After Miss E went to bed, Dh left to play basketball with friends. EdgyK offered to come over and give me a pedicure. She showed up with not just pedicure supplies, but also caramel apple cider from Starbucks and delicious cake donuts from the local grocer. Ah, bliss. I started keeping track of my contractions around 6, when I realized they kind of hurt and were kind of regular. EdgyK and I OD'd on sugar and she painted my toes a delightful bright pink. By this point it was about 9 and the contractions were irregular (every 4-11 minutes) and sometimes painful (only like a 2). I stopped keeping track because I was bored with that. Dh got home from basketball and found The Never-Ending Story on tv. Dh and EdgyK watched it with the creepiest glazed look on their faces. I guess I am a little young to be hypnotized by that movie. Ha ha
At this point, it was about 10; I was still having quasi-regular, mildly painful contractions. I didn't really think I was in labor, but that of course didn't stop us all from making jokes about it. Dh and EdgyK told me they needed a full night's sleep. I told them I was going to wake them up at 3 am. EdgyK went home around 10:30.
I ate a snack, and then shortly thereafter - bloody show! (Was that TMI for you? Then stop reading, darling!) I was like, "Holy crap, I AM in labor!" I told Dh, and we quickly threw our hospital bags together. I wanted to get some sleep while my contractions were still so mild. I thought I was too excited to sleep, but I did manage to drift off around midnight. Unfortunately, my body decided to ramp it up at 2 am, when I woke to a rather intense contraction. 45 minutes later, I decided it was time to wake Dh up so he could be fully awake by the time we needed to leave for the hospital. I called EdgyK at...3 am, just as I had joked. She had magically woken up on her own about two minutes before I called, so she sounded remarkably lucid. She came over while I was on the phone with the dr's after-hours nurse, who said I could go on in to the hospital. (I was positive for GBS, so I needed to be on antibiotics for at least 4 hours before the baby was born, and therefore I didn't want to cut it very close.)
Dh and I headed for the hospital around 3:30 am, got into a room by 4. I was dilated to a 5 or 6. I was a little bummed about that, since when I'd arrived at the hospital to deliver Miss E, I had already dilated to a 7 or 8. I got an epidural by 4:30, sweet sweet relief.
***A brief note about Miss E's birth for comparison purposes: epidural didn't work correctly, but no time to fix it. She was born just three hours after I arrived at the hospital. Bulging bag of waters, had my water broken, then after an hour of pushing Miss E was born. There was meconium in her amniotic fluid and the cord was wrapped twice around her neck. Therefore there was no cuddling with my newborn immediately upon her birth. She was whisked over to the tray where an entire team of nurses and doctors suctioned meconium out of her passages. Her Apgars were 5 and 7 (not very good). Doctor Z gave me an episiotomy (WITHOUT discussing it with me at all) and then I ripped beyond that, I ended up with a 3rd degree. Which in case you're wondering means FREAKING OUCH.***
So anyway, back to Ace's birth. Dh dozed and I tried to as I continued to dilate further. The epidural brought my pain level back down to a 4 or a 5, where it had been a 7 or 8 before. By 8:30 am April 18 I was dilated to an 8 or 9. I was stuck at that dilation for a couple of hours due to a bulging bag of waters (I must make amniotic sacs of steel or something). The nurse & doctor figured the bulging bag was preventing the baby's head from putting enough pressure on my cervix to finish dilating, so I was like, let's pop that sucker! The doctor broke my water around 11, and then contractions ramped up.
I didn't feel "pushy" as my nurse termed it for about half an hour. That half hour was no fun, as I could feel the painful contractions, but felt no urge to push (wasn't fully dilated yet). I started pushing around 11:30. I had some trouble at first getting focused. What finally helped was when the nurse brought in a mirror. Once I could see what was going on down there, I found my focus in a real jiffy. Such that that baby really started sliding down, and the nurse ran from the room to grab the doctor, yelling, "Stop pushing!" as she left.
I looked at Dh. "I'm not stopping."
"Anth," he pleaded, "don't push. The doctor needs to get here."
"You can catch the baby," I answered. The look on his face told me perhaps that wasn't the best course of action, so I held off as much as I could. I saw the doctor's feet appear beneath the curtain blocking the doorway. "Is that you, Doctor X?" I yelled out.
"I just need to put on my gloves and scrubs!" he answered, coming around the curtain. "Think about something else - don't push - think about the beach."
"The beach!" I said, almost deliriously. "That won't distract me! I'll think about waffles! I want some waffles! I'm really hungry!" The nurses, doctor, and Dh all started laughing. Finally Doctor X was ready and gave me the go-ahead to push.
With the next contraction and pushes, the baby was just moments from being born. "I don't want an episiotomy!" I told the doctor. "I don't want to give you one!" he answered back, which was enough to make me love him forever. It was so weird and cool to watch the baby coming out in the mirror. Once his head was out, well I got kind of distracted and lost my focus again. So he was half in-half out for a few seconds longer than normal. Oopsie. But out he came, and they laid that beautiful baby boy on my stomach. He cried, and then I cried, and Dh cried and it was the most amazing experience. After a few minutes the nurse asked if she could take him to clean him up a little. His Apgars were 9 and 9!
Doctor X stitched me up - I had a second degree tear, which after the third degree from last time is like a cakewalk. (Stupid Doctor Z with her un-desired - and probably unneeded - episiotomy!) Ace was born after a mere 25 minutes of pushing. Despite being about a pound and a half bigger than Miss E with a head a full inch bigger around, this labor was a much better experience. In no small part, I'm sure, due to the fact that everything was all kind of stretched out and experienced, so to speak. Also I did a much better job pushing.
Quite frankly, I found Miss E's birth to be horrifying in the less-used sense of the word - shocking, dismaying. After she was born, I felt completely exhausted and used up. In contrast, I found Ace's birth...empowering. Many women told me the second birth is easier, and I've found that to be true for myself as well. After Miss E's birth I didn't even want to think about going through labor again, for a long time. After Ace's birth, the idea of childbirth doesn't frighten me any longer. It's just the 40 weeks of pregnancy that proceed it that I loathe! Ha ha
The prize at the end of a hard 40 weeks!