My last prenatal appointment was on Wednesday, September 10th in the afternoon. I left there that day with a strong feeling inside of me that...something...felt...somehow different.
Dr. Heinzel had told me that I was 2 centimeters dilated and during his exam of my cervix, mentioned that he had "stripped my membranes". I wasn't entirely sure what that meant...but I felt a bit crampy afterwards for a few hours. Before long though, the cramps pretty much passed and Rob & I had dinner, watched some TV and went to sleep around 10 or 11 as usual. Little did we know what was about to occur;-)
I was awakened at about 2:30 am with my first taste of what a real, live CONTRACTION feels like. I ran to the bathroom and worked my way through it. It lasted about a minute or so, then passed. Then I noticed that I had lost my mucous plug! It was just as everyone said it would be. I knew at this point that labor was imminent. How imminent, I wasn't sure. But I was pretty sure this was all leading up to the real thing:)
I returned to the bedroom and was too excited/nervous/anxious to fall back asleep. I wondered how long before my next contraction would come along? I knew that it wouldn't be time to go to the hospital until they were about 5 minutes apart. It took about 20 for my next one to come around. I grabbed a notebook & started writing them all down after this. They progressively got closer and closer together until they were about 5 minutes apart around 6 or 7 am. They had gotten much more painful and a bit longer by this point and I was pretty sure that I was ready for Rob to drive me to the hospital. I was really proud of myself for laboring at home for all of those hours without starting to panic...but also kind of nervous and still even a little bit unsure as to how close I was to it all REALLY happening...
Nevertheless, I took a quick shower...Rob took our bags down to the car...and we were off.
It took forever to drive to Lankenau in the rush hour traffic...but we arrived there around 8:15 am. Rob found me a wheelchair and wheeled me in...up the elevator to the 5th floor Labor & Delivery ward...and checked me in with the nurse at the desk. She put me in a room and before long, a resident doctor checked my cervix. I was 4 centimeters! This was enough progress from the 2 centimeters I was the day before for them to assure me that my baby would be born before long:)
They hooked me up to external fetal monitors to measure baby's heartbeat and the level/intensity/regularity of my contractions. They were beginning to hurt worse and worse and were getting almost unbearable at times. All that I had read about was finally happening to me & it was so wonderful and yet so surreal at the same time. Dr. Laverin finally arrived and checked on me around 11 am and let me know that I was 5 centimeters dilated! He also told me that he was going to break my water because it hadn't broken on its own yet. After he did that, the contractions got MUCH more intense...and Rob will be the first to tell you that that fact was plain to see by the look on my face every time one came around!! I was gripping the sides of the bed and my hands were shaking and lips quivering. MAN...it hurt. LOL
I had wanted so badly to have the baby without any pain medications...but it was around noon or so that I finally caved in to the nurses repeat offers for an epidural. I was about 6 centimeters by this point and was very proud of myself for lasting as long as I did without...but I was tired & done trying to prove my point;-) The anesthesiologist came in & I told him that I wanted to still be able to feel...just not as much. The dose he gave me ended up being perfect. I could still move my toes and legs a bit...and still felt some pressure when contracting...but was far from writhing in pain like I had been before it. Such sweet, sweet relief it was...and I was really glad that I finally asked for it. It seems kind of appropriate in hindsight, the way it happened...in that I was able to experience it both ways. And although a small part of me wishes I could have continued on the way I did for the first half of my labor (without it)...a bigger part of me is glad that I was able to get on with it in a much happier/less tense state.
By the time Dr. Laverin came around to check me again at 2:00 pm, I was 7 centimeters and they said that I was progressing really well for a first time mom. Yay to that:)
It was 3:45 pm when they checked me & told me that I was finally...at long last...TEN CENTIMETERS and ready to start pushing!!! They prepped a cart and I started to push around 4:00 pm. It was perfect in that I was numb enough down there to not have to be screaming out in pain.......but still aware enough of the pressure of baby's head coming down & my having to push with all my might to get her out...
It ended up taking only a tad over an hour...as baby was finally born at 5:07 pm:) They placed her on my belly and Rob cut the umbilical cord. It was just as I had hoped it would be. She was small and soft and beautiful...and I was sOoOoOo honored to finally meet her.