So, this birth story really started here, during those dreadfully long and tiresome "fixin' to start" prelabor days. That last post was on the 25th, and the 26th I think was pretty much more of the same. Then things puttered out. Even the puttery stuff puttered. I seemed to be doing next to nothing at all. I mentally resigned myself to being induced.
The night of the 28th, which was Memorial Day, things started again. Around 7pm I started having pretty strong contractions, and they seemed to last longer than the previous ones. That was in the middle of our usual evening chaos, so I couldn't time anything right then, but just continued on with the usual evening routine. John had worked that day, and he was supposed to work the next day, which meant he needed to go to bed early, so I said little of it to him. I really felt like these were strong and long-lasting enough to be it, but I had said that before and it wasn't it...I wanted him to go to bed and sleep well. Either way, he was going to need it!
Eventually the kids were in bed and I was watching TV with Maria. It was around 10pm. The contractions were still going consistently, but the strength varied depending on my position. They were strongest when I was sitting. I decided to go on up to bed and see what happened. Maria came upstairs to say goodnight at 10:30, and I told her that they were getting stronger, strong enough to have to breathe through, and that I might be waking her up soon! She was very excited but I warned her to say nothing to Dad if she should see him, just in case.
At that point I started timing a few. They were coming 3 or 4 minutes apart and lasting 40-50 seconds. This felt like it, but after all the false starts I was afraid to officially "call it". I decided it was better to continue to let John sleep anyway. I didn't want to wake anyone up. I didn't want my parents to have to wake up Kain and drive all the way here in the middle of the night...but of course I didn't want to wait too long to call either. It's hard to tell, when you are in labor, when you will need something two hours ahead of time. I was hoping to fall asleep and maybe wake up in the early morning hours in harder labor and call in the troops. Instead I stewed about the state of the house and wished I had kept up with things better once we entered this baby-waiting limbo...
At 1am, I decided not to wait any longer. The contractions were stronger and lasting about a minute. I was afraid to wait too much longer to call my parents. They live an hour and a half away, not counting "getting out the door" time. I woke up John and a little later, Maria. We kept the secret well from John, he was very surprised! It was about 3:30 by the time we left for the hospital.
Our arrival was a bit hysterical. John dropped Maria and I off at the door of the birthing center and went to go park. I walked up to the sliding doors expectantly, and they didn't open! I pushed on them....nothing. Weren't they supposed to be open? Such a thing had never occurred to me. The birthing center was attached to the main hospital. But it was quite a distance from the ER entrance. Surely they didn't intend for laboring moms to come that way? I looked around for a sign or something to tell us what to do...nothing. A couple of minutes passed while Maria and John walked around and we debated what to do. I was starting to feel a bit shrieky. Suddenly a security vehicle came driving up and unlocked the door. He had seen us on the security cameras. I never did find out why the door was locked. Maybe they always do it that way during the night? Not sure why...the birthing unit is behind locked doors anyway. Trying to keep people from stealing the lobby furniture?
Anyway, once we were finally inside, we managed to get upstairs to the triage room without further incident. The nurse did all her admitting stuff and checked me. I was barely 3cm dilated, she said. She wanted to hook me up to a monitor for a bit and see how things progressed before admitting me in case this wasn't "it", but I wasn't really worried about that anymore. This was "it"...I was sure. And I knew the contractions were strong enough that it wouldn't be long. I told her I needed to pee first, and I hoped maybe my water would break in the bathroom,,,no such luck. However, as soon as I lay down in bed....everywhere. Tons. Never seen so much. I had hydramnios, I knew that, but wow!, what a lot of water, and it just kept coming. It also had a bit of meconium in it, which I knew could be not a great sign...it can mean that the baby is stressed for some reason.
With that, I was there to stay. They admitted me to a regular room, attached all their monitors and such, started an IV, all that stuff. I labored a bit, not too hard, really, and so I was surprised when they came to check me around 8am and told me I was 8 centimeters dilated. My own doctor came in...she wasn't on call during the night, but now it was Tuesday morning. The baby looked pretty good on the monitor. So I labored, still surprised it wasn't more intense. Time passed. I was checked. I labored some more. The contractions spaced out more but got stronger. I was checked again. The baby started to show signs of stress. More and more, her heart rate didn't recover after a contraction. And I stayed at 8 centimeters. For hours. My parents, when they had heard how fast I was progressing earlier that morning, rushed in with the other kids, certain birth was imminent. The contractions grew stronger and stronger until there was no doubt I was in transition. The baby continued to not do well. An internal monitor was placed, oxygen was given, and I had to lie on my side...still, 8 centimeters. Not only that, the baby wasn't even moving down.
At 12pm or so (my sense of time gets loopy here), the doctor came in again to check me...a sweaty, quivering mess clinging to the bedrail. 8 damned centimeters for four hours. We had had some scary points were the baby's heart rate stopped altogether for too long for comfort. I spent each crushing contraction praying and listening for that putput putput to return. I knew I was losing my natural birth. I knew I was getting a c-section. I didn't care anymore, because I was scared for my baby. My doctor knew how much I didn't want one though. She offered the option of trying some pitocin. My contractions were still kinda spaced out. Maybe bringing them closer would help? I didn't want that though. The baby was obviously stressed, pitocin would only stress her more. So she suggested an epidural. Maybe the relaxation would help her move down. I agreed to try it. If I had a c-section, I would need one anyway.
The epidural was lovely, a welcome relief after so many hours of contractions. It was odd...I could feel the contractions, feel that they were very strong, but they were fairly painless. I dozed, I labored,,,,but still, 8 centimeters. My doctor came in and checked me,,,with the epidural she could do this during the contractions and get a better feel of what was going on. The baby's head was positioned badly,,,turned kinda diagonally and not positioned well over the cervix. She was going to try to manually get the rest of the cervix out of the way and turn the baby's head while I pushed with the contractions to help things along. If that doesn't sound pretty, I assure you, it wasn't. But because of the epidural, I really didn't feel much. It was exhausting though, and took about an hour. I remember a roomful of people...my doctor and two nurses by me, a pediatrician and two nurses waiting for baby, and all watching me tensely when they weren't glancing around at each other...except the doctor. I kept looking at her for a sign of what she thought, but she has a great poker face, that one...they were expecting the baby to have problems though. There's not usually that many scrubs present at a vaginal delivery. My mom and Maria were behind the doctor, John was with me, and we pushed and prayed for what felt like eternity. Then lo and behold, she started moving down! Once her head was turned right, out she came,,,with the cord three times around her neck. No wonder she couldn't position herself! She was born at 2:39pm.
For all that, she did perfectly well...no problems at all. Her head was pretty battered and sore though. She would cry hard every time I tried to adjust her head to nurse. She was rather miserable and unhappy to be here the rest of that first day. She nursed furiously and squinched up her eyes and face like she was trying to escape it all. But the next day, she opened up and we really got to meet her. We both went home the following evening.