Okay, so if you read this post, you'll know that last Monday was a really painful day for my body. Several of you commented and guessed that I was in the early stages of labor...and you were right!
Tuesday morning I felt much better than the day before. My back felt a lot better and my fever was gone. I was still getting contractions, but they were relatively far apart and were more uncomfortable than they were painful. Jason took two finals, getting home from his second one about 5 o'clock. By that time, my contractions were getting much more noticeable and painful. I was making up silly songs to sing to myself through each one, to prove that they weren't "real" contractions because my doctor told me that I wouldn't be able to talk through a real contraction. But as the evening progressed, it started getting harder and harder to talk through each one. Jason suggested several times that we start timing them (to see how far apart they were and if they were regular), but I stubbornly refused. I didn't want to get my hopes up that I was really in labor.
Finally, though, at about 9:45, I agreed to time them "just for the next half hour." And so, we did. We used this awesome website we found, the Contraction Master. And it turned out that the contractions were very consistent, each coming about 5-6 minutes apart and lasting for about a minute. At this point, they were hurting so bad that I couldn't imagine not going to the hospital anyway. On my pain scale of 0-10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain I've ever felt, these were about a 5-6. So, we packed everything up that we might need at the hospital and hopped in the car.
The hospital - Orem Community - was about a fifteen minute drive from our apartment. We got there right about 11 o'clock, and explained to the lady at the check-in desk that we thought I might be in labor. A couple very nice nurses took me to triage, where they hooked me up to a couple monitors. One measured the baby's heartbeat and the other measured the length and intensity of my contractions. We could see them on this screen right next to the bed.
To be admitted to the hospital for labor, your cervix has to be progressing from closed to 10 cm. (As the nurse in my prenatal class explained, labor does not equal contractions. Labor equals cervical change). When we first got there, the really nice nurse who was taking care of us, Marta, checked my cervix and found that I was about 1 1/2 cm dilated and 80% effaced. For the next hour, we watched TV and the monitor next to me. I kept having consistent contractions, which were getting really, really painful. At 12:30 or so, Marta came back in and checked me again. Unfortunately, I hadn't progressed much. I was now about 2 cm. So, Marta said that we could stay for another hour, or they could give me a shot of morphine and we could go home to wait it out there. The morphine would either take almost all the pain away, and we could sleep, or the labor pains would come back as strong, which would basically mean I was in active labor and we should come back to the hospital. Upon hearing "pain relief" I was sold. So, she gave me a shot of morphine and phenergan and we went home.
The shot made me really really sleepy. By the time we got home, (about 1 o'clock) I was falling asleep between contractions. Jason helped me make it to the bed (I fell asleep on the floor before I got there) and we went to sleep, but only for about an hour and a half. By 3 o'clock, the contractions were so bad again it felt like I had never had the morphine.
We got back in the car and headed back to the hospital. When we checked in this time (with Marta again!) I was still only about 2 1/2 cm. An hour later, I was just at 3 cm. Marta, who was so nice and concerned, said she didn't want to send us home again, and would we like to wait another hour? We said yes, and sat tight. I was still really really sleepy from the shot, and fell asleep in between every contraction. So I'd have a contraction, be in extreme pain, make it through, fall asleep, wake up, have an extremely painful contraction, fall asleep, wake up, have an extremely painful contraction, fall asleep, wake up...and on and on. :)
Finally, at 6 o'clock, another nurse came in to check on us. And I was 5 cm!!! I was so relieved. I was in so much pain I couldn't imagine being sent home. Allie (the new nurse, who was the one who was with us until Ellie was delivered) said that I was being admitted to the hospital, that we were moving to a different room (the one we'd be in for the rest of our stay), and that they'd get the anesthesiologist so I could get an epidural as soon as possible. All of these things were wonderful, wonderful things to hear. Marta came in to say congratulations and goodbye (it was the end of her shift). It was so funny; she said she had Allie come check on me because if I hadn't progressed, she couldn't bear to be the one to send me home. She was so sweet.
Well, they wheeled us to our new room (which, at Orem Community, is where you both deliver and recover. It's awesome. You stay in the same room the whole time!) and got the anesthesiologist. He put in the epidural and I was in bliss. My pain? Gone. I couldn't have been happier. (Seriously. I am a FAN of epidurals.)
And then began the waiting game, where we basically just sat around excitedly waiting for me to progress more. I had to be on antibiotics for at least four hours before the baby was delivered because at my 36 week appointment I tested positive for Group B Strep (which is basically medically irrelevant for adults unless you're delivering a baby, and then they just have to make sure the baby doesn't get it because it can be bad for them). They started me on the antibiotics at 6:30, so we didn't want the baby to come before 10:30. We weren't really worried that she would, because labor in first time moms is usually long.
When the nurse checked me at about 7:30, I was 6 cm. It also looked like my water had broken, which was good, but it also looked like there was meconium (baby poo) in the water, which was bad because it meant the baby was stressed. The nurse called my doctor and told him, and they decided that they'd put me on pitocin at 10:30 (after four hours of antibiotics) to speed up the labor and get my baby delivered. Allie also did an amnioinfusion to get more fluid into my uterus and flush out some of the meconium. I progressed a couple more centimeters over the next couple hours, and Allie put me on pitocin at 10:30. Pitocin makes contractions more intense than normal, but I didn't feel them at all because of the epidural. I could see on the monitor that they became a lot more frequent, though.
By noon, I was fully dilated and ready to go. My doctor wasn't quite there yet, so the nurses finished getting everything ready while I sat in what the nurses called "rest and descend." My doctor came in right after 12:30, and checked to see how everything was. He said that the baby's head was at a slightly weird angle, so he was going to use forceps to turn her right. They finished taking all of the monitors off of me at 12:56 (Jason and I looked at the monitors later to see the exact time) and started telling me to push. My doctor inserted the forceps after a minute and turned the baby's head, and told me to push some more. I pushed through just one or two more contractions, while the doctor pulled with the forceps, and then bam! The baby's head was out. It was crazy how fast it was. Then I just pushed through like one more contraction, and she was out all the way! The monitor showed that the time was 1:03, so thanks to the doctor and his forceps I only had to push for 7 minutes! It was amazing.
Jason cut the umbilical cord and I got to see the baby for a second before they took her and did all the stuff they do with newborns. They did it right there in the room, though, so she was just a couple feet away. A special respiratory doctor was there to make sure that Ellie hadn't breathed in any meconium (she hadn't). My doctor delivered the placenta and sewed me up (I had an episiotomy), and then they brought the baby back to me and I got to hold her. It was so wonderful! Jason and I love our baby so much and it was so exciting to finally be able to hold her and see her.
And so Ellie was born! We spent the next two days in the hospital, recovering and getting checked up on a ton. We had a couple different nurses (a new one every twelve hours) and they were all so awesome and kind and I liked them so much. We also had family and friends visit and it was so fun to be able to share our new little daughter with them. It was really a great experience.
We've been home for the last couple days and Ellie has been keeping us buuusy (I'm sure all you parents can relate ;) ). It's been so wonderful though and we love her sooooo much. I'll upload a lot more pictures later, I promise. Thank you for all your support and congratulations! We appreciate it. :)