It was decided that I would be induced on May 24th, at either 41 or 42 weeks (conflicting due dates caused some confusion at the end as the days "overdue" crept by). I tried everything to go into labour naturally. Wolfgang and I walked kilometre after kilometre in the hot sun until he was panting and annoyed and I was just barely contracting. I ate Indian food so spicy it caused me actual physical pain. I consumed a ridiculous number of pineapples. The list goes on.
Shawn and I woke up early on May 24th. Still pregnant. We got ready, woke Grady up to say goodbye, stopped at our favourite coffee shop, and headed to the hospital. We made it to the last turn before I lost it and started to cry (which turned into uncontrollable sobbing and then uncomfortable hiccups while Shawn tried to comfort me and navigate the horrible hospital parking lot at the same time).
The morning was relatively mundane. I was admitted to the hospital and we checked into the induction clinic. I was the only patient there for the first few hours. The hospital was doing fire alarm testing so it was impossible to relax but Shawn and I tried to unwind and rest for what was to follow. After lunch we were told we could leave and come back in a few hours. We decided to head home to see Grady and do some more walking to try to get labour going. Within an hour of being at home, my contractions had really picked up and were lasting 30 - 60 seconds with 30 - 60 seconds of rest in between. We decided to head back to the hospital because even though the contractions weren't a 10 on the pain scale, they were coming so frequently that we worried we'd end up giving birth on the side of the highway.
We got to the labour and delivery floor and a nurse checked my progress. I was 3cm dilated and my contractions were still coming fast and furious. I would stay that way for 24 hours.
For 24 hours I swayed, walked, danced, and moaned my way through contractions that never lasted longer than a minute but came one after the other, with barely a break in between. A shot of morphine had given me about two hours of rest but apart from that, I'd been awake and labouring and I was exhausted.
By now we were halfway through May 25th. I was still 3cm dilated. Lady Baby's heart rate had been jumping and dipping enough to be worrisome so I was no longer able to move around like I wanted; I was lying down with various monitors strapped to me. The on-call OB suggested she break my water to try to get things moving before we try more invasive interventions and I agreed. The OB broke my water and all of a sudden I was in LABOUR labour. The contractions that I'd been able to breathe and talk through amped up times a million (rough estimate) and I could barely see through them. My "I don't really neeeeed an epidural" attitude went out the window within seconds of the OB breaking my water. I didn't have an epidural with Grady but I know enough about them to think they're a bit creepy (you guys, the needle goes into your spine) but by the time the anesthesiologist arrived I was all "DUDE, use that little hammer and put that little needle in my spine and bring all the drugs to me." So he did.
Listen, I'm not going to get into a debate over which is better, labour with or without an epidural, but I will say this: after the drugs kicked in, I had to ask my nurse if I was having a contraction when half an hour before I'd been hyperventilating my way through every excrutiating second.
The epidural turned out to be exactly what my body needed. In four hours I went from 3cm dilated to 10cm and ready to push. Pushing with the epidural was a bit of a challenge. I found it difficult to know when I was having a contraction so my nurse had to give me the signal to start pushing and by then I was already partway through the contraction. Eventually we got into a bit of a groove and at 5:22pm on May 25th Penelope Bloom was born. Everyone was happy and healthy so she was placed on my chest for some skin-to-skin and we waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing before the OB clamped and Shawn cut it.
We had a blissful hour together before things got exciting but that's another post for another time.