Our Penelope (Penny) arrived on May 6th, 2008 after about 21 hours of labor. When adding up hours of labor, do you start with those little cramps? I started having "mild" contractions on May 5th during a conference call. I said, "Hey, do contractions feel like menstrual cramps?" And the women on the other end said, "Yes. Are you timing them?" The contractions were mild and about 25 minutes apart. I worked until 6pm and then drove to Target to buy a breastpump. As I was driving, the contractions became stronger and were suddenly 15 minutes apart. I stood in the checkout line, waiting for some teenager to ring up my pump thinking, "Wow, what if my water breaks right now, while I'm standing here in Target, waiting to pay $300 for my !@^&&*!%#&! breastpump?"
I made it home. At about 9:00 things really started to hurt. Every time I felt one coming, I would sit on my exercise ball (the only time it has been used in the last 16 months). We waited for them to fall into a 5 minute pattern, per my doctor's instructions. I didn't want to go to the hospital only to be sent back home. I moaned and cried and cursed every 7 to 10 minutes. There was a point where we thought we could sleep in between the contractions....which was ludicrous. By 5am I had three within 5 minutes of each other and we were off. When we got the hospital, I was dilated to a 6 and the nurse said, "Oh, honey, you could have come in sooner!" but ultimately I was glad I toughed it out for a while at home on my ball. She asked if I was "open" to the possibility of an epidural. I said yes. She said sooner than later? I said YES.
The anesthesiologist seemed trepidatious. WTF! Anesthesiologists should be oozing confidence! Getting the epidural was a huge decision for me in the first place. I gripped B's hands and squeezed my eyes shut and prayed that I would not be paralyzed forever because the guy was taking freaking forever back there and was making me very nervous. Then it kicked in, and when I touched my legs they felt like warm, flabby fish. The contractions peaked on the monitor and I couldn't feel them. It was great.
We tried to rest but couldn't sleep because we were so excited. I won't go into details about the catheter and having my water broken for me even though I was dilated to an 8. Let's just say I was very glad I had the epidural. At 10:30am it was time to push. The contractions on the monitor looked like the geological formations in Monument Valley. B's mom had one leg and B had the other and everyone was cheering me on. We rested between contractions and it was pretty surreal to try to have a normal conversation while spread eagle in front of every one. At one point, B's mom looked at me and said, "This is SO FASCINATING!" Meanwhile, B was trying not to freak out about the presence of 4 hands and a head in an area which ordinarily doesn't do that.
After 30 minutes of pushing, baby came sliding out and there was a flurry of activity and suddenly a purple baby was on my chest, sputtering blood. She took a gulp of air and started yelling. She was beautiful. Waves of relief were literally pouring off of me; the largest sensation of relief I had ever felt.