Warning: Long. Read at the risk of your eyeballs exploding.
All events take place on November 10, 2008
12:44 AM I am dead asleep.
12:45 AM I am awakened with a contraction. It is, obviously, hard enough to wake me out of a dead sleep, but not terrible. I am positive that it is a real contraction, much like the first real contraction with Dora. I wish I could sleep some more, two hours of sleep is not enough to labor on. Especially if this goes for 30 more hours, like it did with Dora.
1:00 AM 15 minutes, huh. That is not what kind of sleep I had in mind. It quickly becomes apparent that it is the kind of sleep I am going to get, though. The contractions don’t get any closer together, but they do get stronger. At 3:30 AM I get up and wake my husband up. We eat a snack, watch the weather channel, and vacillate about calling my mom to stay with Dora. Finally we decide to call her to put her on notice (she has an hours drive), and my husband decides to call a friend to help him move some grain trucks out of the field, since the opportune watching of the weather channel shows him there is some unexpected rain moving in. The grain is not covered and will rot if it gets very wet. The grain trucks do not have windshield wipers. Our friend loves us. I call my mom back and let her know she should go ahead and come up because I am going to be home alone for a while and could use the support. She is already on the way. She and I watch the weather channel, doze, and time contractions. They are staying 15 minutes apart.
6:30 AM I go to bed to try to rest. The contractions stop. I go to sleep for an hour, and another contraction wakes me up at 7:30. Things are very irregular, and I am furious. Is this not the real thing? Did I really just wake everybody and their dog up only to have my contractions stop at daylight?!?
8:30 AM My mom and I decide to take a walk to see if things will pick up. It just so happens that a volunteer organization I’m involved in is doing a senior citizens dinner that day of turkey and dressing, so we walk down there to help prepare. Contractions level back out to every 15 minutes and are getting to the point I have to stop and really breathe through them. All the ladies at the dinner tell me to go home, and we finally walk back home about 11:30. My husband comes home, ostensibly for lunch, but ends up taking a nap instead. I call my doctor and they tell me to go ahead and come in for monitoring ASAP. I am unconvinced. I let my husband sleep an hour. I rock my baby Dora to sleep for her nap, knowing that she will look much larger to me the next time I see her. I cry a little bit and hold her for longer than is strictly necessary.
2:00 PM We finally leave the house. The hospital is an hour away, and my husband stops for Long John Silver’s on the way. YUCK. Contractions are still 15 minutes apart, but I cannot bear to sit through them, so I lift myself up by pushing on the armrests of the car the whole way up there.
3:30 PM We stroll into L&D, tell them who we are, and they say they have been expecting us. My doctor called around noon and they were wondering what was taking so long. We are told to sit in the waiting room and they will get us into the exam room to see how things are progressing as soon as it is available. I turn around and take 3 steps to the nearest chair, then squat and breathe through the next contraction. As I’m coming out of that place you go when you are dealing with a contraction I hear “Ma’am, MA’AM! Are you ok?!” “Yes, I’m fine, I’m just having contractions.” “Well just come with me to a room. This one is closest.” I was amused that they were dismissing me until they saw me have a contraction. Did they think I was lying about having contractions? I guess a lot of people come in thinking they are in labor when they are not. You’d think they would trust someone on a second baby a little more, but whatever.
4:00 PM I am checked. Four centimeters. I am disappointed, but not surprised. This is probably the first time I am questioned on my birth plan. “You are planning to try to do this without meds?” Yes. “Did you do it without meds the first time?” Yes. “Oh, ok then.” It is not the last time I hear that exact line of questioning. A sweet little nurse comes in to set my hep-lock (no IV until absolutely needed per my birth plan) and can’t get it into the vein, even though you could drive semi-trucks through my veins. She says she won’t try more than once, which I appreciate, and goes to find someone more experienced. The nurse who comes in next worked in a lab for 20 years before becoming a nurse and hits it on the first try, but says I have ‘muscular veins’, and so even if the needle is against them, it doesn’t go through the wall of the vein, it just slides down it unless you poke really hard. Ah, that explains the pain of the first time. I get hooked up to a monitor and we get to listen to the heartbeat and watch the contractions. Over the next couple of hours, the contractions slowly get closer together, but never closer than about 5 minutes apart. The sweet little nurse is very encouraging, telling me I’m doing a great job and am in control through the contractions. I like her a lot.
7 PM Shift change, which brings with it a middle-aged larger nurse lady who, on the first time looking at my monitoring strip sees some decelerations and there is a moment of controlled panic until a gentle tilt to my right side brings the heart rate back up to where it should be. It now looks fine, she says, but not as exceedingly wonderful as it did before. I stay religiously on my right side, and monitoring is now continuous, rather than intermittent. Contractions are 4-ish minutes apart and really taking everything I’ve got to get through them. She says I’m breathing really fast through them, and if I get to feeling light-headed I should concentrate on slowing my breathing down. She asks if I went un-medicated the first time, and when I say yes, she says she is glad because un-medicated deliveries always go the best. It’s at this point that I vaguely realize (after several nurses have asked about me doing it before) that nobody really believes you are going to go through L&D un-medicated unless you have done it before. I actually got support on that this time, rather than a nurse asking me if I want meds every time they walk in the door like last time. Wouldn’t you think they would be trying to encourage the newbie, the person who is trying and doesn’t have the first-hand knowledge yet? Nope. This is a guilty until proven innocent situation, I guess.
8 PM My doctor stops by, checks me, and I have progressed to 6 centimeters. Ugh. Slow. Like last time. He looks at the nurse and says “And she’s not going to let us break her water, she doesn’t want any interventions.” I almost interrupt him to say, “Actually, if you really think it would help, I wouldn’t be opposed to it. It just didn’t help last time.” He assures me that he thinks it will help this time, and that little task is performed posthaste. Like last time, it didn’t hurt at all. In fact it feels a little relieving because some of the pressure is taken off the skin of my stomach. Unlike last time I hear the blessed word “Clear” from my doctor when he sees the fluid. Thank God. No meconium. The nurse says the contractions will probably get more ‘intense’ now. I tell her I need to go to the bathroom, and she helps me get there holding a wad of sheets between my legs to absorb the fluid. The contraction I have in the bathroom is, indeed, more ‘intense’. I tell the nurse she wasn’t joking. We get me back to the bed and I wake my husband up. Oh, did I not tell you that immediately when we get to the room he requests a cot to sleep? Yeah, he said one thing to me about being tired and having to take a nap and I just looked at him. He shut up and dozed for a few hours, but now it was time for him to step in. He basically just kept his hand on my leg as a calming presence for the next few contractions. I am deep in that place where labor happens and mostly just want his presence, not anything concrete. After a few contractions, I tell the nurse that things feel different. She asks “Different how?” I am not sure, just different. A few more contractions and I tell her I’m feeling like I’d kinda like to push, but it’s not bad yet. I remember from last time that when it’s time to push, there will be no ‘kinda’ about it. She checks me and I have progressed to an 8. She tells me there is still a ways to go, and after the next contraction I tell her I’m really feeling like pushing. She says I need to hold off, but she’ll check me during the next contraction to see. That hurt, but it was worth it, because she says “Oh, you stretched to a 9 during that one contraction, he probably progressed a half inch just now!” She pushes the nurse call button and tells the station to call my doctor and tell him that his patient without the epidural is a 9 and feeling very pushy. He is there within the next contraction or two and walks in during the middle of one. He tells me that I sound ready and I can get started with the next contraction while he gets ready. He puts his gown on and is looking for gloves when the next one hits. I bear down and it feels as marvelously relieving as I remember it. He turns around and says “NO! Stop! Somebody tie me!” My doctor never raises his voice or gets excited, so I think the shock of it actually got me to stop pushing. He has me move closer to the end of the bed and when I hold my breath and tuck my chin to push through the next contraction he instructs me not to push so hard; to breathe through it. I feel something familiar after a few second and ask “Is that his head?” Yes. I can’t see him yet, but know it is only moments. One more gentle push while breathing and he is out.
9:08 PM “Hi baby. Hi sugar. Hi Isaac.”