(Warning: This post contains some details of the birthing process, including words/phrases such as "cervix", "water breaking", "contraction", "pelvic pressure", and "pushing". If you are not interested in reading about such topics, stop here. Lance, I'm talking to you. For those of you who wish to avoid the longer version of this story, here's a short version for you: I started with early labor Friday morning, then came active labor Friday evening, and then Bryce was born Saturday morning. The end.)
For the rest of you, and for Bryce someday (though he's a boy and will likely not care), here's the long version...
At 3:45a on Friday morning (4/22), I awoke to a contraction. Now, I've been having Braxton Hicks contractions for probably about 15 weeks, so I'm quite used to them. But never before had one caused me to awaken. So, for the next 3 hours (until the girls woke up), I laid in bed and timed them. They didn't hurt, but they were pretty regular at 10-15 minute intervals. Exciting! So much for going back to sleep!
Since it was Good Friday, the girls didn't have school. Dale had a golf date with a friend early that morning and, since my mom was here with me and the golf course is only 15 minutes away, I saw no reason to cancel his plans. So I sent him on his way, promising to call if the contractions strengthened or got closer together.
They didn't. In fact, by the time we got started with the craziness of our mornings on "days off" from school, I wasn't even noticing them any more. We went for a mid-morning walk, and I managed to catch a 2-hour nap with the girls in the early afternoon.
Around 5p, as Mom was cooking meatloaf, the contractions started up again. This time, they were between 8 and 10 minutes apart, but still not really hurting. In anticipating of potentially needing to head to the hospital, though, we began to make plans with Brooke to watch the girls until my dad arrived at 9:30p on his flight from Missouri. Thankfully, since Brooke's husband, Danny, was out of town, Brooke's mom and dad were willing to help out, as well, so that Mom could join me in the delivery room.
The final plan was for Dale, Mom, and me to head to the hospital after sending the girls to play with Emerson at Brooke's house. When bedtime arrived, Brooke would bring the girls back to our house (so nice to be neighbors!) and get them to bed, while Brooke's mom stayed to put Emerson to bed at her house. Then, at 9:30p when my dad's flight landed, Brooke's dad would head to the airport to pick him up and bring him home to take over watch of the girls. It took some coordination, certainly, but they pulled it off without a hitch. (Unless you consider the fact that Ivie was wide awake and so excited about Bryce's impending arrival that she gave Brooke fits for a couple of hours until finally falling asleep!)
But back to the story. Once we got this plan squared away, I was adamant about eating my meatloaf before heading to the hospital - it might be my last homemade meal for a few days!
By the time we finished dinner at 6:45p, the contractions were continuing at 8-10 minute intervals, though not necessarily any stronger than before. We took our time finishing up the last-minute packing and getting the girls settled in at the Devers. It was about 7:40p when we got in the car for the 15-minute drive to UNC Hospitals.
I only had one contraction along the way, and continued to second-guess our decision to leave so early. But I kept reassuring myself that I wasn't comfortable with waiting any longer, since I'd only been in the hospital for 2 hours before Macie's birth, and I knew that child#3 could likely come even quicker.
Once in triage at 8:15p, I was 3-4 centimeters dilated. The doctor told me that they wouldn't admit me until I was in "active labor", which they define as 4 centimeters. So she said that she would be back at 9:45p to check to see if I had progressed.
Literally 3 minutes after she left the room, the contractions starting getting more and more aggressive. At one point, the triage nurse came in and exclaimed, "Is that contraction STILL going?!?", in response to a contraction that literally lasted 2 minutes. Bryce was not a fan of that one, and his heart rate dropped into the "scary" area on the monitor. Thankfully, he recovered quickly and there were no more extended contractions.
Dale and I managed through the contractions (Mom wasn't allowed in the triage room) until 9:40p, 5 minutes before the doctor was scheduled to come back to check my progress. It was then that I felt a gush of water and sent Dale to get the nurse. I'd never broken my water before, they had always had to do it for me during delivery, so that was a new experience. Once the doctor came in, she confirmed that it was at least a leak, found me at 5 centimeters, and encouraged the nurse to get me in a room quickly, knowing that, after the water breaking, baby #3 would likely not be far behind.
The nurse asked if I wanted an epidural. I emphatically answered YES, and she was able to have the anesthesiologist waiting for me in my room when we arrived. After the epidural was placed, I shifted to move back to lie in the bed. While so doing, I felt the sensation of sitting on a water balloon. POP! Had it not been for the pain I was in from the contractions, I'm pretty sure I would have laughed out loud. Such a weird feeling. So THAT was what it felt like to break your water!
So, by 10:45p, the epidural was WORKING (unlike with Macie's, when it only worked on one side and was, therefore, pretty much useless), and Mom, Dale, and I were hanging out in my room, enjoying some quiet time. We joked with my nurse about whether Bryce would arrive on 4/22 or 4/23. About 11:30p, the nurse told me to call her in when I began to feel the need to push. While the pelvic pressure was increasing, it hadn't yet reached that level, but, by 11:55p, it was time.
The nurse came in and prepared to check my cervix. She never got that far. She lifted up the sheet, took a quick look, said, "Uhhhh, no need to check. Let me get the doctor!", and headed for the door.
The doctor arrived, got everything in place, and the pushing began. Five to ten pushes later (I didn't put anyone in charge of counting, so the accounts from Dale, Mom, and me differ), Bryce entered the world with a quick scream. The doctor placed him on my chest, but he began to show signs of being stunned from the low heart rate he experienced during the pushing process. So my mom quickly cut his umbilical cord and the nurses took him to the table to "wake him up". They were quickly successful, and more wonderful baby cries escaped.
So my third child, and first son, entered the world at 12:23a on Saturday, April 23, 2011. And our life as a family of five began.
(A picture post to follow soon.)