*if you haven't read part one of the birth story, do that first!*
Around 10:45am after spending some time in the rocking chair, contractions increasing in oh-$h!t-that-hurts-ness, I requested an epidural. Nurse Courtney checked me right before my epidural and I was only about 5 cm dilated. Bummer. All that pain and not a lot of progress since I started the induction process at 4 cm. I tried not to be too discouraged by that fact. *sigh*
Between 10:45 and 11:45, my sense of humor was mostly gone, I was fighting tears with each contraction, and I wondered why oh why did I think this (having another baby) was a good idea?! Only one person could stay with me while I was getting the epidural. I chose BFF/Doula Amy. Scott would have had issues with them describing in detail what was happening. "Okay, cleaning your back now, it'll feel cold. Quick poke and a sting with some numbing medicine..." That's probably where we'd have lost Scott. And Brooke, poor Brooke didn't get a vote. Sorry Brooke.
Getting the epidural was mostly uneventful. I mean, it's not FUN having someone stick a needle in your back while you're cringing in pain from contractions but they want you to remain absolutely still...but the pain relief afterwards made it seem worthwhile. By 11:45am, the epidural was on board and working. GLORY. For a little while after, I still had a hot spot on one side where I could still feel each contraction, but a (small) hot spot was better than feeling my whole uterus contract each time. After a while, the hot spot went away, thankfully.
My epidural was awesome because I had pretty great pain coverage but I could still move my legs well. They felt tingly and weird, but I could easily move them. That proved incredibly helpful later.
I asked Courtney to check me again not too long after the epidural was in full effect. When she did at 12:25 pm, I was 10 cm! Side note: I've read a lot of stories and heard a lot about how an epidural can slow or stall your dilation in labor. I'm just not one of those people. From my first delivery to my last, I dilated much, much quicker once I've had an epidural. Pre-epidural, I'm too tense and fighting the contractions, despite my best efforts to breathe, stop tensing up, etc. I guess I'm one of those women that post-epidural FINALLY relaxes enough to allow my body to do it's thing. Less than an hour after getting the magnificent pain-reducing juice in my back, we were ready to start pushing. There was excitement in the room. We were all hopeful we were close to meeting this baby! I might get to eat lunch! (Did I already mention that they don't let you eat when you're in labor?)
12:30 or so, I started pushing. Pushing is a strange thing. "Push like you're having a bowel movement. Push all in your bottom." These are the types of things labor and delivery nurses say. I appreciate the instruction, but with my fantastic epidural, I couldn't tell exactly how to push. This, for me, is the only down side to the epidural. It numbs up all the nerves that my body uses to tell my brain how to push the baby out. Maybe this is what people mean when they say epidurals can slow down or stall your labor. It certainly can prolong the pushing process.
Anyhoo...I started pushing. Mark's heart rate would dip periodically with a contraction or sometimes afterwards, but usually recovered well enough that we weren't TOO concerned. The baby's heart rate is the best indicator during the pushing process of how they are tolerating getting borned. For the first while, I was on my back while pushing. Scott was by my head. Amy helped me hold a leg. One of my two nurses helped hold the other leg. This was seriously a group effort! It became obvious after the first 15 minutes or so that this wasn't going to be a quick process.
Fourth baby. Everyone thought this might go quickly. *sigh* With my first baby, I pushed 3-3.5 hours. Second and third babies, 1.5 hours. Apparently I just don't pop these kids out...
In the first hour, I did a lot of rotating to the left side and right side in between contractions to see if it would help Mark come on down. (said in best Price Is Right voice) I didn't open my eyes much during the first hour. During pushing or in between, I just felt wiped out. And we were just getting started! After an hour of pushing and not a lot of descent of Mark's head, my nurses suggested me taking a break, using this huge, green, peanut-looking thing to position my legs (supposedly opening up my hips, widening the birth canal) and see if it would help things progress. I was all for taking a break!
Amy says it was maybe 20 minutes that I "rested" with the green peanut awkwardly between my legs. Then it was time to push again. I had no real concept of time at this point. This time the nurses suggested I try "knees to chest" pushing position. Let me tell you how GLORIOUSLY HUMILIATING this position is. Imagine wearing nothing but a hospital gown that opens in the back and then get on your hands and knees in the bed. The only item of clothing I was wearing, the lovely hospital gown, was now draped on the bed under my elbows and knees and it's AWFULLY BREEZY BEHIND ME. Amy very kindly covered my heiney with a sheet. Poor everyone in that room. The arse-flag was flying high. Mark's heart rate did the best in this position, so we spent a decent amount of time pushing this way.
Dr. Brooks came and checked on me a few times in the course of all the pushing. Part of the problem why Mark wasn't making his way down the birth canal was because he was crooked. Ideally, babies are born (if mom is on her back), facing down, towards the floor. This allows for the absolute smallest diameter of their head to pass through mom's pelvis first. Think of putting a shirt on a toddler. It is easiest if you're standing over a toddler, putting a shirt on them, for them to look towards the floor, the "crown" of the head coming through the shirt first. Same concept, if that makes any sense. Sometimes, though, babies are born "sunny side up", facing the ceiling (if mom is on her back). This makes for a tougher delivery, more back-labor, and a larger diameter of the head to pass through mom's pelvis. Mr. Mark was being all kinds of special. Or stubborn. He wasn't facing up OR down, but kinda crookedly towards the side. This fact, combined with his Davidson-large-head, meant Mark wasn't going anywhere fast. Dr. Brooks made multiple attempts to help Mark rotate. Read: Doctor's whole hand buried in places you don't even wanna know. THANK GOODNESS FOR THAT EPIDURAL. Amy said she was glad Dr. Brooks has small hands, for my sake.
From 2pm - 3pm there was a LOT of pushing, rotating me to the left, right, hands and knees, back to my back, me holding the end of a sheet while someone held the other end to help me push (like tug of war). We were trying everything. Mark was.not.moving. It wasn't that it was just taking a long time for him to come out. He wasn't budging. This was a problem. Although he was tolerating all the pushing (for the most part), he needed to show SOME movement. Dr. Brooks left the room at 3pm and said she would give me 30 more minutes to try and push him out and then I would need to have a c-section. This was INCREDIBLY disheartening to me.
In a last-ditch effort to get this baby out, I asked them to turn off my epidural.
If I was going to have a c-section after three previous vaginal deliveries, I wanted to know I had given it EVERY.LAST.OUNCE. of effort to prevent it. I had been trying really hard up to this point. But this was it. 30 more minutes. That's all I had. I had my support people text others to pray specifically that Mark's head would turn and that we could avoid a c-section.
Very reluctantly, the nurses turned off my epidural. In no time at all, I was feeling the full force of my pitocin-induced contractions. I wasn't comfortable before the epidural was turned off. After? I was pretty much sobbing all the time. It hurt so freakin bad. I cannot fathom how so many women have natural child birth.
THAT CRAP HURTS.
I remember seeing tears in Scott's eyes too. We were all so very tired and scared this was going to end in a c-section.
Whereas before I had my eyes closed all the time, these last 30 minutes, between the sobbing, I was focused, eyes open, on point. Because I could feel EVERYTHING, I was able to push more effectively. I was able to feel what was a good push and what wasn't. I definitely felt like I was giving 110%. And yet, Mark still wasn't moving. *more tears*
Just moments before 3:30pm, Dr. Brooks came back in the room. She was coming to tell me that it was time to call it. Time to head to the back for a section. We'd done all we could do, but 3ish hours of pushing with NO PROGRESS was not good.
Literally AS Dr. Brooks walked in the room, the miraculous happened. Mark's head rotated and down he came. The nurses were yelling at Dr. Brooks, "He's moving! He's moving! Get ready!" The room was a zoo of activity. Lots of people scurrying about. After Mark started moving, he was born in no time. Maybe two pushes, because once he started moving I couldn't really STOP pushing. At 3:30pm, out he came. (that part hurt too)
The first thing I said to Mark, through tears, was "Mark!?!? Why did you DO THAT TO ME??!" He was too busy wailing to hear me.
The whole room was ecstatic. He finally was born. Vaginally. HOORAAAYYZZ!! I attribute my avoidance of the c-section to two main things:
1) Divine intervention. It could only have been the Lord himself that rotated that baby's head when he did.
2) Turning off the epidural for maximum effectiveness while pushing.
Whatever the contributing factors, I was just SOOOOOO relieved he was here and healthy (apgars 8/9!). He weighed 9 lbs 5 oz. (5 oz bigger than my biggest baby) 38.5 cm head. (that is HUGE) 22 inches long.
Thankfully I only had a 2nd degree tear. Google it if you'd like. Not a big deal at all considering how freakin big he was.
Sometime immediately after Mark's dramatic entrance into the world, Scott leaned down and said "Okay! I'll do it! They can chop my balls off!" Translation: He would agree to having a vasectomy. He is deathly afraid of needles and wasn't willing to consider this option before. We knew we were done having babies after this, but who was going to get a permanent fix was still up in the air. Apparently the dramatic, emotional, physically exhausting and excruciatingly painful delivery of Mark convinced Scott that I'd been through enough.
Scott's procedure is scheduled for Feb. 17th. :)