Layla Sienna Armstrong: Birth Story
Wednesday morning June 3rd (at 38 weeks, 6 days pregnant), the day before Layla was born I had a membrane sweep around 9am. The dr had said I was now 2 cm and ripe as well as 60% effaced and baby was at -1 station. I knew a sweep worked with my son so I had high hopes that this would throw me into labor if my body and our sweet girl were both ready. I had been having 'bloody show', cramping on and off and tons of braxton hicks for several days as you can see in my pregnancy updates. After my sweep I left the dr's office and had a lot of cramping right away. Throughout the day my cramps with braxton hicks continued on and off. It basically felt like the days previous, just like regular menstrual cramps, there was no pattern to them or anything of that sort. I went about my day as i usually would but paid close attention to how my body was feeling. My son and i went to the park to play for a couple hours and i felt like they were still consistent around 3-4pm. We headed home to start dinner around 530 and i noticed they were still here 8.5 hours after my sweep.
I was texting my sisters about it around 650 and i noticed for the first time all day that i was getting them every 8 minutes now. So instead of feeling them constant or every so often, they were now coming and going forming a pattern of every 8 minutes. I also noticed for the first time that they had a peak of intensity, and that the cramps were a little painful (like a period) plus tightening like a braxton hick and pain in my back. They would start off slow and then the peak would be a little bit crampier/with pain and then they would die down and this happened every 8 mins. At this point i started tracking them to see if they were going to pick up and how often they were coming. They were lasting a minute long.
At 8pm they were coming steadily 5 minutes apart. Not hurting to the point where i couldn't talk or move though, they were more like strong period cramps still with an ache in my back, especially when a contraction came. I decided to call my husband at work and tell him its time to come home "just incase this is it" (because my dr told me that morning that i would probably progress really quickly). She had said to call when contractions were 10 mins apart. i knew from my sons birth that i was not about to go to the hospital UNTIL i couldnt talk through them, i was not up for being sent home like i was with him and then coming back an hour or two later after feeling like i was dying laboring at home. So i waited. My friends and family were telling me to GO and get checked. It was now around 10-11pm and i was still laboring at home with contractions that were definitely stronger but still i could talk through them..so i kept waiting, walking around and cleaning, packing, etc. At 12am they were 2 minutes apart steadily and lasting over a minute. My sisters were begging me to go to the hospital saying i could be progressing really quick at this point and that if i didnt want to give birth at home i should GO NOW (because 2nd babies come quicker). I just didnt feel like they were painful enough that i couldnt talk through them, i was breathing through them because they hurt (mostly in my back and radiating down my thighs and hips), but i could still talk if someone asked me a question. Ugh, back labor again. Or maybe this is just how my body handles contractions/labor? I was so bummed to feel this terrible pain in my back once again, i had hoped this labor would be different then the start of how my sons was 2 years ago. I was determined to not get sent home this time. At this point i was certain i was in labor it was just a waiting game for the painful intensity i knew i needed to have to be admitted and for these contractions to really be dilating me. I knew i was at "about 2cm" this morning according to my doctor, and i needed to be 4cm for them to admit me right away without question... which was my goal. I didnt want to walk the halls or be sent home or uncomfortable driving back and forth in a car, so i waited and waited.
At 2am i was hurting more and more, my back was killing so i was leaning over and swaying trying to let me body open up and dilate. I was breathing through just fine but because they had been coming on since 6ish, and now just 2 mins apart for 2 hours, i decided to call the dr on call and ask her what she thought i should do. I was able to talk to her but paused and would need to breathe through a contraction when it came. She advised me because it was my second baby and they were steadily 2 mins apart and i had been laboring for several hours that i should head to the hospital to be "checked". So we took our sweet time loading up the car, grabbing a snack, and calling over my in laws to stay the night with Cash at our home.
When we got in the car my husband asked me "do you want me to take the long way or the short way" and i told him "the long way" to give my body even more time to dilate. Oh boy, the minute we started driving the pain was WAY worse, i think because of sitting down and having the babys head pressing down on my back. Standing was way more bearable but i didnt have a choice for the next 15 or so minutes in the car, so i tried as hard as i could to focus on breathing and just close my eyes.
When we arrived at the hospital with my sons labor, my contractions slowed way down from the anxiety and excitement, right when i left the hospital (after being sent home) they increased and were 10x more painful. With that experience in mind I kept myself even keeled, calm, and just focused on breathing. I didnt want to allow myself any feelings of anxiety or excitement, i wanted those contractions to keep on coming and keep dilating me. Just like with Cash, i came all ready with makeup on etc because i had it on from before labor even started.. i knew they would think "she aint in labor" so i made sure to not do any touching up, no lipstick or anything of that sort, and wore sweats and put my hair back. TRUST me.. it makes a difference when those nurses see you all dolled up, they are less likely to be on your side and admit you if youre between 3-4 cm and they have any choice in the matter. Im not sure why that is, but they are just less likely to have sympathy or believe youre really in active labor (PAIN!). I digress.. back to the story. So they hooked me up to the monitor and sure enough my contractions were strong and still coming 2-5 min apart lasting over a minute. The nurse checked me and said i was "about 3 cm". Now, let me tell ya, with my son i came in with back labor in a lot of pain and was only 2cm. An hour and a half later i was a stretchy 3, but that hour and half felt like murder. Back labor is no joke, it takes a lot longer to dilate you because of the babies position, but its excruciating pain and super exhausting. Hence why i waited at home so long. I have a ton of friends who make it to 3 cm before labor even starts, or their early labor just feels like menstrual cramps. LUCKY ladies, because when their labor starts their body goes to 4 and thats when the real pain begins. For me that wasnt the case with either baby. I wasnt blessed with skipping out on back labor the first or second time and early labor heading into active labor hurts like hell.
Being a stretchy 3 is when i was admitted with my first delivery, they knew i was dilating hourly so they admitted me. With this baby because the first time they checked me i was only 3cm the nurse decided i was in "early labor and it could be weeks or days" before active labor dilated me further. I knew i was in real labor, not the labor that is just menstrual cramps and braxton hicks. I was having to breathe through.. was this nurse high? i mean really? I should probably add, THIS nurse, was the same nurse who sent me home with my son! YEP. ANd i told her that. We had a good laugh, but inside i was like "hmm i really dont like you lady". I will never forget her, and now i will really really nevvver forget her. HA!
They wanted to monitor me because my contractions were so close together and i was 2cm earlier that day and now about a 3, so they told me i could stay there for an hour and they would watch. The nurse comes back after about 20 minutes and says I have to drink some ice gold apple juice to try to wake the baby up. She said they hadnt seen any jumps in the babies heart rate and they like to see them every 20 mins or so to make sure baby is handling my contractions well. So I drank the juice & my anxiety spiked. I was nervous. She had mentioned they would admit me if the baby wasnt showing any spikes in her heart rate. .. 20 mins later..NADA. She was "Sleeping" the nurse said but this wasnt waking her up. So they put this little buzzer on my tummy that vibrated for a couple seconds.. NADA. After 40-50 mins of this the nurse said i would probably be admitted and we needed to get baby out quickly. So off she went to show the dr the babies heart rate pattern from that past 50 minutes of monitoring.
When the nurse left i felt the baby moving and waking up. I was SOOOO relieved!! AMEN! She was okay and i wouldnt need any intervention or speeding anything up. The words C section were flooding my mind, but now i knew we were safe. The nurse came back with a big smile and said "okay she was just holding out on me! GOOD shes awake". So lets go back to that "anxiety". Remember how i mentioned that anxiety and stress can slow your contractions,.. so can laying down. I realized my contractions were spacing out 5-7 mins now instead of 2-5. I was so stressed about Layla not moving and her heart rate not having any spikes after drinking juice and the buzzer that i was slowing them down. This made me really nervous for when the nurse was about to check me. I sort of knew that this past 40-50 mins probably wasnt dilating me much.
And what do you know, the nurse checks me and says im still at a 3. I told her i was about a 3, and now im a 3, does that make any difference? I also said "but i have been stressed and theyre spacing out because of that" and she said ok go walk the halls for an hour and lets see what happens. So off we went! The contractions started coming every 5 minutes again like clockwork. So within that hour of walking i had a good 10 contractions, i also started feeling nauseous like i was going to throw up and had diarrhea (sorry TMI) but when a big contraction came i had to run to the bathroom twice. Thankfully this cleared me out before delivery lol. My contractions were getting really strong and walking through them was so hard, i would have to stop and breathe and sway my hips. I started getting so nervous that i wouldnt be to 4cm within just an hour and that my body was stuck at 3 because of the babies position and back labor taking longer. I knew once i hit 4-5 cm thats when my labor would pick up and was so scared it would be too late if they sent me home and that i would deliver in the toilet! HA. That was my worst fear. Just thinking about sitting in the car again with even stronger contractions and now nausea and having to go to the bathroom sounded so terrible. And not just sitting in the car ONE more time, but having to drive all the way back to the hospital a couple hours from now in EVEN More pain then now seemed like my worst nightmare. My husband kept telling me "you're going to progress, just focus on right now and lets keep walking and breathing through". He was truly my rock and helped me stay calm.
The hour was up, my prayers were constant. Begging God to please make this labor different, please dont let them send me home again like with my son. And out came the words "youre still 3 centimeters". Tears flooded my eyes. I told her i would be back, that this is exactly what she did with my son, i knew it wasnt her fault but i felt so frustrated. I wanted to vomit, i had the runs and so much bloody show, my body was clearly in labor and i couldnt believe they could send me home like that. My pain was so bad, all i could do was cry because i felt hopeless. I was terrified that i would have to go home and labor there for an hour or two with increasing pain when i could hardly handle what i was currently enduring. All i could think about was the pain increasing and having no option at home for any relief. And what if my baby came.. so many what ifs!
The nurse offered me an ambien. Yep. I couldnt even believe she offered to give me a sleep aid. Especially one that makes you hallucinate if you dont sleep when taking it. Are you serious? I knew this baby was coming, so what if i had taken that being a new mom or something and not knowing i was going to have to push a baby out soon? I cant even imagine laboring and feeling groggy and out of it. So of course i declined.
We called my in laws and told them we were being sent home. My husband made it clear that we would be heading back to the hospital in an hour and just needed to labor at home to let my body progress. I didnt want my son seeing me in that much pain (it was 5am now and i knew he would be up around 630am) so we went to their house to labor there and they stayed at ours. Into the bath i went. I had labored in the bath with my son, it was all that made my back feel better, so i knew that was the first thing i wanted to do. The tub at their house was so small so my back wasnt really even in the water because i had to get on all fours to help the baby move off my spine and relieve my back pain a bit, so my husband had to sit next to me and pour water over my lower back each contraction, which were consistently 2 mins apart, lasting over a minute..giving me barely any break. I was in so much pain, all i could do was close my eyes and moan. Breathing through them but feeling so nauseous and sick. At one point i had to jump out of the tub during a contraction, kick my husband out of the bathroom and get back on the toilet,.. my poor body was going through hell. My hubs kept getting phone calls from my mom and texts from my doula best friend telling him to call the dr and get her to admit me. So he called her, after being home for about 30-45 mins, she asked him a bunch of questions but i knew i needed to be the one to talk to her. So I got myself out of the tub, got on the phone and told her how i was feeling and that i was having really awful back labor, diarrhea, and felt like i could throw up any minute. She asked if my pain was worse and i said YES. She told us to come back and get checked and that i would probably be admitted. I wasnt into that answer, i needed certainty if i was going to get back in that car and drive all the way there putting myself through even more pain having to sit there with the babys head right on my spine. So I said "im not coming back unless you promise me you will admit me".. She said "hunny im 100% certain you will be admitted". I have never heard more comforting words. HALLELUJAH! I threw my clothes on, my husband grabbed ours stuff, and we were about to head out when i suddenly felt this violent urge to throw up. I ran to the bathroom with my hand over my mouth and barely made it to the toilet. After vomitting the little to nothing i had in my stomach, i was dry heaving over and over. Misery is the the only word to describe it. We grabbed a bucket for the car and off we went back to the hospital an hour after just being there.
Going back this time was just like heading back to the hospital after i was sent home with Cash. I was now soaking wet, hair in a bun, no makeup on, crying in pain. A hot mess is one way to describe it. This is the women the nurses like to see. Haha, so just take note of that if youre going to deliver a baby soon. LOl. When i arrived they were switching shifts with new nurses, just like how they were when we came back with my sons birth. Im serious, i felt like i was in a twilight zone. This birth story is just way too similar to my sons. It was so bizarre! When i looked up to see who was going to "check me" it was that same mean nurse again. But this time, my mom met us there, and she wasnt going to take any bull from this nurse. Shes delivered 5 kids and seen a lot of births, she knew i was in labor and ready to be admitted, having her there gave me comfort, her and my husband were going to fight for me. And i knew the dr on call had promised me i could stay. The nurse handed me the gown and a bag for my clothes in the triage room, but this time i said screw the privacy of the bathroom im in so much pain, and i stripped down right there.. i think she knew i meant business. When your in agony you really dont care who sees what. The nurse checked me and i laid there praying, Lord please have mercy on me. And just like that, i was 5 centimeters and admitted. Tears again. But this time, happy tears of sweet joy and relief. We were ready to have a baby, i was ready SO ready for that epidural.
At this point my body was shaking. I couldnt control it, i couldnt even open my eyes the pain was so intense. I knew I needed to have an IV put in so i could go through a whole bag of fluids before they would administer an epidural, so i asked for that as soon as possible. All i could think about was the epidural. Thats all i knew i needed to make it to. So i closed my eyes and took deep breathes and focused through this last hour of contractions. I should probably mention my new nurse came in and it was the same nurse that admitted me with Cash and delivered him! So the same nurse sent me home again and the same new nurse would deliver my daughter that delivered my son. People were hooking things up, asking me questions & i couldnt even respond. The new doctor on call came in right away and checked me and i was now already 7cm. So basically i had left the hospital at 5am at 3cm and came back an hour later at 5cm, and about a half hour later before my epidural was 7cm..so in two hours i went from 3-7cm. I almost didnt make it to getting my epidural. Finally the anesthesiologist was here, while he was setting everything up it felt like an eternity, but he kept reminding me you only have a few more contractions left, then the pain will be gone. So i focused on those words. Shaking, my feet dangling off the side of the bed, bending over waiting for him to poke me with that giant shot.. the one shot that actually feels something like heaven, (kidding, kind of). & then, Instant relief. He administered a lighter dose of the spinal tap and a 10 for my epidural. I told him im sensitive to the initial part of the epidural so he explained he can give a lighter spinal tap which is what first gives you relief until the epidural kicks in (not sure if thats accurate but that was my understanding of it when in a tremendous amount of pain ha). My doctor came back in to break my water, and within a half hour she came back and checked me and i was now 10cm and baby was -1, which means she was a little bit high but the doctor was confident i could push her down myself and didnt need to wait to labor down. We were ready to start pushing!! WHAT??! I just got here?.. yep. Thank God my husband had called the dr at home when he did!
They wanted to drain my bladder first so they inserted a catheter and figured that might move the baby down a little bit too. I FELT IT. oh boy, i knew if i could feel the catheter that i would be definitely feeling this baby come out. I tried not to dwell on it and focused on how i was about to meet our baby girl. They set up the room and we were now ready to push. The room was a lot more quiet then with my son, it was calm and my husband mom and sister were the only ones there this time. No one was counting while i was pushing, no one was holding my legs this time but me. It was just different, not good or bad but a different experience then with my son. The doctor was so encouraging telling me "you have such good control", "push just 90% percent", "good job" etc. Having someone talk to you and give direction is so nice. I could feel her as i was pushing, right when she was crowing and my body was stretching was the most painful part. I didnt want to stop pushing to wait for another contraction, i wanted her out because pausing there with her hed stretching me was killing. So i asked if i could keep pushing and the dr let me. Out she came in just a couple pushes total. I think i pushed for maybe 4 minutes including waiting for contractions. It was soooo fast! Painful, but not like i would have imagined. I wasnt screaming, it was just a burning pain with a lot of pressure and the feeling as though you are tearing. But i could handle it. To me the contractions and back pain were far worse then feeling the pain of having the baby actually come out of me. She came out with her hand next to her cheek, which is so cute because thats how she likes to sleep, with one hand swaddled out right next to her face. She looked so much like her brother, the minute i saw her i felt like i was reliving meeting my son. It was so surreal. I couldnt believe how similar this birth was, and now she looked just like him! They let me hold her on me for a little while and then took her to weigh her and clean her/check her out. She was the EXACT weight and height as my son at birth, 7.4 oz and 18.5 inches. Talk about crazy!
She is sweet perfection, we are in heaven with our little girl. She latched on right away for our miracle skin to skin hour and has been a great eater since! We opted not to do chord blood banking this time since we already did it with my son. And I only had 2 small natural first degree tears this time around which have healed way quicker then the episiotomy cut that they gave me with Cash.
Although the laboring at home part has been so painful with both kids, my experience after being admitted has always been pleasant and so special. Laboring and giving birth is such a gift, my birth stories are some of my favorite memories. I am proud of what my body can do and that its created two perfectly healthy little children. I am so blessed to have been through this experience, pain and all and wouldnt change any of it. I hope my story can encourage you in some way.
And for those of you that have asked, we will probably have one more baby in the future. In the moment i always tell my husband NEVER again, but right when that sweet smelling precious innocent newborn is in my arms i always beg for another! You truly do forget the pain immediately. No pain in the world could stop me from wanting a lifetime with these special little people of ours.
^^^So full of joy!.. (and side note: i had gum in my mouth because labor makes your mouth dry and they wont let you have water..lol) ^^^
^^^^Telling my hubs how much she reminds me of Cash^^^
^^^Ivory lace robe c/o Walkin On Air , my husband captured this moment as we were gearing up to go home^^^
^^^Home sweet home with our babies, 1 week and 22.5 months old^^^
Read Cashs birth story here
Read Cashs birth story here