Early labor lasted a few days. Saturday night I had consistent contractions 4 minutes apart that were a minute long each. They weren't increasing in intensity, but they were strong enough that I couldn't sleep. Sunday they spaced out a little bit, and I could sleep for about 10-15 minutes at a time. The annoying thing was that when I was sitting up or standing they were not as noticeable, but the second I laid down to rest, they felt 10x worse. The contractions continued Sunday night and I slept off and on maybe 4 hours.
Monday I had my prenatal appt. I hadn't gotten checked for dilation up until this point, but this day I wanted to know! I was 3cm, 100% effaced, and baby was at a -1 station. I left feeling encouraged that the contractions were at least doing something, but we still had no idea time-wise when they would get more intense and when it would be the real deal.
That night again...very little sleep. I spent the night on my birth ball rocking back and forth and trying different positions to ease the pain. By the time it was light out, the contractions had gotten pretty difficult to get through. I just focused on my breathing and visualization. I wanted to stay home as long as I could because I was planning on a natural birth. When the contractions got really close together and hard to focus through, we went in. I stopped to breathe through contractions a bunch of times as we walked to the l&d department. I got some great looks. I remember being frustrated with how slow the whole triage process went. It took for-ev-er. Good news was I was at 5cm and 90%. Bad news was my heart rate was over 160 and wouldn't settle.
We finally got to our delivery room and by this time contractions were hurting pretty bad. I was surprised how loud I was breathing through each one. The nursing staff kept coming in, acting concerned and monitoring me closely. My heart rate and the baby's heart rate were high. They only let me off the monitors a couple times...I used the birth ball or the rocking chair or hung on to Dave. After a few hours of this I started to get panicked. I was feeling soooo exhausted. I could not open my eyes, and when people asked me questions I couldn't answer. I felt so drained. As one could imagine after 3 nights of little to no sleep... I started to worry about the pushing stage, and in my gut I felt like the fatigue was going to keep me from a vaginal birth. Decisions had to be made. My heart rate was still super high. so after being there for about 4-5 hours I had them check me...and sure enough I was STILL at a 5. After all those hours, is was sad for me to let go of how I wanted things to go at that point, but at the same time I felt a lot of peace and assurance in the decisions I had to make. First, we tried morphine to see if that would at least allow me to rest. It helped a tiny bit, but I could still feel every contraction. So I then decided to get the epidural. It wasn't necessarily the pain that was too much,... I felt like I could handle it. But the exhaustion was too much. With the epidural I was hoping it would allow my body to relax enough to progress. And that is just what it did. I wasn't really able to sleep, with the blood pressure cuff going off every 10 min.
Some time during labor I got a fever. And it stayed. This meant that I would have to get IV antibiotics after birth. Dang.
Then came inverted contractions. With each contraction baby's heart rate was dropping really low. I had to use an oxygen mask for a while, but those things give me anxiety so the nurse realized my oxygen levels were better without it because I would breathe easier. Every nurse and doctor who came into the room said the same thing...they didn't like what the baby's heart rate was doing and that it was dropping really low. But they allowed me to keep laboring and monitored me closely.
At about 10:30 p.m. I'm at a 10! Baby is +2 station. They said they would come back in an hour and we would start pushing. Dave and I had a few minutes to ourselves at this point to get excited about the soon arrival of our baby girl! It hadn't been 10 minutes when the midwife, nurse, and md came back in the room and said, "Ok... are you ready to start pushing now?" Now!? Apparently baby girl's heart rate was dropping really really low and having a hard time recovering. So we started pushing. Pushing was SO exhausting. At this point I was feeling grateful for the decision to get the epidural. I was conscious, I was present, and I was ready to meet our little baby. Luckily my pushing was effective, despite the epidural. I kept watching the clock...11, 1115, 1130, ...I really wanted her here on her due date! Haha. And she made it! Sally was born at 11:51 on July 2nd - weighing in at 7lbs 11 ounces.
She let out a few cries, and I started balling. I was so overcome and happy that she was here! "She's here," I kept saying to myself. I was expecting her to be placed right on my chest, but they whisked her to the back of the room where a group of pediatricians were. Dave went right back there and held her little hand as they drained mucous from her lungs, and were doing other things. I was so worried at this point and kept asking if she was ok. They kept confirming she was, but I couldn't understand why I couldn't see or hold her. It was the saddest thing. I was laying there getting stitched up (TMI:: almost 3rd degree tear + I hemorrhaged) - this was so lame. I could feel this part. Ouch! And, I just want to hold my baby. I didn't get to hold her for about 20 minutes. Finally they brought her to me and we did skin to skin. It was the best!! I kept trying to look down to see her sweet little face, but I just remember seeing her little head with all that hair! We had a little time with her before they gave her a sponge bath and some eye ointment etc. This part I was also bummed about, I thought we would have more time just us as a family. I also wanted to try breastfeeding before being taken to our recovery room. Didn't happen. Some of our family members were there at the hospital and anxious to meet the new baby girl. That night my mom, dad, sister, brother (the next day), and mother-in-law came to meet the little bundle (the rest of the fam was at a reunion in Utah). It was a sweet experience.
We stayed in the hospital for 2 nights - due to my antibiotics/fever/catheter, and they wanted to make sure the baby was doing well also. I don't know how people say the hospital is restful and to enjoy it before you go home - with nurses coming in just about every hour, and tests being done on the baby...I was over it! Going home was WAY better in my opinion. BUT - I did love those first few days in the hospital nonetheless. They were magical. I loved waking up to see her little eyes just staring at me from the bassinet near my bed. I loved seeing Dave become a father, and seeing him hold his sweet little girl as much as he could. He was falling asleep sitting up, but he was just so enamored with her. I loved studying her little features, and having her fall asleep on my chest. Heaven.
It took us the full 2 days to decide on her name. The morning before we left the hospital we wrote it down. Sally Marie Facer. We had other names in the mix, but none of them seemed to suit her. We finally decided on the name Sally, and I let Dave pick her middle name. He chose Marie (it is my middle name, and Dave often refers to me as Marie instead of Courtney).
It was exciting to leave the hospital. Just our little family of 3. We played Mason Jennings for her, and talked about all the wonderful things to come.