So first of all, some sad news... I don't have a belly to rest the laptop on anymore! But that is an easy trade for my wonderful son, John Vianney St.Hilaire!! The following is my take on the grand event of his birth. As I finish typing it, John and Andrew are asleep in our bed. During the last few days, I feel like I have had no time to do anything. Thus, I must finish getting my thoughts down now, even though I should be sleeping too. If I don't get it out while my memories are fresh, it will never happen! =)
We checked into the hospital at 9:10 pm on Thursday night - a fashionable 10 minutes late (hey- our son gets his lateness from somewhere). We were quickly checked in and shown to our room. I was given the drug to dilate my cervix, which was still only dilated to 1 cm. In the morning I was going to be put on pitocin and then if that went well the doctor would potentially break my water. However, the plans changed when the nurse removed the drugs in the morning at 6:00 am and found that I was dilated to 5 cm. already!
Andrew and I had been up most of the night because I began painful contractions at around 2:00 am. So we were already pretty exhausted. I was supposed to be able to eat breakfast before they began the pitocin, but because I was already dilated to 5 cm, I was not allowed to eat. As it turns out, my contractions were going well enough on their own that I didn't need pitocin. This was a relief because I wanted to avoid as much intervention as I could and let the whole process occur naturally.
From 6-10:00 am I worked through the contractions as they became increasingly painful. When preparing for birth I was told by many to have a "focal point" to use during the contractions. My focal point was a picture of Christ on the cross with the words "this is my Body, given up for you" written beneath. I was inspired by this image a few months ago when I was at Mass. I definitely saw my pregnancy and openness to the beauty of life to be in solidarity with Christ - who freely gave his Body so that we may all have eternal life. A few days before the induction, I wrote down a list of people and causes that I wanted to pray for during labor. With each contraction, Andrew read one of the intentions to me and then proceeded to repeat the "Hail Mary" prayer until I was through the contraction. This helped SO much. I was really able to take the pain and offer it as a sacrifice for all the people who are close to my heart. To top it off, we brought a Gregorian Chant CD and had that playing in the background during most of the labor and the delivery. I kind of felt like I was in a chapel! I'm sure the nurses thought I was a weirdo!
Around 10:00 am my doctor came in to check on my progress. He told me that I was dilated to 7 cm. (10 cm. is the goal). I was almost there! We asked him what to expect for the rest of the labor. He told us that I was nearing transitional labor, which is the most difficult part. Most women have an epidural by this point. When he mentioned the word epidural, my ears perked up and I was definitely enticed! The pain was getting really challenging, and the thought if it getting more difficult was hard to hear. So with the combination of having little sleep, no breakfast, and a lot of pain, I decided to go with the epidural.
I told Andrew that I wanted the epidural. A few days ago I told him, "If I ask for any pain medicine, please tell me to wait 20 min. to see if I really need it." My goal was to go completely natural and trust that my body could do what it needed. So Andrew obediently reminded me that I wanted to wait 20 min. I broke down and told him to ignore my previous request and listen to me now. He had been by my side this whole time, and knew (through observation) how much pain I was in. Right when we were having this conversation, a contraction came on. I was caught off guard and did not have the focus to get through the contraction. I began throwing up and feeling like I was going to pass out from the pain. My mom happened to come in the room and saw me in this state. Needless to say, this was the worst part of the experience.
I did get the epidural. It was incredible. The pain was entirely gone, which is crazy. I watched the monitor which showed each of my contractions. I saw the contractions and thought "hmm, I don't feel that at all!" Andrew and I both took a much needed nap, as my body did all the work. Later on, around 2 or 3 pm, I asked the nurse if the epidural had slowed down the process of labor. She said no. Which made me grateful that I went with the epidural. I can't imagine having those painful contractions every 2 minutes from 10:00 am to 4:20 pm!
This leads me to the finally: At 4:20 pm my doctor came in to see how things were going. He checked and told me I was dilated to 10 cm. It was time to push! I was amazed because I could still not feel an ounce of pain. Andrew asked me if I wanted him to get my mom.
Side note - pretty early on in my pregnancy, I decided that I only wanted Andrew in the room during labor and delivery. My mom was pretty upset about this because she really wanted to be there for the process. She was sad, but respected my decision. During the last two weeks, I reconsidered and thought that I would like to have my mom there. I did not tell her this, just in case I changed my mind at the last minute. That would be terrible to get her hopes up and then potentially change my mind again. So I decided to just have her come in (if she still wanted to) without warning.
Andrew went to get my mom. She told me later what a special moment that was. She was overjoyed!
With Andrew at my left side and my mom at my right, I began to push during each contraction. I got the rhythm down and only had to push for about an hour! The nurse said I did very well.
I have no words to express how exhilarating it was when they handed my son to me. He was still gooey and wet. I shed tears of joy and kissed his soft head. It was unbelievable!
The rest of the story is hard to relate, because it was so surreal. We had many visitors, which was very wonderful. But I think Andrew and I were both stunned at the sight of our son. We have been so eager for him to come out and join our little family. Now he was finally out! At the end of the day, when all visitors were gone. Andrew, John, and I shared the special moment of just being together. Every time I wake up (which is often!), I am thrilled that this was all not a dream. It is so wonderful being able to take care of John and shower him with kisses. I think every time I look at him, he becomes more precious. This is a good thing, because he has required and will require a lot from me. At this point, with 4 days behind us, I have become quite sleep deprived, but just looking at John gives me the strength and energy to care for him.