I finally have a moment of quiet while my dear baby girl plays with her daddy, so I can steal a second or two to tell you how she got here :)
I woke up with a ripping contraction at 4am on Saturday, May 7th. All the sudden I felt silly for going in on the 2nd with false labor -- there really is no comparison. They started every 10-12 minutes apart; I was able to stay in bed and rest between them. I was glad it was Saturday because I didn't really want to be alone through it all. Shaune was a champ, helping by doing counter-pressure on my back through contractions.
We spent the day preparing for Gracie as the contractions came closer and closer together. We walked around the block. We watched a movie. We returned library books and walked around the Lincoln Home site (right next door to the library). We walked the botanical gardens at Washington Park. We even got ice cream and pizza! It was a special time to spend on our last day as just a couple. By evening, the contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and getting very strong. We started seriously considering going to the hospital.
I held out at home until about 10pm -- 18 hours after true labor started. At that point I felt the urge to settle in and not move; time to go, since we certainly weren't prepared for a home birth! Due to contractions slowing us down, it took another hour to make it to the car, across town, and across the hospital parking lot -- a 10 minute process on an average day. We arrived at 11, just after the doors were locked for the night, necessitating admittance through the ER. The ER is about as far from L&D as possible, so an escort took me in a wheelchair past the dark empty cafeteria, gift shops, waiting rooms, etc. It was a surreal experience. Every contraction I had to keep from flinging myself out of the wheelchair -- I don't like to labor sitting down!
Aparently Saturday was a busy day for babies, so we had to wait in the triage room until an LDR room could be cleared by moving a current patient to Pediatrics. It was midnight before I was in my own room. One of the reasons we chose the hospital we did was because of the jacuzzi bathtubs in each LDR room -- after being checked (only 6cm!) I climbed in and camped out for the next several hours.
My OB was on duty that night, but I didn't see her until 4am -- 24 hours into this ordeal. When I got into my room they had started me on a saline drip due to dehydration. She came in to check me, then discuss interventions. Four more hours of laboring had only brought me to 7cm. I REALLY wanted to continue laboring naturally. The pain was intense but my conviction was stronger. Shaune helped me focus and kept encouraging me: "You can do this, and you will." We asked the OB to come back shortly. We used that time to pray about our options, since she was very hesitant to NOT intervene, especially since I had convinced her to only do intermittant monitoring. I either had to let her act, or go on the monitor full time (which would restrict me to bed). When she returned, I had decided to let her break my water in the hopes of making things go quicker. She got the kit and it was broken at 5:25am -- 26.5 hours after I'd begun laboring.
It only took one more hour (back in the tub, of course!) for me to progress to more than 9cm. I started breathing the "right way" and feeling the urge to push. The labor nurse came in to assist and had to help me keep from pushing yet since I still had a "lip" on my cervix. I Kegaled with her help and Shaune's for another half hour while Pediatrics were called for Gracie and the doctor got ready for me. I got the go-ahead to push at 7am. Grace Abigail was born at 7:18am -- a perfect Mother's Day gift!
She came out absolutely beautiful, partly (I believe) because I didn't have to push for very long. She didn't have time to get mushed and bruised. I did tear a little, and while the doctor was putting in stitches and Shaune helped rub Gracie down, I just zoned out and listened. The nursing team had just changed shifts and a couple of them were chatting -- no one believed this was my first baby since transition and delivery went so quickly. They were also impressed that delivery was as short as it was because I apparently have "the shortest contractions ever" -- only about 30 seconds. We got a lot done in those 30 second intervals!
I wish I hadn't have had any interventions at all -- no saline, no breaking of waters -- but in the grand scheme of things, it couldn't have gone any better. The rest of the day, every time a new nurse came in, I heard, "You're the first-timer who did it all naturally, right?" It was extremely rewarding. She was so vigorous and alive immediately after birth. Her 1min and 5min APGARs were both 9. We were able to enjoy her right away, and I was up on my feet (and in a shower!) in less than an hour. It was a beautiful experience, and I'm so grateful to my dear husband for helping me so much through it, and for keeping my focus on the end result:
Grace Abigail, moments after birth. We've seen that pouty face many times since then!