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Preface: Before you read this, you should know if you don’t that my two previous births were both kind of traumatic. Libbie’s was 36 hours of labor and I ended up having an epidural around 7 cm, then almost every intervention in the book. With David I was induced by breaking my water, then had a fast labor where I progressed too fast to have an epidural (which I wanted at the time even though I really did want a natural birth) and was pretty much thrown on the bed to deliver him. So please understand that my feelings about giving birth again – medicated or not – were pretty conflicted.
I really don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write about Joshua’s birth, except that maybe I’m afraid I’ll be criticized for getting an epidural. I know that’s silly. Obviously I worry too much about what other people think about my decisions. Years of social anxiety, folks. I’m working on it.
This is apparently the last picture of me pregnant. It was February 22nd, at 36 weeks.
As I’m sure you all know, I really don’t love being pregnant. And that dislike multiplies by 8 zillion in the last few weeks. Add to that sciatica that arose about 36 weeks? I was SO READY to get Joshua out of my belly and into my arms.
I had contractions for more than a week before he was actually born. Several times they were close enough to time. But time and again, they would fade away. The Monday before his birth (on Saturday), I went to my midwife. I was 3 cm already!
My midwife asked and even urged me to schedule an induction. But I was only 38 1/2 weeks, and despite my misery I am not pro-induction for my own comfort. So I went on my way. My mom and my sister were both staying at my apartment, and my mom had canceled a trip to see my cousin and her baby to come in case I went into labor earlier than expected. So I felt guilty every day I didn’t go into labor. (Yes, Mom, I know. I just have issues. Not your fault.)
That Thursday I just knew I was going to have the baby, it was Pi Day (3/14). Not only is my husband a math teacher, so, you know, PI DAY, but it’s also my best friend’s birthday. I started having contractions in the afternoon and had them no more than 15 minutes apart all day, well into the evening. While my sister watched Project Runway that night, I was pacing the hallway of classrooms outside our apartment and doing lunges.
I went to bed that night convinced they would speed up during the night and I would go into true labor.
They stopped. Again. I was DEPRESSED at this point.
Friday I ended up going to L&D to be monitored because I wasn’t feeling the baby move. He was fine. I thought they might check me and see if I could just be induced. By then, I was just ready and thought maybe I was enough in labor that it wouldn’t be too bad. (With David, I was “enough in labor” that just breaking my water sent me into full-force labor mode quickly.) But they didn’t even check me before sending me home. Still depressed.
That night, Mr. V, my sister, and I played Settlers of Catan. I had zero contractions. Around 9 p.m., though, I decided it was very important that I clean my carpets. I made a homemade carpet cleaner with hot water, peroxide, and Dawn (works great) and went to work on the floor.
Around 1 a.m. I started waking up with contractions. I fell back asleep between them for an hour or so, but noticed that they were 10 minutes apart consistently. By 3, they were 8-9 minutes apart.
You have to understand that with David I went from 3 1/2 cm to having him completely out in about an hour. It was scary, PAINFULLY fast, and I was scared of waiting too long with this baby. So I went ahead and called my midwife, called a friend to come stay with the kids (God bless her!), and headed to the hospital with Mr. V and my mom. My sister came later, when my friend got there.
When they checked me I was 5 cm. And what progressed was definitely my easiest, most normal birth!
After the torturous process of getting an IV in (I have rolling veins, they suck), I got two bags of fluid and then I could have my epidural. Throughout the pregnancy when faced with the epi vs. no epi question, I had said I would just wait and see. Between the sciatica and the week of contractions, I was so tired I didn’t want to face the pain this time. I opted pretty immediately to have it and I have no complaints about it!
I watched some movies and tried to rest while nurses came in and out. My midwife arrived and I apologized for going into labor on a Saturday. Heh. My contractions were still not getting closer together. My midwife thought the baby’s position might be preventing full-on labor, and she gave me some Pitocin. That helped everything to progress.
The only bad part of the labor for me was when I started really hurting (although trust me, NOTHING like David’s birth, where I told them I was just going home). Neither the nurse nor my midwife was there. I paged the nurse, wondering if my epidural had slipped or needed a boost. What really happened was I was ready to push and no one was there! They boosted my epidural anyway, which I don’t love – I would generally have asked for it to be turned off while I was pushing.
Because of that, I was super numb while pushing. But a short while later, with my husband, mom, AND sister there (my sister’s first time seeing a birth), Joshua Thomas came into the world. They put him in my arms almost right away and I cried tears of joy and great relief. He was born on March 16, 2013, at 10:20 a.m. and weighed 7 pounds, 7 ounces – my smallest baby!
Since this is more than 1000 words, I think I’ll save After the Birth for another day. I have a few more things I want to say, though!