Ian is here!
Well, he's here! It was a long, hard labor. Worth it in every way, but man . . . I'm still recovering.
Sunday morning (June 13), I woke up in the wee hours with what I thought were strong BH ctx. Usually I don't wake up for ctx because I'm so used to them, but these were different -- much more intense, even painful. They just had an edge of authenticity to them, IYKWIM.
We went about our business Sunday, running errands and going here and there, but the ctx kept getting more intense and frequent and they were really starting to slow me down. I began to wonder if this was really it.
Sunday evening, I drank some Raspberry Leaf Tea and went upstairs to lie down for a bit. I had been sort of keeping track of the ctx, and they seemed to be coming pretty regularly -- every 6-9 minutes. I called my health care provider, and they told me to time the ctx really well for an hour or two and call back. We began timing them at 10:38 PM, and found that the strongest ones were coming at exactly six minute intervals, with smaller ctx in between at the 3 min. mark. Over the next few hours they got worse and worse until I was lying sideways on the bed moaning through each ctx. The pain was almost entirely in my back, and it was pretty intense. We called back and they told us to head over to the hospital to be checked.
We arrived at the hospital a bit after 1:30 AM. I fully expected to be told I was 3 cm and sent back home, but lo and behold, I was 4-5 cm! I was so relieved. I was paranoid that even thought he ctx REALLY hurt, that they were just BH ctx, and I'd have to go home and tough them out for a week or more until REAL labor hit. But we were admitted on the spot, and began the process of active labor -- without medication.
All night long, we walked the halls of the hospital, stopping with each ctx to have my husband press on my back to try to relieve some of the pain I was feeling there. I was feeling really strong, powerful and upbeat at this point. I noticed the there were no other mamas walking the floor, even though the L&D nurse said there were ten others laboring that night. I guessed they'd all asked for the epidural right away, and that made me sad. I was in pain, but I was actually having fun. I knew my baby was on his way and that I was going to be the one to make it happen.
I dilated fairly quickly from 5 to 7 cm -- it took about 3 hours, I think. But then I got stuck at 7 cm for about 3 more hours. By 8 am, the OB was pretty concerned about meconium or other potential problems, and against my better judgement, I let him break my water at 8:30 AM. In retrospect, this was a Bad Idea. It led to many other interventions that I hadn't wanted. But I truly believe the final (and most serious) intervention, the c-section, would have happened whether I let him break the water or not, so I'm trying not to beat myself up too badly over it.
Once he broke my water, the ctx started coming much more frequently -- they were like every minute and a half. And they were SO INTENSE. This is when the screaming pain started. I was no longer having fun -- I was out of control and terrified. As long as I live, I never want to feel pain like that again. Without the cushion of the waters to protect my spine from Ian's head, it was like someone was stabbing sharp knives into my lower spine and twisting them -- hard. At the same time, the pain in my abdomen increased exponentially. I couldn't handle it. Over the next hour and a half or so, I screamed my way through the pain to 9 cm dilated. Then I asked for the epidural (partly for the sake of my poor husband, who was exhausted from the physical effort of pushing on my spine, but mostly for me -- I was just DONE with the pain).
The epidural was such a relief, but it stopped my labor cold. At 9 cm! After an hour or two, I was no longer having any ctx at all. So they hooked me up to the pitocin. The pitocin got things going again, but the ctx were ineffective and I remained at 9 cm for the next 4 hours. By 3:30 PM, they were talking c-section, so I told them to cut off the epidural and see if the pitocin would work better then. Oh, my God. What a mistake. It did work -- I dilated to 10 cm by 5:30 or 6:00 PM. But the pain was unbelieveable. They had me start pushing. Pushing did feel good, but the beginning of each ctx was painful enough to make me scream out in terror, and the back pain in between ctx didn't feel good either. Also, the ctx were so close together that I never got a break -- it was finish one, deep breath, head into another. And since I'd been awake and in labor for sooooo long, I was flat out exhausted. I know my pushing was good, as I was pushing out impacted stool, but the baby would. not. budge. (Note -- through all of this, Ian's little heart rate was so steady -- he weathered all of this so very well.
After three and a half hours of pushing, Ian still had not moved down. His head was totally hung up on the pelvic bone. It was clear to all of us at this point that he wasn't coming out the natural way. We all kind of looked at each other in defeat and I said "do it" without even feeling the need to say what "it" was. They went over the risks of c-section and all that, but I wasn't listening. I just wanted Ian to come out, and I wanted the pain to stop. I told them I didn't care what they did as long as they turned the epidural back on. They drugged me up again (I still had to push halfheartedly to get through two more contractions), and prepped me for surgery. I was scared, but resigned to the whole thing. Even if they had believed I could push the baby out, I didn't have it in me by that point. I'd been in serious labor for nearly 24 hours, most of it without medication. I was exhausted and shaking. It was time for the experience to be over.
Before surgery, I noted that I felt a weird tingling/sharp sensation in my lower pelvic area, just on one side. I really didn't think much of it, and I didn't want to mention it because I was scared of them upping the epidural (I was having trouble swallowing and my limbs felt so heavy and dead I was scared). During surgery, I realized that area of my pelvic region had not been numbed effectively by the epidural. I felt pretty much everything that happened in that spot.
It wasn't just pressure -- it was pain. I must say, though -- the pain of being sliced open and having your organs moved around and a baby pulled out is actually LESS than the pain of serious back labor.
While the doctor had me open, it was so funny -- he complimented me on my diet because I had "some nice looking protoplasm" and said that most people who come in there look "all greasy" from eating too much Mickey D's.
He went on at length about how great my organs looked and how I must have a great diet and get lots of exercise. It's the strangest compliment I've ever been paid, but it made me feel good.
Anyway, they removed Ian at 10:03 PM on Monday evening. The very first thing he did, while only his head was out and his body was still inside me, was to BITE THE DOCTOR!
The OB got all startled and said, "He bit me!" Then when they pulled him out, he went back to sucking his hand just like he did in utero (we had lots of U/S pics of this activity).
Ian weighed 7 lbs. 4 oz. and is absolutely beautiful. They cleaned him up and brought him over to me and put him up against my face so I could kiss him and see him. He just stared at me with the most beautiful blue eyes. I was so overwhelmed. They took Ian and DH to the recovery room to wait for me while they stitched me back up. When I got to recovery, they let me breastfeed him. He nursed like a champ! He went for a good 30 minutes! He spent that first night with me, learning to nurse and being cuddled by me and DH. I got hardly any sleep, but I didn't care. I was just so happy to finally have my baby boy.