I've finally gotten around to documenting my birth story!!! Here it is, by popular demand...
I went to my regular weekly doctors appointment on my due date (the 28th of February). The doctor was delayed at the hospital and we ended up sitting in the waiting room for 3 hours waiting for her return. Because it was my due date, we had no other option! While we were sitting there the lady and her daughter across from us struck up a conversation. They were waiting on Dr. B., too. In the course of the conversation, they recommended a Dr Bubba to us from a pediatrics practice in the area. I decided he sounded nice and made a note to call the office and request a tour the next day (Friday). We finally got in to see Dr B and after the exam she said it could be at least another week before I delivered (I was 2 cm and she said there was an 80% chance by the end of 7 days) and asked if we wanted to discuss an induction. If not, we'd have to schedule an ultrasound for early in the following week as she was starting to be concerned about enough fluid around the baby (I was HUGE at that point--see below, pic of me at 37 weeks and imagine 3 more weeks of belly on there!).
We said yes, since Hubband was on Spring Break that next week and we wanted him able to be home with me and the baby as much as possible. She said she was on call for the weekend and we could come in either Sat or Sun depending on which day was best for the hospital staff. We would receive a call on Friday. She stripped my membranes (OUCH!) and told me I might feel some cramping for the rest of the day. We stopped for emergency rations at the nearby Chili's restaurant and I started having some cramping and contractions during dinner. This was fairly common, though a bit more painful maybe than usual. I thought nothing of it...we had a ton of errands to run (a bed to buy and set up, groceries, a Home Depot run, etc) and I knew we needed to clean up the house a bit when we got home and the next day. I'd been put on maternity leave against my wishes (It started on the due date) so I had the day "off".
I was uncomfortable the whole time we ran those errands. I was tired and sore and achy and crampy and those pesky "Braxton Hix" contractions seemed to not be letting up. I finally gave up trying to write thank you notes and clean the house at around 10 pm and went to bed. By 2:30 am the `cramping` was keeping me awake rather than just waking me up, and was measurable as contractions and I started timing them. I was surprised that they varied between only 4 and 6 minutes apart. At 520 I woke up Hubband and told him I thought we at least needed to go to the hospital to have me checked because nothing was decreasing no matter what I did. We took showers, finished packing the bags, etc...although by the middle of our shower I wasn't too happy with life anymore! As he loaded the car I had to continually pause to brace myself for a contraction to pass. Poor Priscilla didn't know what was wrong. We were up out of bed, I was in pain, Hubband was rushing around....every time I braced through a contraction she was right there at my side or on the bed pushing her nose into my neck to try and comfort me. All we could talk about on the way to the hospital (between gritted teeth and panting breaths and trying to relax) was how funny it was that it was February 29.
By the time we got to the hospital, I was pretty sure I was totally in labor and was not just having random cramping (hey, it was my first time... I was a little slow to realize!). Hubband ran inside and brought a wheel chair and wheeled me to the elevator and upstairs to the L&D floor. We were starting to get excited now...between pain at least! The nurse at the desk took one look at me and said to Hubband "I think we'll be admitting her, but you'll have to go park your car and then wait in the waiting room while they triage her, just in case they send her home. If we admit her, the nurse will come and get you". They wheeled me into triage, gave me a gown to put on, and hooked me up to all the appropriate monitors. The nurse came back and looked at the contraction monitor and said "Yup, you're having some good contractions at least!". I was 4 cm dilated when she checked me and she said the admitting lady would be around shortly. She went and fetched Hubband, who promptly whipped out the video camera. We laughed a little at the fact that I was scheduled (tentatively) for induction the next day! After about 30 minutes they moved me to a room. The triage nurse had asked if I wanted an epidural and I said YES PLEASE! They couldn't give it to me until I was in my room and by then, at 5-6 cm I was NOT happy with life. The nurse anesthetist finally (really, was only about 20 minutes after we got to the room) showed up and gave me the epidural. Wow! What a relief! By the time he was finishing up his paperwork we were discussing the wonders of New York City bagels.
An hour or so later, Dr B came in to check me and had the nurse add some pitocin to my IV. The contractions weren't in a very consistent pattern and had significantly slowed after initiation of the epidural. I knew that was fairly common, and since I HAD the epidural, I couldn't feel the stronger contractions pitocin creates so it didn't seem like a big deal. Around noon I started to change my mind as I was feeling pain again. The day NA came in and diagnosed a "hot spot" around my hernia repair scar. Somehow the scar tissue (low on the right side of my pelvis) was interfering with the medication getting to the right side of my lower body and my right leg. He gave me a bolus of meds and my left leg immediately became nothing more than a lump under the blanket. I couldn't even wiggle my toes! Every 20 minutes or so I had to have Hubband move my leg for me as the positions became increasingly uncomfortable. It was almost an odd sort of clasutrophobia.
At about 430 I could feel an enormous amount of pressure. The bolus had worn off and I could feel every contraction in that hot spot--it was like being stabbed with a knife with each contraction. I also could literally feel the baby moving lower in my pelvis! The nurse had said I was 9.5 and I was frantic for her to come back and check again so I could push. I started pushing around 445, after the nurse came back and did indeed find that I was fully dilated. The epidural was still strong enough that my left leg was useless, in fact, Hubband had to hold it up and support my back as I pushed through each contraction. He got quite the workout!
After 2 hours of pushing I was close to getting her crowned (she would sliiiide right up to the edge and then slip back again), but was fast running out of energy. Every push felt like I was popping blood vessels (I did have tiny little burst vessels all over my face after the delivery) and the stabbing pain in the hot spot after each push felt like I was being ripped in two. When I expressed my feeling that things weren't going so well (I think what I said was "Am I even DOING anything with these pushes? I think you're lying to me when you say I'm doing great!) Dr. B's response was "You're doing great! You'll have her out within the next hour or so!" I broke down. ANOTHER HOUR? There was no way I would make it that long. I was so exhausted already and just knew that another hour would kill me (I sort of wish now that I had tried to push on as I know that I really wouldn't have died or anything) and said "What can you do to help me get her out NOW?" The doctor talked over some options with us between contractions, including episiotomy which I DID NOT WANT and we decided to have her use the flat vaccum to help out. Dr B put it on and I pushed again as Dr B pulled/pumped with the "vaccum". Suddenly, it popped off of Ella's head and splattered blood and amniotic fluid all over everyone! Since I was already covered with the stuff it didn't make much difference. The nurse, Dr. B, and Hubband all kind of laughed. Even I thought it was moderately amusing--at least the expression on Dr. B's face was! She put the vacuum back in place on Ella's head during the next contraction and on the next contraction.... Ella was delivered! Her shoulder was caught a little and Dr B actually grabbed El's head, braced her foot against the bed, leaned back, and PULLED while she used her other hand to manipulate me and Ella. (Hubband shared that tidbit, I didn't see it). I'd been pushing so hard and was so tired that I literally couldn't see. I would blink my eyes HARD and saw them cleaning her up, Hubband cutting the cord, etc. in little flashes of vision. They took her to the side to clean her up (see below) . Delivering the placenta was a huge release of pressure, which surprised me, and immediately Dr. B started the process of scraping me out and sewing me up. She said later that the fact that my epidural hadn't worn off allowed her to get me cleaned up more than usual....I appreciated it later! By the end of the stitching, though, I could feel it and was not happy.
That's our story... me and Ella and Hubband... tomorrow I go back to work (thankfully I work at home so it will be easy to continue breastfeeding) and it seems like this whole story only happened yesterday. Hard to believe that our little girl is 6 weeks 2 days old!