by the day. I was only able to keep down simple carbs, bread, and some dairy. My OB and I changed up my meds yet again in another failed attempt to get the middle-of-the-night vomiting under control, and the waiting game continued.
Finally, on Father's Day at exactly 39 weeks, I woke up at 3am with contractions that felt different. They were stronger although still completely manageable and felt serious enough that I woke Chou up and we started to get things together for the hospital. At 4:30, I said we should call my mom at 5:00 to come get my daughter. I then had two consecutive killer contractions and decided now was a good time to call mom. They kept coming every 3 minutes but only lasting 35-45 seconds. At 9am I decided to take a nap and woke up half an hour later because the contractions got so strong. Now they were 50 seconds long and increasingly painful. We worked through them one at a time while sitting on a yoga ball, and Chou kept me fed and hydrated. Around 2:00 or 2:30pm I walked to the bathroom and the contractions piled one on top of each other. Chou grew really concerned, thinking for a minute he'd be delivering a baby then and there. I was growing really tired and decided to try to rest again. I fell asleep, waking to work through contractions and then falling back asleep. I woke up around 4:00pm and the contractions were gone. I could work up the occasional contraction by walking or climbing stairs, but gone were the consistent, active labor contractions that had been present all day.
I was furious and frustrated. My month long labor just wouldn't end. It was late enough in the day that our Father's Day plans were ruined so we decided to go to bed and get some sleep. We woke up at 8pm and decided to try to walk the baby out just as it started to downpour. It was another two hours before the rain cleared and we started walking. We walked til midnight, contracting occasionally but still not returning to active labor. We decided to call it a night and see what my OB would do for me at my scheduled appointment the following morning.
I woke up at 2am with more contractions. I got out of bed to use the bathroom and quickly realized we were back in business. I woke Chou and told him it was go time. I took a quick shower, we grabbed the last of our things, and made our way to the car. I took a bite to eat as we drove and immediately needed coffee to wash it down. Knowing the hospital wouldn't approve, I had Chou stop at Sheetz for a coffee and then we continued to the hospital. We arrived and checked in around 3am and spent an hour in triage while they monitored the baby and contractions, informed me I was at 4cm dilated and 80 percent effaced, and doing well. They decided to admit me and let me sit on a ball while they got my IV going. I was in a lot of pain and pretty convinced we were going to go another day in active labor and still not give birth. I was emotionally spent, physically exhausted, and ready to be done. I said I was ready for an epidural. After nine months of hell, I wanted an easy ending. Chou encouraged me to get in the Jacuzzi before we did anything else. I needed an hour of fluids before I could be given an epidural, so in his mind it was worth trying the water before we made any decisions. He was supportive of whatever I wanted, but I could tell he really wanted to try the tub, so I agreed.
We grabbed his phone and used it to play a worship station on Pandora and hopped in the Jacuzzi. Chou applied counter pressure during the contractions and I felt amazing! I relaxed and worked one contraction at a time. I was afraid the water would slow labor, but we decided it wouldn't do any more harm than laying in bed with an epidural, so we continued. The music playing was exactly what I needed for each and every contraction, as if God hand picked the playlist for my labor. After a bit of time I could feel the contractions change and could tell they were getting more effective. Eventually I needed constant counter pressure from Chou, even in between contractions. The nurse came in at 6am and told me I'd have to get out at 6:30 so they could put me on the monitor. I ignored her and she sensed my noncompliance and sent the midwife in to deal with me. The midwife came in at 6:15 and gently coaxed me out of the tub, allowing me time to work through contractions and make my way to the bed. My pain skyrocketed, as I was already struggling to control it in the tub. She checked me and I was 9cm. She had me push with the next contraction, but I still had a little lip. She suggested that breaking my water could get rid of the lip, getting me to 10cm and ready to push. I had zero objections to anything that would end the pain and told her to go ahead. She broke my water at 6:26am and I immediately dilated the rest of the way. With the next two contractions she had me give a few gentle pushes, and baby boy Chou was born at 6:30am.
Chou and I couldn't believe it. After such a long hard nine months, he was finally here! And without drugs! We did it! We survived! We decided fairly quickly that we'd name him Xander and spent a few hours throwing around options for middle names. I had already decided I wasn't finalizing a name until I got some good, fresh food in me. After some fruit for lunch and some more fruit and salad for dinner I agreed to the name we had come up with while snuggling him that morning. Xander (diminutive of Alexander, meaning defender of men) Zekiah (the Lord remembers) was officially named that night.
As soon as he was born, we realized we were in a complete 4g dead zone. Our phones couldn't get signal and struggled to upload and send pics to friends and family. The fact that Pandora played effortlessly for two hours of labor was truly a gift from God.