Today Elliott is 8 days old! I can't believe it. These last several days have been a complete whirlwind... and I figure I'd better get to writing this birth story before I forget everything...
It all kinda started on Saturday, 8/11/2012. The week leading up to Saturday had felt hotter than hell out here, and I had been sweating like a pig the entire week. Saturday a thunderstorm threatened and the humidity made it a hundred times worse. That afternoon we went to see a home that my brother in law is closing on, had lunch, ice cream, and then went to visit baby Amaliya for the first time as she rounded her two weeks of life. Her mama, my good friend Kathleen, handed me her gorgeous baby girl saying, "let's go see your auntie Charlotte." There was an air of let's put some baby voodoo on auntie Charlotte so she can give birth to your best friend Elliott in her voice. I held Amaliya for about 5 minutes, then, as she started crying, promptly handed her back to her mama. Newborns were still a frightening prospect to me even when I was so on the cusp of having my own.
At 2:30 a.m. the next day on Sunday, 8/12/2012, I woke up, clearly having contractions. Up until that point I had had a few Braxton Hicks contractions here and there, but no other labor signals at all. They were anywhere from 7 minutes to 15 minutes apart and last about 30 seconds or so. I tried to get some sleep, thinking I still had a few days left of pregnancy to savor.
At 7 am, after not sleeping, I decided to wake up Taylor to let him know that it wasn't time to go to the hospital yet...but that the day had likely come. I had been timing contractions at about 7 minutes apart, 45 seconds long, for about an hour at that point. I told him to go back to bed and in the meantime I got up and tried to make myself something to eat.
I logged those contractions until about 2:30 pm. In the meantime, Taylor brought me food, coffee, water, anything I needed. He drew me a bath, and I cried there in the tub for an hour, filled with mixed emotions. Anxiousness, excitement, fear. Feelings of not being ready and wanting a few more days. I was so convinced Elliott would come a little late, and here he was, just like my mom (and Kathleen!) said. He was making his appearance 5 or so days shy of 40 weeks. I was happy, and also, I was scared shitless.
At that 2:30 pm mark, contractions were going from 4-5 minutes apart. I didn't think it was quite time to head to the hospital yet, but then I went to the bathroom and saw some blood. I let Taylor know, and he called the hospital. After explaining the situation to a nurse, he hung up and told me that the nurse said to head down, since there was clearly some cervical change (because of the blood) but to be prepared to be sent home again.
Taylor picked up the house a little and packed up the car, and installed the car seats in both of our cars (...yes, we procrastinate). At the hospital, they hooked me up to the fetal monitor, the contraction monitor, and found I was about 4 to 5 cm dilated. She went to call my doctor, and after about 10 minutes, she came back in and announced I'd be having Elliott that day. I started to cry again, and looked at Taylor, asking, "what about the dog???"
After being there about two hours, my nurse asked me what my pain level was after discussing pain management options. I wanted to try to go pain-management free but knew I could get an epidural if needed.
"Ummm....8?" I said tentatively.
"Well," she sighed, "Can I tell you the truth? I think you're more at a 3 or 4."
"Oh, I guess I have a low pain tolerance."
"You're actually doing really good," she said. "You're remaining pretty calm through your contractions, and not thrashing around. But your bag of waters hasn't broken yet, and when that happens, the pain will likely double."
I sat silent for a moment, reconsidering this epidural thing. How long would I be going like this? What if my water breaks hours before I actually give birth? I can't do this for 8 more hours! I decided then and there I would be okay with having an epidural.
Shortly after administering the epidural they checked me again (I really had no concept of time at that point so I am not sure what time it was) they found I was dilated at an 8. They were a little surprised, and my nurse mentioned it was good I got the epidural when I did.
It took me a good few hours to progress past 8 cm, but it still felt like time had elapsed quickly to me. I started pushing about 9 or 9:30 pm. Pushing with an epidural was difficult. VERY difficult. At one point I asked them to turn the epidural off. Pushing with all my might, contractions started to set in again, but it was still darned near impossible to feel where I was pushing, and how far the baby was moving down with each push. The nurses and Taylor gave me encouraging affirmations, saying I was doing great with each set of pushes, but after about an hour I began to feel very discouraged. Couple discouragement with the pain of contractions again, I started to lose control. I attempted to push even when no nurse was hold my legs up or coaching me, and I cried hysterically between contractions. At some point my OBGYN showed up and got in there, but truth be told, I had no clue how close I was. At the point of passing out, I pushed and pushed, and all of a sudden, they held my baby up to me. I was in shock. I was convinced everyone was lying to me when they said I was getting close to the end. But they weren't! I had just given birth! There were 6 or 7 people in the room, my husband and my OB, two nurses, pediatricians, and neo-natalogists (just in case, and no idea when they arrived)...and my baby boy. I cried even more hysterically at that point: not only I was holding my son in my arms, labor was over. I was relieved to say the least.
The doctor stitched me up after giving me a small episiotomy (according to Taylor the baby just slid right out afterward) and I couldn't have thanked him more for making that call. Truthfully, I was spent, and I don't know how much more pushing I could have done. And hour or so after they helped me to the bathroom to pee, and I looked in the mirror. I had broken hundreds of little blood vessels in my face, and my hair was standing on end. Childbirth truly has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.
Would I do it again? Totally. The experience wasn't exactly what I dreamed it would be, but Elliott has brought me the most joy in the world. I can't wait to get to know this kid and all of his little quirks. Taylor and I are so happy to have brought him home!