Here's Sadie's birth story. It's kind of a long post, so here's the cliff-notes version: months of contractions, 16 1/2 hours of labor, no pain medication, pushed once.
So I started having contractions about 6 weeks before my due date. These were more than the painless and random Braxton-Hicks contractions that I had been experiencing for months. These were regular (2 to 3 an hour) and sometimes painful. Unfortunately, they were never enough to make me actually start dilating. My doctor told me to take it easy and rest whenever I started having contractions. I am not very good and resting and was not very faithful at following my doctor's orders. Not that it really mattered; I endured 6 weeks of contractions and never went into labor.
We tried everything to naturally induce labor: walking miles and miles, hiking Mount Nittany, and castor oil (gross). Nothing worked. The weekend before my due date, my contractions started getting closer together and more painful. I would go to bed at night prepared to leave for the hospital in the middle of the night. Although my contractions prevented me from sleeping, they were never painful enough and I knew I wasn't in active labor. Although I wanted as natural a childbirth as possible, I agreed to induction after that miserable weekend of contractions.
My doctor scheduled my induction for the morning of my due date. Ironically, I did not have any contractions that morning. He used cytotech to induce the labor. Cytotech is a vaginal pill that softens the cervix and closely simulates natural labor. I did not want to receive pitocin. Once I was dilated a little more, he planned to break my water.
After my experience with Grant, I knew there were several things that I wanted to be different about this labor. First, I wanted to be able to move around as much as possible; I hate being in bed. Second, I didn't want to have an IV (which I ended up having because they needed to give me antibiotics during labor, but I only had to be confined to the bed when I was receiving the antibiotics). Third, I wanted to drink liquids. Fourth, I wanted to see my doctor more than just during delivery and I didn't want to be pocked and examined every hour. Finally, I did not want an epidural. I hated the feeling of not being in control of my bladder and legs, and I always felt guilty for getting an epidural with Grant. My hospital and doctor were amazing and agreed to all of my requests.
They gave me cytotech at 8:15 am; I was dilated to 1 cm. Three hours later, I started having relatively painless contractions. At 1 pm, I was finally at 3 cm and my doctor broke my water. The path from 1 to 3 cm was so much better this time than it was with Grant. It took me 4 hours to progress from a 2 to a 3 having contractions that were 90 seconds apart and lasting for 90 seconds with Grant. The pain I experienced during those 4 hours was equivalent to the pain of my contractions when I was at a 7 with Sadie. I no longer feel bad about getting an epidural with Grant.
My water was perfectly clear and my labor started to pick up. Unfortunately, Sadie wasn't moving much and they wanted to keep me on the monitors. So I was confined to the bed. My labor continued to progress slowly, but the pain and frequency of the contractions was so much more bearable than it had been with Grant. I finally made it to 5 cm at 6 pm. They let me get out of bed, but I was too nauseous to roam the halls. I used the birthing ball in the room just in case I had to vomit.
I was starting to wonder if I would have this baby on April 29th, which happens to be Nathaniel's Grandpa Michael's birthday. When they checked me again around 7:30 pm, I was 7 cm and I knew transistion wasn't far away . . . or at least I hoped transistion wasn't far away. My labor began to slow. My contractions became less painful and further apart---I was able to nap between contractions. After two hours of this, my doctor said the dreaded word: pitocin. They gave me a small dose. An hour later, I was still at a 7. They continued to increase the dosage every 20 minutes for the next two hours. I was managing the pain fine until about 11:00 pm. Then it really started to hurt. I wanted to cry and my "mantra" became "It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!" I never said anything mean or started scream, but I definitely wined and complained a lot.
Finally, at 11:30 pm I had progressed to 8 cm. Sometime between 11:35 and 11:40 pm I started crying "I need to push". Nathaniel pushed the call button, but either the call button didn't work or the nurse didn't believe me. The next contraction sent Nathaniel running down to the nurses station as I screamed, "This baby is coming now!" The doctor rushed in, checked me and said "Don't push. This baby is coming on the next contraction." The nurse and doctor madly prepped the room, I pushed once and had a baby at 11:44 pm.
Then, in what was the scariest moment of my life, I heard the nurses and doctor say "Oh, no." I looked down and saw a bluish-gray, limp baby. Although my water was clear when they had broke my water, a ton of meconium came out with the baby. She had aspirated a lot of the poop and was having difficulty breathing, and thus crying. They put her under the heating lamps for just a moment and then Nathaniel walked the baby down to the ICU. Although I should have been terrified and scared, I felt calm and peaceful.
Aside from being extremely cold and hungry, I felt pretty good after delivery. I was able to walk and use the bathroom (which was so much better than my experience with Grant). Because Sadie had been placed on oxygen, I was not able to hold or nurse her for 24 hours. After they took her off oxygen, she still had to be on a glucose drip until they were confident that should could nurse without problems. I savored those moments of breastfeeding because I got to hold my daughter close to me. She was released from the hospital Saturday morning, but we had to return because she was jaundiced. My baby returned to the ICU for the second time in a week. Luckily, she is healthy now (although not as fat as the pediatrician would like).