Believe it or not, this almost wasn't a Birth Story. As you'll remember from my last journal entry, at my 40 Week appointment the doctor told me that if I made it to the 41 Week appointment I would be induced. He explained that he would strip my membranes again and then insert a prostaglandin gel and then it would just be a matter of waiting until the baby was born. Unfortunately when I arrived at the appointment it turned out that he doesn't administer the gel in the office, but that I had to wait for the hospital to call me and go in for the induction (and stay there until the baby was born). He told us that it would happen that evening, but the receptionist said we likely wouldn't get the call until Friday. We were so disappointed. Three more days of waiting!
The doctor did strip my membranes, though, and that night I started having bloody show and some contractions, which would come regularly for an hour or two and then stop for a few hours, and then start again. This continued for all of Thursday and we were hopeful that maybe I would manage to go into labour on my own, but to no avail. Fortunately first thing Friday morning we got the call; it was time to head to the hospital to be induced!
We got to the hospital at 9 am, but it was so busy that we ended up sitting around the labour room playing Gin Rummy for four hours until they were ready to begin. At 1 pm they checked my effacement and dilation; wasn't I surprised to hear that I was only 1cm dilated, 50% effaced and at -3 Station (my doctor had told me 3 cm dilated, 100% effaced and 0 Station). They then inserted a Cervadil tampon, which was supposed to ripen my cervix and prepare me for labour. They told me that they would leave it in for 12 hours and then move on to Pitocin to start contractions. They also explained that in very rare cases the Cervadil could start labour on its own, but that that was unlikely to happen. Well, within five minutes of having the Cervadil inserted I started getting contractions that were 30 seconds long and two minutes apart. They were mild at first, but just kept getting more and more painful. By the end of an hour and a half the nurse removed the Cervadil because it was too much.
I coped with the pain as well as I could. I used the birthing ball and the hot tub (while in the tub I only felt about every third contraction), and we tried to watch a movie to distract me, but the pain just kept getting worse. Eventually, after four hours of contractions every two minutes I gave in to the nurse's suggestion of Nubain to dull the pain. They also gave me a Gravol at that point because I was starting to feel really nauseous. Between the two drugs I started feeling really really sleepy, but at least the edge was taken off the contractions. I continued using the ball and tub (Aaron was there to make sure I didn't fall asleep), but after another four hours I thought I was going to die from the pain. It was time for an epidural.
By the time they checked my dilation (5-6 cm), prepared an IV and got the epidural in, I had been having contractions two minutes apart, increasing in length and severity, for nine hours! I cannot explain how good the epidural felt. I could finally breathe easily and relax. I was also surprised at how my body felt - I thought that I wouldn't be able to feel my legs at all, but instead it was more like they had gone to sleep. They were like jelly, but I could still move them, and was even allowed to get up and use the bathroom (with the help of the nurse and Aaron). The epidural reduced the contractions to every four minutes, so they started up a Pitocin drip in my IV. It was now about 11 pm, and I was given some more Gravol and took the chance to sleep as best I could between checks.
At around 3 am the doctor came back and checked my dilation (7-8 cm!) and decided to break my bag of waters. I didn't feel anything when he did it, not even the gush of liquid. Unfortunately when they broke the amniotic sac they discovered meconium, which meant that the baby had already had a bowel movement inside me and that a pediatrician would have to attend the birth, and I wouldn't be allowed to hold the baby right when she came out. The doctors were not very concerned, though, and said that they would have been more concerned if she hadn't had a bowel movement at 14 days overdue. I was told that it wouldn't be too much longer until I had the baby in my arms, and I was moved onto my hands and knees to try and turn the baby to either face up or face down (she was lying sideways).
Just before 5 am the nurse checked me and said that she could see hair, and had me try a couple of practice pushes. She said that I was almost ready to push for real, and we'd start around 5:30. Then she went on break. At that point I started feeling a lot of pressure and was afraid the baby was going to fall out of me all on her own, so I called for a nurse to check me again. A nurse came, but things weren't as urgent as they felt, and I was able to wait until my nurse returned from her break.
At 5:40 I was moved into a semi-sitting position and Aaron and the nurse each took a leg and pushed it towards me while I pushed. Pushing was the weirdest sensation. I couldn't feel anything, couldn't really tell that I was pushing (aside from feeling some straining in my face), but I was told that I was doing really well. After a few minutes the nurse called for the OB and the pediatrician, and soon the room was full of people staring at me. I pushed for just under half an hour, and then the baby emerged. I was concerned because I could see that she looked really grey, but she whimpered as she came out and was screaming by the time the pediatrician had her.
After 17 hours of labour, at 6:09 am on June 6, 2009, Lily Ella Artemis was born, weighing 7 lbs 12 oz, and with APGARs of 9 and 9. The doctors delivered the placenta (I had absolutely nothing to with this part, I just laid there and they pulled/pushed it out of me) and then stitched up my second degree tear. Once they were done I got to hold Ella and made my first attempt at breastfeeding (she wasn't overly interested) and then I passed her to Aaron while I scarfed down some breakfast (I was so hungry!).
It is now 6 days later and baby Ella and I are doing well. After that first awkward attempt we managed to establish a good latch, and Ella has been nursing like a pro ever since. My milk has come in, and Ella is well on her way to returning to her birthweight. I am still sore from the stitches, and find sitting uncomfortable, but am able to walk short distances (like around the block). Ella is finally starting to tell the difference between day and night, so we have actually even managed a few solid hours of sleep. It may sound cliche, but I cannot believe how smitten I am with my beautiful girl. She may have been two weeks overdue, but she was well worth the wait.
Thank you everyone for reading my journal, especially those of you who wrote with advice and encouragement. And thank you Maribeth for giving me the opportunity to share my journey through StorkNet. As frustrating and painful as my pregnancy was at times, once I saw my little baby's face, it was all worth it.