The short: Our little Juniper Lily was born on July 27th, 2014 at 11:38 p.m. She was 7 lbs 13 oz at birth and 19.5 inches. Vaginal birth 4 days after due date with pitocin and an epidural.
The (VERY) long: Junie's arrival was exactly opposite how I had hoped/imagined things going, but we had an excellent birth experience and I learned a lot along the way! I'm the girl who felt no contractions and had no signs of early labor in the weeks leading up to this past weekend. No bloody show or mucus or even BH that I could feel. At my last check, my cervix had been soft and barely a fingertip dilated.
On Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m., DH and I got ready to take our dog on a walk on a nearby trail (the W&OD for you D.C. metro ppl). When I slid into the car, I felt a weird gush of warm fluid, like I had peed myself. I knew I hadn't, but since it wasn't a constant stream, I really questioned whether it was my water breaking. As we got to the trail and walked, I'd feel small gushes/leaks every once in a while. I had no control of it, and my shorts were getting soaked, so we figured it was at least something to get checked out, even if it was nothing. (I was in SUCH denial because I had no contractions at this point. I had been terrified of induction/pitocin, so my water breaking before labor kicking in was basically my worst nightmare. I was GBS positive, so I knew once/if my water broke, I didn't have as much time to wait around for contractions to start on their own.) I started feeling medium "menstrual-like" cramps as we walked back to the car.
I got ready, showered, packed, straightened up the house, and basically dawdled as long as I could before calling the on-call physician from my practice. I really didn't want to show up with no contractions and not dilated. DH was bouncing off the walls, packing things up in the car while I found the most unnecessary little tasks around the house that suddenly had to be done. Such denial. My doc told me to come in to L&D so they could check whether my water had broken since they'd have to start the penicillin for my GBS pretty soon.
We got there around 10:45 a.m. They verified that it was my waters leaking all over, found that I was a "tight 2" in dilation, and sent me to a L&D room. The rooms were big and private, so I started pacing furiously hoping to move things along. I could walk and sort of talk through some contractions, which to me just felt like strong menstrual cramps, every 5-7 minutes.
Around 2:00 p.m. (6 hrs after my water breaking), my contractions still pretty far apart not successfully picking up in intensity. The doctor suggested starting a little pitocin to try to help my body build momentum, instead of letting labor stall out for hours potentially. I was really nervous about starting that, but I could tell that my body was not engaging the way it should at this point, so we started it up.
The pit did pick things up-- my contractions got closer and closer together and had more of a "peak" than my natural "cramp" contractions did. I labored walking, kneeling, holding onto DH in a sort of "slow dance" position, and then in the tub for an hour. I was moaning audibly through these now, and it took all my concentration to ride the wave and recover before the next one hit me. It was while I was in the tub that I started getting discouraged mentally. I was extremely fatigued and I knew that I likely had a long way to go before I was even close to complete. I started doubting whether I could do this, and lost a lot of my grit and determination. My poor DH was so unsure of what to do to help me-- his touch was bothering me, so he just hovered looking like he was going to cry as he watched me in pain. I remember him telling me, "I think a lot of the worst ones are behind you, babe!" It was so sweet of him to try to encourage me, but I knew he was SO wrong. I started feeling like I was letting him down (which is absurd, the guy adores me and was so so proud of me every moment) because I felt so weak and incapable and I had so wanted to be strong in my labor.
After getting out of the tub, I was chilly, so I wrapped up in a blanket and lay on my side in the bed, gripping the handrail, and making sounds like a wounded animal. I felt out of my own mind with the pain, and basically let the contractions happen TO me, instead of rising with them, if that makes sense. It was a very dark time for me internally because I felt like I couldn't work with my body at this point. (The nurses later told me that I didn't sound or seem out of control at all and that I really wasn't that loud at all, but I felt completely beyond my own sanity.)
Around 6:00 p.m. I told my husband "I know we didn't want to do this, but I think I need some help with this. I'm exhausted and I don't think I can do this for much longer." He said ok-- you know your body and what you need. My nurses and doctor were amazing. They knew I had come in with hopes of having a natural birth with minimal intervention, though I was definitely ok with modifying that plan as needed. They told me they expected I had quite a few hours left to labor before I would be ready to push, and reassured me that I was not "giving up" if I decided to labor on with the help of an epidural. Never once did they say I should or shouldn't, though my doc did tell me later she was relieved when I decided to go with the epi because she could see how mentally beat I was getting after so many hours of painful labor.
I cried (several times) to DH because I had always hoped to give birth as unmedicated as possible. My own mom had 5 c sections, and I just felt like I needed to break the "curse" entirely in my own births. It was disturbing to me that my labor and my mom's labor with me (her first) were mirroring each other's so closely-- her's ended in an emergency c-section, and every time another intervention was introduced, I felt like I was one step closer to having c-sections with ALL of my future children. (Yeah-- I was a little crazy in the head at this point from the pain and hormones.)
After I decided to get the epidural, it took 2 hours for the anesthesiologist to get to me, due to some other emergency cases that kept rolling into the OR. The epidural went in smoothly and it wasn't as hard as I had imagined to hold still during contractions. I was amazed by how quickly the pain was numbed. I still felt pressure and could tell when I was having a contraction, but the pelvis-shattering pain was gone. I told DH over and over throughout the next few days that getting the epi was the BEST decision I could have made. My headspace instantly became more positive and I had a much more optimistic attitude for the next few hours.
Around 10 p.m. I was completely dilated, but my nurse suggested letting my body labor down for a bit to get her moved as low as possible for delivery. Essentially, I rested and let contractions do their work! I started pushing a little after 11 p.m., and out she came at 11:38. She was alert and latched right on to feed. We're so in love with her.