Birth of Alice – Monday morning, 24th of December 2012

Monday, 24th of December 2012, 2:40 am, Leeloo woke up to go pee, I half-open an eye. Everything was normal.
– Love? she said after a while.
– Yes? trying to figure out what was happening.
– We need to go.

A small shot of adrenaline went across my body.
– What’s going on? I said, a little surprised.
– My water just broke…

Leaving for the maternity ward

Let’s think calmly, nothing is worse than acting urgently in a emergency. The midwife advised us to leave for the hospital in the next two or three hours after the water broke. We still had some time left to think and plan.

The contractions were regular, about every 7 minutes, but not frequent enough to effectively dilate the cervix.
– My water is pinkish, I don’t know if it is normal, I would like to go to the hospital, confessed Leeloo, a little worried.
– Why don’t you call them and take advice? Maybe this is perfectly normal.

Leeloo called the Orsay hospital. The pink color of the water is quite normal actually. One should be concerned if it contains too much blood, as the water must stay “clear”. I guess the concept of “clear water” is obvious to any student or former student of medicine, but it is more disturbing for a primiparous (a woman giving birth for the first time).

We agreed to prepare our stuff quietly and check twice so that we do not forget anything. The hospital told Leeloo she could take her time to come in, but not “several hours”.

I told Leeloo to eat her breakfast, some hospitals totally forbid women to drink or eat while in labor, in case of a general anesthesia to be performed (which is extremely rare nowadays).

While Leeloo was eating, I gathered my stuff. We might have to stand up for the next 24 hours waiting for Alice to come, even though I hoped we would not. Because Leeloo and I were exhausted after the last two short nights of sleep. I packed some clothes, a book, the camera, some cookies and orange juice to get some energy and I plugged my cellphone in for a last battery charge…

The dilatation of the cervix

We arrived at the maternity ward of Orsay Hospital at 4 am, we were welcomed by one of the night shift midwives and she verified that the water did really break and labor had begun.

The first verdict came at 4:40 am, after a half-hour monitoring to measure the baby’s heart rate and the intensity of the contractions. The cervix was opened at two fingers and a half, but the contractions were still a little irregular, about every 5 minutes.

During the dilatation of the cervix, it is customary to measure the progress in fingers, simply because it is one of the rare tools simple enough to get to this remote place, the very end of the vagina. This is not particularly nice to be examined at regular intervals by different midwives (at least I think, I have not had the pleasure to check), but the midwives team at Orsay were really respectful and always waited until the contractions stopped.

The delivery was really coming, we were to stay here for a few days… Leeloo was a little afraid that the hospital protocol was too strict, and that the delivery had to follow a specific procedure, but the midwife who greeted us listened carefully to Leeloo’s birth plan: she wanted to deliver without the epidural (if she could endure it) and give birth laid on the side, as she felt more comfortable breathing and pushing this way during the preparation classes!

Leeloo put some music to calm down and focus on something other than her pain: Harmonium, Nobuo Uematsu. The music was calm and reassuring and really helped bear the growing pain of contractions.

We stayed in the delivery room until the arrival of the morning shift. The contractions became more painful so we tried to walk a little and use a gym ball to relieve the pain. Leeloo focused on breathing during the contractions, a deep breath from the lower abdomen to the chest and long exhalations.

8 am. Another check of the dilatation: three fingers and a half. One finger in 3 hours and 20 minutes, oh boy, it was going to be a long day… The midwife tried to reassure us and explain that once dilated to 5, labor usually goes a lot faster.

We had to leave the delivery room and join the bedroom Leeloo will share with a young mother whose baby boy was born the day before. We quickly settled and went on a walk to discover the rest of the hospital. Once the labor starts, one can walk and move to help the dilatation go quicker.

Wandering the halls of the hospital with regular and painful contractions is not an easy task. The contractions repeated every three to four minutes. When a contraction came, Leeloo stood up, bent with both arms stretched against the wall and pushed with all her forces while I was massaging her lower back. At that time, the pain became more difficult to bear, Leeloo was afraid not to be able to cope with the pain for the rest of the day. We already spent 8 hours at the hospital after all…

So we chose to climb the five flights of stairs to speed things up. We regularly paused to admire the view of the Place de la Mairie d’Orsay through the windows, eat a few hazelnuts and relax a bit between each contraction.
We asked for another check ot the cervix at 11:30 am, it was opened at 5 and a half, so it dilated two fingers in 3 hours and a half. It was a bit faster than before, but still well below the hospital reference which is one “finger” per hour… Still a long way to go.

Little Alice, when will you arrive?

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