Leading up the birth of our first baby, Hubs and I had attended childbirth courses taught by a brilliant, well-respected local doula. She taught us that 10% of the time, the water breaks before other labor symptoms arrive. It’s called premature rupture of membranes. This story is all about how premature rupture of membranes put a screetching halt to my unmedicated labor and delivery plans.

On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, I decided to attempt a Wal Mart trip. After shopping only 20 minutes, I was completely fatigued and waddled back to the car in the Texas heat.  I came home and crashed on the bed immediately with my Snoogle pregnancy pillow. I linked it because ya need one. If it’s too pricey for you, purchase a knock-off or call around to local consignment shops!

Anyway, Hubs was evidently nesting for the first time that weekend – he had spent the entire day washing and waxing his car, buying tons of groceries, and was at the gym for 2 hours.  He was proud of all he accomplished and crashed in front of the first football game of the season with a glass of whiskey. So naturally, this would be a great time to…

Pop!

After resting about 20 minutes with my iPad, I felt a pop at 7:30 p.m. and immediately knew it was my water breaking.  Leaping off the bed (yes, even at 9 months pregnant, it was a LEAP), I flew into the bathroom and onto the pot, where the fluid kept gushing. I called out to Hubs “Will you come here please!?!?” and he squatted in front of the toilet to calm me down. 

Premature Rupture of Membranes Taco

I remembered learning from the doula, Wendy, that I should observe TACO and be ready to report it to my provider. 

Time: Noting the time came naturally, because like most first-time moms, I started with my contraction timer immediately. That was so unnecessary! 

Amount: There was lots of fluid. This was not like a little dribble down my leg. It was a pop and gush situation. Spoiler alert: there was more to come, and that absolutely blew this first time mom’s mind. 

Color: The fluid was clear, so that was super. Wendy taught us that if the color was greenish or brownish at all, we needed to head straight to the hospital. Green and brown indicates meconium in the water, and baby might be stressing out. 

Odor: A foul odor would indicate infection, a slightly sweet smell is normal amniotic fluid, and pee smells like pee, so…ya know. This smelled like not much of anything, but a slightly sweet smell seemed closest.

So, I knew this was not an emergency situation.

 

Crickets…

We also knew from my natural childbirth classes that going to the hospital straight away pretty much guaranteed a dose of Pitocin, and that I’d likely be steamrolled into a cascade of interventions. Those interventions can often wreck a gal’s plans for an unmedicated labor and delivery.   So now we had to make our first decision: when would be go in to the hospital since I wasn’t having contractions?

I told Hubs to rest, and that I’d try to get things moving with my breast pump and some walking around the neighborhood.  I felt deeply uncomfortable with waiting it out too terribly long at home, knowing that my doctor had given me paperwork that instructed me to come in right away if my water broke. 

Hubs and I decided together that if nothing had happened by 1 a.m. we would go into the hospital, even though that decision conflicted with what we had learned in our classes.  Both of us are rule followers by nature, and I just couldn’t get comfortable with that tiny possibility that something might go awry while I was ignoring the doctor’s preferences.  

After hours of intermittent resting and walking and pumping, I knew that labor was not progressing at home.  I had some contractions but they were weak and totally manageable.  They were 3 minutes apart while I was walking but as soon as I sat down, they slowed to 8 or 9 minutes apart.  I woke up the Hubs at 12:30 and we arrived at triage at 1 a.m.  

I Guess that’s Why They Call it PREMATURE Rupture of Membranes? 

At triage, we texted my parents and sister to let them know we had been admitted.  Contractions were 5 minutes apart, but I couldn’t even feel them.  Maybe that’s why they call it PREMATURE rupture of membranes? Not one thing was really happening. We got checked into our room, and I instructed Hubs to go back to sleep while I walked the halls. My parents lived 70 miles away. In spite of getting the phone call at 1:00 a.m., they still managed to arrive at the hospital by 2:30! Spoiler alert: this was a 21 hour labor, and I kinda wished I would have waited longer to call them! Poor folks. That was rookie mom stuff!

I was able to do intermittent fetal monitoring and keep moving around the room and hallways. That was pretty irrelevant, since nothing hurt badly enough to warrant anything other than resting in bed. But I knew the clock had started on me, and I needed to get labor going somehow.  We tried more breast pumping to no avail. 

Wait…You Mean There’s More?!?

By 9 am, we had our first heart-to-heart with nurse Courtney.  She wanted to do a cervical check, and given that it had already been 14 hours, we let her do that.  She quickly discovered there was a bag of water in front of my cervix. Apparently, the gush at home had been a heavy leak but not a total rupture of the membranes.  My mind was blown, because y’all…it was SO MUCH. We wanted to avoid Pitocin, so breaking the water seemed like a good move.  

Very soon after, I started having much harder contractions, but they were still 8 minutes apart.  I felt like they must be productive, though. She came back at 11 and was discouraged that contractions were still so far apart.  She said that my doctor would let us continue for a while longer without Pitocin. I couldn’t keep moving around the floor at that point because I was so exhausted, so I just waited and got through each contraction as it came. 

Changing My Mind

I felt pretty bummed at this point.  Contractions HURT, but I knew I could do it.  I hadn’t slept in 26 hours and I was dilated to a 2.  The physical pain felt manageable at that point, especially since I had lots of rest between. However, I kept almost falling asleep between contractions and I felt gross sitting in that baby water.  My hair was getting that greasy feeling that I hate. 

I also began to question my motivation for a natural childbirth.  I really loved my nurses and respected my doctor deeply.  I never felt pressured into anything. Natural childbirth just didn’t seem worth it to me at this point. 

This day felt pretty monumental regardless of how it came to pass.  I told Hubs, “I know I CAN do it, I’m just not sure if I still want to.  What’s the point?”  He reminded me of all the reasons why I initially wanted a natural childbirth but said he totally supported me regardless.  It seemed like Pitocin was inevitable. If I had to have the Pitocin, I might as well get an epidural.  At least then I could sleep. 

I also remembered the Bishop score that the doula had shown us.  I realized that an induction at this point was likely to be very successful and a C section seemed an unlikely consequence.  Hubs admitted afterward that he was relieved I made that choice. 

Premature Rupture of Membranes Birth Affirmation

The Glorious Epidural

At 11 a.m., 16 hours after my water broke, I got an epidural and Pitocin.  The epidural was pretty challenging – by that point, I was having contractions 5 minutes apart and they were pretty hard. Bending over and behaving was difficult to say the least.  But the anesthesiologist was super nice and did a great job distracting me. The nurse helped me hold the required body position. Almost immediately following the epidural, I felt fantastic. 

The Homestretch – Finally!

The nurse put the peanut ball between my legs.  I was just deeply jealous of the Hubs for having a Whataburger in the waiting room with my family, but he did his best to hide it from me.  He returned quickly and I was already asleep and passed out from about 11:20 until 3. 

At 3 p.m., the nurse checked me, and I was at a 9.5.  She was pretty thrilled with that progress.  From a 1.5 to a 9.5 in only 4 hours!  This is another example that labor math is not a thing. Nurses like for you to dilate one centimeter per hour to show sufficient progress, but the female body just doesn’t work that predictably, or at least mine doesn’t. Anyway, she started prepping the room for delivery and said she’d be back around 4 p.m. 

We hadn’t expected that.  We thought a 9.5 meant she would stick around and we would do this RIGHT NOW.  As soon as she left, Hubs and I got pretty excited. Turkey Burger was right around the corner.  It was the first time Hubs looked nervous at all.  

Under Pressure

Around 4 pm, I started feeling a ton of pressure.  I wanted to push, but the doctor wasn’t there yet.  The nurse checked me and suggested I do a practice push.  She changed her mind and said “Don’t push!  I’ve only delivered one baby before and I’d rather not do it again!”  Her comments might have been foreshadowing for my third birth, in which a nurse DID deliver the baby.

She called the doctor and told him that I was doing a fantastic job pushing (given that I ended up with 3rd degree tears, I think this matter is disputable). She told him to HURRY because Turkey Burger was on her way out. A few miserable contractions later, I explained that I really couldn’t do this much longer. I’d been waiting to push for about 30 minutes. While I couldn’t feel pain, not pushing felt impossible because of the intense pressure. It was about that time that he rushed in, and I was able to start pushing. 

How Do You Push Less When You Can’t Feel Anything?

I pushed through two contractions before he told me to scale back the pushing to 50% for the third round.  However, my epidural was WAY too heavy, and I didn’t have the foggiest idea how to push less. I also didn’t GAF because it had been 21 hours, and I was pretty much over it. When you can’t feel a dang thing, it’s hard to remember how bad you can wreck yourself in the process.

I remember my doctor saying during my third pushing contraction that she was crowning and totally bald.  Hubs was whispering encouraging things in my ear, and I LOVED pushing. I pushed for a total of maybe 10 minutes, and then she came into this world, blue and beautiful. 

A Rocky First Few Minutes

Turkey’s cord was short, and she couldn’t reach very far up on my belly.  We requested a delayed cord clamping and the doctor let it go for a couple of minutes. Very shortly after, he told Hubs he couldn’t wait any more, because Turkey Burger wasn’t tolerating these moments very well.  She was still quite blue and not crying, so Hubs cut the cord and she relocated to the warmer.  Her Apgar scores were 6 and then 8. 

Later that evening, a lactation consultant noticed that T.B. was gagging quite a bit while trying to latch. She still had a TON of amniotic fluid in her lungs. The LC began patting her back VERY aggressively, and out came tons of amniotic fluid from her little body.  We were astounded by the volume. Evidently, when pushing goes quickly, babies are sometimes unable to clear the fluid themselves.

Once she was cleaned up, our little Turkey Burger looked absolutely beautiful, and she was surprisingly darker complected than both of us.  Her little head was perfectly round and her skin was clear of any splotchiness often seen in newborns. It looked like labor and delivery had been easy for her.

Even at 2 weeks early, she was an ounce shy of 8 pounds and 20 inches long. Interestingly, over time her skin lightened up to the same super-fair complexion shared by her parents. I didn’t realize newborn skin tone could change over a few months’ time. 

Recovering from a Premature Rupture of Membranes Labor

I was completely zapped by labor and delivery.  At times, I felt emotionally numb in the 24-48 hours that followed. I was in quite a bit of pain but was being hard headed about taking medicine. Turkey Burger cluster nursed for 5 hours straight on night two and I ended up with cracked and bleeding nipples.  

Third degree tears are so hard to manage, and my doctor and nurses warned mine was especially bad. So Hubs changed every diaper and learned from the nurses how to bathe and swaddle her.  Other than feeding her, he did almost everything to meet her needs while I tried to rest as much as possible. 

Hubs had been so scared about being a girl dad all throughout my pregnancy. Once he laid eyes on the Turkey, he was completely hooked. And that’s a good thing, because I struggled quite a bit in my adjustment to motherhood.

Becoming a Mama

I suffered from baby blues more than I expected. I’ve always had excellent mental health, but my first sweet girl rocked my world. My hormones felt “off” and I cried pretty much daily. Before having a baby, I cried maybe once a month. I became sort of obsessed with Googling all things related to nursing, because I didn’t know what was normal. I didn’t have friends who had nursed any babies, so I just became my own expert. I worried a whole heck of a lot. My mom kept reminding me that nursing was optional, but once I decide to do something, I can be pretty ornery.

Looking back on it, I might have benefited from a short course of antidepressants, but over the course of about 3-4 months, I straightened out on my own. I was blown away by how much my world had changed. While I usually tolerate change quite well, I underestimated how big of a deal it would be to sacrifice so much of myself and my time for this new person. People don’t talk about that much; maybe that’s because it sounds selfish. Motherhood is so worth it, but it’s so hard, too.

She taught me so much in her first year of life, and she’s still teaching me today.  

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