We went home after our 41 week appointment and I had minimal contractions and some cramping which I assumed was from the membrane sweep. We ate dinner and settled down- by eight I was having regular contractions that were a little more painful than the ones I was having before the hospital but they were seven minutes apart and I was not going to be fooled by non-baby producing labor again. I went to bed around 10:30 and had stopped timing the suckers as I didn't think they were going anywhere.
Boy was I wrong. At 12:45 I was woken up with intense contractions that were 3-4 minutes apart. And I knew this was it, none of the uncertainty from the Sunday before. (My Aunt Mary called it!) I woke up Paul and told him I was going to take a shower and see if they slowed (just in case) but that he should be ready. For the record- shaving your legs while you're having contractions is ridiculous. I got out of the shower and Paul called Dr. E and she told us to go in. After almost getting trapped in the bathroom forever I got dressed (for some reason in jeans... what was I thinking?) and we headed out to the car, all the while corresponding with my mom who quickly got ready to meet us down there. She was worried I was going to follow in her footsteps and have quick labor. Unfortunately that was a gene I did not inherit.
The drive- dirt roads are the WORST when your in labor and also there should never be a reason why anyone is out at 2 am other than to push out a baby. That is all.
We got to the hospital around 1:50 and made our way (very slowly, thanks to the contractions) up to L&D where we were checked in and given a room. As frustrating as that whole early/false labor-go home thing was I'm so glad that we were already registered, knew the room and the drill. They immediately hooked me up to monitors for about 30 minutes while I breathed through the contractions. My mom got there right before they checked my cervix- which was at a 3. They decided to keep me and tried to put in the saline lock which was a total fail. Two of my veins collapsed and they told me to drink water to try and get them to go up and to walk around.
We did a lap around L&D but walking always seemed to slow things down so I opted for my exercise ball. This was still the "fun" part of labor, talking and joking with my mom and Paul and then immediately halting to breathe through each contraction. The worst part of this phase was the salline lock. When Kristen came back to put it in she chose the other side and it was ridiculously painful. Apparently I have very sensitive veins and she was lucky to get that sucker in at all.
Around 7 we had the staff change and got a new nurse by the name of Joan Marie who was FANTASTIC. She was full of knowledge and very attentive which was really nice. Around 8 Dr. E came in to check on me. I was still at a 3 but baby's head was at 0 station so she decided to break my water with that crochet hook thing. Definitely not an unpleasant experience, warm if anything. She told me to keep walking around (aka rocking the ball) to move things along.
I did, and the contractions got increasingly more intense to the point where rocking and even walking were becoming less of a possibility because my legs would shake so hard. I would literally go from one ridiculously painful contraction to the next, each time my body was so tired that I didn't feel like I could keep doing this. They came in a little while later (I have no concept of time really between my water breaking and the epi) and I was still only a 3.5 after almost 10 hours of labor. For me that was it. I knew if I couldn't get some sleep I wasn't going to be able to make it through transition or pushing, especially since they were so far away. I asked if I could get some narcs to help me rest and Joan Marie talked to me about my options- the narc (which started with an S) would give me 45 minutes to an hour of relief but I could only get a dose every three hours and it would go into the baby's system too (therefor slowing down labor) or the epi which would numb the lower half of my body for the most part, allowing me to still feel the contractions mildly and have the whole pushing experience as it didn't affect that part of the body. I went for the epi.
The catch was I couldn't have it right away, they needed me to take a liter of fluids and get the anesthesiologist in. I'm not really sure how long it took, but it felt like forever. Paul kept telling me not to look at the fluid bag. It had the slowest drip in the entire world but I kept on trying to breathe through each contraction so that I could get some relief.
Around 10:30 (I know this because they wrote it on the board!) Dr. Zhang came in to administer the epi. My mom had to leave the room because only one person was allowed so Paul sat and held my mind. He started with the local right after a contraction and that hurt (I really don't like needles) but not as bad as the saline lock. I honestly couldn't feel the giant scary needle go in, just felt a little pressure as he talked me through it. He had almost finished when I was hit with another contraction. Joan Marie helped me breathe through it and stay perfectly still while he finished up and then taped me and had me lay down. Instantly it felt like I was getting into a warm bath starting in my toes and working its way up my legs. The next few contractions were still fairly painful but definitely manageable and then went to wonderful. By the time my mom came back in I was back to laughing and smiling and then napping. I got some good sleep in, Paul went to lunch, and then my mom went to lunch and I just waited for things to happen.
I'm not really sure what the time frame was for the rest of it but luckily (or horrifically :P) my mom was updating facebook the whole time. I got checked at 2 and was 6 which meant the end was in sight! I was glad I was progressing with the epi and that I had a full range of motion still. In fact I could have run a freaking marathon that's how good I felt. Occasionally I could feel a really intense contraction, but it was on a similar pain scale to my early labor contractions not my holy-shit-I-want-to-die ones.
Around 4 that all seemed to change. The contractions came back full force, and while my legs were still tingly they were similar to the intensity as before I got the epi. I called in Joan Marie and she gave me the button (the button!) which would bring in more drugs and changed positions to try and get through the pain. I'm pretty sure I pushed that button about 700 times before the machine started screaming at me. Joan Marie came in and apparently had never seen that before and I had maxed out the allotted button pushing dose. Oops. Within about a half an hour it seemed to be working again and the pain was down to a three or four.
At 5 I was at 10 cm and started to feel the urge to push. Our nurse was attending to another patient and kind of brushed it off (apparently I needed to be a lot more forceful with my verbage when I said I felt like pushing) but came as soon as my body started producing yuck (blood and other stuff.) She quickly prepared the labor table and called Dr. E who had one more patient to see (ironically one of my birthing classmates) and would be right over. We did a few practice pushes and then I just had to experience the terrible sensation of needing to do something and forcing myself not to do it.
Time gets a little wonky here for me- the whole process felt like five minutes but was really 30, and I'm not sure what time Dr. E got there but when she did we started pushing immediately. Joan Marie and my Mom held my legs while Paul held my hand and encouraged me the entire time, telling me how good I was doing and how strong I was. I just wanted to hold my baby, and was focused on the whole inhale, hold breath and push as hard as you can for 10 seconds, exhale repeat. I didn't want to stop, I didn't want to rest, I just wanted my baby out in the world with me. After a few pushes I could feel his head and could feel myself literally ripping apart. (For the record it was only a first degree tear) Dr. E massaged my perineum the whole time, and I'm sure if she didn't it would have been much worse. It took a few more pushes but then there was a pop and release, and the next thing I knew my baby was on my chest.
I can't describe the intensity of emotion or the intensity of love I felt for that little boy the moment I laid eyes on him, all purple and slimy and screaming until he was calmed by the touch of my skin. Paul cut the cord and we both just stared in adoration at the life we made together.
I could not have gone through this process without the help of my support system. Paul, who held my hand and gave me the strength and encouragement to keep going. My mom, whose wisdom and love and example gave me the confidence to know that I could do this. God, who loves me like I love this child times infinity and has never abandoned me, not even for a second, just like I would never abandon my boy.
And that was it- the beginning. After 18 hours of labor Anthony Christopher Eccles came into the world at 6:17 pm on January 24th 2012, weighing in at 8 lbs 12 oz and 20.5 inches long. I didn't believe in love at first sight until I saw him. I didn't know how much my heart could love until it loved him. I couldn't fathom how wonderful and worthwhile the last nine months were until that first moment. He's absolutely perfect in ways I can't describe. He's the whole world, tiny and needing as he is. And our adventures together our just beginning.
I love you little man!