Monday, January 31, 2011

The rest...

"Wow!" the midwife on call said. "Your water broke again?! It's so unusual for that to happen 3 times!" She told me to come on into Labor & Delivery, but that I didn't need to rush right in since third babies tend to come a little slower than second babies. But after the crazy labor I had the last time, I wasn't going to risk it! So, as soon as my mother arrived to watch the boys, we headed off to the hospital. During the drive over, I was hemming and hawing over what to do about an epidural. I had one with C's birth, but had an unplanned unmedicated birth with O. I had been debating the whole pregnancy about whether or not I should try for a med-free birth this time because my recovery with O had been so easy. "Why don't you just see what happens?" Hubby suggested. "But, I think you could do it without meds again if you want to."

Since I had not had a recent internal exam, I had no idea if I was dilated or not. Having no evidence to the contrary, I was optimistic that things might progress quickly like last time. So, when I arrived at the hospital I told the nurse I would like to try to deliver without an epidural.  But when I was finally examined, the midwife told me I was only 3cm dilated and about 50% effaced.
"Really?!"  I asked.
"We still have some work to do!" the midwife announced cheerfully.  I was not full of cheer.

On the drive over, I had convinced myself that I'd be at least 7-8cm, and having the baby in the next 30 minutes. Now that non-medicated birth was seeming like less of a good idea. I still wanted to try to deliver naturally, but by midnight, instead of picking up, my contractions had slowed down markedly. After speaking with the on call OB, we agreed to wait until 3AM  (6 hours after my water had broken) to see if things would pick up and start progressing again. If not, she would start Pitocin to augment my labor at that time. I tried sitting on a birthing ball to see if that would get things moving again, and after a while my contractions did pick up again. Soon I was feeling quite uncomfortable and was feeling a lot more rectal pressure with each contraction. Noting these changes, the nurse asked me if I wanted an epidural, but again, I was on the fence. I was quite uncomfortable, but maybe things were finally moving along?  She suggested that we have the OB do another internal exam to see what kind of progress I had made. I was so sure that the amount of pressure I was feeling was a great sign, that it was a shock to hear that I was only 4cm and still 50% effaced. "WHAT?!" I thought to myself, and immediately told my nurse, "I feel like a failure but I want the epidural!! If I'm feeling this much pressure and I'm only 4 cm, I'll never make it! I wonder why things aren't moving along this time?" 

The nurse reassured me that the length of third labors typically end up being somewhere between the first and the second labors, rather than being the fastest of the three. "I had an epidural for my 3rd baby, after going natural for my second too," she said. "I think it's hard to labor the third time if your second was so fast, because you have the expectation that things will be easy again. And then when it's not as quick, you get so discouraged. That's what happened to me!"  That made me feel better, and once I made my peace with the idea, I was excited to get some pain relief. I thought I would have to wait a long time, but within 5 minutes the anesthesiologist was there to start the process. While he was putting in the epidural, my whole body started shaking violently.
"What's the matter?" Hubby asked, concerned.
"I don't know. I can't stop shaking! Is it a reaction to the epidural?" I asked the anesthesiologist. But he and the nurse assured me that it was not and that the shakes were probably a sign of labor progressing.
"It's a good thing!" the nurse said cheerfully. But I wasn't feeling very good. The epidural had relieved the abdominal cramping, but I was still having awful rectal pressure.
"Hmmm..." the anesthesiologist said. "Still quite uncomfortable, huh? Let's top you off with some Fentanyl." But that didn't relieve the pressure either. In fact, I was getting more and more uncomfortable instead of less.
"It feels like right before I delivered O!" I said to Hubby. "There's so much pressure and now a sharp pain!"
"It's probably still just the position of the baby," the nurse said. "But let's get the doc to examine you and see where you are."

So the on call OB came back to check me. This time I was sure she would say I was only 5 cm. After all, I had been 4 cm not long before. But instead, she said brightly, "Yup! Your baby is right here! Would you like to start pushing?" And so I did.  15 minutes later, at 2:55AM, baby A made his entrance. I couldn't help but chuckle. Of course he was born 5 minutes before the time that the OB had planned to start pitocin. And immediately after I got the epidural that I agonized over and might not have needed in the end. That fits my stubborn child mold perfectly. 

But you know what?

He's so worth it!
Baby A: 8lbs, 8oz, 21 inches

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