I'd been up for a normal day on Tuesday, and was contemplating going to bed around midnight, when I started having symptoms that labor might not be too far away. Thinking, "oh shoot, I haven't even slept yet", I put a towel down and climbed into bed. Well that was a big waste of time, as shortly after, contractions started, and I got to spend all night in early labor.
We stayed in bed until things hotted up around 4 a.m., when Chad got up to hook me up to the TENS machine and then toddle down to the living room to start a fire (the primary heat source in our house, how very Little House on the Prarie, no?). By 6 a.m. I was shouting the whole house down while Chad sat at the computer timing my contractions using a handy little online device for just such a purpose. I considerately waited to call my midwife until 8 a.m., and felt a little desperate when she said I should try to wait at home for another couple of hours based on how my contractions were going - the coming 45 minute drive over very windy roads while in active labor looming large in my mind. An hour later I met the required requirements and was told we could head in.
We rolled in to the birth center and I gratefully settled in to my labor room at a respectable 4 cm. Everything was going quite well after a healthy and uneventful pregnancy, but a couple of hours later I got the news that my waters were going a bit green and we'd have to go to the hospital to keep a closer eye on the baby. Saddened to lose my birth center birth, I nonetheless stoically boarded the gurney for my first-ever ambulance ride (standard procedure) while Chad followed in our car.
They got me into the delivery suite and strapped both fetal and contraction monitors to my belly - the latter seemed a little superfluous to me at the time, as I could sure tell you all about when and how the contractions were coming on. Then the fetal monitor started losing the heartbeat during contractions when it was most needed, so we had to "graduate" to a scalp clip to keep a better eye on things. I could have kicked the staff midwife, as it took three tries to get it in, and I was not loving the idea of my baby being jabbed in the head even once! All the vitals were stable however, and I settled into more hard work and waiting - the true stuff of childbirth.
When it was time for the next exam, they found that I was only at around 6 cm, and was starting to swell along one side. This was especially bad news as it had been five hours since I was at 4 cm, and my body thought it was time to transition to pushing contractions. I was using some nitrous oxide/oxygen mix to help with the increasing pain, and fighting hard not to push, but after watching me for awhile, they began recommending an epidural in hopes that my muscles could relax enough to stop trying to squish the baby out a too-small opening and dilate fully. At that point I actually welcomed the idea, as they told me the baby's head was also becoming swollen from the effort.
The only problem with having joyfully accepted the offer of nuclear pain relief, was that it was a very exciting day in the labor ward and took another 40 minutes for an anesthesist to be free to see me - ugh! But in time, they got me all set up and resting comfortably and I must say, a bit more alert to the world around me.
My mental relief was short-lived, as I saw my midwife Julie take the heartbeat readout and take off to get a doctor's opinion on what she saw developing. When she came back with the doc, the first words out of my mouth were, "Am I headed for surgery?", as that was my most dreaded outcome other than Baby's safety being at risk. The team then spelled out exactly what was going on, and why they were concerned, but ultimately left it up to me to choose - for which I was hugely grateful. Bubs was stable, but not in the best shape from the vitals, and it became apparent after some testing, and wait-and-see, that I wasn't going to be able to deliver on my own soon enough to keep him safe, and maybe not at all. With another sigh of resignation, I said let's go for it, and waited to feel crushed and defeated about the whole thing.
What followed instead was an amazingly peaceful and even fun birth, courtesy of God and my amazing surgical team. On a random side note, Chad looks quite foxy in scrubs - maybe he should've pursued a medical career! We all chatted and joked the whole time, and before long one of the docs casually said "Oh boy", to which I immediately said "It's a boy?!?!" She replied, "Oh, well we haven't actually looked yet," but in another minute (6:53p.m. to be precise), Baby was out and seen to be safe, healthy, and most definitely male. Chad went over to see his fine new boy and watch the pediatrician check him out, while I hung out on the table as they put all my internal bits back together. They brought Baby back all wiped off, and with a wool hat to cover his impressive conehead, to let him meet his mum for the very first time (on the outside, of course).
After seeing him carted off to the scales all purply and pooky-headed, I'd remarked how he may not be pretty, but I sure loved him anyway - much to the doctors' amusement. By the time he got back, I decided that actually, he was rather cute, and settled into cuddling someone entirely new. The three of us spent a quiet hour in recovery, where we got to know one another a little bit and have some dinner, and soak up the surreal fact that we were now PARENTS!!