The times are approximate, as DH (C) relayed them to me, since I really don't remember much.
Preface: I'd been told I was in "early" labor for about 2 weeks before J actually made his debut. I'd had contractions consistently every 10-15 minutes during that period, including very frequent periods of contractions every 5 minutes. I had sort of given up timing them and just finally decided to go with the whole "can't function through one" guideline rather than anything else for when to go to the hospital. I had lost my MP somewhere in my 35th week, and at 36 1/2 weeks had a gush of bright red blood which my MWs said was part bloody show and part just a pocket of blood from when my placenta moved up. We'd made three "false alarm" trips to L & D by the time I actually delivered, though the first of these was at 33 weeks and was for PTL. I also had diet-controlled GD. My plan, at the time, was to go med-free, though I was open to an epidural if I decided I needed one.
At 38 weeks 4 days, my water broke at 1am Monday morning, January 7. I absolutely felt J just pop his little hand right through the amniotic sac. Interestingly, I did exactly the same thing to my mother when I was finally ready to be born. For about a half hour the amount of water pouring out was really funny to me (I was walking around with a soaked towel between my legs, laughing my butt off) but then the contractions hurt too much for me to feel like laughing. There was some moaning, sitting on the labor ball and vomiting into a clothes hamper, and then we decided I couldn't handle being at home any more. Good times. We got to the hospital (and checked in) at 3am, and I was 3cm and 90% effaced. I spent some time in the tub, which was fantastic and honestly the best pain reliever/relaxer of my entire labor and delivery, and in retrospect I wish I had stayed in there longer. I labored naturally for a while, until my back started hurting too much and I couldn't relax well between contractions anymore. Basically at this point, every contraction felt like someone was stabbing a knife into my colon from the inside. Lovely, right?
By about 6:30 am I was 7cm dilated and decided I really needed an epidural because I just couldn't breathe and relax through and, more importantly, between contractions anymore. The back labor was a huge part of this decision, as was the 3 hours of sleep I'd had. On a scale of 1-10 I would rate my pain at this point at about a 9, and figured I'd better get the epi while I still felt like not dying. I got my epidural around 7am, they had to give me a bag (a bolus, I think they said) of IV fluid first. For the first few hours of the epi I felt great, and wonderful and relaxed. Then about 11am the epidural started to wear off. I first noticed that my back pain was coming back, then that I could feel contractions in my crotch and my butt. Within an hour it was to the point that I felt the need to push even though I was only 8 1/2 cm dilated so they tried to get my epidural to work some more, with no success. They ended up having to totally redo the epidural (so yes, I got two of them) at about 12. They also started pitocin at this point to make the contractions more useful in helping me dilate. The second time around was nice for a little while but right around 2:30 it started wearing off too. Because of the epidurals, I was confined to bed. I also had an oxygen mask. I had to rotate between laying on one side and the other, and was only allowed to eat ice chips even though I was so effing thirsty. I begged to be allowed to sit in the rocking chair again, but was told that I absolutely could not do that because my legs would go numb and I would collapse and not be able to stand up to transfer myself to the chair or back to the bed.
I was finally 10cm dilated at 3:10pm (14 hours after labor began in earnest). Pushing is really really hard. I had no idea how hard it would be. We tried a whole variety of positions, the most effective of which ended up being with me flat on my back (which is usually the least effective and worst position to push in). Any other position I tried just sort of reversed what progress I'd made. Finally at 5:15ish (I think, my mind was obviously elsewhere at this point) they paged an OB (not the one I'd seen for ultrasounds, he was out sick) and we talked about the possibility of a forceps delivery (which my mom had with me, too). The doc and I decided that forceps was the best thing to do, and he mentioned that there was an increased chance of tearing, but I said that was fine, just don't give me an episiotomy. He fortunately shared my views on those. Since at that point it was pretty apparent that the baby was facing straight up (OP), the anesthesiology department was called to revamp my epidural (one of my legs was still totally numb, but my crotchal area (is that even a word? Oh well, you know what I mean) did not feel very numb. The extra epidural medicine helped somewhat but holy lord does pushing with forceps hurt. I honestly am surprised I didn't tear more (but we'll get to that later...). Finally after pushing harder than I've ever pushed in my life and hurting more than I thought possible with or without an epidural, J's head finally came out. This part felt like my pelvis was going to break in half, I kid you not. As I've said, he was facing up toward my front rather than toward my spine, which was the cause of my horrible back labor and probably the slowness of my dilation (though I think that the limitations imposed by the epidural had something to do with it as well). The midwife asked if I wanted to feel his head. I said "No, just get him out." As C put it, his head just kept coming and coming, and when he finally was all out I didn't even get to hold him. They rushed him over to the warmer, where his APGAR scores were 7 and 8- 7 at 1 minute, 8 at 5 after birth. No babies in CO get 10, as far as I've ever been told. In the meantime I was being prodded and delivering the placenta (a very very weird feeling by the way). They finally brought J over for me to hold while I was having my 2nd degree tear stitched up. All that and only 1 little tear, and it didn't even hurt as much as I thought it would. Then C took the baby and they started trying to get me to stop bleeding, which had I been more in my senses would have been really scary. C was totally freaked out. After all, if a little blood looks like a lot, a lot of blood looks like you don't have any left. Overall, during pushing and post-delivery, the midwife and nurses and OB were estimating that I lost 1200 ccs of blood (1.2 liters; this is about 1/4 of my total pregnant blood volume). I was very white. I only remember feeling really really weak and that they massaged my uterus which hurt a whole lot (worse than the contractions, I think, because I was so sore and exhausted anyway) and sent blood spraying all over. They gave me Pitocin and a couple other things to make me contract so the bleeding would stop, which eventually worked. By the time they were done the delivery room looked like a murder scene, and my midwife had to go change out of her blood covered scrubs before going to see any other patients and lead the tour of the L&D ward. I finally got to go to the recovery room at about 9pm, meaning it took about 3 hours to get me stable enough to go there. And by the way, in case you were wondering, a Tylenol suppository does not make your butt stop hurting after delivering a baby in the posterior position.
The stats were that J was 20 inches long and weighed 6 pounds, 15.5 ounces. He had the biggest conehead that anyone present had ever seen. Those little stocking caps they put on babies in the hospital? Yeah, his head literally FILLED it. By later that night his head looked much more normal.
For my recovery, I was put on bed rest for 16 hours every day, along with taking copious amounts of iron supplements and iron-rich foods. When I left the hospital my hematocrit was 28 (it should be somewhere around 38-46%), which was better than it had been right after DS was born. I think that the iron supplements and their after-effects were seriously the worst part of the recovery process. Hemorrhoids made their first appearance in my life, and my poor perineum was so sore from pushing and being stitched up that the last thing it needed was hemi's on top of that, but alas. Such is life, I suppose.
Due to the experience I had with the epidurals and the limitations imposed by them, I will not be getting one again. In general, while most women get complete relief from them, about 20% (like me) only get partial relief, and about 10% get no relief at all. This baby doesn't have an anterior placenta, and therefore will likely not be in the OP when she is born, so hopefully I won't have the horrendous back labor that I did with DS. Even if I do, I have a better idea of how to cope and I know what I'm getting into.