We welcomed Mr. Samuel Morgen Nemec at 4:55 pm on Thursday July 10, 2008, of course he did not have his official name until today. This morning, Aaron had a nice long talk with his son while I slept and they were able to make the final decision together. Way to go guys!!
So here is my birth story:
Between 2:30 and 3:30 in the morning I was waking up about every 20 minutes because of stomach cramps. I used the bathroom a number of times, and the crampy contractions were notable. However, they were not so unique as to tell me that I was indeed in labor. At 3:30 I was pretty sure something was up, if only a wacky stomach problem. By 4:20 I was convinced enough that this was something different so I woke Aaron up and we timed contractions together. Since contractions seemed to be just about 2 1/2 or 3 minutes apart, I decided to call the doc. They said wait an hour and if it was still occurring, just go on in to the hospital. We wanted to make sure this wasn't a false start and we had read over and over that it is better to do early labor at home, so we waited closer to two hours.
We got to the hospital around 7:00 am. The sun was out. The ride to the hospital was not so bad. When we went to registration they made me get in a wheel chair. I felt like a fool, but it was sort of fun. When asked if I was in labor I replied... "well, I think so!" and then they'd ask my due date and I would say "July 2nd" and they said, you mean August 2nd?? Everyone did a double take that I was a week past my due date. I guess they must not do that too much around here. My contractions waned during registration (actually I had pre-registered so there wasn't much to do except say "yep" to all the info I'd already given them) so I thought this might be the kind of thing where they'd send me home after all. Yet no one seemed to even consider that I might NOT be in labor. Or, at least it seemed that since I was 41 weeks and showed up at the hospital they were gonna get this baby out no matter what. Hmmm.
So I got to my labor and delivery room. The nurses were really really nice and great. Talked about lotsa options, checked my stats, got on the fetal monitor. Contractions were not completely consistent, but they were starting to grow in intensity. They were sometimes 3 minutes apart, sometimes 5. Baby was doing great the whole time. They were waiting for my doc to check my cervix, since I was GBS positive and they wanted to limit the number of checks to decrease the chance of infection. But after sitting in the room for an hour or so and not knowing if this was the real deal, one of the nurses went ahead and checked me. Guess what?! 4 cm!! And I think I was 80 or 90 percent effaced. This baby was indeed on its way! At this point I was marveling at how different hospital births must be from home labors. Here, though I *could* walk around, I felt very inclined to stay in my little room, and even stay near my bed. I was hooked up to monitors most of the time, and since I was GBS+, I needed to have an IV for the penicillin. I have oh-so little veins I guess, because it took them 3 tries and two different nurses to get the line in. Ick. I did feel a bit as though pregnancy and labor were treated as an illness, and I think that really changes the way you perceive your laboring process.
For several hours I managed my contractions with breathing. Aaron and I discovered ways that he could help relax my body by gentle massage on my lower back, or even a still hand on my arm. Skin to skin contact helped. Mostly I needed to just focus inward and remind myself that the pain would pass. The pain was not excruciating. Comparisons to diarrhea cramps and menstrual cramps are really not far off. The only thing is with those you know a little bit better when the end is near, and you have an idea of how intense it's going to get. These cramps just continued to gain in intensity.
My timeline is already not so clear, so I will just say what I remember, though I do not know duration between events. By the time my doc got there, I was 5 cm already. Everyone was impressed with the progress I was making and my doc even said I might deliver that afternoon! I was so excited. Aaron kept commenting how my face would drastically change once they told me these little gems of information. It made all the difference in the world to know that my painful contractions were accomplishing something.
[NOTE: neglected to remember 1st time around -- doc broke water at this point. Water was clean (no meconium) and I had the real "bloody show". Had to keep a towel between my legs from here on out.]
After that point, the pain began to increase. I really cannot say whether the contractions were that much stronger, or if it was just that I'd been at it so long, or maybe just the concern that they wouldn't cease. [In retrospect I wonder if the water breaking thing also made it more awkward and harder to relax through contractions. Also...another thing I had sorta blocked out: I had crazy shakes.] I could no longer easily smile or carry on a conversation. I cool washcloth compress was my way of focusing my attention elsewhere and calming myself down. It seemed I could make it through, but how much longer would this be? Maybe this intensity meant the end was near...but the next time I was checked I had only progressed to 6 cm. The nurses and doc were all impressed with how well I was doing with the pain management, and the progression was good, but I knew I still had a long way to go and my labor was no longer exciting and new -- I had been at it for at least 9 hours. I decided to do the epidural.
Deciding to get the epidural was a weird choice for me. I am not against medical intervention and I am not against medicine. However, making the natural process of birth into this complex ordeal with IVs and wires and all this stuff seems really weird. I was also afraid of prolonging my labor and leading to possible episiotomy or use of the vacuum extractor. But my nurses informed me that since I was already at a 6 the risk of delay was not likely. I still felt weird about making the choice ... like I was giving up or something.
Once I had the epidural my mood changed entirely. I had been feeling really sad and down. When things get difficult I turn inward, so it makes it hard for Aaron to be involved in the process too. After the epidural, it was like turning back the clock. I still felt contractions, and it was still painful, but it was like how it was at 3:30 in the morning -- the tolerable talk-through-able contractions. My legs felt funky and it was awkward to move around and I was confined to the bed, but despite all that I felt great. All of a sudden I was able to tell jokes and laugh with my husband and the staff. Basically, I was all excited and giddy again. I had renewed energy.
They checked me again in a bit and I had not progressed much. They decided to do the pitocin. At this point, I was not worried. I said Ok. I was on the labor drug train.
The pitocin did not appear to change the contractions considerably, and with my dulled feelings I could not tell for sure if they had changed either. I did know that I felt a lot more pressure down there. My doc had been in surgery and stuff during the day. The nurses were waiting for her to come check me, but she was busy doing stuff. Finally one of the nurses decided to just check me anyway and found that I was at a 10!! And fully effaced!! It was GO TIME! She had the other nurse check to make sure. And yes!! They said I could go!! I was disappointed that I didn't have the pushing urge. But later I decided the increased pressure I was feeling probably WAS that urge and I probably could have started earlier. No matter, they told me how to push and I could still feel the contractions so I knew when to push. It was the typical on the back labor situation, Aaron holding one leg and a nurse the other. My doc was still not around, but they had me start pushing him down the birth canal and it was working!! Aaron could see the head! I couldn't really tell. A little bit more and he was ready to come out. But the doc wasn't there (just like on TV). They had me wait. I told them that the baby was ready and we didn't need to wait, but they wanted to wait anyway :). Finally my doc walked through the door and we really did it! The whole time I was able to laugh with Aaron and the nurses. It was amazing! I wasn't watching when his head came out, but I could tell when it happened because of everyone's reaction and then the most amazing feeling, even with my dulled sensation, followed as the rest of him slid right out. There he was. Our beautiful baby boy.
I bled a lot. "More than [they] like to see." It seems that my little guy had his hand near his head coming down and managed to tear an artery inside the vaginal canal or something like that. Yikes. It took them 45 minutes to stitch me up. I'm swollen and sore. For some reason I didn't consider what my recovery would be like -- all I thought about was my new little guy. But I'm getting better by the hour.
So my labor was a long labor. But I wasn't induced. I had medication, and it was good for me. I did not have an episiotomy, and my tear wasn't caused by him not being able to fit through the birth canal, and I didn't have to use a vacuum extractor. And best of all, I have the most amazing new addition to my life.
Sorry if this story is disjointed. I am still operating on very little sleep and details are already fuzzy :) It's too exciting to spend time sleeping, and every time I start to doze it seems someone walks in the door and wakes me up. But we will be home tomorrow, late afternoon or so.
I will post pictures later. Seems to be taking forever using the signal I get here at the hospital...