AND, Eleanor sort of fell in love with her baby brother today. She got to touch him and look at him up close and personal, and offer him all sorts of toys and snacks and whatnot. Adorable.
Back to Dash's birth story though.
It was around 8:30pm when my midwife started the pitocin. While I really didn't want to go down this path and was reluctant to accept it, it was obviously the right decision, as my water had broken nearly 19 hours earlier and I still wasn't in labor despite all the tricks we'd pulled. The staff was very respectful of my reluctance and really gave me a long time to come to terms with it, which I appreciate so much. We figured that we'd get things going right away with the pit, and so while we waited, we (me, Peter, my sister, Kelli, my mom, aunt and dad) played a hilarious pictionary-esq type of game. It was a great distraction and left us howling with laughter. Within an hour, my contractions were so intense that I had to bow out of the game. Eventually, my parents and aunt left the room and we settled in to get things going.
Laboring on pitocin is intense. I watched the contractions on the monitor, and they were LONG and their peaks lasted nearly the length of the entire contraction (as opposed to a natural contraction where you slowly ramp up to the peak and then slowly ease off). I was on a very low dose, so I can only imagine what it must be like to be on a high dose. Those suckers hurt like heck.
I labored in bed. I labored on the ball. I labored in the tub. I labored back in bed. I labored face down on a giant bean bag chair. One or two at a time people started falling asleep. I was so sure I was close to the end, but the nurse kept (slowly) turning up the pitocin and my midwife told me she guessed I was at a 3 or 4. I was positive she was wrong, but continued on. Eventually, the contractions got so intense that I was literally collapsing with exhaustion into a deep sleep in between every contraction. They seized my body and shook it like a leaf.
I've heard stories of women who become fixated on certain objects during labor. For me, I wanted to hold onto a barf bucket. I would not let it go, and every time someone tried to take it away from me, I got seriously pissed off. I was certain I was going to throw up (I didn't) and apparently took comfort in the pale yellow hospital bucket. I still have it, and now wash pump parts in it...
Around 2:30, I told Peter I couldn't do it anymore and needed an epidural. He told me that it wasn't an option (I told him to say this...), so on I went. My midwife checked me again, and told me that I was a 4cm, 80% effaced, and -2 station.
That meant in 25 hours, I had progressed 2 cm. So much for quick. Technically, 4 cm isn't even active labor yet. We still assumed I would go fast once I turned into active labor, but it was SO disheartening to hear I wasn't even there, despite incredibly regular and painful pitocin contractions. Further, once I got to a 4, she was able to determine that the baby was Left Occiput Transverse (facing my left hip). This was more than likely the reason I hadn't progressed all day - baby was kind of wedged in the wrong position. Come to find out, he also likely had his hand next to his head the whole time.
Knowing this, we were able to change our game plan. We got me situated on my side/almost tummy in bed, and the plan was to labor for 30 minutes on one side, then switch sides and go 30 on the other. I declared my desire for an epidural and someone (the nurse perhaps?) told me that they'd let me decide if I really wanted it in an hour. Okay then - I labored on. After 30 minutes, I switched sides (also after finding out that the umbilical cord was around his neck, causing decelerations in his heart rate. Mentally I promised myself that if I still hadn't made progress by the time the hour or so was up, I was going to seriously ask for the epidural (despite really truly not wanting one). In my head, if I was still at a 4 after 26 hours, they'd be cranking up the pitocin to a level which I wouldn't be able to handle. OR, I'd be headed for a C-Section. Either way, there would have to be pain relief.
I told myself this as each contraction seized my body. And I told my baby out loud, over and over, "low, low, low." And after just about 30 minutes, I felt a giant corkscrew like motion and a drop - just like that.
I called the midwife to check on me (it was 3:30), and she immediately told me that I was at 8cm and 100% - meaning in that single movement I felt, I had instantly dilated. She then told me that as soon as I needed to push, I should (as I'd be at 10 any moment). Someone woke up Peter (he'd been given permission to take a nap while my sister(s) took over, AND had managed to sleep through transition!) and I waited a couple more contractions and then the familiar feeling of my body bearing down without my brain directing it began.
I bore down through one contraction and another and a third. The third (I believe) he crowned, and then he was out. Just like that - 7 minutes of pushing. She put his warm body against my chest and Peter declared that he was, in fact, a HE. This moment will be seared into my memory forever - the look on the faces in the room, the joy. It's hard to imagine the birth of your second being as impactful as the birth of your first, but it was.
He was pretty blue, and obviously retracting quite a bit, so he was handed to the NICU team which was on standby while I delivered the placenta, etc. Soon, he was taken upstairs (we'd been prepared that this would happen) and Peter went with him.
All in all, I was in the "early" stages of labor for 26 hours, followed by instant dilation from 4-8, followed by 7 minutes of pushing. Everyone had been right - once I turned into active labor, I'd go fast (I don't think anyone thought that it would be instantaneous though!). Even better - the high I felt was like none I'd ever felt. I don't think I truly felt the hormonal rush that I've read so much about after Ellie's birth, but after Dash's, I was floating. I felt so good, I asked to be discharged as soon as I could, and even managed a quick trip to the grocery store later that evening. Dash's birth was much more complicated than we thought it would be, took much longer and was 5 weeks early, but it will always be an amazing day where my wishes were respected and I was able to feel in control along the way. It was a perfect day.