|First family photo that didn't involve me in a hospital bed|
On Friday, May 27th, I went to my OBGYN for a "fetal non-stress test" to make sure that the baby was still doing ok, since we were almost a week past my due date. Everything looked fine, and I went home happy because I had convinced my doctor to push back my induction date to the following Thursday, just to give things a little more time to get started on their own. My doctor still said that she didn't think I'd make it until then, but I was getting a little worried, because I had been 3-4 cm dilated for almost a month without having any other real labor signs.
That evening, we went out for dinner with my mom and future sister-in-law, who was on her last day of her visit to Austin. I was REALLY uncomfortable at dinner, trying to sit and eat in a normal posture around my belly. I told Jeromy afterwards that I didn't think I could go out to eat anymore, it was just too uncomfortable. We took a short walk, also very uncomfortable, and I spent more time that night sitting and bouncing on the exercise ball, also to try to get labor going.
We turned in pretty early, and as we were getting ready for bed, I told Jeromy that I was having weird and pretty intense back pain that was coming and going, but that it surely couldn't be early labor, because Dr. Hart had told me several times that the baby was in the right position (head down, face towards my back) so I shouldn't be having the much dreaded "back labor." Jeromy fell right asleep, as always, but I was so uncomfortable that I couldn't sleep and got up again at about 11. I started trying to use the contraction timer that we had downloaded on our phones, but it seemed really weird to be timing pain that was in my back. I was also confused that the contractions seemed longer and closer together than they should be in pre-labor; some of them were already 1 or 2 minutes long and occasionally came right on top of each other. I don't even remember what all I did for a few hours, but at about 1:30 I decided to work on finishing up the hospital packing, just in case. By 2 a.m. I was feeling kind of out of it and in enough pain that I was having trouble packing, so I went ahead and woke up Jeromy. He doesn't exactly wake up and get going easily, so he was kind of stumbling around, too. Shortly after he woke up, I started throwing up, which really freaked me out and made me worry about getting dehydrated. Jeromy kept asking if it might just be food poisoning, but I decided to go ahead and call the doula hotline. I felt awful for waking the doula (Amy) up...she sounded so sleepy! She gave me some tips for dealing with back labor, and listened to me go through a few contractions. Since I was still pretty much able to talk through them, she told us to call back when I couldn't. By the time Amy called back at 3:30, I was in a lot more pain, and the contractions were pretty long, although I had kind of given up using the timer. She decided to head on out to our house, so Jeromy and I went ahead and both took showers and tried to work on packing. The warm shower seemed to help with the pain, so I decided to try a warm bath for a while. Jeromy let the dog out of her kennel, and went to watch for Amy so that she wouldn't ring the door bell and wake up my mom and Victoria. As soon as Amy got here, she told Jeromy to either eat something or take a nap, so he went to sleep on the couch while she came in to be with me in our bedroom. I spent the next couple of hours laboring in bed, in the bathtub, and various place in between when a contraction hit me. The dog snuck upstairs and woke my mom up, who immediately knew something was going on and came downstairs, although she left to take Victoria to the airport at 5:30. She came in and out a few times to see how I was doing, but by that point I was not very coherent.
Amy kept getting me to change positions; I hadn't realized that the worse a contraction feels in a certain position, the more effective it probably is. She was really great about helping me breathe and stay hydrated, especially after I got sick again. Around 6:30, I started feeling really miserable; I was terrified of how I was going to feel on the 25 minute car ride to the hospital, and I was feeling like I couldn't take it much more...an epidural was starting to sound pretty appealing. At that point I was probably starting to go into transition, which is the most intense part of labor. I had Amy wake up Jeromy, and somehow we got me dressed and got everything into the car. They put me in the back seat so I could lay down if I wanted, and Amy followed us in her car. Amazingly, the car ride wasn't too bad; I only had a few really bad contractions, and then we were there. Because it was still early, we had to go in through the E.R. As soon as I got out of the car, I had a really awful contraction, dropped my purse, and leaned against the car moaning for a minute or so. Luckily, a security guard who was driving around saw me, pulled over, and ran to get a wheel chair. He wheeled me in while Jeromy and Amy got all of our stuff. When we got into the hospital, the E.R. check-in staff was trying to ask me all sorts of questions through one of those plastic barriers with tiny holes in it, which made me really grumpy; I could hardly understand what they were saying. Finally, Amy and Jeromy came in and told them how close and long my contractions were, and they sped things up and got me up to the labor and delivery floor. My memory is really fuzzy from that point on, but I remember there being tons of people bustling around. They wanted a urine sample, so Jeromy helped me into the bathroom, where I got sick again, and where my water finally broke. After that, things happened even more quickly; Jeromy somehow got me into a gown, I made it to the bed, and they checked my dilation; I was already at a 9 and half (they let you push at 10), which meant that we were well beyond the point of an epidural, and it was a really good thing that we left for the hospital when we did!
Because I was having so much back labor, they had me get out of the bed and do some contractions leaning over and squatting, in case he needed to get turned into a better position. Those contractions were the worst of the whole labor, and I felt like I was wailing and moaning a ton, although I was told afterwards that I never got too loud. Then I was back up on the bed, laying on my side, and they told me I'd probably be ready to push in just a few more contractions. I was convinced that they were lying to me to keep me motivated. Somewhere in there, they put in the IV and put an oxygen mask on me. The oxygen mask kind of freaked me out, and we're still not entirely sure why they insisted on it; Amy said that they might have seen the baby's heart rate dropping during my contractions. Then doctor and (it seemed like) about 12 other people showed up, and I started pushing. As I had heard, pushing actually made the contractions less painful, although it was very hard work. Amy had Jeromy feeding me ice cubes between contractions, and generally encouraging me. Jeromy's favorite part of the whole thing was when, at one point, he took off the oxygen mask to give me some ice, and I pointed at the mask and said, "I'm not in love with this." Apparently that was the only real sentence that I managed to utter the entire time I labored at the hospital. I really didn't like having the oxygen mask on my face, but it probably did help, because I sort of started hyperventilating a few times. Amy was amazing; she got right in my face to coach me into breathing more deeply. Pretty soon they started telling me that he was crowning, and that it would only take a few more pushes; again, I thought for sure they were lying to me. But sure enough, after only 30 minutes of pushing, Dylan came out with one big push. They put him right on my chest, and he immediately peed all over me (not for the last time.)
Not too long after Dylan was born, my mom arrived at the hospital to bring Jeromy his camera, which had gotten left at home. We hadn't had time to call anyone or send out texts yet, so she assumed I was still in labor. Jeromy met her at the hospital entrance and asked if she wanted to come up to see me. She said she did, and asked him how dilated I was. He told her I was at a 10, and then brought her into the room where I was holding Dylan...it was fun to be able to surprise her!
I'm definitely pretty amazed with the way my labor went. My modesty pretty much went out the window (everyone told me it would, but I was doubtful), and I definitely made lots of very unladylike noises that I never thought I'd make. And I really am pretty shocked that I was able to do it without any pain medication. My mom and brother both admitted that they would have lost a bet on that one. I think a lot of it had to do with getting pretty lucky in my labor, though. If I had gotten to the hospital and only been 6 centimeters dilated, or if my labor had been too much longer, I'm sure I probably would have gotten the epidural. I also think that hiring a doula was incredibly helpful for both Jeromy and me; we both kind of needed someone to tell us what to do!
So there's the super-long birth story! Little did we know that labor and delivery would be the easy part, and that the more challenging parts were still to come, but that's another blog post...