In the months prior to Elias' birth, I was asking a lot of questions to new and seasoned moms. What is labor like? What do contractions feel like? And many others. Mostly the moms said that labor was a blur and that they really don't remember much about the event. What?? How can you not remember much? I was baffled. Until now.
Trying to remember exactly what went on in my delivery room has also been a challenge. But here's the story...I think.
Saturday, July 5:
All day I was having contractions. They weren't terribly painful and, as you may have read in my earlier post, not really "all that bad. "
Well, that was all about to change.
Things escalated, as expected, and by midnight Saturday night I was working hard to breathe through painful contractions that were lasting about a minute and were about 10 minutes apart. By 2:30 am, things were getting more intense and I called the hospital. They told me to come in if I was ready.
Sunday, July 6: At 3:00 a.m. we checked into Bartlett Regional Hospital. They put me in the standard hospital attire - this day the color would be mint green. After a bit of official business, they checked the dialation of my cervix. I was at 1 cm and was about 85% effaced.
My cervix had opened to about the diameter of a pinky finger - I needed to reach the diameter of a grapefuit before I could even think about pushing.
Sigh - this was going to take some work.
8:00 a.m.: Shift change.
The nursing staff changed shifts and we were assinged a pleasant gal named Sandy. At 9:30 a.m. she checked me again. I was at 2 cm. What? Why were things going so slow? Later that morning Sandy said she had talked to Dr. Maier - the doctor on call - and mentioned that she had expressed concern about my stamina. She wanted me to rest and had recommended I get a shot of Demoral. This shot is a narcotic and would in no way affect my baby negatively for delivery. It would however take the edge of things and probably allow me to sleep. In my eyes, it would also dissolve my number one goal - to have a natural birth. But, after David and I talked, we realized it was a good move.
So I got the shot. I didn't sleep - nope, I still felt the contractions and in some ways the shot made things harder because I couldn't feel them coming. I would be slammed alert in the peak of the contraction and have to get my breathing under control to work through the pain that was now lasting a minute or two. These were not wimpy contractions.
Around 3 p.m.: Doctor Anya Maier introduces herself. And, recommends we break my water. She says she's surprised my water hasn't broken already with my strong contractions. The amniotic fluid is clear. All is well. Now, more waiting.
So I get in the tub, relax and do a little slow dancing around my hospital room with David. But, instead of getting stronger, the contractions slow to around 15 minutes apart. Are you kidding me?
Next step: Pitocin.
Ugh. This labor was quickly evolving into NOTHING we expected. But, the end result was worth it and I'd been in labor for nearly two days. It was time to speed things up with a few synthetic labor inducing hormones. The biggest downside besides the wretching pain? Being strapped to a freakin IV. And once the stuff kicked in, I was working hard to manage the contractions. By this time it had to be past 8:00 p.m. because the nursing shift changed again. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I was only dialated to 4 cm by this point.
9:00 p.m. Sunday:
Dr. Maier highly recommends pain medication. She said an epidural would be a great choice for me. I accept. I sleep. At 1 a.m. Monday, July 7 I was at 7 cm. Finally! Whew! Only three to go! The only downside...my epidural had worn off. The contractions were intense and coming every minute. But, this time it was harder for me to deal with them. I couldn't get up and walk around, I couldn't get into a hot tub. I just had to lay in bed and feel them. The anesthesiologist arrived at 2:30 a.m. to deliver more medicine. I was dialatedto 8 1/2 cm.
3:30 a.m.: Push! Finally, it was time to push. And push I did. With all my might I visualized every ounce of strength pushing this baby down and out...down and out...down and out. The nurse recommended some horrible positions. I won't eleborate...all I know is it is much harder to push against gravity than with it.
So, despite my numb legs I insisted that I get up on all fours and push that way. I needed to take control of this delivery. That worked. I made progress.
Next we used the birthing bar - a bar that installs across the end of the bed. I would haul myself up on this bar and squat like I was peeing in the woods. Yes! More progress!
David, my mom and David's mom Suzi were saints. They held my legs, yelled encouragement and helped me sit up for each and every contraction. It wasn't long before I could reach down and feel my baby's head. Wow...talk about motivation.
5:57 a.m. - Monday, July 7: Elias is born. Once the head was out, the rest slipped out like a wet fish. Dr. Maier placed the him instantly on my belly. David came over with tears in his eyes. Elias was wet and warm. And after a few lusty cries he settled down and we just stared.
"He looks like an 'Elias' to me," I said.
Of course the delivery wasn't over. The placenta arrived looking dark, red and healthy. Dr. Maier stitched me up and the pediatrician checked Elias' vitals.
We all basked in relief and bliss.
Now, six days later we're still amazed and talk about the event. At this moment I'm looking over at my two boys snoozing in a chair. I feel extremely blessed.