On Tuesday, I woke up feeling horribly down and emotional (see my blog post) and out of sorts. Little did I know that all of those emotions were probably due to my body getting ready for labor!
Tuesday night, after a long day, I climbed into the tub to relax. I started having contractions in the bath, and noticed that they seemed really close together. I figured they'd probably quit, since I had been having contractions for weeks now, and just stayed in the tub. When I got out, I began timing them--and they were 2 minutes apart, lasting only 30 seconds, and not very strong. I figured it was just my uterus acting weird again and decided to watch TV with Brad. My contractions started spacing out and getting longer and stronger, but since they had started out closer together and weak, I figured they were still just Braxton Hicks. After several hours, about 10:30 PM, the contractions stabilized at every 5 minutes and began getting pretty intense, so I called my doctor for some advice--I knew it was going to take family members at least an hour to get to our house to care for Aiden, so I didn't want to wait too late, but I didn't want to rouse the troops and be sent home from the hospital for a false alarm, either. The doc called me back at midnight and told me that I was probably in early labor, but that I could labor at home until I felt them getting really intense--he encouraged me to trust my body, that I would know when to come in.
The contractions were too strong to really let me sleep, so I cat-napped on the couch between contractions, which were now about 4 minutes apart. At around 4 AM I put out the call, knowing I'd want to go to the hospital soon. Brad and I got to Medical Center of Plano around 6:30 AM and I was hooked up to the monitors. I was contracting every 4-5 minutes and had dilated to 3 cm, so they admitted me and monitored me for a while, then I got up and began walking the halls, hoping to speed things up.
Several hours later, after many walks and a couple of catnaps, they checked me again and found I was still at 3 cms, despite hours of regular contractions. The nurse put a call in to my doc, who suggested that I consider either Pitocin or having my water broken. He was at the office and had meetings to attend, so I had a couple of hours to decide what I wanted to do and to see if things would speed up on their own.
I think I must have walked about 100 miles that day! We tried natural induction methods, like nipple stimulation and walking, but when the doc arrived at 2:00 PM, I was still at 3 cm, so I agreed to have my water broken--we figured this might be enough to get things moving along, but I would be able to avoid the really intense and close-together Pitocin-induced contractions. Doc broke my water, then I was up and walking the halls again.
Within a couple of hours, the contractions got much stronger and more intense. I walked for a while, sat on the birth ball, kept moving around, and then got into the shower with the birth ball when things really got tough. I stayed in the shower for probably an hour, and despite a small flood of the bathroom floor when I blocked the drain with the ball (oops!), the water felt great and kept me relaxed between contractions. I was in a lot of pain during the contractions, but I was able to rest and relax in between, so I kept laboring naturally.
Pretty soon, it was time for me to be monitored, so I had to climb out of the shower and back in to bed. This was absolute torture--at this point, my contractions were 3 minutes apart and lasting about a minute, and I was in a ton of pain. They checked my cervix and informed me I was only dilated to a 5, maybe a 6, so at this point, I threw in the towel and asked for an epidural. Had I been dilated to an 8, I could have gutted it out, but I still had 4-5 cms to go, which had taken me 22 hours to accomplish so far, with no sleep, so I knew I was just too exhausted to continue. The nurse hooked me up to an IV and began running fluids in so I could get the epidural, and about an hour later, my best friend (a.k.a. the guy with the drugs) came in and gave me the epidural. He gave me what I really wanted--a light "walking" epidural that would take the edge off, but I could still move my legs around and change positions in the bed, and I could still feel my contractions.
A few minutes after getting the epidural, my blood pressure dropped and I got the shakes. Aubrey's heart rate dropped with it, and so they put me on oxygen and began moving me around to find a good position that would make her happy. The charge nurse came in and began working with my nurse, and she asked how I was feeling. I told her I was feeling a lot of pressure and described where, and she suggested that my nurse check me. It had been 15 minutes since my epidural, and I had just dilated from 6 cm to 8! They now knew why my blood pressure had dropped and Aubrey was having the decelerations in her heart rate--the quick descent and change had stressed her (and me) out. She rebounded within a minute or two and started doing well again, so they began prepping the room and getting things set-up, figuring I didn't have much longer to go.
But even the nurses didn't expect me to go as fast as I did--in 15 minutes, I was complaining of a ton of pressure in my butt and groin and feeling like I needed to push, so they checked me again: I was completely dilated and Aubrey's head was practically ready to be delivered! The nurses began scrambling and calling my doc to hurry up, while I panted and tried to not push. The nursery team and all of the delivery team were in place, I was in position, when my doc came in and quickly suited up. I pushed through 3 contractions and Aubrey was delivered--an hour after having received my epidural! 24 hours of labor, 23 of them natural and dragging along, then 1 very fast hour and she was delivered!
The delivery itself was great. With Aiden, I had had so many complications, from spiking a fever and getting a uterine infection, to having to be on medication for pre-eclampsia, to multiple decelerations in Aiden's heart rate that resulted in him having to be vacuum-extracted. When he was born, he was instantly whisked away to the NICU and I didn't get to hold him but for about a minute. But with Aubrey, I got to watch her delivery in the mirror (which I know would freak some people out, but to me, it was amazing to see), and then she was placed on my tummy for me to touch and hold as soon as she was delivered. They kept her in the room to be quickly cleaned up, then brought her to me and I was able to hold her and nurse her for a couple of hours before they came and took her to the nursery to be bathed and assessed. My doc was so relaxed and encouraging, my nurses were fantastic, everyone was laughing and joking and happy--it was such a great experience all around. It was a joyous time that matched the excitement of the moment of bringing my daughter into this world.