Sunday, February 10th (my best guess for a due date, though my midwives were going by my LMP date of 2/12) I woke up around 6 with random crampy contractions. Nothing too impressive, but different from the constant painless BH contractions I had had for months. The contractions were about one or two every hour, so I tried not to get my hopes up but that is sort of a lost cause at 40ish weeks pregnant. :) I woke DH up to DTD, and then went to church as usual...had a few contractions there.
After we got home I took a nap, and continued to contract but sooo far apart. After my nap I went a walk with DH to try to speed things up. It definitely worked, as I was probably contracting every 8 to 10 minutes while walking and having to slow my pace during each contraction. They died down some when we got home, but picked up again after dinner.
After we got my son to bed, DH and MIL and I played some cards and watched Downton Abbey. It was a little after 8 PM that I found I was changing positions some to help with the discomfort during a contraction. I still didn't quite let myself believe this was it, so wasn't timing things. By 10 PM, though, they were getting more intense and I got in the shower. Unfortunately, our hot water ran out after about 30 minutes so I had to get out. Now, things were painful. DH was timing them to be between 4 and 6 minutes apart. I started having him rub my hips during each one because I felt like my pelvis was going to split open.
We decided to go to the hospital around midnight, as I knew the car ride would hurt and I didn't want to wait any longer. Contractions were coming every 3 minutes or so, and I was sort of moaning through them. After getting my monitors on (super painful since the nurse wanted me to lay down really briefly), my midwife checked me at 1 AM. I was 3-4 cm and 90% effaced, which was super discouraging because I was in so much pain. Almost immediately I told my CNM that I wanted an epidural (despite having a natural birth with my son and hoping/planning for the same this time around). My CNM discouraged it, saying she wanted to see me in an active labor pattern before I got one, but that she would order one if I wanted it since she knew I was a doula and I made it very clear that I understood risks/benefits and FREAKING. NEEDED. ONE. I told her that if this doesn't count as an "active labor pattern", then I'm screwed. I knew that early labor with my son was absolutely nothing like this h***.
So, then I waited on the epidural. It took forever to get my IV in for the necessary fluids, though I barely noticed because contractions trump needle sticks. Contractions were probably about 2 minutes apart. My husband thought I was handling things fine at this point (find out later), because I was silently breathing through most of them. But honestly, I was suffering a ton mentally and emotionally...it was so hard. I always tell my clients that there is a difference between pain (not bad) and suffering (bad, not able to stay on top of the pain). The only reason I was staying on top of the pain is because I knew that I had asked for the epi and now I had no choice but to suck it up and wait for my IV fluids and for anesthesia to be ready.
Anyway, things took forever and finally at 3 AM the anestheisologist and my CNM came in to get things going. My midwife asked if she could check me one more time before the epidural and I consented rather begrudgingly, not caring about anything at that point except for pain relief. I was pretty surprised when she told me that I was almost at 9 cm, since my contraction intensity had pretty much stayed the same since I got to the hospital (as in, HORRIBLY intense). So, again begrudgingly, I decided I could maybe survive without the epi, and finally headed to the shower since I no longer needed the IV.
I labored for about 40 minutes in the shower, living now only on the hope that I was almost done with this horror show. I realized I was starting to bear down a little, so I tried a good practice push and POP! went my water. I told DH to run and let the midwife know, and then realized immediately afterwards that I was really, really pushing so I shouted that out to him too. The nurse and midwife came in a minute or two later, and I reached down to feel the head right there. They asked if I could get out of the shower, and I said no. Thankfully, my CNM was like "that's just fine, we'll have a baby in the shower!" I felt her crowning at that point, and I don't think I could have gotten out of the shower had my life depended on it. She was born probably 4 minutes after my water broke, and the midwife handed her up to me and helped me slide down to sit in the tub, my whole body shaking from the adrenaline and exertion of squatting her out.
After the cord stopped pulsing, my husband cut it and held the baby skin to skin while the midwives helped me over to the bed. I delivered the placenta quickly, and was shocked to find out I had one tiny skid mark and no tears--I was sure I had torn because even when pushing I was thinking I should hold back a little and be a bit more gradual but I didn't want to because I was desperate to have her OUT.
Now, I feel great. Not too sore although I have gladly accepted some Motrin for after pains. Violet (8 pounds, 20.5 inches) is perfect and an avid nurser...my nipples are already feeling it and I hope my milk makes an appearance soon!
Anyway, obviously it is easy to say now that I am glad I didn't end up getting the epi, but I would make all the same decisions again because I felt that was what I had to do at the time. I am pretty traumatized by the amount of horrific, bone-splitting pain I was in--this was really nothing like my son's birth in that way. I didn't feel like I couldn't handle things until transition with him, but this time most of my labor felt like transition. If I feel like that in future labors, I honestly feel like I would ask for the epi as early as possible. It was so hard.
It's done, she's here, and we're so thrilled. Thanks for all the well-wishes, ladies!