On Sunday, May 2, 1999 at 7:30 a.m., I began to notice some contractions that were different from the many that I had been having for the past several weeks. I was feeling these a little bit in my back as well. In order to see if it was "true" labor, Eric and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. The contractions continued throughout.
When I got back home, I rested on the couch and began timing them. They were not regular, but they kept coming, some stronger than others. My mom and sister, Tara, came over at around 12:30 p.m. to spend the afternoon with me to see if this was the real thing. I was not going to say that this was "it" because I was now 10 days overdue and had many days where I was sure the baby was going to come. I was not going to get my hopes up again, just to be let down. If the baby didn't come on his own by Thursday, May 6, my doctor was going to seriously counsel us to induce labor.
During the afternoon, Eric puttered around the house while my mom, sister, and I timed contractions. He went to Sears to see if they had a particular garden tool, and he worked out in the garden. At 3:00 p.m., after I noticed some red streaking, I went outside to tell him that I was going to finish packing for the hospital, and he looked completely shocked!
By 4:00 p.m., the contractions were 4 minutes apart and were lasting about a minute each. It was time to go. As I gathered things, my mom and sister had a bite to eat. Eric ran a quick errand to return some videos and to run through a drive-through. While he was gone, the contractions got pretty intense, and I really wanted to be at the hospital. Eric called from his cell phone, he was stuck in the middle of the slowest drive through in town. He rushed back home with his food in a bag to eat on the road.
The drive to the hospital was not very fun. Tara rode in our car in the back, timing contractions with me, and handing Eric bits of food and napkins. My mom followed us in her car. In the midst of all of this, Eric missed the offramp on the freeway and we had to take a route that we had never taken before.
We got to the hospital at 5:00 p.m. I told the nurses that I thought my water had broken, since I was noticing some wetness, however there was no "gush." They tested it, and sure enough, the water had broken. There was no turning back. Actually, I'm lucky it had broken, because I was only 1 centimeter dilated and 70% effaced. (I had been this way for 2 weeks now). The baby was at zero station. If it hadn't been for the water breaking, they would have sent me home. I was running a fever, so the nurse gave me an IV so I would not become dehydrated.
I knew that contractions would be uncomfortable and hurt. However, these were incredibly intense and took my breath away. I could not relax at all. When one would hit, I couldn't be still and felt like writhing. It was terrible. After 90 minutes of this, the nurse checked me and I had only progressed 1 centimeter! I knew I couldn't deal with 8 more centimeters of this, so I requested an epidural.
The epidural itself didn't hurt, but I had to be still while the anesthesiologist put it in. I was sitting on the edge of the bed, and when contractions would come, it was AWFUL! The nurse held my left shoulder and Eric held my right to keep me still. Once the epidural was in, I felt warm and cozy. I began to progress much faster - 2 cm per hour.
While I labored away, we watched Star Trek Voyager on the TV in my room. At 10:00 p.m., I was 8 cm and began to hurt a lot. I made the mistake of asking the doctor for something for the pain. I thought that perhaps he had turned down the epidural. I assumed that he would just "turn it up" again. I didn't ask questions about what he was going to give me. Whatever it was, it slowed me down. I stayed at 8 centimeters for several hours.
My doctor arrived at around 3:00 a.m. and checked me. I was 9 centimeters by then. She actually considered the last centimeter more of a "lip" and tried to push it away, which didn't really work. Upon examination, she told me that there was still some amniotic sac intact, that the breakage earlier was probably up high. She broke the remaining sac, and within 90 minutes it was time to push.
At this point, I was in pretty bad pain. I began to push 4-5 times with each contraction. The problem was that I was still in excruciating pain in between contractions as well and was unable to relax. My pushes were good, despite the epidural, but the baby wasn't moving down the birth canal. I was even able to predict the contractions before the doctors picked them up on the fetal monitor.
I don't know how long I went on until I was given something to relax me in between the contractions. The doctor gave me an episiotomy in order to use the vacuum suction to help get the baby out. We went on for several contractions and even that didn't work. Along the way, I noticed more and more doctors in the room. At one point, the baby's heart rate took a dive. The doctor advised me
that a cesarean section would be the best for the baby and me. I had been pushing for 90 minutes with no progress. At this point, I was so exhausted that my reply was simply, "Get him out!"
The surgery itself was pretty uncomfortable. I knew what was going on, so I was pretty freaked out. I was in kind of a limbo state and just wanted it all to be over. I could tell that Eric was pretty upset too. I was very paranoid that I was going to feel something, so I made the anesthesiologist pin prick me a lot (I actually had a little scrape scar on my side!)
After several minutes, I heard our son cry. It was 7:00 a.m. on May 3, 1999. It was a strong and healthy sound, so I felt better. Eric was crying saying, "He's so great! He's so great!" I just wanted the rest of the surgery to be over. They brought the baby over to me after a few minutes so I could take a peek. Because I was still freaked out about the surgery, I couldn't really enjoy the moment. I gave him a little kiss and they took him back to my room to examine him; Eric went with him. The rest of the surgery seemed to take forever.
They finally took me back into my room and my family was there. I was still in a daze when they left. The pediatrician came in and checked him over - everything looked good. I drifted off to sleep. I was able to hold Olivier a couple of hours later. He was so beautiful! He latched on right away and began to breastfeed.
I don't regret a single moment of my experience; the reward is too great. The doctor explained to me later that while my pelvic bones were wide enough for him to pass through, they weren't tall enough.
Now that he is here, he is doing great, is feeding like a champ and has already surpassed his birth weight. He's our little angel and we could not be happier.