Alas, our alarms went off just before 5am on Monday, October 22. I showered, checked the post-it to do list on our front door, and looked through our bags one last time. And as we had hoped, we walked to the hospital. Seeing as I wasn't in labor, this wasn't the accomplishment I thought it may be.
First stop, OB triage at 6am. There, they took my vitals, monitored for contractions, checked for cervical dilation, and had us hang around. All was well. They inserted my IV and drew blood for tests. I was having a few minor contractions, and was dilated to 2cm. Supposedly my cervix was "favorable" which my OB was happy about, encouraging that the induction would likely go smoothly. At this point I was feeling nothing. The lady next to me wincing, whining, and screaming that she wanted to die got an eye roll from me. I think I called her a mess to Mr. Fix-It.
By 9am we were admitted to Labor and Delivery. Pitocin started flowing through my IV. By 9:15 my OB came by to insert a Foley Ball. My doctor and the resident commented that I tolerated the insertion really well. I was clenching my hands together mentally telling myself, "suck it up! it gets worse than this!".
9:45 the Foley Ball came out along with a gush of water. I was told the ball will release when you're about 3+cm, so I was thrilled that things were moving along so quickly. And did my water break? This was a breeze!
Here's an important part of the story: Throughout the pregnancy, I felt heavily responsible for our baby's well being. I mean, obviously. But I'm not just referring to general self-care, I'm talking about a chronic, subtle anxiety. Don't trip and fall. Don't get into a car accident. Don't be a spaz, or you'll have an anxious child. Has the baby kicked in the last hour? Don't have too much caffeine. Did you sleep too far on your side? Are you sleeping enough on your left? When did you last eat? When did you last eat a green vegetable? Is something wrong? Are you paying close enough attention? I had these thoughts ALL day EVERY day. Then, the minute we checked into the hospital, all my worries subsided. It was someone else's job to take care of the baby. The heart rate, movement, the baby's safety. It was incredibly freeing. As a result, I was unbelievably zen and relaxed.
10:15 They cranked my pitocin from 2 to 3 and I was feeling very mild cramping. The fluid that released with the Foley Ball was just water that was inserted to "cushion" the ball. Oh well.
11:25 Not much was happening. My parents and sister came to visit along with my father in law. We chatted...I texted friends with updates.
2:00 My OB came in to break my water. She advised that things would REALLY pick up. When she broke my water she noted that there was A LOT of blood. "Now I'm really glad we're inducing you. You wouldn't have wanted this to happen at home, and I want to keep an eye on the placenta. It may be lower than we thought". In my zen state all I could think was, "ok" and "if this is going to be a c-section, let's just do it".
3:00 Contractions were picking up, but I was still feeling fine. At this point I was getting cocky.
3:45 Contractions had gotten real. 45 seconds long, about 90 seconds apart. I took long, slow, deep breaths throughout the contractions while holding on tightly to the bed rails, laying on my side. My legs started shaking pretty badly from the pain. Around this time the nurse started pushing the epidural. "If you want it eventually, why are you waiting? It only gets worse. Also, the anesthesiologist is making rounds right now." "I can tough it out for a while longer" I said. I got a knowing side-eye from the nurse, and then decided waiting longer didn't earn me any sort of medal.
Within the hour, the anesthesiologist was in my room. Holy EFFFF. The epidural was the absolute, worst, most awful part of the birth experience. First, he missed. This is not his fault, I understand that inserting the epidural involves going in "blind" but it felt like someone was stabbing my spine with a tiny jagged needle. It was excruciating. Worse than the body-shaking contractions. Second try, success. It felt as though the whole process took an hour and I was in a nasty cold sweat by the end. The resulting bruise on my lower back was unbelievable. About 10 minutes later all PTSD from the experience had subsided and I was on cloud 9. I was checked and had hit 5cm. I was somewhat discouraged, assuming that I had gotten a bit further along. I also asked for a margarita and a trip to the beach.
By 5pm I had to lay on my side and go on oxygen. The baby wasn't tolerating the contractions well and wasn't moving much.
Countdown to a c-section, I thought to myself. Moments later a medical resident came in with a vibrating buzzer thing. She placed it on my belly in a few different spots to "wake the baby up a bit". My mom later told me this is when she got a little nervous. Me? Still zen.
While on my side, the epidural-happy-juice was only flowing to my left. As a result, I could feel full-blown intense contractions on my right. The nurse kindly explained that the epidural is liquid, liquid is effected by gravity, and as long as I was laying on my side the epidural would be uneven. I felt that I could manage the pain, but the thought of pushing and feeling all that sounded horrifying. The baby perked up a bit, and I was allowed to lay on my back. After about 30 minutes I started to feel better, and enjoyed some pain relief.
Sometime after 6pm we told our families to go get some dinner and relax at our condo. I was making bets that our baby would not be born before midnight. My OB had the same idea and went home to put her kids to bed.
7:30pm I announced "the baby is about to fall out". The resident came in to check while one of the nurses implied that it probably wasn't time just yet. The resident, with surprise in her voice, announced that I was fully dilated. She joked that I shouldn't sneeze. She said she was going to page the OB. Mr. Fix-It called our parents. He encouraged them to finish eating - we didn't know how long this would take - but that things were happening. I'm pretty sure my Mom dropped her fork and ran out the door.
Just before 8pm everyone was set up. By 8:10 I officially started pushing. While everyone was preparing for the delivery, I told Mr. Fix-It that I knew I was going to be a great pusher. He teased that he was sure it would be just like the time I was sure I would be an amazing mechanical bull-rider. Oh, right, that time I talked a big game and fell off before the bull even bucked. I insisted that this was different.
Because no birth story is complete without a mechanical bull
Sure enough, with the first push I felt the baby MOVE. Just 20 minutes and 6 contractions later, we heard a cry at 8:30pm.
I don't remember anyone announcing that we'd had a little boy. All I saw was this little pink baby being lifted toward me and saying over and over, "A boy?! We had a boy! Oh my god! A boy!" Mr. Fix-It and I each looked at each other with tears in our eyes.
7lbs 12oz. 21.5 inches. 9/9 apgars. Perfect. He was simply perfect.