Before I forget, I want to document the whole labor/delivery process with Henry. I will warn you: there may be a bit too much information for those who have weakish stomachs. Proceed with caution.
Wednesday morning (September 2nd) at about 2:30 a.m., I woke up with some decent contractions. They were about 10 minutes apart, and they lasted anywhere from about 30-60 seconds. I got up, I took a shower, and we timed my contractions for awhile. At about 7 or 8 a.m., the contractions fizzled out after an entire night of consistency, and we were bummed (5-6 hours was a long stinking time for false labor, we thought). We went for a walk that morning, we had some visitors later that morning (my mother-in-law, a cousin, and Willi's grandmother), and after that, I took a nap on the couch. Awhile later, I woke up again with some hard contractions. Those lasted all day long at about 10 minutes apart again—even through my scheduled OB appointment that I had that afternoon.
When Dr. Ellis checked me, he said I was only two centimeters (and still had a long way to go). I wasn't surprised by that. I had a feeling he'd tell me I hadn't made any progress since the previous week (although, I did hope for more progress since my body had been having some pretty awesome contractions for the past twelve plus hours).
As Dr. Ellis left the room that day, he said, "We'll see you at the hospital tonight!"
He's funny like that.
Anyway, I continued to have contractions all day and through the evening. Mom and Dad came up to visit to see if they could watch Nora for us if we needed to head into the hospital, but we never felt like we were ready to go. So, we sent them home. We tried to go to bed for awhile, and then we got up and timed contractions again sometime between 11 and midnight. Around 1 a.m. on September 3rd, we called our neighbor, Bill, and he came over with some pillows and blankets and crashed on our couch (he and Pam had offered awhile back to come over in the middle of the night if I went into labor so that someone could be with Nora here at the house). That was so stinking nice of him.
We got to the hospital around 1:30 a.m. (when my contractions were about five minutes apart and lasting somewhere from 60-90 seconds), and I continued to have contractions all night long. Sometimes, they'd be five minutes apart. Sometimes, they'd be ten minutes apart. They were all around 60-90 seconds the whole time, too. It was weird. They never seemed to get closer together.
Willis and I did everything we could to keep things moving. We'd walk the hallways (I'd stop and lean on him when I'd have a contraction—I got the feeling that the nurses were not used to seeing people do that because several times, we got asked if I was okay). We'd have me bounce on the birthing ball. I'd occasionally go to the bed and sit in the contoured chair position (they wanted to monitor the baby every couple of hours, and by that time, I was usually ready for a break). I would snooze between contractions in that position, and it always helped. Willis snoozed while I would snooze, too, and I think that's how we managed to survive.
Around 5 p.m. on Thursday, the nurse that was taking care of us suggested breaking my water. I was apprehensive when she first started talking about it. I really didn't want any interventions. Then, she went on to explain to me that I was about 6-7 centimeters dilated and that my cervix was really stretchy. She said that she couldn't guarantee that it would help, but she felt pretty strongly that breaking the water would allow the baby to get through (since everything was looking like it was ready to go). If I hadn't already been in labor for so long at that point, I wouldn't have thought about it. I was starting to get concerned that I was going to be too tired to get through it if I was going to be stuck at 6-7 for much longer (I was stuck there for a few hours).
She left Willis and me alone for awhile so we could talk it over. We thought about it for a good while, and then we decided that breaking the water would be acceptable, but we wouldn't allow pitocin or anything like that if they suggested it afterward.
Dr. Ellis came at about 6 p.m., and we allowed him to break my water. After that, I had stronger contractions (same distance apart again—5-10 minutes or so). The next few hours got a lot more intense (contractions were still that far apart, but they were harder and harder). Around 9 p.m., I got a strong urge to push. Unfortunately, they told me that I wasn't ready to push yet (I was apparently only, like, 9 centimeters when I started to want to push). So, I had to struggle through several pushing contractions (Willis will tell you that I started to freak out a little bit: I kept asking where the hell everyone went because I needed to push). Willis said I did pretty well with them, but I know I was on the verge of freaking out. He had to talk me through each one.
Eventually, they let me push (the nurse decided she'd try to push my cervix out of the way again—this happened to me with Nora, too). It was so weird: I fully expected things to feel better once I started to push, but they actually hurt more. It hurt not to push and it hurt to push. It was nuts! We tried a few different positions for pushing, and after about a half hour or 45 minutes of pushing (and not making much progress), the nurse finally suggested letting me squat next to the bed. I said, "Yeah! I'll try that!"
I hopped down next to the bed, and the weirdest thing happened: I had one, long pushing contraction, and I just stood there and pushed and pushed without stopping. A few moments later (and while I was feeling some intense pain), the nurse goes, "Whoa! We need to get you back into the bed!"
Yeah. I was crowning.
Dr. Ellis stumbled into the room, pulling on his scrubs, and after three pushes or so of me being back on the bed, Henry came out (at 9:59 p.m.). Boy . . . he kind-of hurt! I have a new-found respect for women who have had babies that are more than nine pounds! Yowza!
Dr. Ellis tossed Henry onto my belly, and as Henry landed on me, his little hand slapped me in the face. He'd been kicking and punching me from the inside for so long, I guess I wasn't surprised that he would continue that behavior. It was neat.
Henry got cleaned up by a nurse (I was shivering so hard after he was born that I couldn't hold him for awhile—Willis was with him, thank goodness). And after I got my shivers under control, I passed out in the bed I delivered in, I was so tired. Willis had grabbed us some dinner, we ate it hurriedly, and I just passed out. We got Willis a cot this time, too, since we were in the big LDR room. He was ecstatic about that.
When I woke up about an hour later, I realized I needed to get up and shower and whatnot. I called the nurse station to get help (Henry was swaddled in a bassinet next to me, poor guy), and when the nurse came in (Willis had been asleep for just 45 minutes), she told us we had to move. Due to the full moon, there were, like, five new women in labor, and they needed the LDR rooms. We were so bummed: we were really looking forward to recovering in that bigger room. Instead, we got moved to a smaller room (actually, we got moved twice because the bed in the next room was broken). Poor Willi had to sleep on one of those stupid, reclining chairs.
So, after about 24 hours of being in the tiny room, we pushed to get out of the hospital. We were running out of options for Nora's care, and we were not getting any sleep. So, they let us out a day early. We were so glad to get home.
All in all, the labor process lasted for about 44 hours. We were laboring at the hospital for about 22 hours. So, yeah. This whole thing about the second baby being easier is bunk.
That's the story of Henry's arrival! It'll be an event to remember. That's for sure.