|Two days before baby.|
I worked from home on and off during the last few weeks of my pregnancy. I had been blessed with many Braxton Hicks and as the time drew nearer I was most comfortable and productive reclining on my couch with my laptop perched precariously on my giant belly. It was a Monday and I could feel that labor was coming on soon. Even with this one being my third I was still not certain just how close it was.
My prior two labors were fairly quick, with the second one being about three hours from when I arrived at the hospital to holding a baby in my arms. Ezra came so quickly I didn't have time for an epidural and I survived with minimal drugs. That led me to want a med free birth the third time around. My doctor convinced me the third would be even faster, so it would be no big deal.
My contractions picked up throughout the day as I was tying up all the loose ends at work. I wrapped up sometime before five o'clock and then the stress started to set in. My mom lives about an hour from us and we live about half an hour from the hospital. I was in enough pain around dinner time to give her a call to come over to watch the boys. I can't tell you how slowly the minutes ticked by until she arrived. It felt like time had all but stopped.
I don't handle pain and vulnerability well. They both tend to make me agitated and short, in other words, a real joy to be around. I decided around ten o'clock that I was done with waiting it out at home. My contractions never reach a regular cadence so I get to choose when to go in to the hospital. My doctor was aware of this and told me to use my best judgement. It hurt, I was tired, I was ready to be done.
We arrived at the hospital without much fanfare and were brought to the triage room. I changed into a gown and after the nurse took my vitals she heckled my cervix. After a very painful minute she uttered the awful words "You haven't progressed since your appointment last week. You're still only at a 2 or 3. Let me call your doctor and see what she thinks."
I immediately broke down into tears. After all that pain, including that cervix check from hell, I hadn't progressed. I had never heard those words before. My body was betraying me. I was already exhausted from all day contractions and I wasn't even close to done yet?! So much for a quick, med free birth. Baby #3 had decided that my last time laboring needed to be memorable. And longer than the prior two.
After a few minutes the nurse came back into the room. "The doctor said you can go home and wait it out or walk around the ward for an hour to see if you make any progress." What she really meant though was "Go home, you're not having this baby any time soon lady." Through my embarrassed tears I chose to walk. How lame am I that after two other labors I can figure out when to come in? I was so down by this point I didn't think I could make it through the hour. From eleven to midnight I walked circles around the maternity ward with Brent holding my elbow. I was gigantic, in a gown, wearing hospital socks, shuffling around, stopping to hold the wall with each contraction, and holding back tears. I felt just awful.
At midnight on the dot we headed back into the triage room for another cervical check. The nurse looked skeptical and I clutched Brent's hand feeling pretty hopeless. "Wow, good work! You're at a five, we can admit you!" Cue the tears of joy. No sleepless night at home, this baby was coming! I was right, dammit! I was wheeled up to labor and delivery and made certain that everyone knew I was waiting for my epidural. Natural birth was out the window by this point. They gave me an IV of fluids prior to the spinal. I was still experiencing intense contractions though they were about 8 minutes apart. The nurses were preparing for a slow to come birth even though I explained my contractions don't get super close together and consistent before the baby comes.
The night staff put me as at ease as they possibly could and the anesthesiologist became my new best friend. I thought I was grateful for the epi the first time around, but the second time was WAY better. They had me lay on my right side for 45 minutes and then switched me to my left as it was taking effect. The pain had eased considerably and I was able to get a little rest. Shortly after I had rolled over to my left side I felt my water break. I pressed the call button and the nurse, again skeptical, came to look. "Well, I've been monitoring your contractions and they are still eight minutes apart. But, you're right! I'll go call the doctor."
I don't know the exact time sequence but I was very excited when the on call doctor arrived as she was my favorite at the practice. Pushing was a bit awkward for two reasons: one, it was the most lucid I've been with any of my labors, and two, my contractions were still eight minutes apart so there were long pauses between pushes. Like whistle a tune, check Facebook, twiddle your thumbs long. But after only a handful of pushes Judah was out and screaming. The tears started all over again. They laid him on my chest as they cleaned him off and he was just so beautiful. The worst was over. He was here and I was done.
I was inspired to write out at least one of my birth stories by Courtney when she shared Phoebe's birth story while I was pregnant with Judah. Around the blogosphere you read either birth horror stories or "birth is the most amazing and beautiful thing ever" stories and I don't fall into either of those categories. I didn't make a birthing playlist. I told Brent I wanted to hear "Happy" before labor had started but as soon as he turned it on I think my eyes turned red and I breathed fire as I told him to turn it off. I don't feel euphoric or calm or centered, I feel an urgent need to get it over with. After my last two births I felt fantastic and euphoric, but it didn't kick in until the baby was out. I never took a peek at what was happening and I'm totally ok with that. I still birthed three beautiful baby boys.