Thursday, August 7, 2014

The third time's the charm

It sounds so much like playing favorites that I almost hate to say it, but there really is no competition:  Miss Olivia wins the prize for best labor and delivery.  Hands down, no contest.  Give the lady a prize.  

The story starts, interestingly enough, with me not wanting to have to be induced.  Induction was on the agenda for Tuesday, and I spent Sunday evening coming to grips with the fact that it would probably be necessary.  I was feeling particularly sentimental, and spent a long time watching my two big ones sleep.  Their little eyes fluttered in sleep, and so did my heart; I said an extra long prayer thanking God for making me their mommy.  How did I know that an induction be okay?  Because whatever I'd been through to get there, being the mom of those two beautiful children makes it worth it.  I knew it would be that way again.

I fell asleep Sunday night feeling overwhelmed with gratitude.  

And then, as I had done nearly every night for the past two weeks, I woke up about 2:30 a.m. having contractions.  I'd like to tell you that by now I was used to them and just rolled over and went back to sleep, but I don't think I'll ever be that girl.  Instead, I tossed and turned and kept a mental "eye" on it.

About 5 a.m. the contractions did something they hadn't done before: they got stronger.  A lot stronger, and noticeably closer together.  

When the kids got up at 6, I did as well.  I ate and moved around, but still no change on the contraction front which was unusual; typically, they disappeared when I got up and moved around.  By 7:30, I was in a zone I was unfamiliar with: contractions 4-5 minutes apart and strong enough that I'd hesitantly concluded - at the very least - that we were not going to the zoo as we'd planned.  What else, I wasn't yet sure, but I was starting to suspect enough that I called my mom to tell her just to pack her bag and be on alert.

By 8:30, with contractions still coming 4-5 minutes apart and now at about a 6 on the pain scale, my water broke.  My mom was on her way to watch the kids, and I was able to stay on top of the contractions really well.  I was shooting to leave for the hospital about noon; trying to balance laboring at home with the noise and distraction of having the kids around.  Casey was bustling around, trying to finish up the checklist we'd come up with the night before of things to do before the induction.  Around 11, he took the kids to the grocery store to grab a few last minute items when my contractions took a tough turn into the 8 range and were coming every 3 minutes.  I lasted maybe 30 minutes before I had to call Casey to hurry back - it was time to go to the hospital!

The car ride was pretty miserable.  We're not terribly close, but Casey made the drive in about 35 minutes.  We arrived at the hospital at about 12:15 or 12:30, and they started right away getting me ready to go.  The most overwhelming part of that whole day was the next hour or two, because they wanted to draw blood and start an IV but they were having a horrible time doing it.  I think they stuck me four or five different times.  Meanwhile, I was contracting every 3-4 minutes and they were getting tougher to handle all the time.  All I could think about was getting in the bath, but I didn't want to do it unless I was dilated far enough.  

They finally checked me around 1:00.  I'd been dilated to 4 for the past 10 days, not to mention contracting for several hours every night and in actual labor since 2:30 a.m. (almost 12 hours at this point), so I was very seriously hoping I'd be dilated to a 7 so I could get in the bath without any worries.  I'd decided that if I was at least a 6, I was getting in the bath anyway even though it was a little early, just so I could cope with those heavy contractions.  When they checked me?



After everything.  After all those stupid contractions, after all the laboring my body had been doing that day.  After my water had already broken, so there was nothing to give me a hormonal boost.  I was still a freaking four.  My mind spun out another awful labor... I was already nearly 12 hours in, and I knew I'd never survive another 12 hours with contractions the way they were.  I'd already done the miserable, long, exhausting labor.  No way was I doing another one.

So, even though I had just finished giving the nursing staff my all-natural birthing plan - please, don't discuss pain meds with me, please don't discuss medical alternatives in front of me, etc, etc - I completely threw it all out the window and made a sudden and drastic executive decision: bring on the epidural.  

And here's the thing: it was the single best decision I made all day.    

Yes, this is how you look when you get an epidural part way through labor.
The other relevant part of the story is how often I've heard someone in the medical profession say, "your baby is really high up there!"  Yes.  I know.  There's not a damn thing I can do about how high my babies sit, that's just where they are.  Except that, I now know, that's why I don't dilate... the baby has to drop to help me dilate and efface and a whole bunch of things that make labor and delivery move forward.  Mine?  They don't.  And by don't, I mean they sit like 6 inches (literally - this was the rough measurement they would ultimately give me about how far Liv dropped before I started pushing her through the birth canal.  No wonder it took me so long to push Logan out!) higher than they should.  

After I decided to get the epidural, the doctor really backed me up and shared what a good decision she thought that would be because it will help the baby drop, which will help move everything else along.  It turns out, she was totally right.

I got the epidural at about 2:30.  By 3, they checked me and sometime between 1:00 and 3:00 I had dilated from a four all the way to an eight!  We'll never know if my body did that work on it's own, or if all that was the result of the epidural, the nurses both said it could go either way.  

Either way, it absolutely did not matter to me.  I felt good, things were moving in a really positive direction, and my birthing room was way more fun than it should have been.

Casey, Jess and I laughed and joked for the next couple hours.  The nurses kept telling me how labor and delivery isn't supposed to sound like that.  It was way too much fun - way more fun than anything I've experienced before.

We were still joking and telling stories when the doctor came in to check me around 5:15 and announced: it was time to push!  WHAT?!

And push I did.  (This was where the whole "six inches" story came into play - the baby had moved down thismuch from where she started before I even started pushing.)  I'd really been on Casey to make sure he was keeping me posted on pushing, since it was such an ordeal last time.  So I pushed.  And I pushed again.  And Casey said that he could see hair and I was completely convinced he was messing with me.  I pushed again with the next contractions, and he told me her head was nearly out, and this time I think I actually said, "No way!  You're joking!"  To convince me, they took my hand and placed it on my baby's head... she was really there!  In a matter of just a few more pushes, out she came.  Nearly seven pounds of perfect, pink baby girl.  

With some apology to my other beautiful babies, it was the most perfect, amazing moment of my entire life.  She was there, and I was still in one piece.  

Somehow, everything had come together beautifully.  I was in complete and total awe over the fact that she was here, and I had been present in every part.  My body had worked exactly - beautifully, wondrously - the way that it was supposed to work through labor.  It was completely incredible, and so, so very different from what I've experienced in the past.  

She was beautiful.  Totally healthy, ten little fingers, ten little toes.  And brought into a room so filled with love, laughter and joy that I truly thought my heart would burst.

She was born at 5:34 p.m.  I had no idea that labor could be such an amazing experience.  Peaceful.  Wonderful.  As if to cap off what was already the most amazing day, Casey and I watched the sunset over the mountains as we ate dinner (did you know they often feed women who have been through childbirth?  ME EITHER!) recovering with our new little beauty who was already nursing away.

It was just the best day.  Such a wonderfully, blissfully different experience from those I've had before.  We are truly, truly blessed.  I mean, let's be honest... 

...we always were. 
 It's just a real bonus not to go through hell on top of it.

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