Zelda's labor was completely different from Ellie's. With Ellie, I began getting contractions around noon on a Tuesday. They got steadily more painful throughout the day until they were very painful (and consistently about 5 minutes apart) around nine or ten at night. We went to the hospital, got sent home after a couple hours because I wasn't progressing fast enough, came back, and finally got admitted at 6 AM when I was 5 cm along. I got an epidural, got the antibiotics I needed for group B strep, got pitocin to speed up labor, and finally had Ellie at 1 in the afternoon.
So, in a nutshell: About 24 hours long, with many hours of extremely painful contractions, but the actual delivery was pretty easy and not very painful thanks to the epidural.
This labor was basically the complete opposite.
Right about nine o'clock on Friday night, I started getting very, very minor contractions. They were only slightly more uncomfortable than all of the Braxton Hicks contractions I've been having for months, and so I didn't think of them as any different. They were pretty regular at about 8-10 minutes apart, but that wasn't that different from the contractions I'd been having earlier in the week. Just a couple days before, on Tuesday, I'd had very minor contractions about 10 minutes apart all through the morning and into the afternoon, and they had led nowhere and eventually fizzled out. So, I didn't think too much of these ones. I timed them, but mostly out of curiosity and not because I thought they were going to do anything.
Friday was also Jason's last scheduled night of work before his paternity leave. He left for work at 9:30, and I told him I was probably going to go to bed soon. Well, what with timing the contractions and kind of cleaning the house and doing random stuff on the internet, I was still awake two hours later at 11:30 when Jason texted me asking me if I was still awake. I said yes, and explained how I was still timing the contractions I'd been having when he left, and asked him how he caught me. He said it was because I'd posted something on my blog, and he saw it when he was taking a break. I told him I really would go to bed then, and I did. I figured the contractions would probably go away while I was sleeping. Or, if they really were labor contractions, they would wake me up when they got more painful. They were definitely uncomfortable at this point, but still not really painful. Nothing compared to the contractions like I had with Ellie. These were more just very uncomfortable Braxton-Hicks. So away to sleep I went.
I woke up from the pain a couple hours later. These contractions were beginning to really hurt. These felt like I was beginning to go into labor. Checking my phone, I saw that it was 1:30 AM. So, I'd only been asleep for about two hours. I got up and began to put last-minute things in my hospital bag, and called Jason. "Hello?" He answered in a funny, the-only-reason-you'd-be-calling-me-at-work-in-the-middle-of-the-night-is-because-you're-in-labor-are-you-in-labor? voice. "Hi," I said. "So, I think I'm actually in labor. My contractions are getting really painful, and they're regular and pretty close together." "How far apart are they?" "About 4 minutes." I told him. (This wasn't, strictly speaking, true. They were more like 3 minutes apart, or even closer. But I didn't want to freak him out.) We talked for a minute and decided that I would keep timing them, and he would call to see if someone could come replace him.
I put all my last-minute stuff in my hospital backpack (a process which was greatly slowed by the frequent, painful contractions), and had just about finished when Jason called back ten minutes later. "Okay, Ashish is going to come in and cover for me. How are your contractions?" "I've had like five since I talked to you," I told him. Which was true. And it'd only been like ten minutes. Which was worrying. "Call Tyler." He told me firmly. Tyler, his brother, and Sarah, our sister-in-law, live in our same apartment complex. They'd been our "back-up" for weeks; if I went into labor when Jason was at work, they were going to come over and Tyler would take me to the hospital while Sarah watched Ellie.
So, I called Tyler. Luckily, he answered, and I told him I thought I was in labor, and he said they'd be right over. And they were - they got to our apartment in just minutes. Tyler and I left to go to the car, which was parked on the opposite side of the apartment complex. We'd speed walk for a minute or two, and then have to pause because I was having a contraction, and then we'd speed walk again. After a couple minutes, we got to the car, hopped in, and sped down the road. Luckily, since it was two in the morning, there were no other cars on the road and we had no traffic impediments. We got to the hospital in like ten minutes, parked, and headed inside.
At this point, it was like 2:15 AM. We went to the main check-in desk, Tyler got a wristband, we went to the elevators and headed up to the third floor where labor and delivery was, I told the lady at the desk I thought I was in labor, she told me to write down my name/doctor/due date, I did, she asked how far apart my contractions were, I said three minutes (they were really more like two), she told us to come on back. 2:20 AM.
A nurse met us at the room as we came in, handed me a hospital gown, and told me to go put it on in the bathroom (that was in the room). I went to the bathroom and tried to put on the gown, but it was really difficult at this point because my contractions were getting really painful. It took me three contractions long to put on the gown and head back outside to the room, and at this point, because of how my contractions felt, I was suddenly very worried that the baby might be coming right now.
The nurse was no longer in the room. I made it back to the bed, sat down, and started having another really painful contraction. "Where's the nurse?" I asked Tyler desperately. I needed the nurse now - my feeling that the baby was coming right now was just getting stronger and stronger. "I don't know; do you want me to find her?" he said. "Yes, find her." He left to go track down a nurse, and returned a minute later to say that one was coming. 2:25 AM.
Two nurses came into the room just before I started having another contraction. "Okay, now just lie down on the bed and we'll check how far along you are," one said cheerfully. In my head, I was just like, They don't get it, they don't realize this baby's coming RIGHT NOW! And right as she was speaking I started having another really really painful contraction, and couldn't move. "I can't; I'm having a contraction right now," I told them. "Okay, well just wait until it's over and lie down then." But the contraction wasn't ending - it just kept going and going and going. "It's not ending!" I told them. Then, suddenly, I felt my water breaking. "And my water's breaking right now!" I yelled.
"Okay, okay, just lie down," the nurses said, and started moving me to lie down. But I was still having the contraction, and it was really painful. Somehow I managed to move and lie down. And at this point, right after my water broke, I started feeling this strong pressure down there and knew it was the baby, but I didn't want to be like, "The baby's coming right now!" because what if I was wrong? and I didn't want to be a drama queen. But as soon as I laid down the nurse finally checked me, and said, with sudden urgency, "She's crowning!" And then things really got moving.
One of the nurses hurried out of the room, and returned a minute later with like five other people. More nurses came in and there was someone from the NICU (because there had been light meconium in the amniotic fluid and they wanted to check the baby for any respiratory distress as soon as she was born). I just remember there were suddenly a lot more people in the room, and they were closing the curtain in front of the door, and they were trying to pull Tyler in (they thought he was my husband), and he was like, "No, no! I'm just the driver!" So they told him where a waiting room was.
It was now right about 2:30 AM, or slightly after. I was in incredible pain, but there was nothing they could give me because it was too late. Trust me, I asked. They had no time to give me anything; they didn't even have time to strap the monitors around my stomach. The baby was coming now. I was in so much pain that I actually started screaming during the contractions. I couldn't help it; I wasn't meaning to, it's just the only thing I could do when I was in that much pain.
After a few contractions, I started to push. I didn't choose to start pushing, my body just started pushing - it was an involuntary action. "Don't push!" The nurses said. "The doctor's almost here!" "I can't help it!" I yelled. And I couldn't - my body was doing it without me telling it to, and I couldn't stop it if I tried (and I did try). Just then, the on-call doctor came in, and she and the nurses were like, "Okay, you can push now." But the contraction was over now, and I felt no urge to push at all. "I don't want to!" I told them. "Okay, just push when you feel like it," they said, and then we were all waiting.
The next couple contractions came, and they were really painful, and I pushed really hard, and one of the nurses helped talk me through them. I remember on the last one she was like, "Okay, now if you do just one long, sustained push this will all be over," and I remember thinking, "Yes! All over! I want this all over!" And then it was! And the doctor was holding Zelda up! And I looked over to the left, and Jason was there too! He came in right as she was born. And then we had a new baby! It was 2:38 AM.
The next little while was all fixing me and Zelda up. The NICU doctor checked Zelda to make sure she wasn't negatively affected by the meconium (she wasn't), and they measured her and cleaned her and warmed her up (all at a little baby table just a couple feet in front of my bed). Jason stayed by her side the whole time. Meanwhile, the doctor stitched me up (I tore). And then, after a little while, it was just one nurse and Jason and Zelda and me, and we both got to hold her and snuggle with her and love her. After a couple hours they moved us to the recovery room upstairs, where we stayed for the rest of our stay at the hospital.
I can't believe that we almost didn't make it to the hospital. I just didn't realize how far along I was; it was so different than Ellie's labor! Now having had one labor and delivery with an epidural and one without, I can tell you that I DEFINITELY prefer the epidural. I didn't need it for the contractions this time, they weren't that bad, but the actual delivery was the most painful thing of my whole life. I just don't know why you'd voluntarily choose to be in pain when you can choose to be not in pain, and be relaxed and peaceful and alert. Yeah, I liked the epidural sooo much better. :)
So that's how Zelda was born! She definitely made a very dramatic entry into the world. :)