OK, finally got around to the birth story (very long!)
Colm's birth story
Amy's Granny got to town on Wednesday and we spent Thursday with me showing her around and explaining Amy's routine. That day I had a huge urge to bake and I made a triple recipe of pot pie and some banana bread.
Then at 4:30 in the morning on Friday, I woke up suddenly for what seemed like no reason, then I felt a pop and thought it must be my water breaking. I told Owen I thought my water had broken and I walked to the bathroom and realized my water had definitely broken. After a while it became apparent that I wasn't going to be able to sleep because I was too wired, so I got up and tried to get on with a normal day while I waited for contractions to begin. Contractions started after breakfast and I spent the morning packing for UCLA and baking brownies and playing with Amy.
Later in the morning I called the midwife on call at the hospital and she said she wanted me to come in that afternoon. Owen and I decided to go see Star Trek and go to the hospital later because my contractions weren't that strong yet, and we thought traffic would be better later. After we got back from the movie, we went for a walk to the beach and I walked in the waves for a while, which was really nice.
Then around 6 we left for the hospital and picked up our doula, Robin, on the way. The ride to LA was actually ok because I was only having contractions every 7-10 minutes or so, and they were still very manageable. We got really lucky with the traffic and it only took us about an hour and a half to get to the hospital.
When we got to the hospital we went straight to L&D with our labor bag. We stood in the hallway and walked around for a while because they didn't have any rooms ready. When they finally got a room ready, it was just a triage room with a shared bathroom. The nurse put me on the monitor, put my hep lock in and asked loads of questions which she entered into the computer.
The midwife, P, also told us that the OB on call had said she wanted continuous EFM, but she said she had had patients refuse that before. So we said I would be on the monitors if I happened to be near them, but that I was going to do some moving around and wouldn't always be able to be on them. Also that if there was ever any concern about the baby, I would be willing to be monitored more at that point.
A resident came in and did a quick ultrasound to check the baby's position and check everything looked ok, which it did. Around 10pm P did an exam and I was 1 cm and 60% effaced. I had been hoping for more of course, but didn't feel too tired yet and knew I could go on.
I labored all night and did all sorts of things...watching funny videos, loads of different positions, walking, sitting on the ball, dancing, looking at pictures of Amy, looking at baby clothes (to try to remember what this was all for!) and lying down. What I really wanted to do this whole time was get in the shower, but our shared bathroom didn't have one. Owen and Robin helped me remember to say things like, "OK" rather than "no", and also helped me think of opening up and focusing my energy downwards, rather than running away from the pain by arching myself backwards, which seemed to be my natural tendency. They were both great with suggestions when I didn't know what I wanted to do.
Around 6 in the morning P checked me again and I was 4cm and 80% effaced. I was really happy about that because I felt like I had been working really hard and also it is further than I ever got with Amy so that felt like a triumph. However at that point I was also starting to get really tired, and I hadn't really eaten more than a little applesauce and some energy drinks since we'd arrived. P came in a bit later with C who was going to be the next midwife. She only works at this hospital once or twice a month and comes down from SB where she works at the county. It was kind of funny to be all from SB.
I kept going but really really wanted a shower and said so several times. When we got a new nurse in the morning, she said they still didn't have a room I could have, but that while they were cleaning one, I could use the shower in there, but I couldn't have the room because they had to keep one open at all times if they could in case someone came in in active labor. The shower was the best thing ever. I sat on a chair with a towel over my tummy and just let the warm water fall on my tummy. Owen came in too with his swimming suit on and massaged my back and stuff. I really should have just locked the door and stayed in the shower all day! It was really helping me. But eventually I went back to get monitored, and my contractions had slowed down some.
By 12pm I was getting pretty tired and having a lot of trouble relaxing with contractions any more. I was really thinking about an epidural and I got Robin to look up the part in Birthing from Within about the compassionate use of epidurals. I fit all the criteria (labor lasting over 24 hours, talk of pitocin when you aren't that far dilated) and thought it might provide the relaxation I needed. We talked with C about our options and decided to do one last exam. I thought that if I was further along than I was guessing I was, it might give me the strength to go on, but that if I was only 5 or 6, I would know the epidural was the right decision. Well, I was 5cm and 90% effaced, so I decided to get the epidural. I was really glad I had made it to 5 because the increased risk of c-section with an epidural goes away after 5 cm. I was really whiny for the last contractions I had before the epidural. I kept swearing and saying how it wasn't fair that other people have 8-10-12 hour labors and why do I get stuck with this 35 hour crap and so on. Also, as soon as I decided to get the epidural, there was magically a room free so we moved into the room and I got my epidural around 2pm and it started working pretty quickly. It was really nice to have a rest and both Robin and Owen eventually fell asleep. Before he fell asleep, Owen went to get some food and came back with some life savers candy for me and the cutest little lady bug swaddle blanket for the baby.
The nurse started me on one unit of pitocin, and came in every 20-30 minutes to see how many contractions I was having and upped it little by little to 4 units. I got help to change positions from one side to the other. After a while I started to feel a lot of pressure in my bottom with each contraction. I told Robin about it and she went out to tell the nurse. When Robin got back I started having a slight urge to push with each contraction. She went to tell the nurse again, and the nurse paged C again and told Robin to tell me not to push. Not pushing turned out to be impossible so I just pushed.
C came in and checked me and I was 7cm but stretchy to 9 during a contraction. She said the forewaters were in the way too, so she got a hook and broke them, then used her fingers in for a few more contractions and was able to push the cervix completely out of the way. Then the nurse and some other people (a resident, a first year medical student and a student nurse) helped hold my legs while I lay on my back and pushed. I didn't like that position so I tried on my side for a while. I kept saying I wanted to get up and squat or kneel or something and they kept saying I couldn't because my legs would be too wobbly. Eventually I just got up and turned around to face the head of the bed knelt holding on to the back of the bed. Everyone was surprised that I could do it, but I knew my legs weren't that wobbly! I pushed like that for a long time. (Robin says every time I had a contraction, everyone in the room crouched down to see what was happening.)
Eventually I guess his head was staying down between contractions so they asked me to get back on my back and I did. There was a flurry of activity and this panel in the ceiling opened and down came a huge light. He was crowning just a few minutes later. When his head was out or partly out, they asked me if I wanted to feel his head and I reached down and felt it. It was a funny feeling because it just felt all smushy and didn't feel like a hard head like I expected. Then a few pushes later he was out! They cut the cord and stuff, and then they handed him straight to me. It was amazing to get to hold him right away. He cried for a little bit but calmed down right away and just gazed at me. I will never forget those moments.
Meanwhile, I birthed the placenta, which was in good shape, and then I had my 2nd degree tear or tears stitched up by a resident and a medical student. Then after a few minutes Colm started acting like he wanted to nurse and he latched right on with only a couple of tries! After a while Owen and the nurse took Colm to the warmer and weighed him, trimmed his cord and put antibiotic ointment on his eyes. We tried to guess before they weighed him how much he would be. I was really surprised that he was 8 lbs 8 oz! Almost a full pound and a half heavier than Amy!
Now we are settling in well. It is great having Owen's parents here to help with Amy and cooking and stuff. Colm is nursing and sleeping well, and is very alert when he is awake and very smiley when he is asleep!