Whew, okay, my brain is a little addled with pain killers and my bum is too sore to sit here for TOO long, but here goes!
So yeah, my friend had her little guy, Gabriel, on Wednesday, and as mentioned I was more than a little motivated to have my own labor day. I talked to the doula that night, she suggested all the usuals (sex, walking) but advised not to ask for induction, which I reluctantly agreed with. So I took all her advise, then sat and bounced and bounced and bounced on this exercise ball Jess had loaned me while I talked on the phone. Gradually I noticed that my discomfort was going from "generalized pregnancy achiness and misery" to "menstrual-like cramping but extra deep and with lots of lower back and hip pain." So I got up and walked around for a while, until I began to see an actual pattern emerging.
By about ten that night I had them coming every five to seven minutes. Not that this was anything new, but I was resolved to KEEP walking and KEEP having contractions, so I did laps around the house for another few hours. Finally around midnight we called our doula, having determined that this was indeed the real thing (I was also having bloody show and stuff, which was new, unlike the contractions, so that helped convince me. Sorry, TMI!)
Stacy got there around one in the morning. We all watched movies, she and Jim took turns fetching me ice water and rubbing my back, and I walked and swayed and stretched on the birth ball and ran back and forth to the bathroom frequently and did all the normal early labor stuff. But the hours kept passing, and while the contractions stayed regular, they never got harder. They hurt, but no more than period cramps. We were all so surprised things weren't moving faster. Finally around two or three Stacy suggested I try to take a nap, since I was getting really exhausted and it seemed nothing was going to happen soon.
I laid down reluctantly, terrified to sleep lest my labor once again disappear, but finally my body won out and I slept. Around five when I woke up, sure enough, it was as though I had never been in labor. I was beyond frustrated. Stacy had me keep walking and bouncing on the ball, and in about an hour it did get going again, five minutes apart, but they were barely even hurting. We were now going on about eight hours of labor, since I had started timing things around nine that night. Addy had been BORN in eight hours!
At last around six we called my mom to come stay with Addy while Jim and Stacy and I went to the hospital to have me assessed and possibly even have my water broken or get a dose of Pitocin to try to get things moving. I had not wanted either of these interventions, but I was beginning to feel like I was in a labor twilight zone, and all I wanted was for the actual work to get started so I could see my baby! Not to mention we were all already bleary-eyed from lack of sleep.
We got to labor and delivery around seven Thursday morning, and when checked I had only progressed to five centimeters in all that time- only one more than I had been at my checkup. I was fully effaced, however, and baby's head was very low- the nurse told me I could probably sneeze him out if I really wanted to! They decided to break my water, but first I had to wait to get a full bag of antibiotics since I was group B strep positive. So for four hours we just paced the halls, or rested and listened to Stacy's collection of soothing labor music while we waited for the penicillin to go in. My contractions stalled out even more, to about every fifteen minutes, and still barely more pain than a cramp. Very boring, frustrating, and exhausting, since it was hard to really sleep with all the monitors on.
At last, at eleven thirty, Dr. D came in and broke my water. For the first hour or so the pain got worse, but the contractions still didn't really pick up in frequency. Pitocin began to be thrown around as a very real option. Then finally, just when I was convinced I would never go into "real" labor and would wander the halls of the hospital forever as some sort of eternally pregnant phantom, the pain began grinding down into my hips and pelvis, coming in waves one after another. I was suddenly having to use all my breathing and visualization techniques, and then soon after could only get through the contractions by leaning into Jim, moaning and swaying.
They checked me again, and I was at seven. Progress at last! The nurse had me lay on my side with one leg up in a stirrup, which was torturous but effective, and transition began in earnest. I was shaking uncontrollably and having to work very hard to stay in control during the contractions, which were now about every two minutes. In five minutes they checked again, and I was eight. Ten minutes more, and I was nine. Another contraction, then complete. After hours and hours of nothing, I completed transition stage in twenty minutes of fast and furious pain.
Our poor moms, who had gone to get coffee when I reached seven with the assurance it would be at least another hour, had to be called back frantically and told that I was pushing! When they got back I was already on my back, legs braced, enjoying a brief phase of relief from the constant pain before the urge to push kicked in.
It soon did, however. My doctor was great and really honored my birth plan- there was no stirrups, no shouting and counting and breath holding. He just sat and waited quietly while I found my own rhythm, and Jim and Stacy held me on either side and offered encouragement. It took a few tries for me to figure out how to push effectively, but once I did there was no going back. Boy, there is just no feeling quite like a head emerging from your body! There is really nothing with which to compare the experience. It was excruciating and bone crushing, and also exhilarating and thrilling.
I think in total I pushed for about twenty minutes, and then suddenly he was here with us, his head and then his big hulking shoulders, which did not exactly just slide out the way I remember Addy's doing! It was such a rush when he emerged and was lifted to my belly- I was shaking and crying and laughing all at once. He had lots of dark hair and looked very similar to newborn Addy, I thought, although I could see immediately that he was substantially larger (not that I hadn't FELT that already!)
I also saw immediately that the name we had chosen, Beckett, did not suit him. I stated my thoughts on this even as I was delivering the placenta and the cord was being cut. Granted I was a little delirious and everyone was kind of smiling indulgently at me at this point, but I knew we had to find something else.
In about a half hour we finally got a recovery room free to move to (there was a major rush of births happening- it was so crowded I ended up having to share a recovery room the second day, which really sucked.) I also had gotten my dose of Percocet to counteract the afterbirth pains, and was flying high on endorphins and narcotics.
As we were settling in, we started throwing around all the other names we had discussed, and nothing seemed to be working. I was getting really frustrated that my poor little boy was nameless, and then from the corner of the room I heard my father in law talking about the lyrics to some old Three Dog Night song- "Eli Come Home," I think. Something about an Eli. Anyways, I immediately knew that was his name; he was SO an Eli, and it didn't take long to convince his daddy, too. Jim wanted to make it something with two syllables though, and use Eli as the nickname, so we settled on Elias, and then Marek as the middle name- a German name we had found in a baby name book a long time ago and both really liked. And that is how that happened!
So... I think that's about everything! Here's the wrap-up thoughts: Labor was a long and tiresome process, but so much more satisfying this time than last- I was much more prepared, much more in control. It still hurt like nothing else ever can, of course, but it was also amazing and powerful to experience that life-force working through my body. In the end it's almost like you have to remove yourself and just be this kind of channel that the birth can move through. Very empowering, I thought. But let me just also mention again the words bone crushing and excruciating, so as not to overly romanticize your vision of how things went down!
Having a doula was great, especially during the long tedious hours. I think what she did best was to prepare us ahead of time and to reinforce the work Jim and I were doing together in labor. I was so happy that's how it turned out- I was afraid Jim might be more in the background with having a doula, but in fact it was the other way around. He was very confident and comforting, in part because of the reassurance of her presence and the things she had suggested; he seemed to know all the right things to say and do throughout the process. We were both a lot more prepared and not as scared and unsure as we were the first time, I guess. Which makes sense!
Addy was also wonderful. She's certainly a little emotionally fragile right now, but overall she has been a very good sport about having Mommy gone, and has been very embracing of the baby. It's really precious how sweet she's been. She says his name, and kisses and pats him and doesn't get TOO jealous when Mommy has to breastfeed and can't hold her. It will definitely take some time, but I think we're going to be fine in that regard. It's just hard to feel torn in two directions. A couple of times I've gotten teary and upset trying to deal with both of them needing me, but hopefully I will get the hang of it.
The recovery time was a little rougher than with Addy- I didn't realize the afterbirth cramps hurt so much more the second time around! I also have a problem with a "lazy uterus," so I lost a lot of blood again and had to get lots of Pitocin throughout the first twenty-four hours. I felt pretty lightheaded and shaky and awful for a few hours, but by Friday I was tons better. Except for the whole having a roommate thing, which really sucks when you have to share the bathroom, too. Postpartum is one time when your own bathroom should be a given, I think! As should naps whenever you need them, instead of having them interrupted by other people's loud yakking relatives all day long. But I digress...
I was going to talk about how wonderful and delicious the BABY is, what with his dark hair and long toes and little shnarfling kitten noises and pursed, chubby lips. I felt such a strange recognition of him, even in the first few seconds- I felt I knew him. His head movements and stretches and hiccups all seemed familiar to me already, I guess from when he was inside me. I was amazed that I could be just as in love with a second baby as I was with the first- I really didn't think that could happen. But of course it did, and I could just sit and smell his intoxicating little newborn head all day long! If I could I would bottle it and sell it- I mean GIVE it!- to all of you.
So, there you have it, every single juicy detail (except the truly disgusting and unnecessary ones!) and there will be more pictures later, too. Now I have to go spray my perineum and have my sore breasts sucked on. Oh, the glamorous life for me!
P.S. Thank you all for your comments!