We got to the hospital about 10:50pm.
It was obviously after hours and the hospital had recently been on lockdown due to a shooting incident in the area (about a block from our apartment - apparently Hermiston is the new Compton). I was using a homemade heat pad (read men's tube sock filled with rice and closed with a rubberband) to help me through the contractions. I was walking like a 90 year old man minus the cane - hunched over and shuffling. A security guy got me a wheelchair and wheeled me on to the elevator and up to the OB unit.
We got checked in and unfortunately for me, Dr. J was still the on call doctor. The nurse checked me and I was 4cm and 90% effaced and contracting about every 2 1/2 minutes. She called to let the doctor know. Well, Dr. J, after seeing me that morning, wasn't convinced I was progressing. The nurse told me I could walk for an hour or get in the jetted tub for an hour. Well duh, I chose tub. I couldn't really walk anyway - walking made the contractions more intense and I couldn't hardly take steps.
At first the tub was kind of relaxing that lasted about 30 seconds and then hell came. The intensity of the contractions picked up, as did their pace plus I was having terrible terrible burning kill me now back pain. They were coming so fast and so painful, I never felt like I had a rest and felt like I could never take a regular, calm breath. There was little I would let Eric do to sooth me. I was curled over, with my forehead on the edge of the tub, hands squeezing the non-existent life out of the handicap bar that helps you out of the tub. I may have told Eric I hated Dr. J during the peak of some of these contractions. All I wanted was to be admitted and get some drugs in my system. The longer it took for me to be admitted, the longer I knew it would take for them to call the anesthesiologist, and I couldn't imagine living through that kind of pain much longer, but knew I would have to because Dr. J wasn't ready to admit I was having active enough labor. Well....I showed her!
I only endured 30-40 minutes in the tub. I told Eric and the nurse that if I was still only 4 cm after all that pain, then I must really be a wimp like my Mom says. Eric could barely get me to stand up and get out of the tub. He and the nurse had to dry me off and put on my robe as I stood paralyzed by one contraction wave after another. Also, during this time I told Eric unless I got drugs we weren't having any more kids. Ever. From here on out my mind gets pretty foggy and I've had to ask Eric to fill in several of the blanks. (Like how I ended up naked on the delivery bed..... )
After magically getting back on the delivery bed, the nurse decided to check again. She said she couldn't even feel my cervix. And muttered the word "complete' with disbelief in her voice. She called in another nurse to check me - Maria - the angel of natural childbirth as I will call her. She said I was completely effaced and completely dilated. At this point I was really pissed. I knew that meant I wasn't going to get my epidural! The nurses started rushing around and before I knew it Dr. J was there. Active labor? Progression? Ha! I showed you Dr. J!
She and the two nurses were all trying to convince me I could push without any pain medication. Dr. J - to her credit - spoke very calm and rationally to a very not calm first time mom. I feared a couple of things in pushing - okay, obviously the pain - but also being forced to push before my body was ready and then having to push for two hours when I was already exhausted by the seemingly constant contraction and pain. Because labor had progressed so quickly, I was afraid if I pushed without giving my body a chance to catch up I would risk tearing really badly. Dr. J was not a very good comforter. I remember her saying something about "no guarantees" about the "amount of time" I would have to push. Maria, the angel of natural childbirth, was able to alleviate some of my fears. She told me there'd be burning, but it wouldn't be anything like the pain I was feeling now. It'd be easier to manage. She also told me that women who end up having to push for hours are those whose babies are up higher in the birth canal, but mine was really low and ready. She said to just push with the contractions - that all that pressure was my body telling me to push - with her rationale, she finally convinced me I could do it.
So we went for it.
In the early phase I heard Dr. J mutter the word "episiotomy" which might as well be a four letter word in my book. In case you aren't in the know, episiotomies are something that used to be routinely down, but are now, supposedly, not really regular practice. I remember saying something like, "Why?" Luckily, Maria, the angel of natural childbirth, took over discouraging Dr. J from doing the episiotomy. Dr. J is a new doctor to Hermiston - so she's new to working at this hospital and with these staff and with the general guidelines they have, like avoiding episiotomies.
Luckily, Dr. J opted not to do one. I apparently was squeezing Eric's hand and nurse Nicole's. I didn't let go to let her put an IV in my hand to start fluids. I remember at one point the crew asking if I wanted to touch her head. I said no... haha. They then asked, "Does Daddy want to?" I again, said no.... It was one of my rules. He wasn't supposed to look down there during all of the trauma. He said he only quickly peeked twice, so I'll forgive him. 20 minutes of pushing later at 1:09am our baby girl was out! O.M. G. It was insane. And I had no tearing, almost as relieving as the cessation of back labor.
I couldn't believe I'd had a baby.
I couldn't believe I'd had her with no pain medication whatsoever. It really is kind of empowering. Not that I am 100% convinced to go all natural in the future. But knowing I can feels pretty dang good. Plus, both she and I were so alert afterwards, high only on oxytocin. I was a little fuzzy only because my mind was having a hard time catching up with the last two and a half hours!
Eric had called his mom right after I had gotten out of the tub and she arrived shortly after delivery. After holding Ella (at this point she still had no name - I think we ended up choosing Ella the next morning) skin-to-skin and doing an initial breastfeeding, she got a bath and I got to talk to my Mom.
So that's the story. She's here, she's healthy and we're tired, but happy!