Before I really start, I want to say that my labor was not the perfect experience that we all hope for. If you are close to your time, you may want to wait to read this story. I did not go unmedicated as planned. I was VERY close to a c-section. I have made peace with my decisions and know that I did what was needed to get my munchkin here safely.
Also this is gonna be VERY really long. Labor was around 24 hours with lots of plan changes along the way.
On Thursday, I went to Santa Fe to pick up my mom. She flew in to Albuquerque then rode a shuttle to Santa Fe so that I wouldn't have to drive so far. We had lunch then did some shopping and killed time until my OB appointment at 3:15pm. I was only 1.5 cm dilated. We figured lots of walking was in our future. On the way home I had my first couple of painful contractions.
Contractions continued all afternoon. Nothing too regular, but they were getting more and more intense. We had fast food for dinner cause my hubby had put in a very long day and mom and I were worn our from our long day of being pregnant for me and traveling for her. I highly recommend staying away from fast food in your last bit of pregnancy, just in case you go into labor. It made me feel gross.
Mom & hubby went to bed. By that point we were all wondering if it might happen that night. We had timed some contractions, but nothing was closer than 5 minutes and not all were that close. We wanted to wait for things to get more steady before making the 45 minute drive.
I tried to lay down for a while, but laying down during the contractions was terrible. I snoozed on the couch until around 12:30am. I got hubby up after a while, mainly cause it sucks to be in pain alone. We watched most of a movie before I had to run to the bathroom to throw up. We called the on call doc, luckily it was my doc.
Around 2:30 she said to go ahead and come in, even though the contractions weren't totally regular. The throwing up seemed to make it all more likely to be real. The drive was uneventful. The contractions were fairly steady at 5 mins apart.
The ER got very busy just after we walked in. Luckily, we were first in line. We were taken up to the triage for the maternity ward. I got changed and hooked up to the monitors. Contractions were down to every 6-7 minutes. I was immediately bummed, thinking that we were going to be sent home. They checked my dilation and it was now 3cm. The doc came by to see how it was going, and I was very excited to see that it was my doc who was on call.
They had us walk around for 30 minutes before checking again to see if we stay or go home. When we got back to check I was already 5 cm! We were staying. It wad 5:45am and our munchkin was coming that day! Before they moved me, they wanted to make sure that the munchkin was okay. His heart rate slowed down a bit with contractions. All it took to get it normal again was changing positions. ***Note to all pregnant women - Change positions often!! They had me in the typical horrible on my back position for a long time. All it took to fix the heart rate slowing was switching to my side.***
At that point we got moved to our actual room. Most of the time until here, aside from the walking, was spent in bed on the monitor. I was lucky enough to have long breaks between contractions, but I was still progressing. I could even sort of snooze between contractions.
Once we were set up in our room, we started walking after some more time on the monitor. My doc came in around 7am just before she went off call. She wanted to break my water. I told her I was only okay with that if I was still allowed to use the tub. Most docs don't let you use the tub after your water breaks, but mine does. Since she was going off call, I wanted to make sure that the new doc coming on would be okay with it. Once I got the okay, she broke my water. At this point I was a 7 cm.
After my water was broken, contractions intensified, but they still were about 6 minutes apart. I was feeling good about my chances of going natural. I felt great. I was still able to talk between contractions. My mood was great. I was talking with my mom & hubby. Family was calling my mom off and on. We joked about how my big sis was going to be so jealous. I was already at 7 cm in about 9 hours of active labor. My sis labored for 24 hours before having a c-section because she is tiny and her kiddo was 10lbs!
We should have kept our mouths shut. We walked and walked and walked. When I went back on the monitor the checked me again and I was still 7 cm. We moved on to the tub to give me a break and hopefully move things along as I relaxed. And I must say all the women who say laboring in water takes away lots of the pain are right! It didn't take it all away, but it made it where I was able to talk through the contractions again.
One thing that I have yet to mention is how AMAZING my hubby was the whole time! He rubbed my back and used counter pressure on every contraction. My mom helped with getting water and juice and arranged my pillows. her knowledge of hospitals was endlessly helpful! She is an OR nurse so she knows lots about the hospital. They worked together so well I was amazed. Having two support people was totally necessary!
Back to the story...after we got out of the tub, they checked me again and I was STILL at 7 cm. It was after 10 at this point. The nurses started mentioning Pitocin as a possibility. They knew that I wanted to go natural and we all knew that Pitocin would end that possibility. So before we got there we walked more. Then we used the breast pump. Nipple stimulation definitely kicks up the contractions. As I was pumping a contraction would hit. Hubby would rub my lower back and hold my water cup. Mom grabbed the pump parts (I don't know what the parts that go on your boobies are called :). It was a total team effort. Then I got nauseous and we needed a 4th person to hold the puke bucket, but we made it work.
After a while they checked me again. It was a bit after noon and I was again STILL at 7 cm. 5 hours of contractions at 7 cm. I was getting very tired. Everyone could see it, but it was hard to accept that we needed to do more.
My nurse came back in and told us that the doc was officially calling this failure to progress. So Pitocin. The nurses left us to talk about it. I was crying very hard. This was not the plan. I did all the things they suggest to move labor along. We walked, bathed, showered (I think I forgot to mention that part), used the breast pump. Not much else could be done naturally. So I cried. And the called the anesthesiologist. I couldn't handle the more intense contractions without an epidural. After a bit, the anesthesiologist came in and said "So I hear you want an epidural." I told her "No but do it anyway." Then I cried some more.
The epidural wasn't that bad. After it was in place, they had me lay on my side and they started the Pitocin. I have no clue on the timeline of the next part because this is when I was totally out of it. The Pitocin started working and the contractions were coming quicker and harder. They still were 4 mins apart or so, but they were way more intense. The epidural started to work on my left side, but my right side was like white hot pain. They switched the side I was laying on to get the epidural to go into the other side. They called the anesthesiologist and she said to wait a bit to let it start working. At this point, I was not able to handle the pain. I was writhing in agony. It was almost as if by blocking the pain on half my body, it was so much worse on the other side.
The anesthesiologist came back in and looked at everything. She still wanted to wait a bit until she saw me during a couple of contractions. At that point she said we should do a spinal to give me complete relief for a while. I didn't want to do something else. The epidural was bad enough, but I was worried that I would pass out and end up needing a c-section. So I got the spinal and oh man was that wonderful!!!
Looking back, I feel like this portion of labor should be more than 2 paragraphs because it was the part that was the hardest both physically and emotionally. I was in so much pain and I was so pissed that I broke down and got the epidural and it didn't work. When they did the spinal the also did another epidural for when the spinal wore off. The worst part about getting the spinal and 2nd epidural was that they had to pull off the giant piece of tape that held it all in place. I am very sensitive to the glue on tape and bandaids so my whole back became a giant itch. Of course I didn't notice that at the time, but I did notice the skin ripping feel of the tape coming off.
The anesthesiologist also put in a second epidural for when the spinal wore off since it was just a temporary measure to give me full relief since I was so worn out from the contractions. I would have been fine to go to pushing after the regular contractions, but with the crazy intensity of the pitocin contractions, no way could I push soon without a rest. The spinal allowed me to sleep for a while. The nurse said they would let me "labor down" for a while. I'm guessing that means that they wanted the baby to move further down. As I slept, I went from 7 to complete. After I got to 10 cm I rested for a while longer before we got to the point of pushing.
I started pushing sometime between 4:30 and 5pm. Because of the spinal, I could not feel anything. A spinal is a lot more than an epidural. I put my hand on my thigh and didn't realize that it was a part of my body. My mom and hubby each held one leg up on the squat bar. We tried several different positions using the squat bar, but in the end I was in the crummy on the back legs up position. It worked better than the others since I couldn't feel anything (and I mean I couldn't feel anything!!).
I pushed and pushed. At some point they brought in a big mirror. I was trying to follow the suggested pushing style from Ina May Gaskin's book. Not pushing for 10 counts like the docs usually say. I didn't want to bust the blood vessels in my face. I didn't want to tear. But then the doc came in after an hour and her first words to me were "Well I think we are going to need a C-section in here." I was immediately pissed and prepared to hate the doctor. I had only been pushing for an hour. You get more than an hour. What the hell was she thinking? I was pissed.
She had me change positions a bit and had a nurse hold my head up in a crunch-like position and told me not to breathe or make a sound as I pushed for the count of 10 three times on each contraction. I was confused because just before the doc came in the nurse, my mom and my hubby had all been telling me that I needed to yell and be loud while I pushed.
I started pushing like the doc said. And we started seeing more of the kiddos head each time. We kept this up for around an hour before the 7pm nurse shift change came around. We (my nurse included) were hoping that I would deliver before shift change. I was a bit worried about getting a new nurse during pushing. They wouldn't know me at all. Luckily for me, the nurse that came on duty was the same one who had checked me into the hospital the day before. She was already familiar with my birth plan and with how my hubby and mom were working to help me. Somewhere in there, the spinal started to wear off. I could feel my right leg and could control it a bit. My left leg didn't come back until around the time he was born.
She jumped right in and got warm compresses and started perineal massage. I asked for both options in my birth plan, but was too far gone to think to ask. She read the plan and jumped right in. As soon as she started the massage, we started seeing so much more of his head with each push.
Around the same time that the new nurse came in, the doc came back. They started getting things ready for delivery. Lots of people started coming in to get stuff ready, but I was so mesmerized by the pushing and watching his head emerge that I can't even begin to guess how many or what their purposes were.
Next thing I knew, the doc was having me push in between contractions. As I pushed, she helped guide the head out. Then all of a sudden with one more push, he was out. His cord was really short so he couldn't be placed on my chest immediately because I wanted them to wait for the cord to stop pulsing. So he hung out on my lower belly for a few minutes. I distinctly remember that right then I was sort of laughing and crying all at once. After a few minutes, hubby cut the cord and Fin was placed on my chest. His eyes were open and he was sort of crying/grunting.
That whole time just after he was born is a total blur. He was wiped off as I snuggled him. Hubby was taking pictures. They delivered the placenta. I bled a lot since I had a long, intense labor. The doc stitched up a tear. I remember that I was getting feeling back and some of this part was less than pleasant, but Its too much of a blur to know exactly what.
Fin & I cuddled for over an hour. Then we tried breastfeeding. This little guy is a pro!! He latched well right away. From the very beginning, everyone has been astonished by how awake he is. He looks around taking in the world a lot, even on day one. He was even then fascinated with light and dark. My mom would hold him and sway so his line of site went from dark to light (passing across the open window) and he would just look happily.
I can't even begin to express the amazingness of seeing him for the first time. I still look at him and momentarily freak out that he is real. We really have a baby!
I'm sure I left things out and I could go on forever, but I'm gonna stop here since this is already insanely long :)