No matter how hard I try to be succinct with this story, it still ends up being terribly long. What can I say? Brevity in writing is not one of my strengths. Plus, please remember that I'm writing out the story more so that I will have some record of it. Hence, some crazy non-important details. At least I included some pictures to make it mildly entertaining.
So, here's part 2 of the labor and delivery story.
Since I'm officially checked in, then we call our parents to tell them they can make plans to come down. Jason's parents are working, but plan on being down later that afternoon. My parents are still dubious that baby will show up today, but plan to drive down eventually. I'm just a bit irritated that nobody is scurrying around dropping all their plans to accommodate my life. Yet, being a stoic pregnant woman, I try to be understanding. Or something.
11:30 AM--I'm moved out of triage into my hospital room. I am super-duper fortunate to have possibly the best nurse ever, Nurse Pam. We share family stories (she has 2 girls), Christmas plans (her dad is visiting from China), and my choice of drugs ("Epidurals rock," she agrees). We're the bestest of friends within 10 minutes.
11:45-1:30--My contractions are steady, and my pain level goes up to a 6. My "birthing plan" is to get an epidural when I'm dilated to 7, and my pain level preference is keep it below 7. Even though I've never taking a birthing class, I read up quite a bit on how to manage pain (including an interview with Jim Carey on how he survived wearing that Grinch costume). My method is once a contraction comes on, I pinch my hips, close my eyes, and then focus all my attention on the pain of the little pinch. I'm very quiet and breathe slowly because I know it'll get crazy if I start to panic. I suppose my technique is a little like hypnobirthing, except with the comfort of knowing eventually I'll get an epidural.
Jason is being quite the supportive husband, holding my hand and rubbing my back. Sydney is staying entertained with Boz the Bear videos and coloring books, and for awhile there it's just us, enjoying our last few moments as a family of three.
At some point here, I get hooked up to an IV so that when I decide on the epidural I'll be ready. Nurse Pam has a bit of trouble with my pesky veins, but she eventually gets me all set up.
1:30 PM--I'm in full blown active labor, and there's no pause between the contractions. My pain level increases to a 7, and I momentarily feel a bit of panic that it's getting too difficult for me. I practice more breathing exercises, do some stretches, and eventually tell Nurse Pam that I'm ready for the epidural. She hooks me up to a bag of fluids that I evidently need before I can get the epidural, and while that's draining into me, she fills the jacuzzi tub. I try taking a bath, but after a few minutes I get out because the water isn't hot enough.
2:00 PM--Bad news. Evidently the anesthesiologist (the hospital only has one on staff) is doing a tubal ligation from 2-2:30. I'm supposed to wait.
2:01 PM--I try to invent a Plan B.
2:02 PM--Nurse Pam again offers me IV drugs, which I had initially refused. I get a dose of Stadol, which brings the pain down a level, but makes me feel pretty loopy. At some point my parents arrive, but I don't remember when exactly. My dad takes Sydney to Costco, and my mom hangs out with me. It's good to have her there since she was unable to be with me at Sydney's birth.
2:30 PM--I am in line with one other woman to get an epidural. Because of the successful lobbying by Nurse Pam, I get mine before the other lady. Well, we can't all be martyrs. I've dilated to 7, and the monster needle starts poking around in my back. The anesthesiologist was afraid that it wouldn't work properly because he didn't put it in very far before he felt like he should stop on account of me being on the scrawny side. Lucky for me (and him) it works marvelously.
The nifty thing about epidurals these days (at my hospital anyway) is that they give you the lowest dosage, and then give you a button that allows you to increase the medication if you need. I love this feature because even though I am still a bit uncomfortable, I know that if it gets beyond what I want to handle I can increase the drugs (which I don't end up doing).
3:00-6:00 PM--A doctor makes an appearance. He has a cold, so he informs me that another doctor will be doing the delivery. Yeah, whatever. Just make sure someone is here to deliver the baby. The other doctor comes in and gets some info from me. When I tell him that about my previous 4th degree tear, he says, "Well, we can get you lined up for a c-section if you want." No thanks. I've made it this far, I might as well keep going.
Jason's parents arrive, and my MIL joins us in the labor/delivery room (at this point, Jason, the doctor, and anesthesiologist are the only men that I'm letting in until after baby is born.) Since I have the epidural then I'm not allowed to do any more walking. I still feel the contractions, and therefore still practicing my focusing/breathing techniques. Pain level: 4
Near the end, I find that I'm having some trouble breathing. I tell Nurse Pam, and she props me up so I'm sitting up more. Evidently the epidural had started to numb the organs necessary for breathing. Glad we got that fixed.
The plan is to let Baby 'labor down' with the hopes that it will decrease the trauma of tearing. So, I'm supposed to wait for her to work her own way down without any pushing. Thanks to the epidural, no problem.
Nurse Pam strips my membranes, thinking it might break my water. It doesn't. I'm fully effaced, and dilated to 8.5.
6:00 PM--The doctor comes in and decides to break my water. Within seconds I dilate to 10. We all agree that I can do some pushing even though I don't really have the urge to push. My mom holds one leg, and my MIL holds the other, and Nurse Pam counts out the seconds for me to push. "1...2...3...4..." I do have some feeling in my right leg, but my left leg is totally numb. So I have to remind whoever is holding it make sure they don't let go. The funniest moment: they all get distracted with something, and I start remarking, "Hello! My leg! There goes my leg!"
6:30 PM--I've been pushing (though the urge to push is not nearly as strong as it was with Sydney), and I'm told progress is being made (no mirrors for me, thanks). I am distracted by the fact that the hospital cafeteria closes at 7, so I might not get any food after Baby is born! Nurse Pam lets me break protocol and put in my order before Baby is born so that the food should be there right after she arrives.
6:45 PM--The doctor arrives, and he and Nurse Pam scurry around getting into their scrubs and prepping the table, lights, and whatever else they need. I push some more, and everyone remarks "Oh! There's the baby's head!" Good deal.
6:58 PM--Julianne arrives! She kicks and screams, and they place her on my chest. I feel totally overwhelmed with emotion and get all teary eyed. I would have started crying, but for some reason I feel like I need to keep it together in front of my mom and MIL. I'm a dork.
7:00 PM--The food arrives! Woo hoo! Turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, fruit plate, cookies, cranberry juice. I'm starving. But before I can eat the doctor has to stitch me up (2nd degree tear...WAY better than before), and I'm hooked up to Pitocin to help take care of the after-birth and get my uterus back in shape.
7:05 PM--Sydney and the grandpas come to check out the new baby. Sydney finds it impossible to contain her excitement. She wants to be right next to Julianne, and gets very concerned when a non-family member holds the baby. When it comes to this big sister and her little sister, it's love at first sight.
7:10-9:00--Before I'm moved up to the recovery room, I have to wait until I get all the feeling back in my legs. I eat dinner, Jason goes home to check on Daisy, the grandparents leave and take Sydney with them, and some church friends of ours come by to deliver food from the Christmas party we missed that night (chocolate cookies! caesar salad! honey rolls and prime rib!). I give Jules her first meal, and hum Christmas carols in her ear.
9:15 PM--We're finally all settled in upstairs. My window has an amazing view of the state capital, adorned with Christmas lights, the gold man shining brightly in the winter night. On this clear December evening--across from the building that hears the voices of some of the most powerful people in Oregon--I listen to an even more powerful sound. I waited more than a year to hear this tiny, quiet sound, and now I finally hear it. It's the sound of life, the sound of love, the sound of Julianne breathing while I cradle her in my arms. My Christmas jewel.