Emily's birth story begins and ends with poop.*
Warning: There WILL be TMI in this post... so, it's all on you now if you choose to read further! =)
Last Sunday (I can't believe it's been a week already!) Jacob and I were home after an afternoon of driving through the gorge, having a picnic lunch and then doing some work around the house. The day had been gorgeous and we were truly taking advantage of the beautiful weather. That evening after dinner I started to feel a little "off". I felt kind of constipated, even though I had been pretty "regular" the previous days. I've suffered from the same thing many times during the course of the pregnancy and so I have a jug of prune juice in my fridge as a precautionary measure (I HATE the stuff... but it seems to work). So, I chugged some of the juice, tried not to chuck it back up again (like I said, I REALLY hate the stuff. lol) and went about my evening (visiting the restroom several times to see if anything would "happen").
At about 10 PM I got a pretty sharp pain in my lower back (again, much like a gas/digestive issue would have caused me). I didn't think anything of it and went to lay down on the futon in the office to hang out with Jacob who was playing some computer game. But then it happened again. I asked Jacob what time it was. He told me. Four minutes later I got another pain. I told Jacob what was going on and we started clocking their frequency and duration for the next hour... as the pain got substantially worse. They were coming roughly 4 minutes apart, lasting more than a minute. Jacob started scurrying around trying to get the last minute "hospital bag" items and things for himself. I started calling the on-call OB at my doctor's office and texted our doula, Kristen. At 11:00 PM we got into the car and drove to the hospital. Me PRAYING that I was actually in labor and wasn't just having back gas pains. (I was still just feeling the pain in my back. Nothing coming from the front/uterus area and nothing that felt like menstrual cramping... which I had heard contractions compared to before).
We got to the hospital, checked in and set up in a labor/delivery room, Jacob took one last "pregnant" photo of me... and that is when the prune juice decided to kick in. Hard. =(
By now it was about midnight on Sunday/Monday and not only was I still having pretty horrible back pains, but now I had diarrhea, too! This was NOT a pleasant experience. Jacob helped by applying some pressure to my lower back as the pains came, but could do little for me when I was laboring while on the toilet, too... except stand outside the door asking, "are you alright?" lol
When the nurse came in to get me set up with the monitors, she confirmed that I was actually feeling contractions and was in labor. As happy as I was that it was finally happening, I was wishing more than a little bit that I could just stay pregnant a while longer! The pain I was experiencing was no joke it was just getting stronger.
I lasted until roughly 4:30 or 5:00 AM suffering through the horrible back labor naturally (and visiting the bathroom every few minutes). At that point I was in so much pain that I finally requested some assistance with the pain. The nurse suggested a shot of morphine and something else that would allow me to get some sleep/rest between contractions. I tried it. It didn't work. I asked for the epidural.
Jacob and I had discussed how we wanted to birth to go and created a loose "birth plan" with our doula. I wanted to try to go au natural as long as possible, but didn't want to completely cut out an epidural as a pain management option. Jacob was a little more leery about using any sort of "medically unnecessary" intervention, including drugs for pain. I knew this, and I felt really, really bad wanting to get one. I probably put off asking for the epidural a lot longer than I would have had I not felt like I was going to disappoint Jacob. But, at the same time, I had now been in labor for more than 7 hours and was already 6 or 7 centimeters dilated (I can't remember exactly where I was at this point).
The epidural wasn't bad. The initial local anesthesia pinched a bit, but compared to what I was going through, it was nothing. At a little after 5:30 on Monday morning, I finally had some relief and Jacob, myself and our doula (who arrived just as they were giving me the epidural) were able to get some sleep.
For the next several hours I was pretty much out of it (I think the morphine was finally kicking in). My doctor and several nurses made appearances to check on me. I was dilating nicely and things were progressing. Kristen (doula) made a guess that I would have the baby by 1 PM.
Well, 1 PM came and went. I slept. We waited. I continued to dilate (I was about 9.75 cm at that point). My water still had not broken on it's own. My doctor had told me that morning that it wasn't a big deal if my water didn't break and that we could continue to wait on it and/or have it broken manually. We chose to wait as long as we could to see if it would break on it's own.
Around 2ish (I think... I was still pretty out of it at this point), I had not dilated any more. My doctor was called and two possible "solutions" were given. She could either come in and break my bag of waters, or the nurses could start pitocin. As Jacob and I REALLY didn't want to use pitocin (we were pretty scarred after watching The Business of Being Born) we elected to have my water broken. My doctor came in, checked me out (still about 9.75 cm), broke my water, and inserted an internal monitoring device to get a better feel for the strength of my contractions (it was not the monitor that attaches to the baby's head... I can't remember what it was called, but it didn't even touch the baby).
My doctor then left me with the nurses to "labor down". Unfortunately, there was a bit of a side effect to my water breaking... for some reason I was starting to feel back pain again. It was not nearly as bad as before, and I was told to be on the look out for "pressure" that would signify that it was time to start pushing, so I tried not to think too much into it.
After about an hour of "laboring down", there had been no progress (I wasn't feeling the urge to push) and my contractions were getting farther apart. By this point I was REALLY feeling the back pain again, and made it known, however was told that feeling my contractions may actually be a GOOD thing in terms of getting the baby out. After consulting the doctor, the nurse started me on some "practice pushing" to get an idea of how to do it, and to see if we could get the little one to descend any further. (Side note: I don't know if I ever actually pooped on the table like you hear so many women do (and I don't really care to know), but I do know that my nurse didn't keep up too well on keeping my bladder empty and, when I started to "practice" ended up urinating all over the table. =P Lovely). I pushed and pushed and was making very little progress as my contractions were getting farther apart. Again, I was given two choices on how to proceed: 1) They could turn down my epidural and see if that helped the contractions or 2) they could start pitocin.
This was a HARD choice for me. I already felt like my epidural was wearing off and I REALLY didn't want to experience the level of pain that I was feeling 12 hours prior to that point, but we were also very scared of pitocin. Jacob and I asked for a few minutes to talk about it with our doula. Due to my fears concerning the pain, and the fact that I was already dilated to 10 cm by that point and just needed the extra "push" (pun intended) that we would go for the pitocin. Had it been earlier in the labor process I probably would have pushed to wait, but it was time to get our little girl out and my body wasn't doing it on it's own (which, in turn was stressing out the little one--her heart rate was taking longer and longer to get back to "normal" after each push/contraction). So, we called the nurse back in, the pitocin started, and I started pushing, for real.
I honestly don't know what time my doctor showed up during the pushing process. I was otherwise engaged and wasn't watching the clock. =) I pushed and pushed and pushed. The baby was having a really hard time making it's way around my tail bone. I kept hearing things like, "you must be having a big baby!" and Jacob say something about how he was born with a huge head** (P.S. this is something that I would have liked to know BEFORE so I could have prepared myself for a kid with a ginormous noggin!). Still, I kept pushing.
Birthing a baby is a WEIRD sensation. Especially when you can feel the thing crowning and you're just laying there waiting for another contraction to come so that you can push again. For lack of a better metaphor, it's like wearing a big maxi pad and feeling this large presence between your legs. lol Really, really weird.
Finally, during one contraction/pushing moment I suddenly heard several voices saying "stop pushing, stop pushing!" So, I did. I really wasn't with it enough to realize what was going on. My doctor was scurrying around her little table of supplies and I just laid there, waiting. Finally another contraction came and I was encouraged to push... and suddenly, at 6:47 PM on Monday, April 23rd (just shy of 21 hours of labor), I had a slimy, crying baby lying on my chest.
I started to cry then. A LOT. I was so tired and had so many emotions/hormones taking my body over. I cried and cried and cried. I heard several people making exclamations about how impressed that they were. It seemed a little over the top and I didn't really comprehend what they were saying/getting at. Finally I got myself together enough for our first family photo, to really take a good look at my daughter (which I confirmed that she WAS a girl very shortly after her appearance into this world!), to deliver the placenta, and to find out that my baby had indeed been posterior... which completely explains all of the back pain I was having (which my nurses/doctor kind of ignored). Apparently, this position during birth is very uncommon and, more often than not, babies in a posterior position are delivered via C-section, so, the fact that I did it vaginally was something to celebrate. (My doula told me that even the nurses a the nursing station were talking about it later, much like recapping an awesome football play).
My doctor had some difficulty getting the placenta out and I think that it was more painful that it usually is (she suggested that I click my manual epidural button... but I wanted to get over the drugs as quickly as possible and didn't want to add another dose). But finally she was done and was stitching me up (I had a 2nd degree tear... which she told me was normal. I didn't really care at that point, I just wanted to be done with the whole process!).
After all was said and done, and the room was starting to get cleaned up, the nurse was doing her initial evaluation of our little one as she laid on my chest.
You know how I said at the very beginning that this story starts and ends with poop? Well, it was at that moment that our sweet little Emily decided to rebel for the very first time, and, also for the first time, relieve her bowels... all over her mother's chest. =P The nurse got Emily up and into her father's arms, and quickly started to clean me up and help me change into another (clean) gown.
Welcome to motherhood! lol
* This account is completely from my own recollection. I was pretty out of it for awhile and not sure that I remembered the specifics particularly well... but I did what I could. =)
** I did, in fact, NOT have a huge baby. She weighed in at 7 lbs., 6 oz. and 21 inches long. Perfect. =)