I had been having contractions for almost a week, and I was ready to be done with this pregnancy. On Sunday night, I started having contractions 2-3 minutes apart. That lasted for almost 2 hours, but they weren't painful, so I decided to wait a bit longer before calling the doctor. Unfortunately, while they were annoying enough to keep me awake, they just got further part and never got stronger, and by 3:30am they were tame enough for me to finally go to sleep.
I was still contracting the next morning, so I stayed home from work. DH brought the boys to daycare, but then came back home. The contractions went away when I took a shower, but returned with a bit more force and consistency once I sat down to consider going into the office. I told DH to go into the office, and I decided to stay home and give it an hour and see how things went. Pretty soon, the contractions were 2-4 minutes apart and getting stronger. I waited until 1pm to call my OB, and they said to come into labor and delivery. By this time, I had told DH to pick up the boys from daycare, and I had arranged for Grandma to come and watch them. When everyone arrived, we said goodbye to the boys, who gave me hugs and kisses and told me they couldn't wait to meet the baby.
We got to the hospital around 2:30, and when they checked me, I was 3-4cm dilated, so that plus the contractions let them know I was really in labor, and we got checked in. Because I was trying for a VBAC, and because of how the delivery went with Aaron, I wanted to be med-free for as long as possible, to give the baby the best chance to get himself in a position to come out. I wanted to be able to walk and move around in order to facilitate that process. So from 3-6pm, DH and I walked around the hospital, bounced on the birthing ball, and danced in our room (the last 2 were just me, not DH). The contractions were much more uncomfortable for me when I was sitting, so the only time I was in the bed was when someone was checking me. At 6pm I was checked again, and was still at a 4. I was a bit discouraged, but still feeling good, so I declined the offer to break my water to speed things up, as I knew how much that up'd the ante on the pain front from my previous deliveries.
I continued to walk and sway through the contractions, though we're certainly getting more painful. Around 7pm there were some signs that things were starting to progress, and the contractions were definitely getting stronger. By this point, I had to breathe and vocalize a little bit to get through each contraction. I requested another check at 7:30, and when I heard I had progressed to 5-6, I decided to push through a bit longer. By 9 the contractions were pretty painful, and I had started to groan through them, but they were certainly still manageable. However, I was also getting pretty tired by this point since I'd been standing since we got to the hospital 7 hours earlier, and I saw no end in sight, so I requested another check. I was still at a 6 at this point, so I told them to break my water. This meant I had to get in the bed for pretty much the first time (aside from the quick progress checks) since I got to the hospital.
They broke my water at 9:45pm, and the first few contractions were not bad. Unfortunately, that didn't last. I wanted to get back up and on my feet (they needed to monitor me for a few contractions lying down to ensure the cord did not become compressed when they broke my water), but when I was finally allowed to, the extra pressure from gravity was so much that I couldn't handle the pain. I immediately returned to the bed, but the contractions were so strong at that point, I decided to get an epidural, since it didn't look like I was going to be getting up again anyway.
Before I could get the epi, they had to get 2 bags of fluid in me. They started the IV around 10:15ish, and by this time the contractions were REALLY painful, and I was being very vocal to get through them. I had to close my eyes and just groan/sing one note, all while concentrating on relaxing and trying to let things stay open. When I was ready for bag #2 around 11pm, I was only at 7 cm, and it just confirmed in my mind that I needed that epi.
After this point, time gets pretty foggy. The baby's heart rate started dropping during the contractions, and the nurse came in to tell me I needed to roll on my side. I had tried that position earlier, and I couldn't handle the pain that way. I told her I couldn't do because it hurt too much. She told me, "you need to do this for the baby." I did, and it was the most pain I've ever experienced. I was yelling, screaming, and yipping through a few contractions, and I even started crying because it was so terrible, and I felt like there was nothing I could do and I couldn't cope.
Then, all of a sudden, the yelling and screaming through the contractions became these animalistic growls/guttural screams. I literally had NO control over the sounds coming out of my body. It was so loud and raw and guttural that DH was starting to freak out. I was just laying on my side, gripping the bed rail, and holding on for dear life because my body had a mind of its own at this point, and I remember thinking how strange it all seemed...like an out of body experience. I somehow managed to ask about the epi in a 20 second break between contractions, and the anesthesiologist was literally right outside the door, but because of the sounds I was making, the nurse decided she needed check me again. She told me that I was at 9.5cm and I was going to push this baby out.
Things got kind of scary at this point because the baby's heart rate was dropping really low during my contractions, even on my side. The mood in the room was one of clear concern. Everyone kept telling me to push, that this baby needs to come out, and all I could do was lay there and push. The pushing actually felt great...so much better than the contractions just a few minutes earlier. I pushed through maybe 3 contractions, for a total of no more 5 minutes (probably less), and at 11:47pm, he was out. The cord was wrapped around his body, which was why his heart rate was dropping, but he was fine, and he started crying once they got the cord off. In fact, his apgar scores were 8 and 9, so he was just fine. As soon as I was fixed up, I got to hold my little man, and nurse and cuddle for 2 hours before they took him away for a bath and some other stuff.
So, to sum it all up, Thomas Gale was born at 11:47pm on July 29. He weighed 8lbs, 5oz and was 21.5 inches long. We are now at home and doing well.