Here's our little girl, wide awake and gripping her binky that she stole from the first hospital:
So... I didn't wake up on the morning of February 4th thinking I was going into labor. But, I was standing in the kitchen talking to Tyler before he left for school, and I felt a gush of... something. Yeah, gross. I started to panic, assuming that it was my water. I called the doctor and they asked me to come in right away because I hadn't had the Group B strep test yet. Tyler and I went to L&D, but for some reason we didn't bring our bags. I guess we had just had too many false alarms at that point, and we didn't really think we'd be staying.
They tested me for amniotic fluid and the tests all came up negative. They also did an ultrasound to check the fluid levels and they were fine (it also showed that the baby had flipped and was no longer breech!). I felt like an idiot, but I was relieved that it wasn't my water (I was 35w6d that day). My OB said that I could go home, but since I was contracting quite a bit she wanted to do a quick exam. She checked me, looked surprised, and said "you're 3cm and 90% effaced. You aren't going anywhere." Tyler and I were stunned. The irritable uterus strikes again... I was always afraid of going into labor and not knowing it!
They gave me some terbutaline to try and stop the contractions but warned me that if I was in labor, the terbutaline wouldn't work. An hour later, the contractions hadn't stopped and I was 3.5cm and 100% effaced. I was admitted and told that there was a 90% chance that I was in early labor.
Honestly, I wasn't really feeling a thing at this point. Maybe I had just had contractions for so long that I didn't notice them anymore. Maybe they just weren't that bad. Whatever the reason, I stayed at that hospital all day, slowly dilating to 6cm by a little after midnight without even really being in much pain. I am still baffled by this. I have always thought I had a very low tolerance for pain-- I'm a huge wimp. I assumed I'd come to the hospital in labor and be screaming for the epidural by 4cm, tops. But instead, I was just bored. I could sometimes tell when I was having a contraction, and sometimes it would be uncomfortable, but not always. Anyway, my OB checked me after midnight and said I was 6cm, -1 station, and would have the baby by morning. And at this point, she broke my water since it hadn't broken yet and there was no turning back anyway.
This is when I really started to freak out. For some reason, it didn't seem like a done deal until this. I wanted to have an epidural because that has always been my plan and I am reallllly not interested in finding out what transition is like or feeling myself tear, but after she said that, I actually wasn't sure what to do. I'd somehow gotten to 6cm without noticing much (let's all pause and contemplate what may have happened, had I not gone in for the water-breaking false alarm), so I just didn't know if it was worth it to go through the stress of getting the epidural if I wasn't even in pain. In the end I got tired of thinking about it and just wanted to get some sleep if I was really having a baby in the morning, so I went for it. Turns out it only worked on my right side, and I still didn't really care about the pain until I was towards the end of pushing. Very bizarre. So, my conclusion: labor is boring and for some reason, not all that painful.
Before you all hate me, though, let's discuss what happened when I started pushing. Labor might have been strangely easy, but pushing was absolute hell. I started pushing around 3am and by the time 6am rolled around and I was still pushing, I was in a significant amount of pain and was sobbing and saying that I just couldn't do it. They'd been telling me for the last 2 hours that I just had to get the baby's head past the pubic bone, that it was almost there... and finally I snapped and screamed at everyone that I just couldn't do it because I was getting more tired with every push.
So my doctor decided that my pelvic bones were too close together to get the baby's head through without help (looking back, it would have been best to decide this somewhere around 4 am rather than 6) and she busted out the vacuum extractor. Now, I have always been very against the vacuum extractor because it can hurt the baby. Let me tell you, though, once you've been pushing for 3 hours and you are literally so frustrated that you are crying because you haven't made any progress for hours and you are terrified of being threatened with a c-section after all that, that little vacuum sounds pretty good. Anyway, I went for it. The episiotomy too, since my doctor informed me that it was necessary. (Was it necessary to extend it all the way into my rectum? Probably not. Did you really need to hear this choice piece of personal information? Probably not.)
Anyway, our little Caroline was born at 6:08 am after several vacuum-assisted pushes. They put her on my belly and I held onto her slippery little body and just felt kind of dazed. I remember saying "hi" over and over again, but it just didn't seem real that there was suddenly a baby in the room... much less that she was mine. Tyler was crying (do not spread that around or he will kill me) and everyone in the room was beaming at me, despite the fact that minutes before, I had just yelled at them all. They took her over to the warmer and the nurses and pediatric specialist (who was present at the birth, since she was preterm) started doing all sorts of things to her while my OB delivered the placenta and stitched me up. (Side note: I felt so vindicated when they put her on the scale and it said 7 pounds... the entire time I was pushing I kept wondering what was wrong with me that I couldn't deliver a 5-pound baby!) I remember just staring over at her in the warmer and asking over and over in a weak voice if she was okay. I was desperately afraid that her lungs wouldn't be mature enough.
It turns out that they really weren't. We had two things going for us-- the fact that I went into labor naturally rather than being induced, and the fact that she was a girl (girls mature faster than boys in utero). Those two things, both of which should have meant she should be mature enough to breathe well on her own, were apparently not enough. They let me hold her for a little while right after delivery (probably the happiest moment of my life), but a little later a nurse came and took her to the NICU for observation because she seemed to be struggling to breathe. They told me it was just for a few hours, but... well, you know the rest!