I love hearing other women's birth stories, so I'm going to share here the details of Elliott's arrival. If childbirth makes you woozy, go ahead and skip this post. If long, detailed stories about suffering with happy endings strike you as self-indulgent, move right along. Otherwise, settle in and read on.
Nora's birth was hard. I was induced when I was a week overdue because of apparently low amniotic fluid (turns out I had plenty), and the induction was slow and difficult. Maybe more so because I didn't want an epidural. I managed to deliver without the epidural, but it took 30 hours—22 of which were spent on pitocin, which causes really intense, non-stop contractions. Not pleasant.
This time I was determined not to go down the same road, so I opted for a home birth. I found a wonderful nurse midwife with a home birth practice and saw her for my whole pregnancy. She, and pretty much everyone I met, assured me that a second birth that started on its own would be smoother, quicker, easier. I had high hopes.
At 6 p.m. on Monday, when I was six days past the due date, I went into labor. By midnight, contractions were two minutes apart and pretty strong, so my midwife came over. She examined me, and I was already 4 cm dilated. Awesome. It took me 20 hours to get there with Nora. We all thought baby would be there by sunrise.
During the night she checked me again, and I was at 5 cm. And when she checked me again a few hours later, I was still at 5 cm. After 14 hours, I was still at 5 cm. We tried everything to stimulate labor—including walks around the neighborhood during which I'd have to hang onto Greg every 2 minutes to work through a contraction. (Our neighbors have some stories to tell.) Still no change. At around 3 p.m. my midwife suggested I get in the tub and think about whether I wanted to transfer to the hospital for pitocin. I was exhausted and in lots of pain, and while the idea of giving up the dream of a home birth was hard to swallow, the idea of being done and holding my baby pulled me toward the hospital. I decided to transfer, but that if I had to have pitocin again, I was getting an epidural. Pretty quickly, we were packed up and headed to the hospital.
The quick relief I had envisioned (honestly, I thought we'd pull up, they'd give me an epidural, and they'd wake me when it was time to push) did not come to be. Somehow it was 5:30 or so before I finally got into a room. Not long after that, I met with the anesthesiologist about that epidural, who crushed my illusions entirely: Because of the rods in my back, I was not an epidural candidate. So I had to have the pitocin again, and again with no epidural.
And then we got on with it. I was given fentanyl, which took the edge off and let me rest but didn't eliminate the pain. It made it manageable, though, and it made me a little loopy and happy (at least between contractions). The pitocin did its job and got the labor moving in the right direction, and by 10:54, a mere 29 hours after labor started, little Elliott Owen was in my arms.
So far I'd say he was worth it. And I'd also say three kids is plenty.