I still haven’t quite forgiven wordpress for deleting my post last night. It was long and definitely the complete story, and I feel bad that you’re probably getting the more abbreviated version tonight because I don’t feel like typing it all up again.
Labor officially started right about 12:30 Saturday morning, just as I was crawling into bed to try to sleep. M went ahead and dozed for two hours while I timed contractions, trying to decide for sure if it was labor. They went from about ten minutes apart at first to three to four minutes apart by the time I woke him up two hours later. We quickly finished throwing in the last few things I needed packed and contacted our neighbors who would be watching PJ. I think it’s interesting that this whole time, we were both incredibly calm. I was in pain, but it was tolerable, and we knew what was going on. My labor was progressing by the book, which meant we had plenty of time to get to the hospital.
It was a slow night in labor and delivery, so they didn’t bother doing triage when they heard how far apart the contractions were and put me straight in a room. Within minutes, they’d taken a history and put me in a hospital gown. Then they checked me to discover I was already five cm along. For a few hours, I coped with the ever-increasing pain pretty well. I was talking and joking between most of the contractions, but we were noticing already that sometimes I wouldn’t completely recover from one before the next hit. I think that’s why things got as bad as they did early in the morning.
It was about 5:30 when I broke my own rule and mentioned the word epidural for the first time. As I’d asked M to do, he suggested I wait fifteen minutes and see how I could cope during that time. Fifteen minutes later, I was begging for the epidural and trying not to vomit the acid I couldn’t seem to control. It was quickly getting overwhelming to me. Needless to say, I wasn’t pleased when I discovered the bloodwork they had already taken had disappeared, and we had to wait to get more blood taken and analyzed before even calling the anesthesiologist. Finally, an hour later the epidural guy got there, just minutes after I’d agreed to some IV drug to help “take the edge off,” as they put it (really, it just made me stop caring about the pain as much).
This was about the same time as what I call my purple haze. I don’t remember many details from about an hour in there because of the pain. Most of what I know is what M has told me since. All I can remember is purple. Weird, I know. It turns out that the epidural didn’t go in easily, so apparently I was sitting up on the side of the bed for a really long time while trying to cope with contraction after contraction. It also seems that I got a little rude during this period. I’m just glad I don’t remember that part.
Finally, there was blessed relief. M and I both took the opportunity to doze as we waited for me to dilate from 7 cm to the full ten. The blinds to the window were open directly in front of me, and I watched the sun rise between sleepy moments. Then all of a sudden, I felt a trickle. I thought at first the catheter had leaked–I was paranoid about the whole concept for some reason–but finally convinced myself it was most likely my water breaking and called a nurse.
The nurse quickly confirmed it was my water and that it had meconium in it. She checked me–9 cm now–and started debating with another nurse about how much extra help they should bring in for BabyN because of the meconium. Suddenly I felt something large and round nearly fall out of me. I tried not to panic that it was his head as I got the nurse’s attention and begged her to check me again. She also immediately panicked that it was the head and called the doctor to get to the hospital pronto. Of course, as soon as she had, she discovered it was actually the rest of my bag of waters that had suddenly fallen through and that BabyN’s head was still pretty high.
All along on and off through this part, they’d had me on pitocin, and that continued right up to the delivery. They would put me on it to help me progress a little faster, but then BabyN’s heartbeat would drop too much so they’d take me back off it. Every time I was on it again, the heartbeat dropped again. Even the oxygen and frequent position changes weren’t making a difference, so they were at a loss what to do.
I think that’s why I ended up pushing at 9 cm to get that last centimeter to go away a little faster. I pushed for a long time before the doctor checked me, since she was hanging out there anyway. She discovered that although BabyN’s head had come down quite a bit, all the pushing had swollen me up too much down there and exhausted me. She suggested that I stop pushing for a little while and let gravity and the contractions do what they could to bring the head down the rest of the way.
This was the most uncomfortable part of the delivery, post-epidural. I could feel that constant pressure and need to push, even though I didn’t have the energy to push. I tried to doze again while we waited, but it was very difficult with that pressure. Finally the nurse came and checked again to find that BabyN really was right there. And pushing commenced again. By now, I was beyond exhausted and felt like I couldn’t make it through each push. I felt like each push was less effective than the last, and I was getting very discouraged.
Then with one push, I could feel the head right there and I gave it all I had. And there was another sudden rush in my room as the doctor hurried in and nurses quickly prepared the room for delivery. One nurse was assigned to holding BabyN’s head in case he suddenly slid out and encouraging me NOT to push for a couple of minutes. That was agonizing because I could feel how close relief was and I couldn’t do anything to help it.
Finally the doctor was ready and I could push again. It was only one or two pushes and BabyN’s head emerged. I desperately wanted to go ahead and push the rest of him out, but the doctor asked me not to. They had to clear out his mouth and nose first because of the meconium. The doctor and nurses were also amazed that they had to unloop the cord from around his neck three times. Apparently that’s highly unusual. I wasn’t pushing at all during this time, but apparently he kept trying to slide out anyway because they kept reminding me not to push. When they finally told me to push again, I couldn’t get the right pressure to push him out, but regardless I had a baby squirming on my belly just seconds later.
This was the most amazing moment of the day. I was only inches from his face, and I watched as he opened his eyes for the first time and looked right at me. I fell in love immediately and hated when they had to take him across the room to clean him up.
We still didn’t get the totally normal bonding experience after the birth because they wanted to take BabyN to the nursery to check him out after that traumatic birth sooner rather than later, but M got lots of pictures as they cleaned him up (and sewed me up–as the epidural was wearing off–ouch!) and we had a few photos with him before M carried him to the nursery.
And I could keep going with all the events after the birth, but it seems like a good place to stop for tonight. Overall, it was a good birth experience, even if it didn’t go quite as I’d hoped it would. What’s most interesting is that although I was really wanting a natural birth, I don’t feel the least bit of regret for caving and getting an epidural. I’d clearly reached the end of my tolerance, and I can remember much more of the birth itself because of the pain medication. It was a good experience, even if you don’t hear me lamenting I want to go through that again any time soon.