Every child is different, and I guess that starts early. My pregnancy with Declan was different from that with Lexi in as many ways as it was similar, and his labor and birth followed that pattern.
Around 9pm on February 28, Scott and I started watching the movie Zardoz, and I think I’ll always associate that bizarre film with Declan’s birth, because it was confusing and surreal and the perfect backdrop to what began 30 minutes into watching it. I began feeling what I thought was Declan stretching in my belly, and thought, “if you want more room, I’ve got an idea on how you can get some…” This continued through the whole movie, and I thought nothing of it, and certainly didn’t recognize it as a pattern of contractions! We went to bed around 1 AM, and he was still “stretching” fairly often, and because of this and the pelvic pain I’d been experiencing the past few months, I didn’t sleep well. Around 3am I got up to use the bathroom, and suddenly it clicked that these were contractions. I don’t know why it took me so long. I got in the bathtub around 4, and they were starting to get a bit more intense at this point, but not yet bad enough I considered them painful. After my bath, I had a glass of orange juice, and lay down to enjoy the baby kicks, knowing that phase of our relationship was coming to a close. Around 530 I started timing the contractions, and they were about 6-8 min apart but still not very intense, and stayed that way for about 5 hours, when they slowed way down, and at the advice of Alli and Scott, I decided to take a nap. When I woke around 1 PM, I was very discouraged, because this was reminding me of my labor with Lexi, which was so very long and exhausting, and I was afraid this wasn’t really “it” after all. I cried a few minutes, then Scott and Lexi came in an cuddled and prayed with me. A few minutes later the contractions started up again and this time were closer to 5 minutes apart fairly consistently, with a few longer stretches, and by 430 I was ready for Alli to come and help me evaluate when it was time to go to the hospital and just be with me while I labored. It was a good stretch of time of consistent contractions that were getting closer and slowly more intense. Eventually my mom arrived (I have no idea What time it was, just that I was in the tub, and lexi sounded elated to see her!)and joined the party, and awhile after that, we all decided things were not progressing fast enough that going to the hospital would be productive yet-since I wasn’t yet in need of any pain management, and we’d go to the hospital at 7 AM no matter what. So Alli went home to rest, and I planned on doing the same, except there was no rest for me. We convinced Max, Scott’s best friend, (who had an adorably inaccurate impression of what labor was like) to come over and hang out awhile, and help keep my spirits up. Still slowly, but steadily, the pain began to intensify, though I was able to laugh and joke between contractions, and by midnight, when I finally agreed to go to bed, it was becoming unbearable. I decided to take a shower and see if that would slow things down so I could rest(like it did with Lexi!) and that ended up backfiring majorly. I was in the shower about 10 minutes and had 3 incredibly intense (to the point I’m almost in tears 2 weeks later remembering) contractions in that time. I had another with Scott holding me while getting dressed, and when I finally lay down in bed, I had the most painful and long contraction so far. I lay there moaning through contractions 3-5 minutes apart for the next two hours before I told Scott that there was no way I could rest and I needed to get to the hospital and get an epidural so I could finally sleep (this was night 2 of being awake in labor, and already far more pain than I ever experienced in my whole labor with Lexi )or else I would not be strong enough to get him out. So, through the contractions we got up, dressed, called Alli, and out the door. My mama was so sweet and wanted to help however she could. I was and am so glad she was here and part of the whole story! I remember being deliriously amused that Scott grabbed our redbox rentals to return on the way. They didn’t get returned, because it was clear I just needed to get to the hospital when we had to pause and work through 2 contractions between our door and the car. The roads were very still and quiet at 230 or so in the morning, and probably because of the contractions, it seemed a much faster trip than ever before. I remember utter relief that we found a parking spot directly in front of the ER, and started bawling when, I guess having seen me working through a contraction in the doorway, the ER receptionist met us with a wheelchair. We sat/stood there what Scott says was a long time waiting to be admitted, and I’m thankful for whatever time was saved by my pre-registration a few weeks before! The nurse or CNA or whatever she was that took my vitals as I was admitted was terribly rude. She fired questions at me and if I was working through a contraction and couldn’t answer she was impatient. Example: her: “what’s your doctor’s name?” Me: (whispering) “Reutinger.” Her: “What?!” Without even turning around. Scott was really angry, and probably because he was more present, has an even worse impression of her than I do. Eventually we were taken up to the Maternal/Infant unit, and as soon as we got out of the elevator, a million memories rushed back from Lexi’s birth. Stepping out of that elevator, crying from being overwhelmed and tired, meeting Alli…it was a really powerful moment. Alli and I talked a little about that day as we sat in the now empty waiting room, that had been so full that day. Soon they came to bring us to my room, and predictably, I had to pause halfway down the short hall to work through a contraction. As I breathed deeply, I heard the girl in the room we were outside ask about an epidural, and I said “yes please. I want an epidural!” The nurses all laughed, and it was then I discovered my room was directly next to the nurses station, which seemed like a plus. I finally made it to my room, changed into a gown, and went through all the fun of hundreds of questions and paperwork while getting an IV and working through increasingly painful contractions. I had the best support system though, and I’m so thankful for them. Yet again I’m thankful for Alli as a friend and a Doula. Her encouragement and humor are just perfect for me. One of my favorite moments from the pre-epidural time there was when the nurse asked Scott his name and then “is it ok if I call you Scott?” And Alli said “no, call me Big Daddy!” I about died laughing, though mostly on the inside. I made Scott and Alli laugh too, when the nurse went to listen to my lungs or something, and a contraction started so I was moaning which I guess got in the way of her listening, so when she went to try again she said “don’t make noise this time.” I said “yeah, I’ll try not to have a contraction…” (I mean, really?) After awhile I began feeling frustrated because I was in so much pain and I just wanted to rest. Where was my epidural? The nurse must have sensed my weariness because she explained that I had to have the whole bag of IV fluid before I could have the meds, but that it wouldn’t be much longer. When the anaesthesiologist came in and was explaining the process, she said “and sometimes the medicine doesn’t work as well as we’d like…” And I was thinking “oh HELL no!” Then Scott and Alli left, and we got started. The contractions were awful, but I held as still as I could, and after a failed attempt at one space in my spine, the anaesthesiologist got everything all set, and I was positioned in bed, with one leg totally numb and control of the other. This made me nervous that the epidural wasn’t going to work as well, and I was a bit unsettled awhile, until I could no longer feel the contractions at all. I dozed a little, then around 5 the doctor came in an broke my water. I’d need admitted at 4cm and I was now 5, less than 2h later, so that was good. I mostly rested until my new nurse, Annika came on at 7. I liked her from the start. I’m a little fuzzy on what happened over the next few hours because I really was resting and sleeping during this time. I know I had some oxygen (not as an emergency but as insurance), I had a “whiff” of pitocin, and even that was turned off quickly. It was much less dramatic then this time during my labor with Lexi. Also, when I was admitted, if agreed to let students be part of my care on a case by case basis, and the first of the four I met during my stay was Marshall, a paramedic student. He was quiet and very polite and in and out a bit.We started using the peanut ball and I really feel like it made a huge difference! Around 10:30 AM I’ve started to feel the urge to make a BM. I knew what this meant, and I was afraid that, since I could feel pressure from the catheter on each contraction, I’d feel all the pain while pushing, so I waited awhile to say anything-until it became so consuming I needed to say something. As soon as I did, Alli found Annika, who came and checked me, and just as expected, I was ready to push! Honestly, I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear that his head was halfway out at that point, I felt so ready physically. Not so emotionally. I started bawling because I was tired and scared and overwhelmed and embarrassed. Everyone told me not to be embarrassed, and it was understandable. I was so thirsty, and Annika let Scott get ice chips to feed me, which he did all while I was pushing. Annika went to call Dr Reutinger, who apparently had no idea I was at the hospital, and was excited to come right over! We did some practice pushing, and were ready to roll when Dr R arrived. Marshall was back, and I felt proud to let him learn from my birth.The mood in my room was just so positive and encouraging and I could not have hoped for anything better. Alli applied some peppermint oil to my temples, and that made a world of difference in my mental clarity and calm, not long into pushing, we discovered that, as I all but assumed would be the case, Declan was sunny side up. Just like his sister. So this was gonna be long and hard. But I also was told I was a real great pusher, so that gave me drive and strength to go the distance. I pushed hard, and rested well between contractions. It became apparent that Declan had lots of hair, though lighter than his sister’s, and that started to give me a picture of him to focus on. I can’t say enough about how much it meant to have Alli there encouraging me the whole time, and I have no words for the way I fell in love with Scott in a whole new way as he coached me through every push and held my leg. It was so very cool. One comedic moment was when Scott, who was on the side with my “dead” leg, let go after a contraction instead of placing it back on the stirrup thing, and it just flopped down. I had no control or way to fix it, and in that moment it was hilarious to me. After an hour and 45 min or so, Dr Reutinger encouraged me to let him use the vaccum to assist, because he felt that with a posterior baby, I’d progressed about as far as I could on my own. I was hesitant, because I knew the next step after that was surgery, but he assured me we were almost there and it wouldn’t take much. He was right, and Declan was born on the second push of the first contractions with the vaccum. He cried right away, which made me bawl, because Lexi hadn’t, and they handed him to me sooo quickly I was thrilled! I took one look and exclaimed “Holy Crap he looks like his Daddy!!!” Which made everyone laugh. I’m fuzzy after that, other than he was just perfect, and everything was perfect, had a ton of red (ok, strawberry blonde) hair, and I was overwhelmed and overjoyed at how it all went. There were some hurdles in recovery and nursing in the first week, but I couldn’t be happier and more relieved at the birth experience we had.