Sunday 5/4: Contractions during the afternoon and evening that continued well into the night. Before this day, any labor-ish activity ceased during sleep. I distinctly remember being awake from about 2am-4am on Monday, and I was sure Monday would be the day.
Monday 5/5: Worsening cramping on the way to the OB appt. Was 2cm, 70% effaced before stripping. We are unsure if we are okay with inducing on 5/7 (that was the plan), so we decide to schedule another appointment for the following day. After membrane stripping, heightened contractions and cramping all evening/night.
Tuesday 5/6: Contractions throughout the day, but not intensifying as they had been. OB appt in the evening. 3cm, 80% effaced, serious blood, and the baby had moved to a -2 station, so we decided to proceed with a "natural induction" the next morning by heading to his office for an artificial rupture of the membranes (ARM). The plan was to get to his office around 9am and then head to the hospital to labor during the day and have the baby sometime during the evening. Obviously the ARM meant that we might have to use Pitocin if things didn't progress on their own, but we thought trying the ARM was better than just starting off with the Pit.
However, that evening, contractions became serious at home, 2-3 minutes apart around 10pm. So we alerted the babysitting squad and prepped to head into the hospital then. I had heard too many quick second-birth stories to risk it, and we figured it was better to get childcare to our place instead of having to possibly call at 3am. But, of course, as we are prepping to head to the hospital, contractions slowed and by the time we get to the hospital, they were only 6 minutes apart. They said that we can check in anyway since we were going to do the ARM in the AM; we can just stay there and the doc will come by in the morning and things would proceed as planned. Contractions die overnight. Womp womp.
Wednesday 5/7: Doc supposed to come before 8:30am to break my water. Doesn't come. We call, he says he'll be there around 12pm. Unhappy, I was! But, okay, I decide it's a good opportunity for a nap since I was ill-rested from the previous nights' labor activity. I rest until noon, Josh goes home to shower and grab a few more things. Noon rolls around, doc says it will now be 2pm. 2pm... no doc. We play cards, we try to stay upbeat. He says he'll be there by 3pm. 3pm, no doc. This is about when my patience wears out, especially because I now know we'll be laboring into the night. Poor Josh tries to talk me through my frustration, but I was not in the mood. 4pm, doc finally arrives. Waters are broken, so we take to walking the halls and natural oxytocin release. And so labor finally begins in earnest around 5pm. From here on out, I progress somewhat normally, with these milemarkers:
6:30pm: 3cm, 80% effaced. At this point, I'm basically just walking the halls and having contractions 3-4 minutes apart.
7:10pm: contractions 2-3 minutes apart (documented here)
8:30pm: 4.5cm, 80%, cervix had moved down. I remember having the shakes and feeling nauseous at this point right before getting in the shower.
8:30-10pm: I labor in the shower. (The hospital had a tub, but because my waters had ruptured, I was not allowed in it. This was fine as I knew the tub was not a guarantee.) This stint in the shower was supposed to only be for 20 minutes, but my nurse was gracious and allowed me to stay in because she saw how effective it was. Josh was actually able to sneak away to eat dinner while I'm in the shower, which demonstrates how in my own world I was in there. I was just kind of in this bubble of hot water and steam and interacting with him less and less.
10pm: Out of the shower and onto the ball. At this point, my temp is up and I'm a bit dehydrated from the long stint in the shower. I down ice chips as quickly as possible (not very), and am hooked up to the monitors again. Cordelia's heart rate is much higher than before (30 bpm faster both resting and during contractions) so the nurse says I'll probably need an IV to combat the dehydration. She knows I don't want to be hooked up to any unnecessary tubes, so she holds off, but I know the IV is probably coming. I remain on the ball until 11:30, and at this point the labor moves almost entirely into my back and butt. This is when things get REAL. Josh starts massaging my lower back around 10:30, and that provided some relief.
11pm: Have a 20-minute period of respite. It was strange. I still had contractions of the same intensity, but between contractions I actually felt a sense of relief and calm. I could talk somewhat intelligibly and thought that this was probably the calm before the storm that our Bradley class (from my last pregnancy) had described.
11:30pm: 7cm, 100%. From this point onward, I have to stay hooked up to the monitor and the IV, basically confining me to the bed. I know it's too late for an epidural at this point, so asking for it isn't even an option. As I'm telling Josh that I don't think I can handle any more pain, the nurse offers pain meds via my IV. At this point, that was like offering crack to a junkie. I wasn't even thinking about pain meds, but I immediately want them. Duh. Around 11:45, I think, the nurse gives me Nubain via my IV. She says it will "take the edge off." I'm not entirely sure what she meant by that, but it didn't seem to take the edge off the contractions AT ALL. The only difference I did feel was that I could actually catch my breath between contractions, so it definitely relaxed me. But, just to be clear, I don't think nurses should use that phrase because the contractions still seemed to have all of their edges. Ha. But, mentally, I told myself, "This would be worse without the meds, this would be worse, this would be worse." I do think that helped my mental state. But mostly, I was writhing on the bed during this time. Josh recalls things that I don't remember at all.
12:30am: 9cm. Doc is called. Very quickly, I feel the urge to push and have to hold off until the doc is there. My nurse is adamant that she does not want to catch the baby herself. Ha.
12:45: Doc arrives! Pushing through the first contraction delivers the head. Prior to this, she was still relatively high, so she moved down very quickly once I started pushing. I think this was why her head was very round; she was not in the birth canal for very long. Pushing through a second contraction delivers her shoulders and there she was!
After doing this birth without the epidural, I'm pretty glad I had one for August, my 8.8 first baby with a head that was a whole 2 inches bigger than Cordelia's. Holy moly y'all.
I do wish the nurse had not offered the pain meds out of the blue. For this birth, we didn't have a written birth plan (I was impressed our hospital bags were even packed), and in the first one we explicitly asked that they not be offered. The nurse clearly thought she was helping (and let's be honest, she was!), and the Nubain was fine, but the thought of taking something via my IV had not even occurred to me, so I'm a bit sad that I took it in that last hour. It feels like a bit of a taint on my "natural" birth. That being said, I'm really not sure what that last hour would've been like without it. Haha. So, it's hard to feel too sad because it did help me catch my breath between contractions a bit.
I'm not sure I'll aim for a natural birth again. I mean, we don't always have control over these things, so if I show up to L&D for a future kid and it's too late to get one, then I'll have another painful birth. Or, if I show up and I'm already 5cm or something, maybe I'll make a go of it. I do hate being confined to that bed and all of the wires that come with it. But, after these two births, I'm not convinced all of the pain during this one was "worth it." I was up and about quickly afterward, but that was also the case for my first birth, so that didn't feel too different. This one was a bit faster/easier, but I'm just not sure that "bit" is worth it.
I will definitely try to avoid the Pitocin for future births, especially now that I see that the ARM worked to jump start my labor. Of course, the doc was only willing to do this because my cervix was favorable for it, and that might not always be the case.
August is adorable with his baby sister. If you have stuck around this long and really want to go down the rabbit hole into our family, you can see his reaction to her here.