Plainly said, September 30th was one of the happiest days of my life.
I left off with my getting-things-started update around 7:00 am on Thursday morning. Looking back and reading through that post, I sounded so chipper and excited. I really was ready to get things started and meet our Baby Girl. It was around that time that they started the Pitocin, so I really began to feel the contractions. But the pain was totally manageable. In fact, I opted to sit on the labor ball and play a game of Scrabble against my husband. I felt good enough to let my very-dear friend (who is due next week!) come up to the room to visit. The only problem was that the monitors didn't like my movement on the ball, and the nurses kept coming in to check to make sure everything was okay. So I eventually just went back to the bed.
Around 8:00 am or so, the new day Resident doctor came in to check, and opted to break my water. I was so surprised at how warm it was and how much it gushed everywhere! What a sensation! (And in case anyone is wondering--not painful).
During this phase, I was feeling contractions every 2-4 minutes that lasted about 45-60 seconds. My husband was great about helping me breath through them, as it was my goal to try to have a natural birth. As the morning went on, the nurse continued to check on me, and continued to up the Pitocin, as she wanted to get me to "active labor" with contractions 2 minutes apart (or less). I asked the nurse how long it would take to continue to dilate, and she said that once I hit the "active labor" stage, that--on average--it would take about an hour per centimeter. At the time, I was at 4 centimeters, and I admit that since I hadn't slept much the night before, I was started to get tired. The contractions were also getting more painful (thanks to the Pitocin)...so I broke. I opted for the epidural. Like I said, I was hoping for a natural birth because of the cyclical nature of the labor process, and how one thing leads to the next. But when I heard it would probably be six more more hours before pushing...I gave in and asked for the epidural.
But perhaps that was a mistake. As the Anaesthesiologist(s) began to prep me, I mentioned--mostly as a joke--that I have scoliosis. This turned out to be more problematic than I had realized. I opted to give birth at a teaching hospital, and the poor Resident was having a hard time finding the right location to insert the epidural. It was a really frustrating process, and I was continuing to experience pretty intense contractions through it all. Three attempts later, and the Attending Anaesthesiologist finally got it in...but all it really did was numb my right thigh. They tried different dosages, and I think even different medications. I know that they made adjustments as least three times, but it still did not seem to be helping. They had me lie on my side, hoping that gravity would kick in.
It was while I was on my side that I felt the sudden urge to push. All along, I hadn't ever hit the call-button for the nurse. I know that's what they are there for, but I didn't want to be too much of a burden. But suddenly, I needed someone...and I needed them quick.
In all the confusion of the epidural, I hadn't been checked at the two-hour increment as had been planned. So my new nurse (my original day nurse had two patients, and had transitioned over to the other woman) checked me, and sure enough--I was at 10 centimeters! I had gone from 4 to 10 in about two hours! So much for the "one centimeter per hour" rule that the original nurse had suggested! And no wonder I felt the need to push!
They got my doctor, gave me my instructions on what to do, and then the real fun began. I'm proud to say that I did not poop on the table...though I'm embarrassed to admit that I did totally empty my bladder on that first push. Oh well...they've seen it all, right? I ended up pushing for about two hours, and I do think that the epidural finally kicked in a bit, because I was able to rest (if you can call it that) between pushes. We noticed that each of my contractions was lasting longer than the series of three pushes, so my doctor asked me to wait off on starting to push so as to maximize the contraction at the end. It's not quite as easy as it sounds! But I sure tried, and I also tried to give a valiant final bonus fourth push at the end of each series as well. Toward the end, I was rather delirious from the pain and the exhaustion.
But all of that changed at 2:10 pm, when I felt her head emerge, pushed again to release one shoulder and then the next, and then finally saw the precious gift from God for which I have waited for so long. I was initially a tiny bit concerned that she looked rather purple, but she immediately cried, and they gave her to me right away. She was (and continues to be) so precious! I only got to hold her for about five minutes before they took her back to get her cleaned up and weighed, but then they gave her back to me to nurse. I was so excited that she latched right away, and has continued to do so ever since.
Once they finished cleaning me up, my parents--who had arrived about two hours earlier, just as I was getting ready to push--came in to the delivery room to meet their new granddaughter. It was also at this time that my husband and I decided on her name, Eleanor Debra, or Ella as a nickname. They then took her down to the nursery for about two hours of check-ups and observation. It broke my heart to see her leave so soon, but it gave me the chance to (finally!) eat and sleep. I was then moved downstairs to a recovery room, and was (finally!) reunited with Ella.
That first night in the hospital was super easy! Ella was a perfect little angel, and the nurse had to wake me up in the middle of the night to have me wake her up to nurse. The next morning, they took her back to the nursery for more observations and to see the Pediatrician, who reported back to us that she is in excellent health. We were released from the hospital about 4:30 pm that day--about 26 hours after giving birth.
It was wonderful to come home...though Ella wasn't nearly as angelic those first two nights as she was that night in the hospital. My mom was fabulous about helping out when I just couldn't get Ella to go back to sleep without sticking my boob in her mouth. After that second long night at home, I knew that something had to change. I had started but hadn't yet finished reading On Becoming Babywise, so I pulled it back out to refresh on those principles. Since then, we've really endeavored to establish an eat-play-sleep routine during the day, and it really seems to be helping. With this routine, Ella has slept much better for the last two nights. In fact, I'd say that last night was nearly as close to perfect as I could hope for a less-than-one-week old. I know it won't always be this way, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment for helping her get into a routine. My parents and in-laws will leave this weekend, and we'll be on our own at that point.
My blessing for today is my parents. It's nice to have my in-laws here as well, but my mom and dad have really stepped up to help out. Not only have they been helping with Ella, but my mom is cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, taking out my trash, and consoling me when I feel like my mother-in-law is being judgemental; and my dad has been pulling a gazillion weeds in our yard that have been overlooked during my pregnancy. I am so thrilled to be able to share these first few days of Ella's life with them. They are wonderful parents, and amazing grandparents!