Still awake at midnight (Saturday morning), I sat on the birth ball and then was lying on my side while D got some sleep on the couch. Surges came every 6 minutes. For the next few hours I was able to rest between surges. The baby's heart rate looked great.
3:40 a.m. The midwife came in to check my cervix. The dilation was the same as the last time I was checked (4 cm) and the baby had descended to a +1 station. The midwife talked about my options; one was to go home to get some sleep. I chose to stay at the hospital and sleep with the help of medication. Until then I had done it drug-free. They gave me a combination of Morphine and Fentanyl, S went home for a while, and I slept for about 3 and a half hours. During that time my contractions were 6 to 13 minutes apart (which we know because of the fetal monitor).
At 8:00 the midwife asked if I would like her to break my bag of waters to see if that would help get the baby out soon. "No artificial rupture of membranes" was in my birth plan, but I said yes, hoping it would be a good thing. Feeling the hook breaking the bag was so strange, and so was the continuing hot gush of clear fluid.
S returned at 10:45 after about six hours spent at her home sleeping, showering, etc. My surges were now 6 to 8 minutes apart, and I was still feeling them in my back. The pain usually started there and moved around to the front. I was very tired.
When midwife #3 arrived and checked me at 11:15 a.m., there had been no change. (Yeah, in seven and a half hours.) A little bit later we started a low dose of pitocin; we wanted to get the surges closer together. D left for about an hour, for some fresh air and a drive by himself. S had me do more exercises to encourage the baby to rotate.
At 12:35 p.m. the nurse increased the pitocin to 4 ml. The surges came anywhere from 3-5 minutes apart, sometimes with spacing of up to 7 minutes. D and S were wonderful. When they knew another one was starting, they rushed to do hip squeeze or other counter pressure to help me. I really benefited from S's words: "Let the pressure be there," and "You can do anything for one minute." At some point, as the peaks of the surges were more intense and I made louder sounds, I understood why women ask for drugs. I'm very glad I was able to experience it.
When I got down on my hands and knees at about 1:20 p.m., the baby's heart rate decelerated dramatically. With help, I moved onto my left side and the heart rate went back to normal. During the next surge the baby's heart rate again dropped a lot lower than it should. The nurse turned off the pitocin and the midwife had a discussion with D and me. She did not know why, with the baby being low, my cervix had not changed (in almost sixteen hours), or why the baby still preferred a posterior position. The midwife said if I wanted to I could keep going for a while, but because my contractions weren't effective, she was unsure of what would happen. The other option was to have a cesarean section.
She and S left the room so D and I could talk about it. I don't remember him saying much besides asking me what I thought. I said that if my body would dilate more, we had no idea how many more hours it might take to get to 10 cm. I cried. It was hard, but we knew what we wanted to do. The ladies came back in about fifteen minutes later. Starting to cry again, I told them, "We think that it's not working, so we want to go ahead with the section." They thought this was a wise decision and I had done the best I could. Here I am with the midwife before she went to call the anesthesiologist.
S reminded us what to expect in the operating room. We borrowed her CD of relaxing music to listen to in there, since we hadn't remembered to bring the music Shboogoo was born to (piano solos played by Wayne Egan). The anesthesiologist (Dr. H) and then the resident (Dr. Z) explained to us the risks and benefits of the surgery. We both loved Dr. Z's personality. She and Dr. D would perform the surgery.
I used the bathroom one more time, D put this oh-so-cute outfit on over his regular clothes, and we were ready to go get our baby out!
As D, the midwife, and I walked into the operating room, I thought, "This is the worst I have felt in my entire life." It was hard both physically and emotionally. I wanted a VBAC so badly and did not know why I was unable to dilate. Dr. H was impatient. And he was a man. So he couldn't know what it was like for me to get onto the table, form a C shape, and hold still while my uterus was still contracting. During the surgery he wanted me to keep my arms up in precisely the right place, which I simply could not do. I couldn't keep my arms from shaking (a common problem during c-sections; I also had pain in my shoulders due to trapped gas). My sweet D never let go of my hand. He told me later that it was really hard for him to watch me. I would not want to have to go through it without him.
Finally, the baby was born at 3:51 p.m. One of the doctors told D to announce the gender, so he said, "It's a girl!" I was a little surprised and disappointed that it wasn't a boy, but I got over that quickly. I saw her briefly above the drape, and she looked healthy and beautiful. D cried. I couldn't see much of what was going on and I don't know exactly what happened when. He said that when she was lying on the table she got to hold his finger. He got to hold her very soon after she was born, and when he brought her to see me I liked that she still had vernix on her. I felt so much love for this child whom I had already done so much for over the last nine months. D told me (I must not have heard) that he was pretty sure they said she was 5 pounds 14 ounces and 20 inches long, and her Apgar scores were 8 and 9.
We went back to our room with L in my arms. D called our families. By 4:40 our baby girl was breastfeeding perfectly! All but three of our many immediate family members visited us that evening. They probably wanted to hurry because we made them wait to find out the baby's name in person. A bunch of them, plus our good friends Katie and Sam, arrived at almost the same time. I made this video while sitting on the hospital bed, happy with my baby and my loved ones.
I agree with my husband's words, written in an email to me a few weeks later:
I remembered how impossibly happy I was to see L for the first time. I thought that the experience couldn't be as powerful as [Shboogoo's] birth . . . but I think it was *exactly* the same: celestial.