Keith drove us to the hospital through lots of traffic and rain. It felt so WEIRD to be making that drive, knowing that when we came home, our baby would be with us. One of Keith's biggest fears was not making it to the hospital in time because we'd be stuck in traffic, and mine was being in the car in transition. I joked that we were stuck in traffic, but it was no big deal after all! I mean, I wasn't in labor at all. I had had zero contractions.
We walked casually into the hospital. The same woman was at the desk. She said, "Hey! You're back!" Haha. She called for our nurse, and we just chilled out waiting. Finally, Nurse Jenny came out to get us. Yes, that was her name. She was Australian, and she was hilarious. She brought us into FMC, and took us to our room, which was about as far back into FMC as you can get. The last room in the C wing. She had a student nurse with her too, Nurse Natalie. She was quiet, and sweet. Together, they took all our info and worked on getting us settled. Nurse Jenny took my birth plan and made a copy to put on top of my chart. I really liked that. When I'd called the hospital to tell them we were coming, I'd asked for a natural birth friendly nurse. Nurse Jenny didn't know anything about Hypnobirthing, but she was up for anything we wanted and that was cool with me.
I put on my lovely hospital gown, and Jenny told us I had to have a little bit of monitoring first. That was fine, I still wasn't in labor. Dr. Dise came in after a while. She told us that since my membranes had been ruptured for over 12 hours, they wanted to help kick start labor. She knew that we wanted as few interventions as possible, so instead of Pitocin (which I totally feared), she was going to insert 1/4 of a pill of Cytotec in the hope that that would get things started. She had checked me and said I was 2cm and 50% effaced, so I had a ways to go. Once the Cytotec had been inserted, however, I'd have to be monitored continuously for four hours. Ugh, but ok.
After she left, Jenny and Natalie tried to hook up the telemetry monitor so that Keith and I could take a walk. I wanted to get labor going, and I knew walking could help. The machine wasn't working that well, but Jenny let us go anyway because the baby was looking good and it really didn't matter that much. FMC is pretty boring, but we walked a couple of laps. On our way back, I heard someone say, "Dr. Turner". I looked, and realized I knew the man who was Dr. Turner! I babysat his kids when I was very young. He had aged, but it was definitely him. I remembered that he was an OB, and his wife, Jennie, was a nurse.
Back at the room, we got Freebie back on the monitor basically by me holding it to my belly. Keith and I decided to play cribbage. I just wasn't ready to get into my Hypnobirthing zone yet. Nurse Jenny told us we should try to eat, because we'd probably be hungry later. Nothing sounded that great, and I was scared to have Keith leave the hospital to pick something up. We finally decided that Olive Garden sounded amazing, but by then it was too late. Nurse Jenny tried to learn how to play cribbage. She also tried to talk us into naming our daughter Matilda. She had always wanted a girl named Matilda, but instead she'd had all boys.
I think around this time I finally got the Cytotec. It had been a while, because it took forever for the pharmacy to send it up, and then Dr. Dise had to come put it in. So now I was trapped in the bed. Ick.
Right around this time, we got a new nurse. Nurse Bossy. Nurse Jenny went over my birth plan with Bossy, and I could tell right away that she wasn't loving it. But as I was stuck in the bed, things were going according to her plan anyway. I told Bossy about how I basically had to hold the monitor to my belly, and she whipped out this awesome contraption (ok, it was a tube of fabric, like a tube top) that held them on SO much better. She advised us to try to sleep, turned the lights off, and basically left us alone for a while.
Sleep was not in the cards for me. I decided now was a good time to get out my iPod and get into my Hypno-zone. Keith decided that now was a good time to eat a snack. The noisiest snack on the face of the earth. He was eating these berry-yogurt flavored rice cake things, so not only did they crunch when he ate them, but the bag was super crinkly too. Plus, they smell completely disgusting. I was pissed off at him for eating them, and I mean pissed. For some stupid reason, though, I didn't say anything to him. I just sat there trying to concentrate on my Rainbow Relaxation, to not concentrate on contractions, and getting more and more mad. I was so relieved when he finally finished.
Keith fell asleep right after that, but by now the Cytotec had done its job, and I was definitely contracting. The contractions were weird. They started off really close together (2-3 min apart, I think), but most of them would double peak. So as soon as I thought one was ending, the intensity would come back up. It had been about 3 hours on the Cytotec and I was starting to get uncomfortable (the contractions were all in my back), and very antsy. I wanted OFF of those monitors, and off of the bed! I woke Keith up, because I didn't want to handle it on my own. I remember telling him a lot that I wanted out of the bed.
Finally, four hours had passed! I was definitely NOT in my relaxation zone of Hypnobirthing. I think being trapped in the bed made me stressed, and impossible for me to relax. Nurse Bossy came back in and told me that I was having contractions (duh), but that they weren't in a good enough pattern or something and that I was probably going to get Pitocin next. Um, what? No! I was having lots of contractions, I didn't want that! She said she was going to check me first, then call the doctor.
Nurse Bossy checked me, and I was at 4cm. I want to say I was 70% effaced, but I'm not sure if I'm remembering accurately. I was kind of bummed. Only at 4cm, and my back labor was more painful than I thought early labor should be. BUT, Nurse Bossy called Dr. Dise, who, instead of putting me on the Pit, told her to take me off the monitors and let me labor how I wanted. Woohoo!!! Nurse Bossy asked if I wanted to try the birthing ball or the tub. I wanted both, but opted for the tub first. At this point she said she'd get it ready, and said "This is a little more fun when you're not in the bed. You get to use all this stuff." I was glad her attitude was starting to change.
It took a long time for the tub to get ready. I found that the most comfortable thing to do during contractions was to lean on Keith and sway. Nurse Bossy was going to go on break, so we got Amazing Nurse Jenn. She tried to show Keith how to do hip squeezes for me during contractions, but I quickly found that I did not like that AT ALL, so we stopped.
I got into the tub finally, and it was HEAVEN. The water felt so good, and even though the contractions were intense, I was able to relax in between them and talk to Keith. Jenn gave him a cup, and during contractions he would pour water on my belly. That felt amazing too, and really helped me get through them. Jenn would bring in a doppler and listen to the baby's heartbeat before, during, and after a contraction. Freebs was doing fine, so I planned to stay in the tub forever.
Like I said, the contractions were intense. I started to feel like the jets of the tub were distracting me, so I turned them off. A contraction would hit, I'd tell Keith and he'd pour the water, and I'd grab onto the hand rails by the tub and close my eyes and focus. After a time, I started to kind of hum or make a noise through them. I never imagined myself wanting to make any sounds during labor, but it felt like I needed to do that, and to my surprise, it helped me.
I also started to get really tired at this point. I wanted to sleep. I'd keep my eyes closed between contractions even. The pain in my back was intense, but there was also a new sensation - I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. Now, I knew that people said it felt like that when it was time to push, but I hadn't been in the tub that long, and was only 4cm, so I thought I just had to poop. I didn't want to leave my precious bathtub, though, so even though I kept telling Keith I had to go to the bathroom, I stayed in there.
Finally, I could resist the urge no more. I asked Keith to help me get out so that I could sit on the toilet. Somehow I got dried off and back into my gown (though I have no memory of this happening, I know I was wearing one...). I sat on the toilet and nothing was happening, though I kept saying over and over that I had to poop, haha. I also was so, SO tired. I started to think that I couldn't do it. Back labor was not what I expected. I figured I was maybe at 5cm by now, and I'd been in labor for 5 hours. I didn't think I could take at least 5 more hours of this back pain. At every contraction I would squeeze the life out of Keith's hands and moan. For some reason, all I wanted to do was hold his hands.
I couldn't take it anymore. I looked up at Keith and told him I wanted the epidural. That I really meant it. I could tell he wasn't sure. After all, I'd warned him that I might say I wanted one, but wouldn't really mean it. I remember saying, "I don't need to be a hero, I need an epidural, I can't do it anymore." He advised me to go through another contraction, and then see what I thought. So I did. And I thought I wanted that epidural, now. Keith still looked unsure. He said, "Nurse Jenn said she'd be back in 15 minutes to check on you, why don't you wait until she comes back and then we can tell her?" I had another contraction and remember pulling on his shirt through this one, and said, "No. NOW."
Keith and Jenn came back in. Jenn said she thought she should check me, so she did, right there on the toilet. She looked at me and said, "Honey, you're at an 8!" I was in transition! I wasn't expecting that! I remember telling her I felt like I was out of control, and her telling me, no, I was so in control. Nurse Jenn knew all the right things to say. I asked her if it was really this bad, or if it was just the transition talking. She assured me it was just the transition talking, and I knew at that point I wasn't getting an epi, nor did I want one.
Almost immediately after that, I felt the overwhelming urge to push. I yelled out, "I feel like my body is pushing!!!" Jenn checked again, and told me I was complete. I yelled, "Good, now get your fingers out of me!" I definitely felt out of control. The contractions were fast, and my body pushed with each one whether I wanted to or not. I was still in the bathroom, but at this point, a bunch of people came in and started getting stuff ready. Nurse Bossy was back from her break, too. Nurse Jenn went and got me some apple juice, and had me take a sip to get my energy up. It was go time!
Since I pretty much had no control over my body, I had basically decided that I was going to have the baby on the toilet. I didn't want to go anywhere, nor did I think I even could. Nurse Bossy came in and told me I needed to go to the bed. I told her no. She said, "You can't have your baby on the toilet." I told her, yes, I could. She looked at me and said, "No, you can't. So either I can help you over to the bed, or I can go get a wheelchair for you." Looking back, this comment totally cracks me up, because it sounds like something I'd say to one of the kids (give them two choices, both of which get me the result I want). Needless to say, I let her help me over to the bed.
I remember walking over there thinking, "No! I don't want to lay in the bed and give birth on my back!" But I didn't really know why I didn't want that, and it turned out, pushing that way wasn't bad at all. Nobody coached me to push during contractions, I just said when they were coming and went with it. Time kind of slowed down at this point, I remember thinking I wanted the contractions to come faster because I just wanted her out (which I said over and over, "I just want her out!"). Nurse Jenn had stayed, and was making me drink juice between them.
I felt the "ring of fire" sort of, though it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd expected. I remember her head being right there, and "just wanting her out!", and not wanting her to go back in in between contractions. I even kept pushing when I was pretty sure one was over, because I wanted her out so badly. Luckily, after just a few contractions, she was here!
Ruby Josephine entered the world at 4:18am, on May 4th. She had grown a lot in the last few weeks, and was born at 6 pounds, 4 ounces! She was 19 and 3/4 inches long.
Ruby was put on my chest immediately, and I remember thinking how cute she was. Newborns aren't always cute-looking, but she so was! She didn't cry, she just kind of looked around at us. I got to hold her for a long time, and it was quite a while before Keith cut the cord.
The placenta was delivered pretty quickly, and I got a shot of Pitocin in my thigh (which I was ok with, it was to help my uterus contract back down so I wouldn't bleed too much). Dr. Dise said she was going to stitch me up, and I was surprised to find I had a 2nd degree tear. I didn't feel that bad! As she was working, everyone in the room kept saying how fast that all went, and when I have #2, I better get to the hospital in a hurry! I thought, sheesh, I just delivered #1, one thing at a time people! I also got to try breastfeeding her. It was weird, but ok.
After a while, they took her to check her out. Her blood sugar was low, and her temp was low. That meant that Keith couldn't give her a bath right away. Eventually he did, but it was a sponge bath under the warmer, instead of in the sink-tub.
The nurse had Keith dress her in the clothes we'd brought. Which was pretty funny, because I'd picked out kind of a complicated outfit for her (it had snaps in the back of the shirt). It amused me to watch Keith struggle with that. It was like baby-dressing trial by fire. Also, her clothes were way too big for her, even though they were size Newborn. It was dumb that they had him dress her, though, because we pretty much did skin to skin constantly, where she was stripped down to a diaper anyway. Eventually we stopped re-dressing her.
All swaddled up, and hanging out with Daddy:
And the only decent picture I have with her (still, to this day!):
I felt pretty amazing afterward, and my recovery has been an absolute breeze. Pretty much once I got home, I felt like nothing had ever happened to me, physically. Well, except my boobs, but that's a whole other story... I'm so happy that I got the natural birth I wanted. I'm glad Keith and Nurse Jenn didn't let me get the epidural. Keith told me later that the two of them had conferenced about whether or not I really meant it, and together decided to help me to not give in. I'm grateful for that! I'm sad that the midwives did not deliver me (but Shana came to visit and held Ruby later that day). Next time, I'm sure they will. Overall, the whole birth experience was completely amazing, and I am so glad that I got to experience it. Keith asked me if I'd do it again, and go natural.
Absolutely! I mean, look what we got out of it! =)