January 28 was the due date, and as the weeks grew closer we got more and more excited to meet our baby! Every day I woke up and wondered, "Is today the day?!" We got tickets off Groupon to a cage fighting event for her due date. I thought that would make a pretty fun setting for going into labor, so I would tempt fate. Alas, no baby. We did pick a name, though. After months of heated debate, Ben concedes on Cadence as a first name, and chooses Kay for the middle. He wanted to make it just the letter K, but I put my foot down. :) The next day, the 29th, after weeks of reading labor jump starting tips on the birth board, I decide to try castor oil.
At 11:20 AM I took just a spoonful mixed in some juice. The general report is that it is nasty, but I gulped it down and followed it with a snack so it wasn't too bad. The contractions started right away, irregular and fairly spaced apart. Within an hour they are ever 3 to 4 minutes- not painful, just uncomfortable. I consulted over the phone with experienced moms who said the contractions sounded like Braxton Hicks. Drat! I hopped in the shower to see if they would stop.
After my shower, I went downstairs and sat on the couch with my laptop to browse the blogs. At 7:30 PM, I feel a very painful contraction, hear a big pop, then feel a gush of liquid. Jumping up right away, I waddle as fast a pregnant lady can to the tile floor, screaming for Ben to bring a towel (it was a new couch!). Ben loves Starcraft and is usually in his own world until whatever match he is playing is complete, but this time he quits the game mid-match, and runs into the room, jumping around like a maniac, yelling "We're having a baby, we're having a baby!" Around this time, I realize I probably should have finished packing my hospital bag BEFORE taking castor oil. Everyone says that you have a lot of time once labor starts, but not so in my case. Contractions were coming regular and painful, but in between gushes of fluid, we pack our bags, send Percy off to the neighbors, and Ben paints my toenails. The pain gets to be pretty bad, so Ben finally convinced me we really needed to leave.
At 8:30 we arrive at St. Alphonsus. It is a slow night so we are taken right to a room and gotten all checked in. Cervix is only at 1.5 dilation, but since water broke we are admitted. The contractions are getting more and more intense, so the nurse gets the jacuzzi set up. Whoever said that was nature's epidural lied. When the nurse checks on us 30 minutes later, I am in a lot of pain and suffering from back labor and feeling like my hips are going to explode. The nurses have already explained that I need to be at 5 cm to have an epidural, so I ask if there is a pre-epidural painkiller solution and am assured there is.
We head back to the room, I'm now dilated to 3. I am given Statol, which I am later told is not to reduce pain but to make me loopy. Well, it worked. I'm still in a lot of pain every contraction, but now the room is spinning. Worthless! This made me grumpy, but the nurse later said I was very pleasant in-between contractions.
12 am- Epidural arrives! Sweet salvation! Sitting up through 3 contractions while she places it, and then the following 15 minutes of contractions it takes to set in was NOT pleasant, but so worth it. It was a light dose, so I can still feel some pain and tons of pressure during contractions, enough that they keep me awake. This is not pleasant, but I do get some rest. Midwife arrives to check me- at a 5! She compliments me on moving so smoothly and efficiently through labor.
They continue to check and every hour progress has been made. At 3 AM, they wake up Ben because it is time to push. He insists on watching and is given a leg to help. This makes me uncomfortable, but eventually I get the hang of pushing. I wasn't too happy b/c I felt I was mostly flat on my back. I had pictured using gravity to assist since I was told this hospital has special beds for that purpose. I keep asking to for the bed to be tilted more, but the midwife lets me know the bed was where she wanted it. I had also read that you should gently push and breathe the baby down. The midwife notices this immediately, and tells me that it was a bunch of hooey and I need to push with all I had.
Pushing continues with plenty of encouragement "She has a LOT of hair!" "Just a few more and she'll be out!"
After about 30 minutes of pushing, at 3:30 am. the head was almost out. Crowning was painful, even with the epidural, but not as unbearable as the contractions were without medication. It lasted two contractions, which the midwife used to stretch and apply lots of olive oil. Finally, baby girl was pushed into the world, then another push for her shoulders. She was brought up to me and I had no idea what to do with the squirming tiny mess! But I loved seeing that head of hair and hearing her first cries.
We had planned on an hour of skin to skin to start out with, but I was actually feeling quite overwhelmed with the whole unreal process, so when a nurse asked if she could take her weight, etc, I let her. They moved her to the warmer on the side of the room, Ben staying with baby while the midwife sewed up a slight tear on momma. I watched my baby from across the room and it seemed like eternity until she was back in my arms. She weighed in at 7 lbs 5 oz, 19'' long, perfect in every way. I held her and wasn't sure what to think. I was so exhausted and she was a little stranger and had the grumpiest look on her little face. Around 4:30 am, we were moved to our recovery room, and on the wheelchair ride over she fell asleep. Looking at her little sleepy relaxed face and double chin is when I fell in love and it began to be real. She is breastfeeding like a champ, and sometime during the night her face lost it's grumpy-to-be-born face and now she is our little angel.
A lot didn't go according to the birth plan and careful research I'd done, which I felt disappointed about directly after labor. However, everything worked out wonderfully and the end result feels miraculous and now the memories of pain and any disappointment have been swallowed up in awe and love for our little Cadence Kay.