To read part one, click here.
So at 5pm, the midwife called us and said we should get to the hospital to “move my labor along.” I dreaded that the entire 20 minute ride to the hospital.
The midwife met us as soon as we got there and had a room. She first had the student midwife (Ellie) check me, and then double checked me to ensure Ellie appropriately assessed me. I was 2 cm dilated and fully effaced. That meant that my cervix was totally thinned out, but I still had 8 cm of dilation until it was time to push that baby out.
They started me on pitocin–in tiny increments, increased just a tiny bit every hour. That definitely made my contractions stronger and faster. I went back to having contractions every 2-3 minutes. While we labored, Evan and I walked the halls of the maternity floor and later stayed in the room while I swayed or gently bounced on the Balance Ball during contractions. We watched some Animal Planet show that played cute pet videos–in other words: nothing requiring concentration or following along a story line.
Just before 11pm, my contractions started getting to the point where they felt unbearable. I breathed and swayed through them as best as possible, but sometimes caught myself tensing up. I think this ultimately prevented me from dilating more. I asked Evan if I should get an epidural. He told me he couldn’t answer that for me. Instead, he passed me his iPod with a baby playlist he made me, in an attempt to try another coping mechanism for the pain. The first song:
“Dilate” by Ani Difranco. It was pretty funny and unexpected (the mix was on a random shuffle).
After just a couple songs, Evan dipped into the hot & spicy Cheez-Its he brought to snack on and the nurse and the midwives came in to check on me. I was in the middle of a contraction, so I ignored them–and couldn’t really hear them anyway with the headphones in and music on. They had questions for me, so Evan leaned into me and repeated them to me.
With Cheez It breath.
I’m fairly certain flames shot out of my mouth when I told him that he and his Cheez It breath needed to back the fuck away from me, and I turned my head as far away from him as possible. I think it was my only mom-zilla moment of the whole process.
I don’t remember what they asked, but at that point, I was tired after being in labor for 19-20 hours, and I was mentally done with the whole laboring thing. I told the midwives I was considering an epidural, but wanted to know how far along I was dilated. My thought was: if I was fully dilated–or close to it–I could hang in there for a bit and avoid the epidural altogether. If not, there was no way that I could tolerate hours more of those contractions plus god knows how long I’d have to spend pushing.
The nurse discouraged them checking me again since my water had been broken for more than 24 hours. The more they check you, the greater risk of introducing germs or bacteria to the baby once the mother’s water was broken. But the midwives got it. They understood that I needed that information in order to make a decision. So they checked me. I was only dilated to 3 cm. In other words, only 1 cm of progress in the hours of intense contractions I had while on pitocin since entering the hospital.
The epidural dude seemed to be there in mere minutes. He answered my questions, assured me that an epidural would not slow my labor or increase my risk of a c-section or prevent me from pushing effectively. He also indicated that despite my back surgery a few years ago, I could still get an epidural with no real greater risk than the average patient. The nurse put me in a headlock (almost) so I couldn’t move while Evan was directed to sit down across the room from us and within minutes (and with little discomfort), he gave me my epidural. Although, I was still concerned about how it would impact my labor and delivery, it was heaven. I was able to tolerate the contractions (I still felt them, but barely) and get some rest. At 2am, the epidural felt like it was starting to wear off, so I was given a little pump that allowed me to boost the medicine every 15 minutes, if needed. That helped a little, but also started wearing off within the hour. At that point–3am, the midwives came back to insert a pressure monitor that would tell them how strong and effective my contractions really were. The hospital had just gotten some external monitors to gauge contractions, but they seems to be inconsistent and the staff struggled to get the information they needed from them. After unwrapping the pressure monitor, the midwife checked me and realized I was fully dilated.
That’s right, after 4 hours of the epidural and relaxing a bit, I dilated the last 7 cm. I was ready to push.
I remember being totally shocked and dazed when she told me this. After all, in the first 20 hours of labor, I only dilated 3cm. To go another 7cm in just 4 hours seemed unreal. They let us just sit and relax for a half hour so the baby could drop naturally on his own. I remember sitting upright in bed with my hips open and feet touching each other to help open my pelvis. I dozed in this position for 30 minutes. At this point, I don’t remember feeling anything other than total contentment and peace. At 3:30am, the midwives and nurse returned and told me it was time to push. My legs still felt heavy and numb from the epi, so Evan helped me hold one up while I rested the other on Ellie’s hip while she guided the delivery.
The pushing was the best part of the delivery. I remember feeling strong and in control. Labor was all about rolling through the contractions, but this was the part of delivery where I could actually do something. I was able to feel the contractions enough to know when to start pushing and I felt enough to be able to tell how much progress I was making (although I still regret not asking them for a mirror or something so I could watch what was happening). Evan, reticent at first, became a fully committed spectator and seemed just as excited as the midwives and nurse to see the progress I was able to make pushing.
After 55 minutes, Charlie was born. They immediately put him on my chest and I remember feeling totally in shock that this little boy was mine. The neonatal nurse rubbed him down with the blanket and suctioned his mouth and nose while he lay on my chest crying and breathing and doing everything that newborn babies should do. It was amazing.
A few moments later, the midwives asked Evan if he wanted to cut the cord. Earlier in the pregnancy, he said he didn’t want to, but he changed his mind after the delivery and approached it with gusto–like a town mayor cutting the ribbon of the new shopping center. He even announced “I present to you Charlie Wyatt!”
And that was how our little man came into the world.
The hospital and midwives we chose were absolutely fantastic. The nursing staff in the maternity floor and later, when Charlie was admitted to the pediatric floor for jaundice, were all amazing. In fact, the nurse on the peds floor would answer our questions and then go back to her computer and download more information for us on whatever we asked about–jaundice, car seats, diaper rash, etc.
Our families visited the day Charlie was born–my parents, grandmother and brother drove down from Connecticut and Evan’s mom and stepdad came in from Pennsylvania.
I’ve never seen my grandmother look quite so happy before:
We were pretty excited (but tired) too:
He can sleep as peacefully as his father:
Currently, Evan & I are enjoying our time off to get to know Charlie and figure out what this newly expanded family life is all about. We’re trying to be courageous–which has included running errands for half a day during his first week and taking Charlie out to lunch or dinner several times in his brief life–but life will undoubtedly get more interesting when Evan returns to work and I have solo parenting duties part of the day (until my maternity leave ends in September and then it’s a whole new ballgame!).