I'm going to try to tell the story of Avery's birth, because lots of people are curious how that all came to be. I promise not to be too graphic, because, to be honest, there aren't a lot of graphic details to tell (thank you Jesus!)
Jon and I went to see the 3rd performance of Willy Wonka (still playing - get your tickets at www.footlight.org!) on Friday night and came right home after that. Just before 4am, I got up to go to the bathroom for the bazillionth time (because I was nine months pregnant) and came back to bed, but couldn't sleep. I thought something weird was going on, so I went back to the bathroom only to decide that my water had broken. I went into the bedroom and said "Jon, my water broke" and he popped up immediately and said "OK!" like he'd been alert the whole time. We called the doctor who, at first, told me that the baby can move, causing me to release urine, so it might be that, but I'm pretty sure I know the difference between a bit of urine and a lot of amniotic fluid, so he told me to come on into the hospital.
We walked the dog, took some trash out, double checked our bags and headed to Beverly Hospital about 5am. We got checked in, the nurse confirmed that my water had broken, and Dr. Laz came in to see how dilated I was (this test is not a fun one) and said I was about 1 centimeter dilated (you have to get up to 10).
Over the next 12 hours, I had some mild contractions, but nothing bad at all, nothing even close to menstrual cramps that I used to have. Jon and I walked all around the hospital again and again, made arrangements for the dog, chatted on the phone to a bunch of folks, including our family, and just kinda hung out. I even took a couple of sleeping pills and napped for a couple of hours.
After 12 hours, it was 4pm, and the doctor decided to put me on Pitocin, which is what most women get to induce labor, or to speed the process along. The contractions started to gradually increase in strength, and about 3 hours later, I was in a ton of pain. The contractions were short, but only about 90 seconds apart, so I didn't have a lot of time to recover. It was definitely the worst pain I've been in. The nurse assured me I could get an epidural whenever, but I had some idea in my head that I had to hold out as long as possible. Finally, after the contractions made me throw up and were just way too much, I agreed to the epidural. The nurse checked to see how dilated I was. I was sure I was like 5 centimeters. Nope, 2-3 centimeters, she said. When she left the room, I burst into tears about not being further along, but ordered the epidural anyway. I'm grateful to have a doctor who will dish out the drugs whenever I want.
It seemed to be forever until the epidural doctor came in, and the process of getting one was way strange. The numbing shot was extremely painful, and whatever else he was doing to inject my spine or something was the strangest (and not pleasant) feeling, but I kept assuring myself that it couldn't be worse than the contractions I was feeling, and I was right. Almost immediately, the next contraction felt only half as strong. My legs started to numb up, not that I couldn't move them, but only very very slowly. Everything from right below my ribcage to my knees was completely numb.
I was so numb that when the nurse checked to see how dilated I was 30 minutes later, I couldn't even feel her check, which is a VERY uncomfortable test. She said "Oh wow, you're 6-7 - I should call the doctor" so in my case the epidural actually sped the process along. Thirty minutes after that, I was fully dilated and ready to push.
Now it's hard to push when you can't feel your muscles, so you aren't 100% sure you're REALLY pushing. But, I just assumed the position they told me to, and pretended like I could feel something. Avery's heartbeat was up and down, so they put me on an oxygen mask and had me push from a couple of different positions (on my back and on my side) to help him out a bit. On each contraction (which I couldn't feel but the nurse told me was coming) I pushed 3-4 times and finally the doctor said "Ok, on the next contraction, we should have a baby" and sure enough, we did!
They put a warm blanket on my chest and put this little wet bundle on there. He was much cleaner than I thought he would be, so he wasn't too covered in grossness. While I was cuddling him, the doc was busy down below putting in a few stitches (couldn't feel them) and dealing with the placenta. Then, he basically said "great job" and disappeared!
The nurse gave Jon and I some time to enjoy the baby before coming in a weighing him. They then put me in a wheelchair (hard to do because my right leg had a really strong dose of drugs and was completely numb) and took us upstairs to recovery. Avery went to the nursery for tests and a bath while Jon and I got a few hours of sleep. When we got to the room, I looked at the clock and it was just after 4pm, so within 24 hours my water had broken and I'd had a baby!
We spent a few days in the hospital getting adjusted, trying to learn to feed, and spending some great time with Avery before taking him home where our adjustment still proceeds. Thanks to everyone for all their love and support through the whole process!!