Having arrived at the BirthCare Center for a 7am induction, we went over the birth plan with our doula, MissJ, one last time as the nurse started my IV. Four attempts and a sore arm later, I was hooked up to 500cc of fluid - two veins had blown before the nurse changed over to a smaller catheter and was able to finally get a working connection. She was trying to make things as comfortable as possible for me, but wanted to try again for the larger needle once I was re-hydrated; I was in no mood for more sticks and ready to get things going.
By 8:45am, I was adequately hydrated and able to be unhooked from the fluid lines. My doctor arrived for the induction, and when informed about the trouble we had getting an IV started joked that we would have had an easier time if I had heroin track marks for them to follow. He asked the nurse for his 'fresh stick from the tree out back' with which to break my water - his sense of humor put the room at ease.
Hoping to help speed things along, we went for a walk around the building. But as had been the case for the last few weeks, as long as I was up and moving my contractions were light and easy. Back in the room, I decided to rest in a chair for a few minutes, and before I knew it I was having some pretty strong contractions.
This can't be the real thing yet, we're just getting started. Wait it out, it's only going to get worse.
I didn't last very long sitting by myself - soon I was asking that Husby be nearer, holding me and helping me breathe through each contraction. We had talked about using the bath tub to help relax when things got tough, and before we hit 10 o'clock I was ready to get in. I let go of Husby just long enough for him to get into his trunks (in case he needed to get into the water with me), and settled into the warm tub. With the hand-held shower head pointed at my belly I was able to work through contractions fairly effectively.
Down the hall, another laboring mother coded, and our nurse was pulled to help bring her back. She returned a little shaken, and asked me to re-consider the larger IV catheter 'just in case', since the small one I had wouldn't allow quick administration of drugs should it become necessary. For her sake, I decided to give it another try since my veins should be more cooperative after the fluid I was administered. A young anesthesiologist was sent to do the sticking, since they were supposed to be better at finding good veins quickly.
Just hold on, work through this one contraction and she'll be done. You can do this.
Two failed sticks later, she was annoyed with my being in the tub since it made things harder on her. Contraction after contraction kept me from being able to communicate.
Make her stop! Someone make her stop and get her out of here!
As I finally caught a break from contractions, MissJ reminded me that I could tell her to stop anytime. "No more" was all I could utter as I pulled my arm away from her.
"Are you ready for your epidural now?" Her snotty voice made me want to scream, but my energy was needed elsewhere.
"No. Get out."
I was starting to shiver in the tub, so we decided to get a seat for me to sit up on and get more of my body under the shower. Half way out of the tub another contraction hit me and I landed harder than intended on the seat; it flipped sideways and fell into the tub, taking me with it. I didn't have the will to try again, so a warm blanket was brought in to put over me in the water; Husby and MissJ poured and sprayed water over me and on my belly to keep me from freezing and help me relax.
After about a hour and a half, the intensity of the contractions was really starting to effect my thoughts.
I can't take this if it's just going to get worse.
I heard myself asking for drugs.
Wait! That's not what I want! Don't give me drugs! I can do this!
Husby could see the panic in my eyes, and asked me if I wanted to be checked (we had agreed ahead of time that we would take this first, smaller step before hooking up to any pain meds).
Yes! That's what I mean! I don't want drugs, I just want to know where I am!
To be checked, I had to be in the bed - which meant I had to get out of the tub. Towels and blankets were readied to dry me off and keep me warm, and we waited until a contraction was over to start moving. No sooner did my feet hit the floor than a huge contraction hit, and I went limp. With MissJ in front of me and Husby behind they managed to keep me from hitting the floor until I could support myself again and make my way to the bed.
I needed to lay on my back in the bed, but only made it up onto my hands and knees before another contraction hit. The nurse tried anyway, and thought I was about at 7cm, but asked me to try to roll over so she could be sure. A couple more contractions passed before I could move, but once I was settled she confirmed that I was already almost at 8cm.
That can't be right. We haven't been doing this long enough.
My brain knew that we were already in Transition, the hardest but shortest part of labor, just before the pushing stage. But my mind was reeling with the intensity of the contractions, and I again heard myself asking for something to take the edge off. MissJ was ready with the suggestion of Stadol, which wouldn't make the contractions themselves less intense but would give me more of a break in between to catch my breath and relax - it was the one thing I had considered beforehand, and was prepared to accept if needed given it's minimal effects on the baby. Since I was already so far along (and just wouldn't admit it to myself), my doctor would only approve a quarter of the usual dose. Administered during a contraction to further lessen it's effect on the baby, I felt it almost immediately - as long as I kept my eyes open I was alert, but as soon as I let them close I started to doze when I wasn't contracting. Thanks to the Stadol, I was allowed about a half an hour of 'rest' before the real work began.
The contractions started coming three and four at a time, and I was having to really work to get through each one. To cope with the intensity, I had been breathing low and started vocalizing with my exhales. As the intensity rose, and my breaks shortened (the Stadol was wearing off), my vocalizations began to get higher and tighter. Reminding me to focus low and slow my breathing, MissJ could see that we needed a change and suggested using a squat bar.
Once I was upright, Baby flipped himself around to face upwards, causing intense back labor. MissJ moved around behind me to help support and put counter pressure where I was hurting. Husby moved in front of me to help hold me up, and my eyes locked on his just as one of my toughest contractions hit. My vocalizations were high and tight as my body fought against me.
Don't freak out. If you freak out, he'll freak out, and we need him to not freak out.
His calm voice brought me back: "You can do this. I'm right here. You're doing so well."
My legs no longer able to support me, I laid back on MissJ, who's knee happened to land just at the point in my back that needed counter pressure. I had planned to rest for only a moment but ended up staying there for quite a few contractions. A second nurse appeared and began preparing tables and instruments; I heard myself asking what she was doing, and was told that she was setting up for delivery.
She's got to be crazy. She has no idea that we just got here. We are so not ready to have this baby.
The idea of readying for the birth, along with the rising intensity of contractions, began to overwhelm me and I again asked to be checked. Our nurse was out of the room, so the second nurse stopped her setting up and came over to see how far I was. She measured me at about 8cm, essentially the same as I had been an hour before. I was disappointed to say the least.
We're not even progressing! What does she think she's doing setting up all that stuff? Now I have to stare at useless tables for hours!
When she returned, our nurse held a fetal monitor to my belly and detected decels in Baby's heart rate. She helped me move to lay on my left side to alleviate some stress on him - in an instant, my contractions changed. Up to this point, I was able to focus on being open and relaxed with each contraction. Now, when I tried to be open, my body started pushing on it's own. Since I knew I wasn't to 10cm yet, I tried to pull back and keep from pushing, but it only made things more intense. When a contraction ended, I tried to tell Husby and MissJ that I couldn't stop myself from pushing. I looked up to find my doctor walking in to check on us. He quickly slipped his gloves on to check me; he felt merely a rim, but said I could easily push past what was left, and that was all I needed to hear.
Here we go. Deep breaths. Holy cow, we're going to have a baby.
With the next contraction, I pushed with intent. Being able to feel what I was doing, I could focus my energy where I knew it was effective. As I felt Baby descend, my doctor helped him to turn back into an easier position; I gripped Husby's hand a little tighter. His voice encouraged me that I was making progress, and with MissJ's help I repositioned myself for the birth.
Through two or three contractions I pushed continuously, and before I really knew what was happening, my son was born. LittleE joined us at 1:27pm, weighing 8lbs 13oz and measuring 20 inches long. Placed immediately on my chest, he looked up at us, his parents, for the first time, and my heart swelled.