Here it is...Lucas' birth story!
I had gone to the doctor at 3pm on Friday and found out that I was 4cm dilated and 75% effaced. I went home and had some mild cramping that evening, but nothing special. I woke up Saturday feeling nothing, so I assumed it would still be a long time before labor would start.
By late morning I was having some contractions that were a bit painful, but nothing consistent. I continued on as usual.....did a little grocery shopping, changed the sheets on the bed, watered my vegetable plants and helped Adam clean the garage.
By early afternoon I began to notice that the contractions were approximately 8-9 minutes apart. They were still very mild, although I did begin practicing my breathing during each contraction. I immediately knew that I did NOT want my stomach touched during a contraction, nor did I want to talk. Breathing out slowly seemed to make me the most comfortable. Even though I was using these coping techniques at this point, the pain level was still quite low. I was mainly feeling the pain in my lower stomach and hips. I told myself not to get excited because it was likely still false labor at this point, and not the real thing.
By about 3pm the contractions had stopped. Darn! I continued on as usual, cooked dinner and got Ryan ready for bed. As I was laying in bed with him a little after 9, I started having mild contractions again.
Once Ryan was asleep I came out to the living room and started timing my contractions. It was probably about 9:30 at this point. I guess I would call this the official start of my labor, because this is when I was actually experiencing real pain about every 6 to 7 minutes. Adam started timing each contraction while I sprawled myself on top of my big bouncy ball.
Over the next couple hours things got more intense. The pain was radiating all across my middle, including my back and hips. I started to moan through each contraction because I had heard that can help. Adam ran the bathtub for me and although it helped a little bit, our tub just isn't big enough for me to stretch out in. At this point my contractions were every 4 to 5 minutes. I got out of the tub, got dressed, and Adam called my parents. During one contraction I had Adam push on my lower back. That was the only thing during my entire labor that actually helped with the pain. I now understand how painful back labor can be!
My Dad arrived and picked up Ryan around 11:30. It felt too soon to be going to the hospital, since I wanted to labor as much as possible at home. But my pain felt so out of control at this point that we decided to go. The contractions were coming faster and each one lasted an entire minute and a half.
The ride to the hospital was pretty short. I remember Adam asked me what freeway exit to take and it made me really mad. In my mind, I was thinking that a good husband would have mapped out the course beforehand! We arrived and when they offered me a wheelchair, I gladly accepted. We checked in right after midnight, prepared for a long night ahead of us. As they wheeled me into triage I was in tears from the pain. They hooked me up to the monitor and checked to see if I had progressed from the previous day. To my surprise I was 8cm dilated!
That number was so incredibly encouraging to me. If I had made it this far so quickly, surely I could last just a little bit longer! They transferred me to a room and over the next hour I lay in bed unable to do anything about the pain. With each contraction I gripped the side of the bed or Adam's hand and moaned really low and loudly. My back felt like it was being ripped in half, but due to the position I was in, I couldn't apply any counter-pressure to it. I was attached to an IV and so debilitated by the pain that I couldn't move.
At about 1:30 I begged Adam to go get a nurse. They were offering me a shot of something for the pain in my IV, and I was very close to accepting it. But first I wanted to know if I had progressed at all. If I had not, I was pretty sure I'd take the medication. I just wanted to give up at this point on the idea of having a natural labor. Forget about it, it's too hard! But when the midwife came in and announced that I was at 10cm and ready to push, all plans for pain meds went out the window. The midwife broke my water, which just felt like a warm gush.
I was so ready to push that baby out. Pushing out Ryan was physically challenging but not that difficult, probably because I had an epidural. They told me I was a good pusher, so I assumed this time around would be the same. But when I started pushing something just felt wrong. I had always heard women say that pushing felt better because they were able to do something proactive with the pain. But I didn't experience this. When the midwife stopped me after a couple pushes and asked if I was feeling the pressure to push, I surprised myself by saying no. I actually didn't feel any pressure, only horrible pain. That's when the midwife said the words "Oh. He's sunny-side up."
I asked her if that was bad, and she basically said no, but that it would make pushing him out much more difficult and painful. This is when things started to feel really out of control to me. They gave me oxygen because my oxygen levels were dipping while I pushed. I pushed and pushed and it felt like forever. Meanwhile, the midwife was trying to maneuver the baby's head while pushing my skin out of the way. It felt like she was sticking knives inside of me, and I was so angry with her at this point. I kept saying "What are you doing? Is he getting close?". At one point she answered "No" and I was so discouraged. Obviously I wasn't thinking clearly because I almost asked her for a C-section. I just didn't think I had the energy or strength to push out the baby.
But then they had me to turn to my side while pushing, and that seemed to help. Then on my back once more, then to the other side, and suddenly his head was crowning! I got on my back and pushed out his head. I didn't even notice the "ring of fire" that people describe. She had me cough and then push once more, and Lucas was finally out! I had only pushed for around 30 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Lucas was born at 2:17am, just two hours after arriving at the hospital.
At that point all I felt was relief. Yes I was happy to finally meet my baby and see that he was healthy. But more intense was this huge flood of relief that washed over me. It was over! The absolute most physically challenging and painful experience of my life. I thank God now that my labor was so quick. If it had taken longer, I probably would have given in and accepted pain medication. In total, real labor was probably 5 hours, with 30 minutes of pushing. Sounds short, but felt torturous. A blessing in disguise.