Saturday night, Sept 26, 2009, I went to bed about 9 or so. Woke up at 11 pm with contractions. (No more sleep after that until Sunday night.) Timed contractions with IContraction on IPod. I didn't even check myself that night. I knew these contractions were doing something. Went to hospital about 2 am. I knew Kate was on call at 8, so I was not worried. There was an OB I had never met on call until 7. I didn't actually meet him until about 6:45. More on that later.
I had a really sweet nurse named Sarah from when I got there until 7. She settled me in and checked me. I was 2 cm and 80% effaced. (I had been closed but soft and 30% effaced Thursday night. We had gone in to the hospital and saw Courtney, a sweet midwife, who said it was prodromal labor and sent me home to rest with Tylenol PM.) Jenn showed up in what seemed like no time. We had called her when we left for the hospital. Sarah got a 30 minute strip on the baby, who was doing great. There were decels for a moment, but it was because I was lying down. I moved to the rocking chair and all was well from there. Sarah let me walk around for a couple of hours. Jenn and I walked the maternity recovery area, stopping for my contractions so I could lean onto the rails or bend over and put my hands on my knees. I felt like I was progressing nicely, because they were getting stronger.
Back in the room, I was checked again and I was 3 cm. Sarah wanted another good strip on the baby, so I had to stay hooked to the monitors for another good hour. When I got off the monitors. I decided to try a bath, so Jenn had the nurse clean the tub and she ran a bath. The water felt great! The contractions were stronger in the tub and started getting harder to take because the tub was so small I wouldn't move well, the drain was broken and the washcloth Jenn put on the drain wouldn't hold the water in well enough. Plus, I wanted to make sure the baby didn't come before Kate could get there to deliver. I got out of the tub, and Andy helped me dry off. Jenn helped me get the hospital gowns back on. She put one on the front and one on the back to keep me warm. I just walked around the room and leaned on various surfaces to deal with contractions. I did the Hypnobabies slow deep breathing with each contraction, and I could tell it helped a lot. I wasn't able to anesthetize myself, but just thinking about the suggestions helped me to relax. At this point I was able to relax my muscles pretty well with the contractions.
At about 6:45 am, the OB came in to see me. He had been on call this whole time, and this was our only encounter. The nurse had told me that he wanted me to have an IV. Of course, I didn't want one yet, but I had not ruled out IV pain relief or an epidural, so there was a chance I'd need an IV soon enough anyway. Apparently it was a huge deal to this doctor, because he wanted me to have one right away. He even said that he could not be my doctor if I didn't accept one. Of course, I declined. So he settled for having me sign a waiver. He was obviously ill-educated and not very personable at all. I think my birth plan offended him. He said repeatedly "You have a SCAR on your UTERUS." and "That's substandard care." He was referring to the fact that I was a VBAC who wanted minimal fetal monitoring and no IV. I signed his silly waiver and looked forward to seeing my Kate! (I would have had him deliver the baby if he had been born just 8 hours earlier. God is good!)
Kate is my favorite midwife at the clinic. She was the one I heard all about from my sister and another friend Trisha. She was the one that was supposed to be "excellent", and she proved this to me with our office visits and Facebook conversations. She was the one I wanted so desperately to magically be on-call when Sawyer decided to come. The chances of us getting Kate were not very good, and I had not really expected it to happen. And I was going to get her! I still cannot believe the blessing of God's timing. I know that delivery by that silly doctor would have made for a drastically different and terrible experience in comparison to what I actually got.
My contractions were getting very intense, and I was still walking around holding on to stuff when they came. I told Jenn I was ready to try IV pain relief. At the time it seemed like forever before they came to give me the IV and Stadol. As they were doing it, in walked Kate! I had never been so relieved to see anyone! Woohoo! The nurse explained to her that I had asked for drugs. They gave me the Stadol, and Kate suggested they adjust the bed to put me in a sitting position to help me deal with contractions, and I guess to prevent decels. The Stadol didn't take away much pain at all, but it made me a little drowsy/loopy. The nurse had checked me some time around here, and I was at a "stretchy 4". She said she could stretch me to a 6. Wow! I was impressed that I had made it this far. I had wanted an epi after 5 cm, if at all. I knew in the back of my mind that I might need it soon.
I got up to labor some more and decided to call my parents' house. This was around 7:30 am. Sally and Bennett were still there visiting. Sally answered the phone, and said I sounded "chipper". And I said, "yeah, to be 5-6 cm, I guess I am!" I told her we were in the hospital and had been since about 2. She was kind of surprised that I was just now calling, lol. I had to hand the phone to Andy when I got a contraction or two. Sally told me to keep walking around and do the bending over with my hands on my knees, which I had been doing. I guess they called the rest of the family, and Sarah made her way to Jackson, too.
The contractions kept picking up in frequency and intensity, of course. I asked for another dose of Stadol. I had taken a half-dose the first time, at Kate's suggestion. So I got the other half and tried to relax better. The contractions became too intense for me to relax through anymore, and I knew I was about at the end of my threshold. Kate kept encouraging me to keep on, and when I asked for an epi, she wanted to make sure I was really sure. I told her I would NOT regret it! It was too hard to get through these, even with Hypnobabies. She suggested that I lean on Andy during each contraction. So I sat on the birth ball and did exactly that. It felt soooo good to lean on him, much warmer and more welcoming than furniture! I stood up and leaned on him through several contractions while Jenn massaged my lower back. The massaging felt great, too. She said I had a lot of tension in my lower left back.
Finally, I looked at Kate and said, "Is it too late for an epidural?" She said it wasn't too late. Whew! She asked if I wanted her to check me first, and I though about it and decided I didn't want to know. Plus I was afraid it would delay the epi even longer. So she called for the anesthesiologist. It seemed to take forever for him to get there. The contractions at this point were starting to feel "pushy" and I found myself squeezing to try to keep the baby in so I could get my epi.
It was around noon I think. The anesthesiologist finally got there. Kate said he did a "good epidural" which I found out was true.
I was afraid of having a contraction while he was doing it, and sure enough, one came right as he was telling me to be still. Ack! I was leaning on Kate for the epidural, and she ended up coaching me through the contraction. It was definitely one of those "I can't do it!!" moments and I must have vocalized as much. She said, "Yes you can, yes you can, yes you can!"
Kate checked me after I lay down in the bed to wait for the epi to kick in. She said I was at 9.5! Holy moly, no wonder I was hurting so much! I was so happy to have made it so far. I felt like superwoman, haha. I will never regret getting that epi. My #1 goal was to VBAC, and I knew that as long as I didn't get it too soon, everything should be okay. I guess 9.5 cm isn't too soon, lol. She said I had some cervix left on my left side, so she asked me to lie on my left for a little while. After I laid back straight, I felt a "baby kick" or so I thought on my left up high in my uterus, followed a couple of seconds later by a huge splash on my legs. My water had broken! I had feared that it would break sooner in labor and intensify my contractions to an (even more) intolerable level. So much for that worry! One of the nurses checked to see if there was meconium, and there was. Ugh! I was a little worried (flashbacks from Lucas' birth), but they assured me it wasn't too bad and was pretty thin.
I spoke to my sister Sarah on the cell and gave her a progress report and told her I just got an epi. I think they checked me again and had me lay on my right side for a moment to even things out. Pretty soon I was complete and Kate asked, "Are you ready to do some work?" Of course I was! I was ready to meet my baby and I was plenty relaxed now that the contractions were mere completely tolerable pressure sensations.
I did, however, have terrible shakes that just wouldn't go away! It think it was a combination of nerves, labor hormones, and the low temperature in the room. I continued to shake for awhile.
At around this point, Andy went to the waiting area, and my sisters were able to take turns to come back to see me. Kate ended up allowing BOTH of my sisters to stay, along with Andy and the doula. They ended up staying for the entire pushing phase and delivery! Meanwhile, my mom watched Drew, Lucas, and Bennett. Andy's parents were also waiting. They took Drew and Lucas for a walk at one point and came back with Oreo cookies for them. (Grrrr!)
The pushing phase was a long, exhausting process. I hadn't realized it would take so much time or energy. I'm sure the epidural slowed it down some, too. I had lots of encouragement and coaching, which kept me going. Every time a contraction began, my "coaches" would help pull my legs up so I could hold on to them and push. He seemed to move down so slowly with each push. It was kind of cool, though, to see my belly get lower and lower as he descended. At a couple of points, I became so tired and dizzy that I thought I might pass out. I asked for something to bring my sugar up. Jenn got me some apple juice, which made me feel nauseated. Eventually Andy suggested I have a piece of gum or candy. I thought a peppermint sounded good, and it ended up boosting me enough to get through to the end. I also sipped water throughout my entire labor, which I think helped a lot.
The whole pushing phase was around 3.5 hours. Wow! It was so neat to hear the encouraging exclamations when the “cheerleaders” could tell I was pushing effectively and the collective sighs when the baby's head started to become visible. They asked me if I wanted a mirror to see the baby, so that I could tell if I was pushing correctly. At the time I didn't want to look, because I was already dizzy and weak and thought it might make me more nauseated. It would have been neat to look, but I'm okay with not having looked.
Someone suggested that I reach down and feel the baby's head after it was out enough for me to do so. It was sooo neat to feel him! I ended up pretty much keeping my hand down there until he was out. Andy said my whole countenance changed after I felt him the first time. I think that gave me the boost I needed to go on and push him out. I pushed his head about halfway out, and it kind of slid out the rest of the way on its own. I remember Kate asking me to push slowly, but I couldn't stop him, lol. I pushed his body out in the next couple of pushes.
Kate was so great at letting my body and my baby pretty much do the whole process with no interference. I even asked if she could spread things apart so he would come faster, and she said he was doing it by himself. I'm so glad she allowed things to go slowly and smoothly, because I did not tear much at all. I was expecting to have one of those 2nd or 3rd degree tears that everyone talks about, especially since it was my first vaginal birth. Nope! Kate had to stitch one place, but it wasn't bad at all. I mainly had "skid marks" on the sides. Woohoo for an intact perineum!
Sally took some pictures of the crowning and of the head after it was out, as well as pics of his bloody, meconium-covered body when it emerged.
Baby Sawyer handled the whole labor and delivery like a champ! I am so happy and so proud of him! He had to be deep suctioned right after birth. Therefore the cord had to be cut right away, and I couldn't hold him right away. I was okay with this, considering I felt so lucky with the whole birth experience and over the moon that I had my VBAC and a healthy baby!
Sawyer was born at 4:02 pm 9/27/09. He was 8 lb 3 oz and 20" long. 12 oz bigger than Lucas and 1 in longer. I think he measured longer because of the cone-shaped head. Who knows? He was and is perfect in every way. He has brown hair, and I think he looks a lot like me. I can see some of Andy and me in him. I can't wait to see what he ends up looking like! He is so sweet and easy so far. I feel so blessed!!!!