Well, it happened! I’m officially a mom to a beautiful baby girl, Violet Hudson Shandler. In some ways I feel like I’ve known her forever, but in other ways I feel like I’m still getting to know this little stranger who has graced our lives. It’s just as amazing and tiring and wonderful and hard as everyone said it would be. I’m excited to share Violet’s birth story, which I’m splitting into three parts: early labor, labor in the hospital + delivery and the first few days postpartum. I’m getting really detailed, but I want to share every tidbit that I would’ve found interesting to know before having gone through this firsthand!
The first sign of any action was at my 39 week appointment on July 6. This was the first time I was checked, and even though I hadn’t really felt any contractions I was happy to hear I was dilated to 1-2 centimeters and 50% effaced already! I was nervous about being checked because I’d heard it was painful and really uncomfortable, but it was honestly not bad at all. Just a little worse than a Pap smear. The next appointment was on July 12, and I was about the same but more effaced. I had sporadic contractions during that week and a lot of pelvic pressure, but was overall feeling good.
My due date was Saturday, July 15. I’d planned all along to be pregnant up to and after my due date since I’d read that most first time moms are,, so I wasn’t surprised that the due date came and went without any action. But I found it interesting how many people asked if I was getting induced because I’d passed the date! Babies aren’t considered “late” until after 42 weeks, so I had no intention of being induced unless it was recommended by my doctor. The only real action that weekend was on Sunday night, when I thought I lost my mucus plug but it ended up just being part of it. It was clear discharge and I thought it was a lot, but it was nothing compared to the real thing!
Since I was past my due date, the next step was the non-stress test on Monday, July 17. This was done in my OB-GYN’s office and just involved them hooking up external monitors around my belly and monitoring baby’s heart rate and activity for 20 minutes. I had to drink a cold glass of water to get her to move around more, which she did – so we passed! They’re just checking to make sure baby is still content and thriving in your uterus, and if you pass you can remain pregnant. I was checked at this appointment and had advanced to 3-4 centimeters! I knew at that point that we were getting very close to meeting our baby girl. This was technically my first day of maternity leave, so I was glad to know it didn’t look like I’d be off work without having her for long.
Around 5 p.m. that day, I began having contractions every 15-30 minutes. They felt like intense menstrual cramps, starting in my lower abdomen and working their way up my belly. Then at 7:20 p.m., I really lost my mucus plug. It was so much that I at first thought my water had broken! This was also more bloody in color. I knew we were getting close at this point! I tried to get to sleep that night but contractions every 15-30 minutes made it really hard to rest. I was getting up constantly to change positions. Squatting, up on all fours, relaxing in the bath and sitting on the toilet all helped ease the discomfort from contractions. I was up moving around all night, and around 2:30 a.m. I realized the contractions were getting much closer together. I started timing them, and after 45 minutes of them coming consistently every 5-7 minutes I decided to wake up Dave. He timed with me for a while and we decided to call our doctor. She directed us to head to the hospital since they were coming so consistently and were 45 seconds to over a minute long each time.
We packed up our bags, took Rico out and headed to Shawnee Mission Medical Center. As soon as we got in the car I noticed the contractions seemed to be spacing out again, but since we were already packed up and had told our doctor we were going we decided to head in. We checked in at the front desk and were directed up to triage. During this brief process I’d only had a couple more contractions, so I was starting to feel like this wasn’t the real thing but was hoping I’d be wrong. I was so embarrassed that I had woken Dave up and was potentially wasting the nurses’ time! The nurse checked me (no change from earlier that day) and hooked me up to external monitors similar to those from the non-stress test. They said they’d monitor for one hour and see how often the contractions came.
It felt like the longest hour ever in a really cold room, and I only had four contractions. The nurses agreed that I was likely in early labor, but not quite at a point to be admitted. They said we could stay and be monitored for another hour or could head home to see how things progressed. We opted to head home. I was really hungry and wouldn’t be fed at the hospital, and really wanted to be able to get in more positions to better cope with the contractions (the triage rooms don’t offer a lot of options). Dave was cold and tired and in agreement that we should head home. He decided to stay home from work with me that day since he hadn’t gotten much sleep and it looked like we’d be heading back to the hospital soon!