Note: This is a long post, and our pictures aren't the best because we didn't have the flash on in the hospital.
During my entire pregnancy, Pat often slept on the couch. You see, he is a snorer. And this snoring would often wake me from my pleasant sleep (that I so rarely got because of trips to the bathroom etc...) so he would sleep on the couch and leave me to our queen size bed. Although I missed cuddling with him, it was a really nice thing for him to do.
At midnight on January 9, 2013 I woke up with some pretty strong contractions. I had been through this before, so I tried my best to go back to sleep, but continuing to wake up with each contraction as it got stronger. I still wasn't buying it though. It was at 2 am when I was fed up with trying to sleep through the pain. I walked out to the couch to see if Pat wanted to come to bed (which I frequently did because I didn't want to sleep alone). After he agreed to come to bed, I told him that I was having some pretty strong contractions. At that point we both decided to stay awake and time them... again. They were becoming more regular and stronger and I was having to focus to breath through them.
Because I was in false labor 2 weeks prior, a nurse gave me the number to the nurse's station at the hospital so we didn't have to wake Dr. Leonard. We called and they said they sounded like labor but to wait at home as long as possible. We stopped timing the contractions and tried to sleep some more. I laid in bed and stared at the lights reflecting off the pool onto our bedroom wall. It was strangely beautiful and peaceful.
I couldn't pretend to sleep anymore so Pat and I jumped into the shower and tried to relax. He held onto me and rubbed my back as each contraction hit me. It was more soothing than I thought. I could have stayed in there all day but I didn't want to stand up anymore though. I bath may have been a better choice.
After the shower, I thought we should head to the hospital, and by this time it was 8 am. Pat packed up the car, a grabbed my physio ball and we were on our way again. Pat was dying to text everyone, but I told him to hold off until we knew if we were admitted or not. I didn't want to be setting up false hopes for everyone else. We talked and laughed all the way to the hospital and made up stories about the two cab drivers who appeared to be arguing through their windows at a stop light. We weren't in a rush, which made things much calmer than one sees in the movies.
We found a parking spot fairly close to the door but it also felt nice to walk. Half way to the door, a contraction hit and Pat just held and hugged me until it passed. We checked in at the ER and were taken up to triage. Pat's excitement was too much and he had to text our family to let them know what was going on.
After I was hooked up to all the monitors, the contractions became less regular. Deja vu. But, my blood pressure was high enough for the nurse to call my doctor. He requested they do blood work on me and test a urine sample. The fear of preeclampsia from the day before was rearing its ugly head again. The nurse checked me in the mean time and I had dilated to 3 cm which was 2 more than I was the day before. These contractions were actually doing something! The nurse told us that my doctor wanted to induce with pitocin. My heart dropped. I DID NOT want to be induced. This was certainly not in my birth plan. I asked her if we could do the "bulb thing." She said we are already past that point. She also said the gels were not an option because my doctor was too conservative. (I think she did not like him).
The nurse seemed to have little patience for these tests, wanting to induce me and my doctor. She wanted to send me home. But my doctor was adamant and worried. He stopped by the triage "room" (read: uncomfortable bed with curtain around it and no privacy) and I have never felt such relief. He looked at my contractions and said they were becoming more regular again. He said he would give me an hour to see if I would progress on my own. If not, they would administer the pitocin. "I am keeping you here. You are having the baby today."
Excitement and terror swept through my body. I have read too many birth stories about induced labor. I knew this was going to hurt. We were moved into our roomy and private room in Labor and Delivery. I willed my body to do it on its own. I tried to relax and meditate through each contraction because I knew if I did that, my body could do what it needed to do. I should have taken some damn hypno-birthing classes! I didn't progress. Our new L & D nurse started to put my IV in in my right arm. Holy shit it hurt! Then she blew the vein and had to do the same in my left arm. (The bruises have just now disappeared 3 weeks later). The pitocin started into my veins.
We talked to the new nurse about our doctor and she told us how much she liked him. She told us of a few birth stories that he delivered, which made me more sure of our choice to have him as our doctor. I also told her about my fear of this labor going all wrong and that I would have to have a C-Section. She shook her head and said everything is on track and I needn't worry about that at all. Pat and I both felt relieved hearing her say that.
The contractions became unbearable. I was required to lay on my left side because the baby's heart rate went down when I was on my back. This seemed to make the contractions worse. The bed railings took the brunt of my pain. I squeezed them for dear life and could not seem to breath through anything. Pat did all he could and held my hand between contractions. I couldn't comfortably hold his hand during the contractions because of all my tubes hooked into my arm.
The nurse checked me about 30 minutes after the pitocin was in my veins and I had dilated another cm. It was progress, but not as much as they wanted to see. At this point I asked for the epidural. Before arriving at the hospital I wasn't sure if I was going to do the epidural or not. I really wanted the experience of feeling labor. Well, felt it I had and I was ready to be a little more comfortable. I also knew that if I had the epidural, my body would be able to do what it needed to do. I was too tense because of the pain, and that was going to make my labor even longer.
Once my nurse had gotten the "okay" from my doctor, the anesthesiologist came in to administer the epidural. I have been afraid of that needle going into my back since I saw it on "A Birth Story" years ago. I mean, I was terrified. But, what I did know was that there was no way it was going to hurt worse than what I had been experiencing for the last 11 hours. I had to control my shaking so he could properly stick it into my spine, as well as ignore the contraction I was having at the time. (The IV hurt worse than the epidural)
The sensation was strange once the drugs had worked their way into my body. I actually said "I feel like my bum is asleep," to everyone in the room. I was slightly embarrassed after the words came out. But soon after that, all embarrassment and modesty went out the door for me. Apparently, when one has an epidural, one also receives a catheter. Okay, that was when my modesty went out the door. I don't often show my hoo-ha to the world, but the nurse sees them EVERY day and I was nothing special. That is what I had to tell myself... it kind of worked. I am a very modest person.
Once I was comfortable and resting, Pat went into the waiting room to visit with his mom. I laid in the bed trying to sleep because I didn't know how much energy I would have with the lack of sleep from the previous night. But then the nurse came in a little frantic and had me lay on my left side again and put an oxygen mask on me. She started telling me that baby's heart rate was dropping at the end of my contractions. This deceleration is very dangerous for the baby. I started to panic, worried about my unborn son. We had come so far! Pat walked into the room seeing the oxygen on me. He knew something had changed and it wasn't good. I couldn't talk, in a state of shock I suppose. The nurse tried to explain, but started in the middle, ultimately Pat was lost too. She stopped the pitocin, thinking this may be the cause of the deceleration. A few short moments later Dr. Leonard arrived from his office where he had been monitoring me. I could tell he was concerned again and he started to explain things to us. "I am going to break your water and we are going to put internal monitors on the baby. These will give us a more accurate reading of the baby's heart rate. If the deceleration doesn't stop, we are going to have to do a C-Section," he said matter-of-factly.
All I could do was look at Pat. I was praying at that moment he could see into my soul and know my terror. I knew if I reacted the way my heart wanted me to, I would be hysterical. A C-Section was not in my birth plan. I was terrified of the surgery. I was terrified of not being able to hold my baby boy on my chest immediately after birth. I was terrified something was happening to him. I was terrified that I had no control over the situation. My thoughts kept going back to the pitocin. I was angry with myself for being induced. Maybe if I had been more adamant about waiting we wouldn't be here, on the verge of emergency surgery. Maybe if we had stayed home longer... But I knew my raised heart rate was a danger for him as well. I couldn't control it one way or the other. We just had to get him out safely.
Dr. Leonard broke my water and put the monitors in. Pat held my hand while silent tears fell down my face. Pat assured me that one way or the other, everything would be okay. I had no choice but to believe him.
After monitoring the baby with the internal monitors for a while, the nurse came in saying it looks like his heart rate is back to normal and we wouldn't have to have a C-Section. Relief fell over me and I started crying again. She kept the oxygen on me as a precaution.
A short time later I started to feel that pressure that everyone talks about, the one that feels like a bowl movement... I told the nurse and she checked me. "Wow, he is right there." Our little guy decided to start the journey on his own. She had me do a few practice pushes, then called in my doctor.
They explained to me how I needed to push properly and then we waited for the next contraction. I was able to feel the pressure of them at this point and knew where I needed to direct the push. Everyone was cheering me on which made me feel like a champion. Pat counted for me. After the first 2 contractions and 6 pushes, the nurse said she could see his hair color. Pat and I looked at each other and smiled. He thought it would be blonde, well we both did.
After 15 minutes total, 2 more contractions and 3 more pushes (9 pushes total) our little guy had entered the world! He had brown hair (still does) and he was still covered in vernix. The nurse put him on my chest immediately while the doctor prepared the umbilical cord for Pat to cut. We were both elated and sobbing. We had waited for this moment for a very long 9 months.
He was 7.4 lbs, 19 inches and perfectly healthy.