The week Madeline was due I became quite a bit restless. I was never anxious for her to hurry up, I wanted her to come when she was ready. But I was ready to meet this little miss. While I had been physically uncomfortable for some time, I was enjoying the last moments when I knew caring for her was easiest.
That Monday was my 40 week OB appointment. The doctor checked my progress and let me know I was still where I had been the week before (1 cm, 70-80% effaced). She told me she was pretty sure she would be seeing me before I made it to another weekly appointment but if I was still pregnant they would schedule an induction on October 22. When I got home from that appointment I noticed (gasped was more like it) I was spotting pretty heavily and wondered if that was significant. Brandon was more then a little freaked out by it and wanted to call the doctor immediately. But the spotting slowed within an hour and was pretty much gone by the next day.
Wednesday the 13th was her due date and it went by much as any other day. I was getting frequent phone calls from family members, "Did you have the baby yet?" Me thinking (as I rolled my eyes): "Don't you think I would let you know when she arrives?" What I kept repeating was, "No, she can take her time and come when she is ready." My aunt was rooting for her to be born on the 13th because that is her birthday.
Late every night for the last week or so Brandon and I had been going to the park to walk; mainly to tire me out enough so I could sleep better at night. The 13th was no exception. By the time we went around 10 pm. I remember thinking Baby was happy in her nice, warm environment and was going to stick around in there as long as she could. Around 10:45, towards the end of the walk, I noticed I was having a strange feeling, not like the braxton hicks contractions I had been having, and no where near painful. After 10 minutes or so it dawned on me, maybe these are real contractions and I should be timing them. It was happening every 3-5 minutes. We went back home and continued timing for an hour and they met all the qualifications for a call to the doctor except they were erratic. They lasted at least a minute long but some were 2 minutes apart while others were 5 minutes apart. We decided to call anyway and they told us to go to the hospital.
I was checked and disappointed that I had not progressed at all since Monday's appointment. It was confirmed that I was indeed having contractions so they watched me for a bit to see if I was going to progress further. Then they gave me the choice to labor at the hospital or go home to labor. I chose to go home since there I would be able to eat at least. I was released around 4 in the morning.
I slept fitfully at best the rest of the morning finally giving up around 8am or so. Brandon decided to stay home from work since I was continuing to have contractions. I took it easy that day, resting and trying to relax. The contractions weren't too painful but were distracting enough that I couldn't even take a nap. The pain increased and yet they were still erratic, we had no idea how to tell when to call or go back in. I always had this fear I wouldn't know when I was in true labor (and when to go to the hospital) and was assured many times that "I would just know." They lied.
Finally in the early afternoon Brandon called and I was instructed to go walk to see if they would pick up and call back in an hour. We walked all the way around our tiny complex and it took me 45 minutes before I had had enough. It took so long because I was having to stop so frequently, by that time I was in enough pain that I didn't want to walk anywhere. When Brandon called back they told us to come back in. I gave Brandon enough time to take a shower. (that was the fastest shower I've ever seen the man take, and he likes his long showers, usually until the hot water runs out) While he was at that I put the cookie dough away for the cookies I was baking earlier in the day. I'm not sure what possessed me to bake cookies while in labor, perhaps for distraction? We headed back to the hospital at 8 pm.
When the doctor (not mine, but one of her partners) initially checked, much to my disappointment I was only dilated to 3cm. But he told me I wasn't leaving without our baby! Finally! We were going to meet her! I had wanted to try laboring without an epidural but at that point I had been in labor for nearly 24 hours and I hadn't really slept, I was exhausted. I wanted to do everything to keep from having a C section, so I opted for an epidural in order to rest.
Around midnight I was checked again and found that I was dilated 6cm. At that time the doctor decided to break my water to be sure there was no meconium. Sure enough there was. Fantastic! They explained that she would be taken out of the room immediately after she was born to clean out her airway and make sure there were no problems. They also decided to give Baby an amnio infusion to try to clean out the amniotic fluid as much as possible so it was less likely she would inhale any. I guess Baby didn't want it in there because she kept pushing the catheter back out every time the nurse placed it.
A couple of hours later the nurse checked and told me I was now 9 1/2 cm dilated and would begin pushing shortly. I had been fairly calm but at that point I began to feel anxious. I was cold and shaking uncontrollably, (probably due to nerves) I had never done this before and the thought suddenly overwhelmed me.
I had always planned for just Brandon to be there with me but my parents and sister had driven in when we called them around 8pm. After the epidural was placed, they took turns visiting with me, keeping me company as we all waited. When it came time for pushing I allowed my mother and sister to stay if they wanted to. Katherine even got to assist with leg holding. Since the epidural was wonky I could feel awareness in my right side and move my leg myself, but there was a total absence of feeling in my left side, not even enough to move my leg. And it just so happened the bed was broken on the left side so she ended up holding my dead weight of a leg for me.
Pushing was difficult, I couldn't feel any pain, not even pressure, so it was hard to know if I was doing anything productive. In hindsight I should have asked for a mirror so I could at least see some progress. Pushing didn't take long, maybe 30 - 45 minutes before the nurse called the doctor in for delivery.
From this point on remembering is fuzzy for me. I remember the doctor being so quiet and the nurse giving me instruction. I remember Brandon's surprised "Wow!!" and Katherine's gasp and looking down as if in a dream to see a little gray, unmoving face, she looked like a doll. Then I asked what I was supposed to do since the doctor didn't give me any instructions. Shortly, she was out and I know she was crying but at this point I have a total blank. I also know they took her away immediately while the doctor told me I had a 2nd degree tear and he needed to repair it.
Sometime a little later, they brought Madeline back in and Brandon was able to hold her and give her her first bottle. The repair took quite some time. And though I can't really remember the details I know she was handed to me (I have a picture to prove it). I do remember having a surreal feeling that she was actually mine. (My mom later told me that when I said out loud that I didn't feel like she was really mine that worried her.) After I was able to get some good sleep that feeling was completely gone and I was in awe of my beautiful girl.