Better late than never, and I better write this down before I start forgetting details!
Super long story, but the quick and dirty summary is: planned a home birth, got a c-section, 41h - 31 at home, 4 pushing; at least we tried everything.
Woke up in the wee hours of Thursday (9/12) morning, a bit before 3 AM, just one of the N times a night I woke up to pee. That is, until I actually got up from the bed, moment at which I thought I'd peed myself. Well, turns out it wasn't pee - my water broke; which was a bit anticlamatic since nothing else was happening and there was less amount of liquid than I thought there would be (turns out it was probably just a leak, since later that day it happened again with a lot more). Since the liquid was clear, and I had no contractions, I decided to not wake up Alex or call the midwifes and just try to sleep. Sleep took a while to happen, and by the time I woke up again at 6 AM contractions were definitely on - 15 minutes apart, 30 seconds long, not that painful, but definitely not BH, these were the real deal.
I was sort of liking having this little secret to myself, and the house all quiet, so I tried to stay in bed resting and trying not to get too excited. When Alex woke up, it took him a while to be awake enough to understand what I meant when I told him that he would not be going to work that day.
We stayed in bed for a few hours longer, just chatting and enjoying what was probably going to be our last "hanging out in bed with nothing else to do" time. Around 10 AM we called our midwifes, doula, and birth photographer just to give them a heads up about what was going on. Contractions were around 8-10 minutes apart, still no big deal.
We had breakfast and went grocery shopping as per our previous early labor plans. Walking made the contractions stronger and closer together - had to stop walking when they came on though I could still talk through them. But the actual work was beginning.
We spend a few hours working through the contractions as they kept getting stronger. They never got into a super regular pattern, but the intensity definitely went up. It was still only us two, which was really nice. At some point I felt like I needed a bit of relief and a shower / bath might be welcome (I'd been holding off on that because I was afraid it might stall labor since the contractions were not very regular). Well, the bath did quite the opposite of what I wanted it to do, and it was time to call the troops in.
Some of our original planning went out of the window here, and we basically told everyone to come at the same time since it was rush hour, and everyone was more than an hour away. We almost made the huge mistake of canceling the labor tub because they said it would take them 3h to come (WTF?) and we felt like things were speeding up; but luckily I came to my senses and stopped Alex from canceling it!
Other than our doula arriving first, I don't really remember anyone else getting in. My plans to throw on some clothes when people arrive were quickly forgotten, I just did not care enough about it. I was glad that having our doula and midwifes there grounded me in the sense that it validated that it was all normal. Pain was intense, definitely high there on the scale, but feeling like it was normal and to be expected allowed me to just let it happen and try to go with it.
At some point in the evening before it got dark I got checked and I was 7cm, which was good news (I'd read too many stories of holding off on cervical checks and then when they were finally done, mom was only 4cm or so).
The tub took three water heater loads to fill, and wasn't the sweet relief I was hoping for. It didn't really do anything for the pain, though it allowed me to get some really good rest in between contractions. I wish I had a tub that deep as a permanent fixture at home.
Sadly, the tub was missing it's magic progress dust, so after a few hours I got out of it and tried different things. Meanwhile my birth team was making sure we ate and drank throughout everything.
The pain got worse, but contractions were starting to space out a bit, and I was getting tired. Since everyone - well, me and baby - were doing fine, dehydration was not an issue, and we were close to the 24h mark at this point, I decided to try to take a nap and see if I could re-energize myself. When we went to the bedroom our doula came with us and suggested a couple of positions before sleeping, which made me realize baby's positioning was a problem (OP) and she was hoping he would rotate. Maybe it had been mentioned before, I don't know, but that's the moment when I realized it - suddenly the intense back pain and slow progress started to make sense. But again, since no one seemed worried, then neither was I.
I'm sure we must have gotten some sleep, but I can't really remember it. We were spooning and talking softly, whilst everyone else tried to get a snooze in the living room. Suddenly the contractions changed yet again, increased in the pain scale, and a bit of an almost-pushing-but-not-quite sensation. Now the contraction pain started to come with a side of the front of my pelvis is about to split open pain - which in retrospect makes sense since baby got stuck trying to pass the pelvic bone.
So that was 9 cm, but baby was not descending (I believe he didn't get lower than -1 or 0 whilst we were at home). At some point we decided to try the birthing stool and pushing through contractions, even without an urge to push or being complete, to try to make baby descend and have his head finish up the whole dilation business. Sadly, this plan didn't really work, and in fact the birthing stool was way too comfortable in between contractions.
Kept switching it up every once in a while - tub, stool, toilet - but things weren't progressing. We were still doing fine, but I was starting to run out of steam and recoil with the pain instead of relaxing into it.
The next suggestion was to get dressed and try going up and down stairs. And this is the point when I decided that I couldn't - well, I could definitely do the stairs thing, but assuming that worked I did not think that at that point I had the energy to start pushing, plus I was too tired to deal with the pain properly and I felt I was making each contraction harder. We talked about it to make sure I was absolutely certain about what I was about to do - but it was time to transfer whilst there was still a hope that with some relief and rest brought on by an epidural I would be able to push this kid out. So, time to transfer.
The time between making the decision and being able to leave seemed to be eternal. Everyone had to pick up their stuff, the midwifes had to call the hospital to let them know we were coming, why, and what for, etc etc etc.
The car ride wasn't that bad for being at 9 cm, though it isn't something I'd recommend.
Somewhere around the 30h mark, my home birth plan was clearly not going to happen, but I was feeling pretty optimistic about aiming for a vaginal birth even if it didn't look like what I'd originally planned. Alex was my rock throughout everything, my doula was my source of suggestions and ideas, and my midwifes the indication that everything was fine. And they were all coming to the hospital with me.
Checking in went smoothly since they already knew we were coming. I got a wonderful nurse (wish I knew her name), and a grumpy doctor that didn't seem to be home birth transfer friendly - a bit of a bummer, but at least she was upfront about her time limits, and I was ready to fight them as long as everything looked okay.
Got an epidural, and started on pit since contractions had spaced out and weakened. I'd sort of been hoping to be spared the piton, but considering my membranes had been ruptured for quite a while, and the attending OB was not going to be generous with time, it seemed like an okay thing to do.
Managed to get an hour of sleep, which was incredibly refreshing. The epidural I got was one of those "walking" spinals, so I could feel the contractions starting and ending. A bit after, I was fully dilated, baby had descended a bit further and I was ready to push. Obviously no urge to push at this point and with all the medication, so coached pushing it would have to be, but whatever.
This was when the scary OB came into play and stated a 2h pushing deadline. This pissed be off, since 2hs pushing for a first time mother who needs coached pushing is not a lot. Luckily it was just a threat because she didn't come back into the room (she just sent her minion resident to have a look) till 4 hours of pushing had gone by. Sadly, those 4 hours were not enough - baby had descended further, but had not rotated at any point.
After talking with the OB again and asking her for options, we got our last chance at a vaginal birth - forceps. At that point the room turned into a theater, with more than 10 people standing around and watching, not that I really cared at this point.
I believe we tried for 5 pushes without luck. And on what the OB announced was the last try, as I was pushing, I heard someone commenting that baby's hear rate was getting low - for the first time since everything started. At this point there was really nothing else to fight for, no other options or chances - my baby would be born by C-section, the one thing I'd been trying to avoid. It was either that or be pregnant forever, which didn't really seem to be an option.
I managed to keep my wits around me to make sure the "in case of a C-section" and "newborn care" sections of our hospital transfer birth plan were read by the appropriate people.
Getting prepped in the OR, and having the anesthesiologist do his magic, alone, without Alex by my side, was the scariest moment of all. I was terrified, trying to process everything I'd gone through, cold and shivering, and trying to avoid crying (didn't really succeed on this). Finally Alex was allowed in, and the show started. We were too busy talking, trying to talk about what was going on, what it meant, that we weren't really paying attention to how the surgery was going. Before we knew it, our baby was born.
Alex got to announce it was a boy, and then he got whisked to the warmer and a bunch of people started working on him. Since I couldn't really see anything, I was calm because everyone seemed calm, but Alex was terrified since baby needed oxygen and quite a bit of stimulation to get started and he was right there watching. He did get to do the token cord trimming.
Meanwhile I could hear someone on the other side of my curtain asking for more / faster pit, and I realized they'd just pushed a whole bag super fast. I asked them whether I was hemorrhaging, but apparently not, though uterine tone was really low (not surprising considering the long labor and everything that had happened).
Eventually Alex came over holding our baby, and I got to see him, and smell him, and kiss him, and touch him. Skin to skin was offered, but considering the minuscule amount of my skiing available for it, it seemed like a better idea for baby to get some real skin to skin from Alex whilst I was getting sown up.
Getting put back together seemed to take a really long time, but we were finally out of the OR and into the recovery room, and I could hold my baby.
I'll add some photos to the thread later, gotta go and feed Cailan now!