Alrighty then, for the rest of you. Here's the story of JH's arrival into the outside world.
On Saturday evening, I had frequent, although not painful contractions. However, in my last labor I also had contractions that weren't painful, and didn't become painful until the last 17 minutes of labor and pushing. So frequent contractions alone are enough reason to be in a hospital, if I am planning to not deliver at home or in the car -- neither of which was in my birth plan -- and a good thing as it turned out.
All night long my contractions remained frequent, but irregular and not painful. When I arrived at the hospital, my doctor was on call and I had hoped to have him deliver, but as the night wore on, that looked less and less likely, since his shift ended at 7:00. However, for all I just complained about his practice, he's an awesome doctor -- and knowing that I wanted him to help me deliver, he stuck around after his shift for several more hours so that he could be there.
Anyway, back to the story. I contracted through the night, without great pain, but without great progress either. (My doctor and the nurse kept asking if I was in pain yet and seemed disappointed by my negative answers. Sadists.) I entered the hospital dilated to 4 centimeters and was only at 5 1/2 centimeters by morning. Though my fifth labor was my shortest, my sixth was the second longest (shorter only than the 25 hour marathon of my first).
At around 8:45, the doctor came in and asked again if I wanted him to break my water. I'd been resisting, because I was sure that my water not breaking until the very end was what allowed my fifth baby to arrive so easily and relatively painlessly and I was afraid breaking my water would make the baby arrive really fast and everything would get immediately horribly painful. However, by this point I was also ready to be done. I was strongly tempted to ask for an epidural before getting my water broken, but thanks to reminders from my husband and doula that I didn't really want one, I didn't do it.
With my water broken, things did pick up, but not immediately. Things didn't suddenly get crazy painful nor did contractions pile one on top of each other. They did get harder, stronger and closer together and definitely more painful as time went on. Actually, my contractions never did pile one on top of the other. They got longer and harder, but I think up to the end they stayed about 4 minutes apart (and never all that regular). I'm not sure what women in the other hospital rooms thought, but I have found during the end of labor I'm not at all quiet (I was moaning, bellowing and probably sounded like a dying cow. I am also a big whiner, alternatively complaining that there was no pain medicine they could give me and suggesting that the baby would never be born.)
The doctor checked my progress again and said I was at eight centimeters on one side and complete on the other. And then he removed his hand and my body started pushing and I remember yelling that fact out loud, "I'm pushing."
From this point on, I don't remember much except that I continued to be sure that I couldn't do it and insisting that the baby would never arrive. Also that I was having trouble focusing to push and that I pretty much let my body push down as it felt necessary. Although this part felt as if it took forever, I am told it all happened pretty quickly. I swear I was crowning for hours, but since the breaking of my water until birth was only an hour and 45 minutes, I guess that isn't true.
Eventually I remember them telling me that the head was out and to give a little push for the shoulders. They emerged just fine and I heard the news that I had another son. But then, instead of having a bright eyed newborn thrown on my chest, I remember the doctor shaking him and telling him that if he didn't perk up he couldn't come see me. I remember thinking he was terribly still and very big. I don't know exactly what was said next, but the baby was whisked to the other side of the room and a team of people surrounded him. I had nothing to do but worry and focus on the pain. I asked if he was alive and when reassured that the baby would be fine and was getting pinker by the minute -- as the doctors debated whether he got a 1 or a 2 for his first Apgar (he got a 2 because his heart beat was strong all the time) -- I asked for pain medicine, because I couldn't take any more and was getting shaky. That shot of Stadol was just what I needed.
Eventually, he came back to me, heplock in his hand and pink, too sleepy to even try nursing (but with an 8 for his second Apgar). Apparently, the trip into the outside world was too fast for a large baby boy and the squeezing action which pushes the fluid out of his lungs hadn't had time to work. Thanks to being in a hospital with a NICU team at the ready, he'd been suctioned, oxygenated and was doing fine. He was ready to go to regular care and didn't have to spend time in the actual NICU, where at 9 lbs 12 oz, he would have dwarfed the other guys.
After this point things were pretty normal. The last bit of labor without pain medicine is -- um, well, painful. I remember thinking at the time that if I ever had another child, I was scheduling a c-section. So why would I want to go through labor without pain medicine? Because afterward (even if I did need something to get me through the immediate hour after birth) recovery is so much easier. Epidurals involve catheters, numb legs and lots of swelling and discomfort. Without one, you can get up and walk. The swelling isn't bad and the general discomfort is much more manageable. I wouldn't begrudge anyone pain meds or think less of them for getting them. I've had four epidurals and two without. And in both of those without, I've spent most of transition complaining that it is too late to get an epidural. I'm certainly not superwoman. I've just found that the recovery period, which lasts longer than childbirth is better for me when I forgo the pain-free labor.
And thus baby number six arrived. With a decent labor and a scary arrival. We settled in for a day at the hospital and then came home a little over 24 hours later. His siblings are generally thrilled and fascinated by the new arrival, though since I haven't consistently been getting the two year old down for naps, evening meltdowns have come a little more frequently.
I'm still not sure how I'm going to survive life with six children. I need to get organized and I need to learn to delegate. Some how I hear one manages and gets by. We shall see.