Warning: This has turned out to be an extremely long, detailed, and maybe tedious post. Consider it to be more for my personal reference and skip it if you think it's TMI...
I kept telling the baby every day that time was running out if he wanted to be born without induction - he didn't seem to listen. We went to the DD+7 consult and an appointment was set for the DD+9 consult for Sunday late afternoon - after which they might already admit me for early induction on Monday morning. The thought of spending Sunday night in the hospital alone made me cry...
Saturday nothing happened... until we went to bed around 10:15 pm. Contractions. More painful than the ones I'd had before. More regular too - about every 10 minutes. If this continued, than maybe...? It made us both giddy. I tried to sleep a bit, but after a while the contractions came more often, and I started using the big exercise ball and some other techniques I learned at the birth preparation classes. It was still all very managable. The intervals became shorter - 8 minutes - 5 minutes, sometimes even 3-4. At 1:30 am, after they'd been 5 minutes apart for a bit over two hours, we decided it was time to head to the hospital.
We were both very excited and nervous at the same time. At the hospital we were greeted by a student-midwife, who brought us into an exam room. A few minutes later the midwife came in. She did a cervical check: 2 fingers dialated... I was a bit disappointed. The contractions had slowed down too. So they put me on a fetal HR and contractions monitor to see if things would progress or not. After about 45 minutes the verdict was: go back home and just come back at 5 pm for your DD+9 consult and the induction on Monday.
So off we went again. We were both a bit pissed of about the comment that we just had to come back for the induction. WTF? OK, it had all slowed down again, but these were not just BH contractions, this was the real deal, we were sure!
Back home we tried to get some sleep, which was more or less impossible for me, because the contractions were still coming every ten minutes, and were too strong to sleep through. At around 7 am the frequency increased again, and so did the intensity. As the hours passed, it became more and more difficult to deal with them. Hubby helped me a lot, especially with providing some pressure and warmth to my lower back, as the contractions were strongest there.
Around noon I decided to lie/sit on the bed, to see what effect that would have on the contractions - if they would slow down again, then they would certainly do so when they would put me on the exam table at the hospital, so it would mean we had to stay home a little longer. And yes, as soon as I did so, the frequency (but not the intensity) decreased from every 3-5 to every 8-12 minutes.
Three hours later we decided to call the hospital. The frequency had stayed about the same, but would increase if I moved around, and all in all the contractions had become really painful. I didn't really want to wait until the 5 pm consult... Got a really nice midwife on the phone, who told us just to come in so they could check the situation.
So off we went again. Were at labor & delivery around 4 pm and met by the friendly midwife. Cervical check: 4 cm. We were transferred to a L&D room, I was put on monitoring, but the cables were long enough to still be able to use an exercise ball too - with which it was much easier for me to deal with the contractions.
I'd told the midwife about my desire to try to do without an epidural and also that I'd prefer to deliver (push) on my side and not on my back. She was very open to it and told me she would do everything to help me, but that if ever I changed my mind, other options were open too.
At 5.30 pm we were at 6 cm, which was good progress according to the midwife. But after that things didn't progress so well - normally the last part should be quicker than the first, but in my case it just all progressed slowly. She put me on a magnesium + spasfon drip to help soften the cervix. It helped a bit, but not enough. Also, the baby had moved a bit and his head was now tilted backwards. In order to try to change this, the midwife put me on my side with one leg more or less in the air. It was excruciating, there was no way I could handle the contractions in this position. So I asked to bring in the (laughing?) gas to take the edge off. She brought the thing and the first try worked, I felt nice and high, but after that I was just screaming in the bloody inhaler during contractions - it was useless. So after a while she told me to try sitting on hands and knees on the bed. This was indeed better, but wow, things were getting really tough. In the meantime the midwife had also broken my water, as it hadn't done so by itself. The last cervical check she did before her shift was over around 7 pm, I was about 7-8 cm dilated. I also felt some slight desire to push, which the midwife said was a good thing, as it meant the baby was descending. She said I was very brave, wished us luck and told me the new midwife would come check on me soon.
But she didn't... or at least it seemed to take forever. I finally pressed the call button, because the feeling that I wanted to push was getting a bit stronger, and I wanted to know where we were. A student midwife came in, who I think was not prepared to deal with a screaming and moaning woman in labor without epidural, because she reacted very strangely and told me the midwife would be there soon. And indeed, she was (by then it was 8:30 pm). Another cervical check still showed only 7-8 cm. She told me I could use the ball again, which was great, because the hands/knees position was not doing it for me anymore. I was able to breathe through contractions as long as I felt them coming, but some of them just hit me out of the blue (or came immediately after I'd already dealt with two heavy ones), which was very difficult to deal with. Hubby tried to do the best he could by providing back pressure, and without him it would have really been impossible.
I was put on another magnesium/spasfon drip, but it did not have the desired effect. Contractions were also becoming irregular, so the midwife told me she wanted to put me on oxytocin to stabilize/increase them which would then also hopefully soften the cervix more. The side effect would of course be that they might be even more difficult to manage for me, and if it wouldn't soften the cervix, the only option left after that would be a c-section. So, I could go with that risk, or, as she proposed, take an epidural after all. It would give me some time to recuperate (by that time we were around the 24-hour mark), let the oxytocin to its job, and hopefully be fully dialated soon. If I wanted, I could then always choose to let the epidural wear off and not use it for the last stretch.
I was exhausted and also wanted to avoid any chance of a c-section, so I chose the epidural. A few minutes later two anesthesiologists came in. They were good, they were nice, nothing like the arrogant people I'd met during the info session and the consult (which became one of the reasons I wanted to try without epidural, just to teach them). They told me they would give me a very light dose, the first one would work for about an hour, and after that I could press a button to administer another dose myself. It was hard to deal with the contractions while they were putting the epidural in, but somehow I did manage, as during the 15-minute wait (being obliged to lie on my side) for it to start working... It was so good when it finally did. It took a bit longer on the upper right side (actually never really went away) but was very managable and I had a chance to recuperate a bit. The midwife came in to check and told me to try to push - we tried four different versions: on my side while slowly breathing out and while blocking my breath and then the same but on my back. She asked me which version I preferred and to my own surprise, I chose on my back, blocking, the version I liked the least beforehand (so you see, you can do 'dry runs' but when it comes to the real deal, it's a whole different story).
When after about an hour the first dose of the epidural was wearing off, I called the midwife again before pushing the button for another dose. Fully dilated - ready to push! The pain was back in full force, but I didn't feel it when pushing - but could feel everything else that was going on, so that was great, just what I wanted. The top of his head came out and a few pushes later it was there completely. The midwife pulled the rest of the body out to avoid having to give me an episiotomy (I had only three minor tears, which were stitched up later). And there he was, our son! So unbelievably amazing! I will never forget that moment that I saw that tiny body coming out of me and a moment later being put on my belly. It was so beautiful. - it was 0h47 on Monday, July 6 -
After delivering the placenta, they told me they had to give me another dose of the epidural, because there was some membrane tissue still in my uterus, and they had to get it out otherwise my uterus would keep bleeding and might infect. So it was a good thing the epidural was already in place and they could do this rather easily. It was a weird feeling though and the student midwife told me I could hold her hand, which was so sweet (Hubby was outside calling the family).
During that last procedure they had taken Jules from me to do the different tests and when they were finally done (including stitching me up) I could hold him again and feed him for the first time. It was magic.
About two hours after delivery they put me in a wheelchair (which was hard to get into from the bed as my legs weren't working at all because of the epidural) and brought us to my (private) hospital room at the maternity ward. Of course I didn't sleep at all, I was just staring at Jules. We waited so long for this moment... I was completely exhausted, but have never been happier.