Let's see if I can get this all written out before Jane wakes up and needs me again.
You can avoid this post if the following words make you uneasy: vaginal exam, episiotomy,vomit, breastfeeding, contractions. No hard feelings. I'll do another happy-picture post shortly.
So! My water broke on Thursday way back at the end of July, ages ago now. I wasn't entirely sure that that's what had happened, but paired with the fact that I started having more organized (though not painful) contractions a few days prior, it seemed likely that I was actually in labor. Which was good, because my induction was to be the following Monday if I hadn't gone into labor spontaneously by then. I was out walking Brisco when it happened, so I called the midwife to see what they wanted me to do. It turns out I also had appointments scheduled that day anyway (we thought they were scheduled for Friday), so I headed into the office for first the non-stress test where they monitored Jane's activity, and then I had a vaginal exam where they confirmed that my water had broken. Since I wasn't having painful contractions and wasn't very dilated, they sent me home and said I could call/come back when things picked up, or, at the latest, come to the hospital for delivery the following morning.
Did I mention the tire? On the way in to the office on Thursday morning, our tire pressure light came on. Leaving the office, we stopped by a gas station and put air in the tire. I called Caitlin to tell her that birth was eminent, as well as calling my parents and Wendy. Caitlin told me that she had a few hours on Friday where she was needed at (her other) work, but that she could send her backup doula if I was comfortable with that. Turns out it was her second backup, not the one I had met before, but I spoke to the second backup on the phone, checked out her website a bit, and figured if she worked with Caitlin, she'd be a compatible match to have in the delivery room. Plus I had a lot of other things going through my mind, so I wasn't feeling terribly picky.
Andy and I stayed home all day, hung out with Brisco, and I never noticed any contractions. I slept through the night, but woke up at 5:15 ready to head in to the hospital. Not because of contractions, but mostly because I was excited. So I didn't have the agonizing and bumpy ride to the hospital. I think I had my first noticeably different-feeling contraction right before we left the house, but I don't remember having another uncomfortable one on the drive in.
The tire light came back on during that drive. Andy decided not to do anything about it at that moment.
Emily, our neighbor, was notified that we were leaving and she was ready to care for Brisco while we were gone. We called Caitlin to tell her we were heading into the hospital and she said she'd meet us there. Things were happening!
"Things" turned out to be nausea. The nurse who was checking me in and getting things rolling had to scramble to find something for me to vomit in because she didn't seem to believe the urgency. So, there went breakfast. Luckily this didn't last too long, though my sense of time became very skewed throughout labor. I was encouraged to put something back in my stomach, particularly something with sugar to give me energy, but the honey sticks I was offered were incredibly hard to get down. I had some of a popsicle before losing that again. Eventually the nausea subsided. At some point Caitlin arrived.
I should mention that basically once we got to the hospital I went into what the nurses called "meditation" but what I can only describe as "the zone." I was semi-aware of what was happening around me, I could focus and talk if I had to, but for the most part, I had my eyes closed and wasn't talking. Caitlin's backup, Corie Ellen, arrived, and Caitlin stayed for a while longer, giving us two doulas for a while.
I got into the birthing tub around noon and ended up staying there for probably five hours. It was an odd shape on the inside (with various ledge/benches) so I could only find one position that was comfortable. Andy sat along the outside of the tub holding my hand which I would squeeze during contractions. They got intense, and I'd make long, low noises during them to get through, as per the lessons from our childbirth ed. class. They used monitors every so often to check on Jane, and she was always doing fine (as was I). It'd been about 30 hours since my water broke, so every now and then someone would mention that that was longer than they were fond of waiting, and they started making noise about speeding things up.
I had an exam to check dilation and Holly, the midwife, said I was fully dilated and could start pushing. Around then, Caitlin had to leave, and I remember thinking that it seemed like Jane would be born before she got back. I was slightly disappointed by that, but it turns out I needn't have worried. Anyway, I never really had the urge to push, like many women do. She suggested I get out of the tub to give it a try, and I never ended up back in the tub. I don't think I could have found a comfortable pushing position in the tub, anyway. I do remember thinking that from what I've read, pushing lasts around 2-3 hours, so that wasn't too bad, right?
So, from around 5 pm until we left that room at about 5 am, I get a little fuzzy. Andy ordered some food and I remember his breath smelled bad. I think he brushed his teeth. I know I asked him to when we first got there, because he had coffee-breath. Anyway, Holly had checked in with the OB on call, and though Holly confirmed that both Jane and I were doing fine, the OB didn't like how long things were taking and recommended that I start thinking about a C-section. I said no. At some point (a few hours later?) someone brought up giving me an IV of Pitocin, which I refused until the choice became Pitocin or a C-section.
In retrospect, the IV absolutely had to happen. I didn't want it because Pitocin makes the contractions stronger (which is what they wanted for me), but it also makes them harder for the baby to endure, which means it's more likely that she'll be in distress, and then I would need a C-section. Jane, we found out later, was in a terrible position, so she really needed the extra encouragement. As for me, I was a bit nervous about the idea of strengthening contractions, because who wants that?
So, I was pushing pushing pushing, and Jane kept basically rocking back and forth, but without making forward progress. The Pitocin started at 12 and they gave me until 2 am to make some progress. Eventually, she did, though by then they could tell that Jane was in the "sunny-side up" position, where she was facing the wrong way, and also had her chin raised. Her head was presenting at the widest possible point. A nurse suggested I reach down and feel her head, and I think that was probably a full two hours before she was actually born.
By around 1:45 Jane was far enough along that it was too late for a C-section, for which I was glad, but I still had two hours ahead of me. Holly decided that because of Jane's positioning, I needed an episiotomy, just to give her that little bit of extra room. She gave me a numbing shot before doing the snip, which was the only point at which I said "ow" during labor.
I remember (and I'm backtracking now) I tried contracting on the toilet for a while with Caitlin (who had returned, surprised that I was still in the pushing stage), Corie Ellen did some acupressure on my legs, I did some pushing on the ball, they made me some makeshift footstools so I could be in a semi-squat position, but in the end, I ended up on the hospital bed in the semi-reclined position. There were handles as part of the bed and I was told to pull them toward me during contractions. My arms were exhausted after labor, to the point where I couldn't actually lift Jane up from her little plastic hospital tub-bed-thingie.
Anyway, at some point they got a little concerned about someone's vitals, whether it was mine or Jane's (or both), I don't recall. They started giving me oxygen between contractions and I think Andy said they put one of those scalp monitors on Jane. Someone showed up, I think the OB, right before the birth because they were concerned about how things were progressing. They found meconium, baby's first poop, which can be a dangerous thing if they try to inhale it on their way out. Holly told me that if Jane wasn't vigorous when she came out, she'd be taken away immediately to be checked/cleaned (I imagine that means cleaning her nostrils and things). We got to that point where they started saying "One more big push, she's about to be born!" That, unfortunately, happened more than a few times, which was slightly discouraging when I'd get through the contraction and everyone would be like, "Well, maybe the next one..."
As you all know by now, of course, I did succeed with the one last big push, because at 3:43 she came out! They had me reach down and grab her, and she certainly was vigorous at birth, so there was no need to take her away from me. She cried a bit, and babbled a bunch. Andy cried, and I don't remember at all what I said to her. People around us said, "She looks just like Andy!" which she does. I remember noticing, of all things, that she has his fingernails.
We stayed in the room with her for a while. I was too exhausted to let her try the breast crawl, where a newborn climbs/crawls her way to the breast to nurse for the first time. I eventually put her there to try and breastfeed, but she didn't get it just then. No matter, she's certainly got the hang of it now.
I said something at the time about how I was so glad that she was there, and that I was also really proud of myself. And I am!
I know I said there would be no birth-pictures. But here's one anyway. She's changed a lot in the last few weeks. She's five weeks now, and I saw someone with a two-month old at the store on Thursday that looked significantly smaller than her. She's a Fraass!