FIRST: We had our baby!
SECOND: I apologise that there are no pictures associated with this post, but the computer in the hospital's lounge doesn't have a card reader for camera cards :( I'll get some up as soon as we get home (hopefully tonight!)
THIRD: Mom and baby are doing GREAT, and this is their story!
I did my induction cocktail (shaken, no stirred) on Sunday evening. No, I didn't buy castor oil, I borrowed it from a friend; yes, it was yucky, but not nearly as bad as I'd imagined. It's like drinking olive oil. My oil-lending friend informed me the reason it brings on labor is because it dehydrates you; now, I didn't have any cravings during pregnancy except lots of ice cold water, so I knew dehydration wouldn't be a great way to start my labor and I drank lots of fluids anyway, but thought the "cleansing" effect might be a useful addition... and, since I DID go into labor, perhaps it was. Plus, now that it's OVER, I'm so glad to know I'm cleaned out for a couple days while I heal up! But moving right along...
Nothing much happened Sunday night, we just went to bed as usual and woke up way too early with Patrick - 5 a.m., as usual. As we were snuggling on the couch I started having sporadic contractions, anywhere from 3 minutes to 7 minutes apart, so when I heard Joe's alarm go off around 6:00 I let him know he wouldn't be going in to work that day - needless to say, he was VERY pleased! At that point I called Serena, my doula, to let her know things were on the move so she, too, should get on the move since it would take her an hour to drive down to our house (she lives up in Fort Collins). She did just so, but before an hour was up we were calling her back to tell her to turn around, we were getting in the car and would meet her at the hospital! This is when we learned what poor packers we were - I'd packed some things, but not others, and it was the important stuff (like phone numbers and my contacts and going-home clothes for the baby) that we left behind. Poor Joe was running into the house, then out to the car where I'd remind him of some OTHER important thing we forgot, so he'd run back in, and I'd remember something else, which he'd run in and couldn't FIND so I'd have to try to explain its location through gritted teeth and yet another contraction.... it was hilarious madness! Contractions were about 3 minutes apart and STRONG, so I was VERY nervous about our hour-long drive to the hospital - not because I thought I would be having the baby in the back of our car or anything but because I had planned on leaving when I was much more in control of the pain, not when it was coming one right after the other! We laid the seats down in the back (thank you, spacious Honda Pilot!) with a blanket and a pillow and I just did my best to not focus on anything. The best way for me to not focus was to close my eyes, and I pretty much stayed that way until after the baby was born - it was SO ANNOYING to look at anything! Everything from Joe's face to ceiling tiles was distracting, so I just made new best friends with the back of my eyelids. The side-effect to this was that I felt very tired - not to ruin the ending, but from start to finish it all lasted less than 8 hours, and closing your eyes for nearly 8 hours straight is like telling your body surely you must be tired, go to sleep. So there I was, in between pushing contractions at the end, nodding off! It was a straaaaange feeling. But I digress.
We got to the hospital without incident and met my doula who helped me get settled in while Joe took Patrick to the Halgren's to hang out. Thanks to the swine flu, no kids under 12 can visit the hospital (not that we would have wanted him there anyway), so we are very lucky to have such awesome friends to watch him for us! Upon admission I was already 7 centimeters so I was throwing a huge party for myself behind my tightly-closed eyelids - it was only 8 a.m., and I'd only been in labor for 3 hours! It took me 28 hours to get to 7 centimeters last time! With such great progress it was EASY to say no to an epidural - not that epidurals aren't awesome (the one I had with Patrick saved my sanity and my marriage), but I wanted nothing to slow my progress or put me at any SMIDGEN of a greater risk for a c-section, since VBACs can be sticky as is. I did, however, have them bring in the mid-grade drug, phentanol (spelling?), just in case things got unbearable. I worked on making it through one contraction at a time and when they checked me roughly an hour later I was 9 centimeters! So then it was easy to say no to phentanol because I was almost there, and what difference could it really make? It already hurt like the devil and instead of blocking the pain the nurses said it makes you feel loopy, like you're drunk. Why would I want to feel drunk?? Isn't that like the "Twilight Birth" they used to do? Also at 9 centimeters my doctor was pressuring me to break my water so he could check for meconium, and I was SO PROUD of myself that at such a crazy moment when I was in no shape to be making good decisions, I really put my foot down and said "no!" Like the epidural, things were already going so great and so smoothly, why would I want to mess with Mother Nature? She's obviously got a good thing going! As much as I wasn't TRYING to have a zero-interference birth, there it was. Only one centimeter to go.
I think it was because things had gone so quickly that I was really in quite a good mood, still cracking jokes between contractions at 9 centimeters - not good jokes, but any sense of humor is a big deal! And what I kept talking about was orange chicken from Panda Express - nothing has ever sounded so good to me in my LIFE! All I wanted was to get to 10 and push that baby the heck out of me so Joe could run out and get me a huge order of it with chow mien. Unfortunately, pushing was the longest and least pleasant part of my whole day. Wait.... possibly my whole life. Giving birth is an amazing experience and I'm on cloud 9 at how perfectly everything went, but I will not lie to you and tell you it was pleasant at all. Like I said, I kept falling asleep, but then a horrible contraction would force me back to reality where I had to get a baby out of me somehow! I was very unwilling to get from point A to point B - as much as contractions hurt, I knew (roughly - turns out I underestimated) what was on the horizon! And when I was trying my hardest and the horizon just kept moving with me so I wasn't getting any closer I was pretty ticked that there was no "I give up!" button available. I kept making deals with the nurse and my doula - "OK! 3 more awesome pushes, but then I'm done!" 3 awesome pushes later they'd say, "that's great, we can see his head!" Spurred on, I promised 2 more awesome pushes, and 2 pushes later: "that's great, we can see his head!" Ummm, DUH!! You could see it 2 pushes ago! What am I doing all this work for?!?
While I was pushing and squeezing my eyes closed like I never wanted to see the light of day again, I was also chewing holes into Joe's sleeve, and once I accidentally bit him along with his shirt! I felt bad because I bit HARD... but considering my own recovery ahead, he got off pretty unscathed, I'd say. Joe was an excellent support this time, something I also largely attribute to a quick 'n dirty delivery, and I really did my best to hold up my end of the bargain where labor didn't turn me into a Royal B. This time, having a baby brought us together instead of creating an ongoing argument - hooray! He gripped my hand and let me chew his shirt and kinda laughed as I spouted obscenities and yelled "get him out!" during the really painful pushes (so, just about every single one). I think he got kinda freaked out when I started screaming at the end - I admit it, I screamed like a bad delivery scene in a cheesy movie. My body just couldn't contain all that energy and pain, and I had to let everyone else know about it. This is really when my doula was there for me; I was freaking out because of obvious circumstances and Joe was freaking out because I was freaking out, but SHE was totally unfazed and got me to re-start my breathing to make better use of my air supply. Thank you, Serena! I would have hyperventilated without you! All said and done, I pushed a little less than 2 hours, which isn't terribly bad, but it was a full quarter of the entire labor, so can you see why it felt like it took FOREVER? Yeah. My doctor wasn't quite ready to deliver when I was (after 2 hours? GET READY!) so Eli's head was out and he's still pulling gloves on, calmly telling me to hold off and not push for about 3 more minutes... I got pretty sarcastic with him about then and pushed anyway. Nobody's gonna let the baby fall on the floor, gloves or no gloves! He (Eli) delivered beautifully and got to be with me immediately, which was nice - after a c-section the surgeons work on you, the nurses work on cleaning and weighing the baby, and you just hang out with your rear end in the breeze, waiting (and freezing and the O.R.). This was much better!
Everything looks ship-shape from here - Eli has been sawing logs since he was born, giving me ample time for an evening nap yesterday and a full night of sleep last night - I had to get HIM up to eat, which worked out since I was up for about 4 times to use the bathroom - apparently I have not lost my desire for all the ice-cold water I can get my hands on, as anyone who walks into my room can see by the 3 giant jugs of it on my side table. My own recovery is much more straight-forward this time, and I only have 3 very small tears instead of an 8-inch scar with stitches and staples, all oozing goop. The nurse will do a final assessment of Eli this afternoon before we can be released, but we should be at home in our own beds (with our handy-dandy card reader to upload photos) this evening. We're feeling great and looking forward to showing him off! Stay tuned!