Monday evening I had a Cook Catheter or cervical balloon inserted. It's just as enjoyable as it sounds. One balloon goes on one side of the cervix, and one goes on the other to create pressure and thin and dilate and blah, blah, etc. I didn't want to stay at the hospital, and requested to go home for one last night's sleep before everything changed. I took one Tylenol PM and slept like a stone for 7 hours in my wonderful, soft, comfy bed.
Bright and early on Tuesday the Bubba and I had breakfast with Lucy and Llama. We tried to explain that we were going to the hospital to bring Baby Brother home. Lucy crawled up in my lap and said "Mama, don't go to your hospital. You should stay here with me." It broke my heart a little bit, and I couldn't imagine how her little world was about to be rocked. But then Grandma promised to play computer games with Lucy and her tune changed to "You go to your hospital. BYE!"
We reported to L&D and started Pitocin at 9am on Tuesday. At first, everything looked great. Bidou was doing well on the monitor! There were no more dips in his heart rate! But there was not much progression either. I was about 4 cm dilated and 50% effaced. For whatever reason, Bidou's head was not engaging. He was not moving down into the birth canal. Sigh. We had a long way to go.
Eight hours later, I opted for an epidural. And that's when things started getting, shall we say, interesting. It will take me a long time to forget enough to have another epidural. First, I got faint and nauseated and my blood pressure was alarmingly low, so the anesthesiologist had to come back to my room to adjust the medication. Then the weird, uncomfortable "pins and needles" feeling never went away in my legs. I convinced myself that it was better than feeling the freight train contractions, but it was a small consolation at that point for the dead legs that were still painful and uncomfortable.
And it turned out that Bidou still wasn't happy. His heart rate started dipping dangerously again and I was manhandled into several different uncomfortable positions and I sucked oxygen and the whole nine yards while the nurses and my midwife speculated about the umbilical cord being compressed. The same thing happened with Lucy, so this wasn't my first rodeo. But then my midwife had people propping my dead appendages and posing me on hands and knees. And then sitting almost straight up. And then on my side. And then sitting again. And there were all of a sudden five nurses and three midwives hovering around and an OB loitering in the doorway waiting to rush me to an emergency C-section and my midwife started saying things like "at this point, your and the baby's safety are the most important things." And I had to respond that I was down with whatever it took. I was so scared that I was going to have to have surgery and just kept telling Jesus that Baby and I were in His hands.
With the dips in Bidou's heart rate, they stopped the pitocin. Luckily, my body took things over on its own albeit a bit more slowly.
I was still not fully effaced or dilated, but my midwife decided that we should try pushing to see if that would get Bidou down into the birth canal. So a few pushes later, things were progressing again rather quickly. At this point, I started experiencing not only that "fullness" (guh) but also a great deal of pain. My midwife was coaching me through some pushes, and I had to say "You don't have to tell me! I KNOW I'm contracting!" I started to feel my legs again and just. Wow. The pain. The burning. The nurse told me to push the button for more epidural medicine, but honestly I was so relieved that my legs weren't uncomfortable anymore I felt like I could handle the pain!
And thank goodness it wasn't much longer. About an hour later, and fifteen short minutes of pushing, we met our son at 11:40pm. With his umbilical cord wrapped snugly around his neck. And around his torso. And around his legs. No wonder the poor thing had such a hard time descending into the birth canal, he had no lead on his leash! And he was perfect! My midwife untangled him as he came out and put him on my chest. And he and the Bubba and I stared at each other in wonder.
Everyone let us have him to ourselves for almost three hours before they weighed and measured him. And we whispered his name in his ear. And we held our heads close together and breathed in the air of our new, bigger-by-one family. John Ignatius. He's ours. A life. A miracle.
As the nurses were cleaning up, one lifted up a tube and looked at it curiously. It was a length of my epidural hookup. In the scary mayhem, one of the nurses must have knocked it out. And thusly the mystery of why I felt so much pain was resolved. (I will spare you all the little stories of the Midwife From Another Hospital who was filling in and was my nurse that day even though she thought she should be running the show instead of my midwife who was AWESOME. I was calling her Nurse Rached out of earshot - she thought she was being helpful but kept dropping the ball and being unreasonable and doing stupid things like unplugging my stupid epidural! ANYWAY!)
(Also in hindsight, the false labor I experienced would probably have progressed to active labor if John hadn't been so tied up in his cord! So thank goodness for the NST.)
And so at almost midnight on the 12th of April, we met John Ignatius. He weighed eight pounds, eleven ounces and is twenty-two inches of perfection. His apgars were all nines and awesome and they let us go home Wednesday evening to join Lucy and start our family-of-four-ing.
"What does he do?"
Three was awesome.
Four is incredible.