I'm writing this a couple months post-partum, but I figured it would be best to date it on her birthdate.
E was due Monday, November 3rd. My last day of work was Friday, October 30th. I was planning on working until I went into labor, but I was having trouble getting down on the floor with the kiddos, and then getting back up again. I was ENORMOUS!
On Monday the 3rd, I had a doctor's appointment with Adria, one of the midwives. She swept my membrane. It's a simple (but painful) little procedure where they put their finger in between the cervix and the amniotic sac and do a little swipe. That usually helps labor start.
I thought for sure I would have the baby on election day, or at least be in labor. It's one of my favorite days of the year, so I figured the baby would come just in time for me to miss out on watching the election returns. At one point, I thought my water had broken. I called the answering service for the doctor. Dr. Gulick was on call. She informed me that it was probably just my mucous plug. I didn't have quite enough wetness for it to be my water.
I didn't want to attend the HOA board meeting the next day, so I was hoping she would come before that. She waited. I was pissed. I angrily took minutes, cursing the child. When I got home from the board meeting, I hung out on the couch watching TV with Paul. At around 10pm, I went into the kitchen to get something to drink. That's when I felt my first contraction. I didn't want to say anything. I wasn't even positive that it was a contraction. I'd had a few a couple weeks before after I tripped on the sidewalk at work and fell, but this one was different. The others felt more like bad gas. This one was a little lower, a little stronger, a little longer, and a little less painful. It felt like a warm wave of pressure in my pelvis. I tried not to think about it and went back to the couch, watching some cool program on PBS about these two guys who retraced Marco Polo's trek through China.
At 10:15-ish, I had another contraction. I looked at Paul, but kept silent.
At 10:30, another contraction. I walked to the bathroom and back.
At 10:45-ish, another contraction. I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out.
At around 11, I had another contraction. I looked at Paul and said "Honey, I think I'm in labor."
We took a walk down the street and back, to make sure that I really was in labor. I smelled Pumkin Pie. Paul did not. I'm still trying to find another person who smelled pumpkin pie while they were in labor, because I'm sure it was a side-effect. I have not been successful.
At midnight, I called the answering service for the doctors, and Molly was on call. She told me in a very tired voice that it was too early to go to the hospital. I said "I know, I just wanted to let you know that it's started."
"OK, call back when contractions are five minutes apart."
I ate some leftover Thai food and tried to get some sleep.
When contractions were 6 minutes apart, I took a shower. When I got out, they were 5 minutes apart. An hour later, we called Molly. It was around 2 or 3AM.
"What are your plans for pain?" she asked.
"The whirlpool tub, breathing, walking, you know, all that natural stuff," I replied, certain that I would never cave to the epidural.
"Then you can stay at home until you feel you need to come to the hospital," she replied. She then told me that she would call them to let them know that I would be coming sometime that day.
We hung out at home until 6am, when contractions were coming two minutes apart. I was certain the baby would be born by 9am.
We arrived at the hospital at 6:15, where we were met by our nurse, Mary. She strapped me to the fetal monitor. My contractions had slowed to 5 minutes apart. I'm glad we waited before going to the hospital.
Because I had tested positive for group B Strep, I had to receive IV antibiotics every 4 hours. It hurt like a bitch going in. On the plus side, it took my mind off the contractions.
At 9:15, I went to the bathroom. Paul was with me. When I stood up from the toilet, Paul said "Honey, you're still peeing." I looked down and realized that my water broke. And then I realized just how stupid I was on election night when I thought my water broke. There is a big difference in the amount of fluid. I stood there, watching it pour out of me. Paul said "Shouldn't you be standing over the toilet so that it doesn't get all over the floor?"
"No, Mary has to see it. She has to make sure it's clear and doesn't smell bad."
"We could tell her that."
Mary was very nice. She said it was no problem and wiped everything up. Mary was an angel.
I was positive that the baby would be born by noon.
This is where things get a little fuzzy and Paul has to correct me on vital facts. Here is what I remember:
Mary had to take her lunch break. Before doing so, she checked my cervix, I was 5 centemeters and 100% effaced. I was crushed. I thought for sure I was farther along than that. Suddenly, I was worried that the baby wouldn't come until the next morning.
When the break nurse gave me my dose of antibiotics for the group b strep, she was not as nice as Mary. It hurt like a bitch and I yelled at her.
When Mary came back, things started to get more difficult. I could no longer breathe through the contractions on my own. I needed Paul to coach me. I sat on a therapy ball, with Paul on the bed, making me breathe the annoying heeee, heee, hoooo breaths that we learned in the childbirth class that I said I would never use. Little did I know that they were the perfect thing for that time.
I was very tired and ready to call Uncle for an epidural. I kept telling Paul that I was very tired and I just wanted to take a nap. I never spoke the "E" word. I simply wanted someone to know what I meant and put it in me before I could refuse it. Instead, Mary told me that we had options, and she told me what they were. I then said that first I had to go back to the jetted tub because that was our plan.
It took forever to get into the tub. Because there is just one on the maternity ward, and someone was in it when I said I wanted to use it, I not only had to wait for the person to be done with it, but I also had to wait for them to clean it out. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, we were able to make our way down to the tub room.
When we got there, I had to pee so badly, that I couldn't hold it any longer and I peed all over the floor. Thankfully, it was tile. I then apologized to Paul a million times because I peed on his shoes. He just laughed. Little did I know that this was the beginning of the transition phase. Boy did it suck. You pretty much go from 7 to 10 centemeters in about an hour, and you lose all sense of sanity.
I screamed and cried and insisted that Paul take me home. I tried to divorce him. I cried for my mommy. I dropped the f bomb a million times. I told the entire hospital staff that I changed my mind and no longer wanted to have a baby. "I'm done! Take me home, now!" I said. It was pretty awful. A contraction would start before the last one would finish. There was no breathing exercise taught in class that could help me with this, and Mary knew it. She told Paul "just do whatever it takes to get her through this -- whatever she needs."
When transition was over, I felt this enormous desire to push, so I did. When I did, I screamed very loudly. Mary came in to the room and asked me if I felt the need to push. I told her "Feel it? I'm doing it!" She said it was time to go back our room for delivery. She got a wheelchair and another nurse to help. I got out of the tub and was ready to go, and they insisted on putting my hospital gown on me and covering me with sheets to go back down the hall.
"I don't care if I'm naked," I said.
"No, but somebody else might," the other nurse replied.
When we got back to the hospital room, I immediately tore the gown off, saying, "I don't want anything touching me!" and I crawled onto the bed, grabbing onto the back and squatting to push. I thought that would work for me, but I was so tired, I kept collapsing and sitting down.
The nurses convinced me that I should be on my back. I obliged, even though I had this huge mental block about delivering on my back. It made no sense to me, since gravity is against you, and I've heard it's hard to get the head through when you're on your back. So, when the next contraction came, I did nothing. In fact, I did nothing for the next few contractions. The nurses tried everything, including bringing in a mirror so I could see the baby's head -- thinking that would entice me to push. Nope. One of the nurses had this idea of a kind of tug-o-war with a towel, which did get me to push. However, the pain was so intense, I let go of the towel. I didn't want to do that again.
My doctor arrived sometime in all of this, wearing an angry bunny tee shirt. I love my doctor. She was pretty calm, even though time was ticking on and the chances of them having to do some intervention to get the baby out were increasing.
At some point, I suggested laying on my side. That seemed to work much better. That, and the fact that my new nurse was a super-nanny type with a british accent who told me that I had to hold my breath and push to the count of ten. When I stopped pushing before then, she'd yell "I didn't get to ten! Let's do it again!"