I left off in my last post right after they had given me the epidural, I had started having extreme neck pain due to the epidural being inserted too far (a wet tap), and they were worried about Scarlett's heart rate.
Apparently they remedied the problem of Scarlett's heart rate dipping too low by having me lay on my side, and switching sides back and forth every once in awhile (I have no idea why this worked). No big deal, right? Wrong. The neck pain that had started when they gave me the epidural was now excruciating. I was having muscle spasms, and although they were not as painful as the contractions I had been feeling, they were close. So anyway, every time I had to switch sides, it was extremely painful. The nurse basically had to flip me over herself, because I couldn't move my legs, my shoulders, or my neck.
Oh yeah, I should add that after they gave me the epidural, my progress stopped, and I remained at 4-5 centimeters for probably 5 or 6 hours.
Our families were in the waiting room, and I think they were all getting restless at this time.
Sometime in late afternoon, there was another shift change, and the new nurse -- the one who would help deliver Scarlett -- came in. I think I was puking for the second time when she came in. Very glamorous, let me tell you. Luckily, this nurse was even better than the last one, and was so amazing during her shift!
Things get a little fuzzy here too. I was so exhausted after laboring for so long. My neck and shoulders were in extreme pain, which the nurse finally admitted might be because I had a "wet tap" while they inserted the epidural. I was hungry. So I was basically just sleeping as much as I possibly could. I actually think I got in a pretty good nap at one point. I only woke up when the nurse came to roll me from one side to the other. And when she gave me fresh ice packs for my neck. Funny story -- I later found out that these packs were actually frozen pads for postpartum recovery. Whatever works, I guess.
Like I said, this part is fuzzy. But at some point in the early evening - maybe around 5:30 or 6, I began progressing pretty rapidly. However, the nurse was very concerned about what we were going to do once I started pushing. She saw how much pain my neck and shoulders were in, and knew it would not be easy for me to push. So she called my OB to work on a plan.
The plan was to "labor down" as much as possible (I will explain this in a minute), and then deliver the baby via vacuum extraction.
When she told me about the vacuum extraction, something inside me snapped. I didn't say anything out loud, but I became determined to have this baby without the help of a vacuum. I was frustrated that instead of having a natural childbirth, I had basically taken every possible drug. I was frustrated that I had been induced at all, because I knew the induction was the reason this labor had been so unbelievably terrible. I was mad that everything felt so out-of-control. Well, this was something I could control. I didn't care how painful it was, I was going to deliver this baby without the final intervention of the vacuum extractor.
So anyway, back to "laboring down." This is basically just relaxing through contractions, positioning yourself in a way where gravity is in your favor, and letting your body take over to bring the baby down without actually pushing. At this point, the epidural was wearing off on the left side, and I could definitely feel every contraction. But this part of labor felt very productive, so it wasn't too bad.
The nurse actually had me try a couple of different positions to get the baby to move down, and to make me progress faster. I was impressed, because these were positions I had read about in my books about natural childbirth, and not something I expected the hospital to do.
The first position we tried was where she had me sit on all fours. It was ridiculous trying to get into that position, because I literally could not move my legs, and again, the neck and shoulder pain were debilitating. Luke and the nurse basically had to turn me over, and then Luke had to sit behind me and hold my feet to make sure I didn't fall.
This position was not easy to get into, but it helped me progress a lot! This is one of the reasons I loved this nurse -- she was very proactive, and not afraid to try things to make labor move more quickly. I really felt like she went above and beyond.
After the all fours position, they turned me back over, and tipped the bed up so that I was almost straight up. At least that's how it felt. I sat in this position for an hour two, laboring down, and letting my body do it was made to do.
Sometime around 7 or 7:30, I was fully dilated, and we started talking about pushing. My nurse explained several possible positions that I could try because of my neck pain. She was explaining to me that they would call my OB now, and start pushing soon. While she was explaining this, I just remember saying, "Um, it feels like she's like, RIGHT THERE." the nurse checked, and sure enough, she was crowning.
The nurse quickly called the doctor, and I then started pushing! Like I said before, I was determined to do this myself without the help of the vacuum. My epidural had worn off a lot on my left side, and laboring down had become pretty painful. But as soon as I started pushing through contractions, it was not painful anymore. At least not in the same way. It felt so productive and even empowering, and I was just willing to do anything to get Scarlett here already!! The worst part was actually the pain in my neck and shoulders. I had to sit through a few contractions because the neck spasms were rendering me unable to move the top half of my body.
After about 20 minutes of pushing, my OB showed up. She actually was impressed by how hard I was pushing, and I'm glad I proved to her that I wasn't going to need the vacuum.
After about 20 more minutes of pushing, I knew we were close. One big contraction came, and I just remember thinking, "This is it. I'm not doing this anymore. She is going to be born before I have one more contraction." And with that, her head was out. Even with the epidural I felt the extreme pressure and pain. I think the contraction had just about ended when her head was out, but my doctor just kept telling me to push. With one more push, out came her shoulders and the rest of her. The nurse put her on my chest almost immediately, and I can't even explain the feelings I was having in that moment. It was like an out-of-body experience. 3 years of waiting, and just like that, she was in my arms. What a miracle!
The nurse then took Scarlett to clean her off, while my doctor stitched me up. It felt like an eternity before everyone was done, and I was able to hold her again!
About an hour or so after she was born, Scarlett's grandparents came back to meet her:
And after that, her aunts and uncles came back too:
3 years of waiting to meet our baby girl. 9 long months of carrying her. 36 hours and 20 minutes of labor from the beginning of contractions until she was delivered. Neck spasms and a 10-day, migraine-like headache thanks to the problems administering the epidural. It was all the hardest thing I've ever done, but worth every minute.
...it just might be awhile before I'm ready to do it all again! Ha!