After we were moved to the delivery room, I was given the smallest dose of oxytocin to encourage my contractions to regulate and become stronger. Gradually, the contractions became slightly more painful and I began to think about the epidural. When I was in labour with Clara, I was already in so much pain by the time they gave me an epidural that I didn't notice the needle, but I knew that this time I didn't want to wait until that point - so, like the big wuss that I am, I began to worry about the epidural needle...
This was when I realized that there was NO WAY I should attempt to labour with no epidural - if I was already afraid of the pain of the epidural needle, never mind the actual pain of labour. I think I would have stopped at one child if I had lived before the time of epidurals...
I'm fuzzy on the actual times, but it was probably around 3am that the resident came in to me my epidural. Initially I was nervous about the fact that she was a resident - I thought resident=inexperienced, but she DEFINITELY knew what she was doing. With Clara's birth, I never felt as though the epidural made a difference - this time I could feel the epidural working almost immediately. I couldn't sleep, because I was too excited, but I had a couple of hours where I could rest. Also, because I knew that Clara's labour was longer and more difficult because I was unable to relax and she wasn't able to move down, I made a conscious effort of relaxing against any contractions I felt this time.
I've been informed that the epidural research at the University in the city we live in is actually quite advanced - more than a decade ago, they started using a 'walking epidural', which makes you able to feel all of the pressure of contractions and labour, but not the pain. This meant I could clearly feel every contraction - they just didn't hurt.
About an hour after I was given the epidural, the resident came in and broke my water. She came in talking about how I would be her 'hero' because she had just attempted to break another woman's water and it was evidently made of steel because she was unable to break it and she informed me that my water would break easily and make her feel better. I knew that this resident had been awake since before my appointment the previous morning (going on 20 hours at LEAST), so I was a bit nervous about her abilities at that point. There's a serious flaw in a system that has resident doctors working 24+ hours at a stretch, but anyway...
She did successfully break my water easily, and unlike my experience with Clara - there was no sudden change in contractions.
Gradually I could feel the contractions increase, although they never did get really strong or regular - I would have 3-4 strong ones about 2 minutes apart, then I would have about 10-15 minutes of weaker ones. The oxytocin was gradually increased over the time I was there until it was at about half the full amount they would give me.
The resident doctor had said she wanted to be the one to deliver my baby, but baby waited and the resident left at about 7:30am. She informed me, however, that my OB/GYN would be notified that I was in, and because it was a weekday she would come in to deliver my baby.
By about 8:30am, the contractions were starting to get as uncomfortable as they had been when I was walking in the assessment ward earlier. I was beginning to focus on breathing in order to get through the pain. (And this is WITH an epidural... I'm not winning any awards for strength or bravery here...)
It was at this point that my OB/GYN walked in the door, still in her coat and high-heeled boots. She checked my cervix and said the baby was 'right there', and that I was fully dilated. She told me that if I wanted to start pushing, I was ready to have this baby! She also informed me that she was due in the O/R, but would wait with me if I wanted to start pushing right away. My other option would be to wait - maybe until my contractions felt stronger - and have a resident (read: stranger) deliver my baby.
I wanted to start pushing now.
They got the room ready, and lifted the bed and dropped the foot of it. I hadn't remembered any of this from Clara's birth, so I found it interesting.
By 8:40am, I was pushing.
Maybe it was because my contractions weren't quite strong enough, or maybe it was because of the epidural, but I felt a little bit unsure about what was happening as I was pushing. I couldn't feel the baby moving at all. I could feel the contractions, and knew when to push, and the OB/GYN and another resident that was with her were encouraging me to push but it felt like nothing was happening for a long time (in reality, it was only about 15 minutes).
Out she came! This time there was no episiotome, and according to the resident only a 1st (maybe barely 2nd) degree tear. Also, there was no suction involved to pull her out.
She was placed immediately on my chest - another thing I don't remember from Clara's birth. She cried while the umbilical cord was cut, and I pushed out the placenta. Actually, if all of this happened with Clara, I remember none of it. Excuse the gross picture, but this was the most beautiful moment...
She weighed 7 pounds and 9 ounces.
The first thing I thought was how much she looked like her sister...
After the nurse left the room, Brian and I looked at each other and one of us said "So, what is this little girl's name?". We had both decided that 'Audrey' was our first choice on our list, but we didn't want to commit to it until after she was born. We both still felt like it was the best choice.
Audrey Grace Rayne. (Rayne comes from my Dad's names, Randy Wayne)
My recovery was incredible. After I had Clara, I couldn't walk normally for about 6 weeks. The morning after I had Audrey, I got up and showered and started packing up my hospital room. Audrey slept through the night (unlike Clara, who was colicky and cried for approximately 6-8 hours straight every night for about 6 weeks) so I was comparitively feeling great! We had some things to pick up from the grocery store on our way home, and we did this together with Audrey.
Despite the fact that the pattern of Audrey's birth - oxytocin, epidural, doctors breaking water - was the same as Clara's, the experience was so much better, and my recovery was (is, I guess I'm not totally 'recovered' yet) so much faster.