Violet was born on 8/24/14, at 41 weeks and 2 days. That morning I woke up at about 6:30 AM with contractions intense enough to be uncomfortable but not strong enough to stop me from doing anything. I got out of bed and wandered around the house until my 2 ½ year old got up a little bit later. I was able to get her some milk and set her up watching TV, but the contractions were getting stronger and starting to stop me in my tracks. They seemed to be happening pretty frequently, too, although I did not trust my own sense of time at that point – it was about 7 AM. I decided to wake my husband and take a shower. By the end of the shower, I was having to stop and breathe/sway through the contractions. (On a side note, I did not find the water to be even slightly soothing, which was kind of disappointing. I know a lot of people swear by it while in labor.)
I got out of the shower and went out to the living room, where I told my husband it was time to call his mother to come pick up DD – now about 7:30 AM, one hour since I woke up. Then I sat on my birth ball and breathed/rocked through contractions. I also opened up my contraction-timing app on my phone. Very quickly I saw that my contractions were 1 minute long and 2 minutes apart, so I told DH to throw together the last stuff to take to the hospital because we needed to go soon. I also told him that I was going to throw my natural childbirth plan out the window and get an epidural as soon as we got to the hospital, because things were already rough and I knew they would just get rougher.
Once DD was taken care of and our stuff was ready, we got in the car and headed to the hospital. My contractions were getting increasingly intense, and I had to vocalize through them by now. The drive to the hospital only took about 20 minutes, but it felt like forever. We got there around 9 AM and my contractions were increasing in frequency – I barely had any down time at all between them. I moaned and sobbed my way into triage, and the nurse there calmly asked me for a urine sample while I cried. I managed to produce one with the help of DH, contracting the whole time. I know I got some on the outside of the cup – take that, mean nurse!
The nurse that took me into a triage room was much nicer. She got me set up in a bed and decided to check me herself because the doctor was busy. I was already dilated to 6 cm! I was begging for the epidural at that point, and contracting so frequently that I was unable to answer admissions questions or sign any paperwork. The nurse decided to set me up on an IV, get me to a room, and get the epidural going before finishing my admission, for which I will forever be grateful.
The epidural process was not instantaneous, but it wasn't too bad. The anesthesiologist was really funny and nice, and when DH told him about my history with spinal headaches he was sympathetic and extra careful (probably not really, but he said he was and it made me feel better). After about 30 minutes I was feeling almost total relief, but I could still move my legs as needed.
From there, I mostly just rested. DH, my mom, my sister, and my grandmother were all there and we were chatting and waiting. My nurse was great, and really emphasized low interventions, which was what I preferred. She wasn't in the room most of the time.
There was one scary moment when I had scooted onto my left side for comfort. A few minutes later my nurse came flying into the room, followed by like three other people. They quickly rolled me onto my right side as my nurse explained to me that the baby's heart rate had just dropped dramatically. She was very calming despite the chaos and said it was likely positional, but they put me on oxygen just in case. Also, evidently my contractions were stacking up without enough of a pause in between, so they gave me a shot of Terbutaline to slow the contractions down in case that was putting stress on the baby. I was pretty shocked, as I didn't know that could happen with non-induced contractions, and it made me grateful yet again that I got the epidural. Fortunately, kiddo's heart rate went right back up once they flipped me on to my right side and stayed up after that.
At around 10:30 AM the doctor on call, who happened to be one that I knew and liked from the clinic, came in and checked me. She said I was “a stretchy 8” and offered to break my water to speed things along. I declined, and told her I wanted to try to get to 10 before breaking my water if it didn't happen naturally. She was fine with that, and told me she'd be back to check on me in about an hour. After that apparently she got called to an emergency, because I didn't see her for two hours. My nurse let us know that she was busy and kept us informed, so that was fine.
By 12:15 PM I was really feeling my contractions again, and the self-administering epidural button was doing nothing. I had to stop and concentrate through them, although I could still pay attention to what was happening around me and I didn't have to breathe or vocalize or anything. The anesthesiologist had let me know that the dose was designed to let me feel it when I hit transition, so I assumed I was getting close. Right around then I felt something come out of my vagina. I thought it was my water breaking, but then I felt around down there with my hand and realized it was my mucus plug/bloody show. The nurse came in and cleaned it up for me – by the way, that thing was huge! I was not expecting it to be so big. It looked like it would not fit completely in one cupped hand.
Almost immediately after the nurse left, I suddenly felt nauseous. DH grabbed me a trash can and I immediately started puking. I hadn't had anything but water since the night before, so that's all that came up. Right in the middle of vomiting my water broke for real. We frantically called the nurse, who checked me and then frantically called the doctor. Apparently baby girl was right there.
While we were waiting for the doctor's team to get set up, the nurse had me do a “test push”. I started to do it, but then she quickly told me to stop until the doctor was there, because the kiddo was so close that she might just pop out. The doctor got set up very quickly, and then it was time to start pushing.
So here's where things got weird. At first, I was instructed to push with contractions, three pushes at 10 seconds each. But then, after one set of those, my doctor started insisting that I just keep pushing. Literally every time I stopped to breathe she would start chanting “Keep pushing, keep pushing!” My family and the other nurses joined in, and immediately I was surrounded by a circle of people yelling “Push, push, push!” like spectators at some bizarre sport. So I kept pushing as hard as I could, contractions be damned. She popped out in about 5 minutes, so I suppose it worked. However, I ended up with a third degree tear. I do sort of wonder whether the tearing would have been so bad if we had slowed down a little, and what was the hurry anyway? At one point while pushing I distinctly remember both DH and my mom making shocked comments along the lines of “Oh my god!” When I asked DH about that later, he told me that the doctor had reached up in there and hooked the baby with her fingers and then yanked her out at that point. She was 9 lbs and 2 oz, so maybe there was some concern about her getting stuck and that's why they had me push like that? I don't know.
Anyway, to wrap up, Violet Pauleen was born at 12:49 PM on 8/24/14, weighing 9 lbs 2 oz and 21 ¼ cm inches, after just over 6 hours of labor and 5 minutes of pushing. (I like to take a moment from time to time to compare this to my first daughter, who was 5 lbs 8 oz and 15 inches long. Crazy.)