I thought I should write this down soon, as bits and pieces of it are already starting to slip from my mind. It really does feel like an eternity ago.
Saturday April 3oth was my due date. All weekend I had been having contractions on and off and at varying degrees of intensity. Monday the contractions really started up strong, and were coming quite regularly, though still far apart (12-15 minutes). That afternoon I had a doctors appointment (40 weeks, 2 days), where the doctor told me and Russ that I was definitely in the early stages of labor, did a membrane sweep, and told me he would be really shocked if I wasn’t holding my baby that evening or the following day. He also said if for some reason I made it to Thursday to call the office and schedule an induction. I knew immediately that we would not be making it to Thursday.
After the membrane sweep the cramping and contractions started getting really heavy and much closer together. I timed them on and off most of the evening after our appointment (contractionmaster.com). They were pretty steadily at 8-12 minutes apart for the whole evening, so around ten or eleven I decided to get into bed and try to get some rest. The contractions woke me about an hour or two later, and after failing to fall back asleep I went out to the living room and decided to try timing them again. Still 8-12 minutes apart. I turned on the TV, and retired there for the night, not getting any more sleep due to the painful contractions.
The next morning was about the same, still quite strong contractions, but the time between contractions had only slightly decreased. I told Russ to go to work, since he works only ten minutes away from home, and that I would call him if anything changed. Throughout the day the contractions increased in strength and started getting closer together. In the afternoon I started getting a few that began to knock the wind out of me. Around two thirty that afternoon Russ called to see how I was doing and said he was coming home to take me to the hospital no matter what. It was a good choice on his part, because shortly after that contractions started coming about 4-5 minutes apart.
We got to the hospital around 3 PM, where they examined me and told us that I was 4 cm dilated. This surprised me, I really thought I would be pregnant forever, and that they would send me home despite all the heavy contractions I was feeling. They sent me up to a birthing room where the whole ordeal began.
This is where everything starts to become a bit foggy.
Throughout my entire pregnancy I had maintained that I wanted to have as natural childbirth as possible. I would have loved to do it at home but that didn’t pan out due to insurance. I also didn’t want to have any drugs to help mask the pain. One of the first questions they asked me when they got me set up in bed was if I wanted an epidural. I was honest and told her I originally hadn’t but am now on the fence about it. The nurse was really nice and brought in a video, which they require you to watch before you get one, just in case I wanted to get it at a later point in labor.
I held off for a little while, hoping the progression of dilation would increase quickly (and afraid that the epidural would slow it), but at some point I caved. I got too tired to try to cope with the pain myself. If I had a full nights sleep the previous night it may have been different, but my body felt more physically exhausted than I think I have ever felt in my life. The nurse told me she was surprised at the length of the contractions I was having, and that they really dragged on. That they did. I think some of them may have been upwards of a minute and a half to two minutes in length. The doctor came in to do the epidural. I was a bit nervous, as I have heard that it was incredibly painful, but in comparison to the contractions it was easy peasy. As soon as it was in the clouds lifted, the angels started singing, and I finally felt like I could catch my breath again. About thirty minutes later, and after numerous attempts to increase the amount of medication myself, the pain started creeping back up, and the nurse noticed. She called the doctor back in and he redid the epidural. I was too tired at this point to even hear if he mentioned what went wrong the first time, I was just happy he got there and my pain was lifted once again. After the second epidural things got much easier to handle. I was not completely pain free, which I was okay with, but it definitely took away the majority of the pain I was feeling.
I can’t remember what time things were happening in the room, but the second epidural was probably around 9 PM, but I could be horribly wrong about that. Around 10 or 11 PM another nurse came in and broke my water to speed up the process. I think I finally hit 10 cm around 1 AM, but after a few practice pushes the nurse decided to wait another hour to see if she would descend on her own, since she was still quite high. I am not sure if she came down any, but around 2 AM I started pushing for reals. I couldn’t tell from the nurses reaction if we were making any progress, I just pushed when she said push, and was quiet the rest of the time. After about an hour the nurse said, “she has brown hair!”, which I thought meant we were very close. Nope. I pushed for another hour, with still no real progress. This little girl was stubborn, and in the two hours I had been pushing nothing had changed. The nurse told me to rest for a bit while she went and got a doctor to come evaluate the progress. During this time I started getting increasingly cold and my body started to shake. I suddenly felt nauseous, and no matter how many blankets were wrapped around me I couldn’t seem to get warm. Now mind you I hadn’t had anything to eat since lunch time the previous day, before Russ came home and whisked me off to the hospital. I got sick, really sick. I threw up for what seemed like ten minutes. Once I stopped the nurse took my temperature. I think I remember her saying it was over 101° F. At this point the baby’s heartbeat started dropping. Given the lack of progress that I had made pushing, and the baby’s lowered heartbeat, the nurse and the doctor who was in the room now also told me it was either C-section or the vacuum. I wanted to cry when I heard that. I wanted so badly to be able to do this on my own, but given the turn of events those were my options. I opted for the vacuum, as I wanted to at all cost avoid having surgery. The doctor told me I only had three pushes with the vacuum before they would go in for a C-section, so I had to push with every last ounce of strength that I had.
The vacuum team came in, as well as people from the nursery who were there to evaluate Lucy’s health due to my fever. There were probably eight or nine people in the room besides Russ and myself, but somehow it didn’t even phase me. I think I was just so exhausted and wanted so badly to hold my baby that they could have broadcasted it on television and I wouldn’t have cared. Anyhow, we made it. I think she came out on the second or third push, I was so delirious at that time I can’t even remember.
Lucille was born early May 4th at 5:27 AM. They put her on my chest, and it was a moment of pure bliss. She lifted her head for a few seconds and looked at me, and though I know she probably couldn’t have seen me yet, that moment everything in our little world was right. I cried. Russ cried. I was no longer tired (though you can’t tell from the bags under my eyes in the photo!). All I wanted was to hold my baby and stare at her. She was born with a pretty high fever so they took her from me immediately to run some tests, but everything felt right.
Looking back the events surrounding her birth seem so dramatic, and not at all what I had hoped for, but it doesn’t matter to me. Even while it was going on I still felt calm. I always see women in labor on TV yelling out curse words or screaming in agony. It wasn’t like that for me. I found myself to be quite calm through the entire labor, both before and after the epidural. Even with my heaviest contractions I hardly made any noise other than very heavy breathing and maybe a few small “oooohs”. Somehow despite how things panned out I feel we still had a very peaceful birth, and that is all I really wanted.