Take it how you want it.
It's the birth story ya'll!
And guess what? It's a total snooze fest.
And guess why? Because the epidural worked!
No drama, no belligerent screaming and yelling, no nothin'. Just an epidural, a little HGTV, a lot of being asleep, and a baby. IS THIS CHILDBIRTH? I still don't really know.
But here is how it all went down...
Now let me preface real quick that this is NOT an pro-medicated childbirth manifesto. I really love and value every one of my birth experiences- medicated or not. I used to feel really bothered by how hard epidural-havers could sometimes push meds on the rest of womankind. If you want to have an unmedicated birth, you can- you really, really can. And it can be totally wonderful. Hard and challenging and wonderful and worth it. Let's just get that straight. Now, for those of you that know me, or have heard my reasons for the big switch, know that it was just time to choose another way. I had 5 unmedicated births outside of the hospital and they just kept ending up so different, and the last one ended up so hard and I felt like too much of my emotional state was spent feeling anxious about childbirth. Having a kinda but not really working epidural was a good move for me with baby Joe. It exposed me to birth in the hospital and the more clinical aspect of the whole shebang and, you know what? I really, really liked it. I knew I wanted another shot at it with this baby.
So, if you're on the fence yourself- this can simply be an educational experience. If it seems right for you to make the leap into the world of drugs n' stuff, you can and you should. If it doesn't seem right for you to make the leap, you can and you should not. Read on.
Refresher- I had a totally amazing membrane strip/2 fast 2 furious labor with Joe on a Friday afternoon and I was pretty set on trying to recreate that scene the best I could with this baby. You can read allll about that here if you have a good 17 days to spare.
I had an odd last few weeks of pregnancy this time around. I'm not sure if I was just exhausted from the previous two months of house selling/buying/moving/getting muy large and fat or if all my nesting energy was used up nesting us all into a new home just weeks before I was due but, let me tell you, I had no nestiness in me whatsoever. I was just about to hit 39 weeks and it struck me that I had not a single desire to wash or prepare baby clothes or get the car seat in order *the carseat that Joe was still very much using lololll. In fact, one night I was at Whole Foods by myself and as I strolled past a rack of baby clothes I seriously contemplated buying a onesie just to stick in my purse so I could forgo the whole "packing for the hospital thing"... and then I didn't even buy the onesie which was perhaps even more concerning than the fact that I considered a onesie in my purse to be adequate pre-baby prep. Anyway, I had never felt (or non-felt?) this way in any of my previous pregnancies so I was sort of intrigued about how things would be when I'd *actually* go into labor, considering the state of things.
My master plan was to see my OB the Friday of my 39th week (which would have be 2 days shy of my due date) and try and get the party started ala Joe's birth. But at 39 weeks and 2 days I woke up feeling weird. All I wanted to do was nap and not talk to people. My body felt achy and crampy and... well... v v leaky. I had never had my water break in early labor so, like all other novices, I considered the option that my body had officially given up the ghost and I was just peeing my pants non-stop. I threw on a pad and went about my day. I started to wonder if I was leaking fluids after I went pee a few times and just kept right on leaking, empty bladder and all. As luck would have it, a good friend of mine had a prenatal appointment with a midwife just down the street from our house. I asked her to ask the midwife (a mutual friend) if she had any ph strips I could have to check what the leak situation was really all about. I was not interested in a hospital trip for nothin'. So, my friend brought me the strips and almost immediately after I used the first one it appeared to be a positive for amniotic fluid. But we all know that any home test requiring the presence of bodily fluids just screws with your head more than confirming or denying anything. I wasn't sure if what I was seeing was what I was seeing. Was it BLUE-blue or blue-green or too green or even yellow?? Was the yellow the color of the strip itself or even pee?? Naturally I took a photo of the saturated ph strip and texted it to all my friends (for future blackmail purposes, I'm sure) and the general public and even Google confirmed that yes, most likely, I think I was indeed leaking amniotic fluid.
Maybe 45 minutes later I started leaking pretty heavily and rushed to the bathroom where I had a considerable gush. Like a moron I texted my friends again with a "like, what do I do now??" type loser text. I was having contractions here and there but nothing totally major or consistent. I mostly just felt very achy and gross. I made a little mental game plan (with a little assistance from my friends) to shower and call the doctor's office once they were back from lunch, which was about 1 pm. For as un-labory as I felt, I knew in the back of my head things could turn very quickly and I still needed to get a babysitter and drive to the hospital and walk upstairs and have Kirby make it there on time and all. I'm just so paranoid about going in too soon (obvs) that I tend to prefer living on the edge when it comes to baby-having, which I do not necessarily recommend. Anyway, I showered, called, packed and went.
I got into my doc's office and he checked me- 3 cm and ruptured membranes! Boom, bb. Better than 1 cm and pee. Since I still had very irregular contractions, he gave me the rundown of what would happen once I got into the hospital- and the rundown was pitocin. I told him that greater than my fear of pitocin was my fear of a non-working epidural AND pitocin, so would he please strip my membranes right then and there and see if we couldn't flip this b into gear before I waddled into the hospital. I'm all about that membrane strip, ya'll.
BABY DAY!! I was so pumped. At first I considered just hanging around in town a bit and waiting to see if things progressed but I checked that against the whole potential pitocin/epidural situation and I decided perhaps sooner was, in fact, better.
Once again, I drove myself up to the valet and had that special, awkward convo about how I was not, in fact, a visitor, and how I was, in fact, checking in and actually in labor, etc. I strolled up to L&D, checked in and GUESS WHO I SAW?! The anti-epi nurse from last year! And she remembered me. Ahhhh! I tried to avoid eye-contact but I heard her sugary sweet voice say "I'm pretty sure you were my patient last year!" Mmmhmmm, nod nod, wide-scared eyes. I was so nervous that she would be my girl again, but.... she wasn't. I was escorted to my room (this time I preemptively struck and just told all the nurses that my husband would be there soon to avoid all the awk "will someone be joining you today??" questions.)
I got into my room, suited up, and snapped this because hello, priorities and climbed into my bed.
And then I sat. I sat and I sat. I did the intake questions and got hooked up to the monitor and fed the nurse my deepest anxieties about needing some picotin and not having a working epidural. Kirby even showed up (hey-o!!) and I sat. It took about an hour and a half to get me settled and through my first bag of IV fluids. I still wasn't doing anything much in the way of labor which made things incredibly boring and strange. The anesthesiologist had a c-section scheduled for 5 pm so I figured my odds of getting an epidural before then were slim. 5 o'clock came and then 6 rolled around and then 7 and it was like straight up CRICKETS in the L&D. Everyone knew that until the epidural was a go, there would be no pitocin, and since there was no epi, there was no anything. Except for HGTV and monitor sounds. Kirby was of the "why are we here again??" mindset being that, historically, labor was more of a guttural groaning and eyes closed, swaying side to side type of thing. I was just chillin' in a hospital bed watching Property Brothers. At this point I had been in the room for 4 hours and all I could hear was the Jeopardy jingle in my head. Was this really happening?? I mean, it clearly wasn't. But would it? The c-section brought forth an obvious delay (complications?? XL smoke break? Are there really no other anesthesiologists?? I can't say...) All I know is around 7:30 my guy came rolling through with his cart of torture devices. And then HE got the intense and emotionally charged retelling of my previous epidural experience and all the threats of what I might do if he couldn't make it happen for me (specifically, that I would write up a scathing Yelp review). I was increasingly worried about a flop epi because I knew that after 4 hours of non-labor hospital hanging and about 9 hours of ruptured membranes the pitocin was a-coming. And the thought of an unmedicated induction was v v sad.
But this guy did it! It worked! He hooked me up and even stayed with me for an hour to talk me through the process and monitor how I felt/chat about sailboats and his twin sons. But wait how did you feel, you ask??
I couldn't believe how freaking good I felt. I hadn't felt this good in months! It's the kind of good that makes you realize everything else you've been feeling up to this point has been total crap. It was amazing to experience the epi before I was in a ton of pain. It wasn't a wash of relief from gnarly contractions, it was relief from average 40 weeks pregnant life. And it's amazing how amazing that relief is! What hit me in that moment was Ohmagoshhhh I don't feel sore, I don't have to pee, there isn't a weird tendon throbbing in my pelvis, I don't feel the weight of the baby squashing my spine, or lungs, or bladder. I just feel good. Like, really, really good. Like, I could cry I feel so good. (LOL, broken heart, and heart eyes emojis all in one.)
Aside+++ my number one take away from this experience was man, us pregnant ladies could just really use a nice epidural day like once a month. Check in and get numb and just chillll. I was so relaxed. Like the way you feel after an amazing massage when the lady pulls the crisp sheet over you and whispers "I'll just leave you here for a bit. Take your time..." and you're wondering exactly how long can you lay there frozen in that dark, warm room before it gets awkward. I didn't feel insanely numb or like I was totally out of touch with my body, I felt like I had a really, really good buzz that was isolated to my lower extremities. Body drunk, without any head spins. Warm and tingly and awesome. Whether or not you ever get one, I think it's safe to say we could all really use one, my lady friends. I epidural in your honor. (COULD SOMEONE IN THE MEDICAL FIELD PLEASE HOOK UP THIS EPIDURAL DAY-SPA OPTION??)
I laid there for about 10 minutes with my eyes closed just mumbling about how amazing I felt
(says K) before I drifted off to sleep.
BLISS TOWN POP. 1
I think at about 8:15 they started a slow pitocin drip and for all the nail-biting nervousness the naty birther in me had about that I was half asleep and I cared not. At 9 my OB came in and checked me... still at 3 cm but I CARED NOT. I hadn't slept this good since I was 15. And let me tell you, if you are as hesitant about the catheter part as I was (and I was) do not be because the trade off is YOU WON'T FEEL THE URGE TO PEE!! Is there anything more glorious to a full term pregnant lady than to not feel like you've got to pee for an isolated window of time?? Heaven.
At about 10 I looked over at K and realized he hadn't had a thing to eat. I told him to go and he sort of hemmed and hawed about not knowing how to gauge how far along I was and was it smart to go and blah blah and I was like GO, MAN. I'M COOL. I'VE GOT 9 MONTHS OF SLEEP TO CATCH UP ON.
By 5 to 11 he was still waffling over what to do. I used the whole "you could have gone and been back by now 5 times already" argument and maybe that's what pushed him out the door because he decided then he would just go find a snack realquick. I was more awake now so I responded to a couple of texts from friends who were wondering what in the world was happening and suddenly, at about 11 on the dot... pressure.
I waited for the next contraction to see if it would keep up and there it was again. Pressure. And juuuuuussst to triple check I gave it another contraction and yep, more pressure. I reached to my side for my little nurse buzzer thingie since I am, in fact, all alone in a hospital room at this point and it doesn't take me long to realize that it's not there, it's not anywhere... that I can reach or see. I grope around a bit and I am sure the nurse buzzer thingie has definitely slid down off my bed which might as well have been the face of the earth because I feel pressure and I can't move to get my nurse pager. I weighed my options- 1. Call Kirby and just hope he gets back in time to grab a nurse for me 2. yell 3. just hang out alone and give birth to my baby by myself, which didn't sound too bad tbh. I decided that either way, calling my husband would be prudent, but before I got the chance to do that my nurse walked into the room. PHEW. I told her I felt pressure and she checked me and bam no cervix. Woo! I texted K to come and he was back in the room in a few minutes but not before nursery nurse had my legs up in the stirrups for a few "practice pushes." K didn't know what he was coming back to so LOL about the scene he came across when he walked into the room.
I could tell the baby wasn't quite low enough to be at the "falling out" stage of things (which is always my personal goal in childbirth) and contracting felt more effective than trying to push the baby down. I also hate pushing with a capital HATE and as much as I could avoid doing that, I was game. At this point the pressure was getting so intense that it started to register as pain. I found myself being very labor/groany/moany. The funny thing was since all of this happened so quickly, no one bothered to turn off the muted HGTV that had been looping in the background (random side note if you'd like to really give yourself a complete mental picture here.)
At about 11:40 I felt pretty ready. It was kind of amazing to be able to let my body "labor down." In theory, I had always wanted to do this but by the time you're completely dilated you are in so much
My doctor came around 11:45. I pushed once and promptly flopped back on my pillow and said something like "I hate pushing so much, I want to take a break during the next contraction." GUYS, I AM ALL ABOUT PUTTING IN THE HARD WORK, FYI. He scoffed at me and said NO in a not so gentle way but that was because he knew the baby would be born in the next push if I just went for it. And so I rolled my eyes and said fine and pushed. And there he was. My baby boy. Born at the right time.
7/19, 11:50 pm.
This time around, my sweet nurse undid my gown ahead of time so I could snuggle him on my chest right away. I was of sound mind enough not to scream at my OB to give me my baby, but not so much that I didn't cry like an idiot and ask everyone to take pictures of us and put my socked foot right down in a puddle of blood at the foot of my bed.
(There has always got to be some lulz)