The next 2-3 hours were mostly uneventful. I managed to get unhooked from my monitors for quite a while when I had to use the restroom and no one came in to hook me back up. Walking around really makes painful contractions more tolerable. And by this time they were VERY painful. But I was able to do some visualization to get through them. I also got to spend some time on a birthing ball which our nurse very kindly found for us.
Unfortunately, that was about the time that our nurse (I can't remember her name) had to leave for a ceasarian section on her other patient. She was replaced with Nurse Jeanne who told me I had to either get back in bed or get an internal fetal monitor put in because I kept dislodging my external monitor. Since the internal monitor requires breaking the water (not to mention screwing an electrode into the baby's scalp) I agreed to sit still for a while.
One of the worst things about being in the hospital is that they won't let you eat or drink. I had been sneaking sips of water since the staff was mostly leaving us alone. But now that we had Nurse Jeanne's full attention, I had to resort to ice chips. Now, ice chips are awesome (on my hosptial tour the previous week several people had to stop at the ice machine just for fun) but what they should really have is flavored syrup to make shave ice! THAT would make labor much happier!
At about 3:30 they asked if I wanted them to check my cervix again. It was nice that they gave me the option since one of the things I didn't like last time was having a different person all up in my business every hour. But since I knew things were progressing quickly, I let them check. The nurse did the exam first and thought I was complete - 10cm. She called in a doctor to double-check, though, and she said I was only 9. And the baby was only at 0 station.
At this point they offered to break my water. I knew that this is meant to speed up labor, but I also knew (from experience) that it would make contractions much more painful. With Morgan, they broke my water when I was about 5cm. I still had 10 hours of labor afterward and the pain was too much for me to handle. But this time I thought it might be better. After all, I was so much further along. And I was already in more discomfort than I had been in when I requested the epidural last time. How much worse could it get?
I started to explain all of this to the nurse who started to look impatient. "You don't really care about my reasons, do you?" I said. She shook her head. "Then just do it", I told her. Once she ruputred the membranes the baby's head came down so fast that not a whole lot of fluid came out. And remember when I asked "How much worse could it get?". Much much much worse. The very next contraction was incredibly intense. I was screaming. I also felt the need to push to which the nurse said "Don't push! You're not ready!" Like hell. I spent about the next three contractions "trying" not to push when they finally gave in and I heard the very sweet words over the intercom: Doctor to room 4 for delivery.
The next couple of minutes were a whirlwind of activity as the labor room transformed into a delivery room. The bed broke down, lights decended from the ceiling, instrument trays appeared and the (many) staff members who had entered the room suited up in protective gear.
For some reason, I had a two-doctor team (two very young residents) handling the delivery. There was also a supervising doctor who was sitting in the corner and a couple of pediatric corpsmen for the baby. I think there was an extra nurse floating around too. It was pretty crowded in the room. And very loud because everyone felt the need to instruct me on how to push. It was a chorus of "Push! Don't push! Harder! Don't stop! Deep breath! Don't breathe out! Don't make noise!" If I had been able to think straight, I would have been annoyed, but the pain was too great for me to think of anything else.
I cannot even find the words to describe how badly birth hurts. In fact, I am even having a hard time remembering any specifics. There was a lot of burning. And the feeling of having my body torn to shreds. But that doesn't really do the pain justice. I guess its something you have to experience to really understand. And I hope it is something you do not ever experience. At the time, the pushing phase seemed to take forever. I really thought for a while that I could not do it. I could, everyone assured me. I had to.
I actually only pushed for 10-15 minutes. Just when I really thought I could not go on, the nurse asked Jon "Is the camera ready?" That gave me the motivation I needed. One more push for the head and another for the shoulders, and Zachary was here.
The first thing anyone said about him was "He's big!". The whole night they had been asking me to guess how big he would be. "Would you say he's bigger or smaller than your first baby?" they asked. I said that I guessed he would be a little bigger - maybe on the upper half of 7 lbs. Part of my reasoning was that my ob nurse estimated that he would be another small baby. Despite the fact that I had gained much more weight and had a much bigger belly this time around. I was glad that I was wrong. I knew once he started coming out that that was no small baby!
Jon said that this birth was much more "gruesome" than Morgan's. There was a lot of amniotic fluid gushing out with the baby and blood from my 2nd degree laceration. Also, something they did with the umbilical cord cause blood to spray all over the room. It was spattered on the doctors and nurses, the floor, the sheets and the sides of the bed. Yuck.
They took the baby to the warmer after he was born. I had asked to have him put on my chest right after birth, but that didn't happen for some reason. His Apgar scores were 9 and 9 - a very healthy baby.
Coming soon: Part 4 - NOW I want an epidural!