I've been working on this for days, and it's so long (and still unfinished) I think it best to post it in installments. Hey, if it was good enough for Dickens, who am I to shun my noise at a serialized version?
i sit here typing one handed, abandoning all attempts at capitalization for the time being. i am unpregnant. and, more importantly, we are a family. i guess we were before, but now we're a family like we've never been before. she's beautiful. perfect. everything i could have hoped for, and the only thing that makes this rough week worthwhile.
so i'll start with the birth story, because i was obsessed with reading these while pregnant and feel the need to write it all out. i'll warn any family or friends reading this there will be extensive discussion of my girly bits, mention of poop, mucus, and a lot of other things you may just not want to think about. so be forewarned.
i was very frustrated last week. i didn't think i'd be one of those people who got all frustrated about going past their due date, but i most certainly was. i was despairing, and largely tried to avoid contact with family and friends so as not to be asked questions or listen to jokes. on thursday night of last week i had contractions all night long, ~10 minutes apart, but even getting down to 7 minutes apart. i was sure this was labor. i wasn't excited about having her on the 11th, but i was excited that this was finally it. but by friday morning they had completely stopped.
(Return of capitalization means Madeline is down for a nap). All of Friday I was rather crampy, though not having contractions and generally just frustrated. That evening I had a few, though not regular and not strong. I talked A into going to a Regina Spektor concert with me (which was, by the way, absolutely amazing.) He was not excited about it, but he went (and later admitted he had a great time). If you haven't heard of her I highly recommend checking her out.
Anyway, I went to bed that night thinking about induction options, c-section risks and generally nothing good. At 3:45 am on Saturday I woke up to a slight contraction and then a gush; I immediately knew my water had broken. I called to A from the bathroom, telling him to wake up, we're going to need to head to the hospital. His immediate response - "Are you sure you didn't just piss yourself?" "No, A, I did not piss myself." I don't think he believed me. But then the contractions really started kicking in and he realized that either way we needed to get going. They were about 7 minutes apart and strong. We took showers, put the bags in the car and headed out.
By the time I got to the hospital they were ~5 minutes apart. We checked into labor and delivery, they took us to our room. We got one of the rooms that had the mobile fetal monitors, which I am so glad for. By the time I got into the gown and they checked me it was ~4:45 and I was 4 cm dilated. I was a little under 3 cm at my last appt., so a little over a cm progress in a few days. Not bad. The contractions were strong and the midwife told me that if I was thinking of pain meds I could have them at any time; I said I was hoping to go natural and she was fully supportive.
Although the fluid had looked clear to me when my water broke, when they did the exam they noticed some meconium. Not a ton, but some. I was a bit disappointed, knowing that that means an automatically slightly higher risk birth. But we carried on.
I recall laboring on the toilet for a while when they were getting everything ready. They put the fetal monitor on me, with the plan to take it off after a while. The nurse drew a bath, and although I had no desire to move they talked me into getting in. Best. Thing. Ever. I hadn't realized how many tense muscles I had until I felt them all relax in the hot water. It made all the difference. A was being great. Supportive, encouraging, everything I needed. I labored for I don't know how long... I had no sense of time, and I think it actually passed quicker than it felt. I was assuming it was at least ~5 minutes between contractions, but they were actually much closer together so time was actually moving quicker than I realized. With each contraction I thought "maybe I should get an epidural". Then between contractions I thought "I can do this". Once I realized this was the pattern I was settling into, it gave me strength to know that the relief between contractions was sufficient to give me the strength to keep going. The midwife was fantastic and her encouraging words made a huge difference. Furthermore, they offered to take the monitor off and I found I actually liked having it on. Hearing her heartbeat was wonderful... I would just listen to the galloping horses and continue to remember what this was all for.
Then the pain intensified. Exponentially. I felt like I was getting no break between contractions. I was having nausea throughout, but now it was much worse. I suddenly decided I had to have an epidural. I couldn't tolerate it. I figured I had to have progressed far enough that it wouldn't be so bad. The midwife guessed 7 cm, I got out of the tub and she checked me. I was at 6. At this point, it was essentially contraction, puke, contraction, puke. No rest whatsoever and knowing that I hadn't even hit transition I was losing my mind. They called the anesthesiologist who said he'd be a while; I think it was about 9:30 am at this point. They offered me fentinol in the interim, which I agreed to, and it did help.
I started to think maybe this is all I would need. However, when she checked me there was much more meconium than before. And the problem is that things were moving so fast that I was afraid she would be born with fentinol still in her system. The anesthesiologist arrived much quicker than he had said he would, about 10 am I think. But because the fentinol seemed to be working the midwife asked if I still wanted an epidural. She was gently trying to talk me out of it, which I appreciated. She checked me again and I was 8.5 cm (in only about an hour or hour and a half I'd gone another 1.5 cm.) I was so torn. The anesthesiologist was standing there. I knew this was probably my only chance, but I was also so close. I remember looking at A, wanting him to decide for me. I think he was in favor of the epidural. He later told me how much he hated seeing me in that much pain, and he also felt than another dose of fentinol, if needed later, would not be a good option. I decided to get the epidural. I also remember thinking that I had enough "momentum" that everything would continue to progress. In retrospect, that was foolish, that's not how things work. But anyway.