I was so terrified of the actual labor and delivery process, I can't even express it. I had been told SO MANY horror stories by other women about the immense pain, the ginormous babies, the failed epidurals and so many other things that I could have just cried thinking about it, so needless to say, I was so scared once we were in our birthing suite and getting checked out.
Once they took us to our suite, they had me put on my hospital gown, but they weren't going to admit me until they were sure I was in active labor and progressing. I didn't really have any doubts myself, but we had to get the official OK from my doctor. The nurse came in to check my blood pressure and the baby's heart rate. Everything looked great and I was still having very strong contractions every 5-6 minutes. I didn't have a specific birth plan going in, but I wanted to try and make it to 6-7 centimeters dilated without an epidural, then make the decision as to whether I thought I could proceed without it, or wanted to get one at that point. After the contractions I was having on the drive to the hospital, plus the fact that they were only getting stronger and coming faster, I felt certain I was ready to go ahead with the epidural. It was about 4 am at this point. I asked the nurse which doctor was on call currently, because I knew there was a chance that my regular doctor wouldn't be and I would have another midwife or OB from the all women's practice I'd been seeing, but I was so excited when the nurse told me our doctor was indeed on call...that is until she let us know that she'd called in a laborist (which I'd never heard of), to cover the rest of her shift for the night/ morning until 9 am. Come to find out, the laborist was a male doctor...not okay with me since I'd specifically chosen an all female practice because I didn't want a man to deliver my baby. I'm sure they're all very qualified, but I didn't want them all up in my business so I was determined to cross my legs and keep baby girl in place until my doctor came back in at 9am. Being my first baby, the nurse felt confident that baby Caroline wouldn't come that quickly anyway.
The nurse checked me and I was right at 5 cm with contractions coming every 5-6 minutes with regularity.
It was a LONG morning to say the least. I went about another 5 hours with no pain meds or epidural, just contracting away, my hubby by my side, holding my hand through each one. These contractions are no joke! haha But Juston was great and talked me through them. It really helped me to remember to keep my face relaxed and just breath. Sounds trite, but it helped. I would compare contractions to the sensation I had when my appendix was ready to burst. It feels a little bit like I'd imagine being stabbed in the gut feels like. Just a sharp pain, but my biggest problem was back labor. The sensation of my stomach tightening up I was handling okay, but once the back labor kicked in, I was in some pretty serious pain, and even after the contractions, my back would keep hurting pretty badly for about another minute.
The nurse checked me again around 8:45 when the Dr still hadn't arrived and since I had progressed both in dilation and contraction intensity, she made the call to go ahead and admit me, which meant and IV and an epidural! I was no longer wondering if I could go without it and I have crazy respect for the women who do. I, however, was not going to be one of them. My parents arrived in the meantime and who doesn't feel better having your mama and daddy there to hold your hand??
The anesthesiologist was wonderful and the epidural, which I was pretty petrified of, was honestly no big deal! The IV hurt worse. He talked me through each step, explaining what he was doing before he did it and how it would feel, and after about 10 minutes, I was having no more contraction pain. It's a very odd sensation because I could still feel my legs to move them, but the pain was gone! Hallelujah!
I'll spare the boring details of laying in bed for the next 8 hours, eating ice chips, trying to nap and watching the Olympics...one important highlight, however, came around 1 pm when the doctor came in and broke my water with some long q-tip looking thing, thus speeding up the process for me a bit. Finally around 4:00 pm, I could feel quite a bit of pressure in my hips with each contraction. The contractions still didn't hurt, but I could tell it was getting close to push time. This was of course, when the nurse informed us that our doctor, while still in the building, was performing an emergency surgery and would be for at least the next 45 minutes. I was indeed 10 cm by this point and feeling like I could start pushing. We were presented with two options, one was to take the midwife on call who I'd never met, and the other was to try to wait another hour for our doctor, who I REALLY wanted to be the one to deliver Caroline, and "labor down" as the nurse phrased it. In other words, let the baby work her way further down by laying still and letting my body and the contractions do their job. After a lot of thinking, I decided that I wanted my doctor and was willing to wait until 5:00...if she still wasn't out of surgery by then, I was pretty sure I'd no option other than to push because the pressure was pretty intense. It didn't hurt, but it was definitely noticeable.
At 5, our nurse, Tiffany, who really was the sweetest woman, came back to deliver the news that our doctor was on her way!!! I can't tell you how happy this made me. When the nurse checked me again, she didn't have to check much since the baby's head was essentially on it's way out already.
The doctor arrived and with the help of our nurse, they got me set up, stirrups and all, any hint of modesty thrown out the window. It was at this point that there was a knock on the door and my parents stuck their head in. Pretty hilarious in retrospect, but not so much in the moment. They retreated pretty quickly and in their defense, they had no idea the doctor had arrived haha.
Twnety minutes and eight pushing contractions later...
Caroline was here!!! I wasn't really in any pain while I was pushing, but LOTS of pressure. I could feel what I assumed was her head, but I couldn't feel any pain. I can't imagine for the life of me how some women push for two or more hours in labor, it was pretty exhausting. There was the oddest sensation of feeling sort of hollow once she came out completely. I literally felt 20 pounds lighter as soon as that last push was finished and she was on the table. She cried almost immediately and there was just such a rush of so many emotions, there wasn't one I could overwhelmingly target as being the most powerful. Obviously, there is an immediate love of this child that you've carried and nurtured the last 9 plus months, then an enormous sense of relief to hear her cry, which she did almost immediately. A sense of amazement that my body had grown and protected this little life. A sense of being so incredibly thankful to God for giving us such a blessing....just so many things all at once flood through you.
One of the many things I loved about out hospital was the fact that we never had to be separated from our baby girl. There was a small room inside of my room where she was cleaned up, weighed, measured and checked out for all the usual stuff. She was a perfect 6 pounds 13 ounces and 18 3/4 inches long with a head full of dark hair. She doesn't look like either of us yet, just like a sweet little baby. It's funny how everyone jockeys to claim or assign her features from the second she was out. To her mama, she just looks like Caroline and that's just perfect.
Our first family photo...I found out later that that sweet little yellow bow the nurse put on her was held in place by the K-Y Jelly they put on her head...gross...I could have done without the bow and jelly haha
She's perfect...and already mama's girl :)