Wow! So different than the other two children! It is hard to believe my third angel is here. I was cramping pretty badly on Saturday evening but nothing that I would consider a contraction. I thought I had just overdone it with the de-decorating Christmas stuff and putting stuff in the attic. At 1am I couldn't sleep through the cramps anymore and they were officially contractions. (Officially in my mind anyway!) They were coming about 8-10 minutes apart.
I knew that 1-3-2010 was going to be the day so I went ahead and showered and kept busy upstairs for an hour or so (Justin had fallen asleep downstairs). Throughout the night EJ was up and Lyddie was up (they had a rough night) so Justin and I got them back down around 2am and I went downstairs and he went back to bed upstairs. The contractions got down to about 5 or 6 minutes apart for a couple of hours and then seemed to peter out and they were only coming every 20 or 30 minutes. I was so frustrated!!! I decided to try and nap and rest as much as I could so I sat in the recliner and dozed off and on until about 6am when they started getting close together again.
At 6am I called my parents knowing that they were probably already up or close to it. I let them know that I really needed them to plan to come and get the kiddos early. I didn't want EJ to see me in pain and at that point the contractions were pretty hard and I was hurting. EJ and Lyddie were up by 6:15 or so and Granny and Grampy got there at 6:30. The kids were thrilled to get to go with Granny and Grampy in their PJ's. Justin packed their bag while I told EJ that today was Bethany's birthday. He wanted her to come right then! He seemed really excited.
After the kids left I had some breakfast and Justin showered. I really wanted to be left alone. I didn't want him anywhere near me. I was seriously very worried about the labor and the hospital birth experience and I just needed to be alone to process those emotions. I sent Justin on to church with the promise to call if anything changed. He left and I went and lay in the bed to try and rest. I drifted in and out of sleep until about 11am when the pain just got too overwhelming. I took another shower to try and help relax and get the contractions closer together. I noticed that if I was zoning on something like the TV then the contractions would get closer together--6 or so minutes. If I started thinking about the hospital and that it was time to go then they would space back out to about 15 minutes apart. The mind is so powerful! I can't believe how much control my mind had over my body.
I called the doula and let her know about our labor and that I wasn't sure what the plan was going to be. About 11:30 I called the hospital and talked with a nurse. She said with the variable contractions that it was probably "false" labor, but I knew I was having the real thing. She said I was more than welcome to come in at any time and they would check me and see what was going on. When Justin got home from church he ate some lunch and I told him my theory about the contractions and my fear of the hospital. He agreed that we should just go ahead to the hospital and see what was going on.
I called my mom and the doula and my brother to let them know we were on our way to the hospital. He called his mom and did the same. We went on to the hospital around 1:15pm and headed up to L&D. I was really surprised at the whole experience. It was about a million times better than I thought it was going to be. We got taken right to a room and found we were the only one on the whole unit. I changed into a gown and they hooked me up to a contraction monitor and a fetal heart monitor. It was so reassuring to see Bethany's heartbeat and see how she was doing during the contractions. (I was used to some feedback from the other two homebirth's because my midwives always had the doppler.) We answered all the questions and I noticed the contractions were coming really close together. The strip confirmed that they were coming 3 minutes apart! I couldn't believe it! The nurse checked me and I was so scared I was going to be just a fingertip or something but I was 3-4 cm! I almost did a dance of joy! She quickly went and spoke with the doctor (Dr. Brazina was on call) and they decided that I could stay. Because I was worried about the IV we decided to go ahead and start that and get it over with. They also wanted to draw labs to check my iron. Boots (our nurse) was a great stick. One poke, no fishing around and it was done. It hurt a bit but was nothing compared to getting that PICC line! They flushed the line but didn't hook me up to a drip or anything.
Boots knew we wanted a hands off approach so she suggested we walk around and see if we could progress. At this point we decided to bail on the doula. We both felt like the nurses were listening to us and that Justin was holding up well and didn't really need the support of a doula. I was also really wanting to be private and left alone and the idea of another person in the room or talking with me really irked me. I walked about an hour and she checked me and I was 7cm. The doctor came in and checked me over and introduced himself. It was about 3:45pm at this point. He thought I would probably go very quickly--I had other thoughts. I stalled at 8cm with Elijah and Lydia's labor was just long and awful. I was absolutely terrified of another long labor and hemorrhaging or c-section because of it. When he suggested breaking my water Justin and I agreed without hesitation (we had discussed it in depth before coming to the hospital). I was pretty exhausted at this point and we both knew that with our other children that the water broke at the last minute and the next contraction they were born. We were thinking that since I was already 7cm and progressing that this might help labor not to stall.
I was very concerned with my ability to handle contractions in the hospital. At home I didn't have drugs as an option and I didn't have to be on my back at all. In the hospital they were really accommodating as far as letting me get in whatever position I wanted in the bed and just adjusting the monitor afterwards. Boots let me squirm and roll and writhe as much as I wanted. Let me just say that I have NEVER had a contraction without my bag of waters to cushion it. I made it through the first one OK. The pain was about a 9 or so. When the next one hit about a minute later I seriously thought I was going to die. The pain was absolutely the worst thing I have ever felt. Kudos to you women who labor the whole time with no water--I couldn't have done it!
Justin and I had already discussed that if I needed pitocin or if they had to break my water then we would see how I handled the pain and then decide on if we wanted an epidural. I really thought there was NO way I would ever get an epidural. The second contraction after breaking my water proved me wrong. I immediately started begging for help and sobbing and crying. The pain that I felt without the water bag there was something I had never experienced before. It was a whole new level of pain. Justin was wonderful--he talked to me and coached me and told me I was doing great and that I could do it. We both knew I needed something because I was very quickly losing control. I knew IV pain meds were NOT an option since they affect the baby so we asked for the epidural. I was in so much pain at this point that I was nauseous and couldn't even roll from side to side. It was a feeling so different from my other two labors that it took me by complete surprise.
About 10 minutes later anesthesia showed up and Boots checked me one more time just to make sure that I couldn't just push instead of getting the pain medicine. Unfortunately I was still at 7cm--I was NOT surprised. I couldn't relax at all and was just clenching up every contraction--not a good way to progress. They quickly got the epidural in and it took on the right side of my body--very weird feeling. It took a little of the edge off the left side and I was able to concentrate on relaxing and breathing again through the contractions. They put the epidural in at 4:45pm. After about 10 minutes Boots checked me and asked if I was ready to push out the baby. I was! They set up the room and I pushed through two contractions (6 pushes total) and our angel was born.
Bethany Noelle was born at 5:13pm and she weighed 6lbs 11oz. The cord was VERY short--she couldn't even get up on my chest--so Justin cut the cord and we got to snuggle. They didn't take her from me at all--they just let me hold her and rub her and love on her. After a few minutes they wanted to do the APGAR so they put her in the little bassinet in the room and weighed and measured and checked her over. Justin was able to be with both of us. It was wonderful!
I was able to deliver the placenta and had pretty normal bleeding. Because of my history they decided to start IV pitocin for 12 hours and I ended up also getting a shot of something else in my thigh called Methergen. Bethany was born with her fist under her chin so she had some big bruises on her elbow and shoulder from coming out and she tore a little pathway on the inside of me. That ended up being all that I needed stitched closed.
We stayed in the hospital until 5:30pm on Monday and went home. I have never been more exhausted than I was after that hospital birth. I had someone in the room every half hour until 2am. They left me alone from 2-3:30 am and then it started back up with a steady stream of lab techs, medical records people, the pediatrician at 6am and the OB at 6;45. It was crazy!! I wanted to get a shower so bad but there was someone in there until 11am and then Justin had already left and I felt sort of stranded. Thankfully I just kept the baby in the room with me and we were able to snuggle and bond and nurse all day long to keep busy.
The hardest part of this birth were the afterpains that I got. They were not only bad while nursing but for the hour or so afterwards. Even as tired as I was on Monday night I barely got 3 hours total of sleep because of the pains. By Wednesday morning I was on the phone with the OB begging them to do something for me. Tylenol wasn't touching the pains and I was hurting so much I hadn't slept Monday or Tuesday night or been able to nap. I was literally to the point of throwing up while I nursed because they hurt so bad and I was DESPERATE to get some sleep. I had managed to get less than 8 hours of sleep since Saturday and it was Wednesday. The doctor told me to try Motrin and that as long as I wasn't bleeding, passing clots or feverish that it was just normal afterpains probably made worse by the drugs I got after the delivery. Thankfully, Motrin did take some of the edge off and I was able to get some sleep on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The pains finally became bearable with no pain meds by Friday afternoon.
All in all the experience was much better than I thought it would be and we ended up with a healthy mommy and baby. There is nothing more to hope for.