Short version: 7 lb. 15 oz. 21 inches long. No meds. Serious.
LOOOOONG version: I woke up at about 4 am to take Maya (darling child) back to her bed. It was at that point that I noticed I was having mild cramping that came off and on. I've only ever experienced labor that starts with high intensity, but I figured I could hope it was real labor.
Contractions got stronger as the morning progressed, though nothing I couldn't handle. My hope was to have an un-medicated birth (if I could take it) to save us the $1500 for an epidural. I always thought that if I ever got the chance to labor at home it would involve things like taking a shower and getting prepped for the time away at the hospital. There was no shower because the girls were too much underfoot. I did, however, pack an overnight bag for the girls and pick the meat off a chicken carcass to put into a freezer meal. It took three hours, but I finally did finish the meal. As contractions got worse I found my favorite trick was to support my upper body and sway my hips from side to side like they do in the yoga DVD I borrowed from a friend.
For a good part of the morning I denied I was in real labor. Contractions were at three minutes apart when I was doing something constructive but went to ten minutes apart and less intense while I was sitting. Everything I read said that changing activity wouldn't have that effect if it was real labor. I kept Eric informed about what was going on but told him not to come home unless I called him. When the end of his work day came around I knew it was real and I was sick of holding and swaying. I wanted the big, pretty tub at the hospital if I was dilated to at least 6 cm or an epidural if it was less than that.
We left our house, dropped the girls off at my parents' place, and arrived at the hospital at around 5:15. I had Eric get me a wheelchair to bring me in. When we got to the labor and delivery station I had just finished a contraction and was feeling much better. The first nurse took a look at me and said, "You think you're in labor?" I told I knew it was labor, but I bit back my snappy retort about it being my third baby and that I'd already been contracting for 13 hours. She asked if I would be having an epidural and I told her it depended on how far I had progressed. She looked a little skeptical and asked if I'd ever delivered without an epidural, but went ahead and wheeled me into the natural birth room. A different (thank heaven) nurse came in to measure me and ask all the pertinent questions. When she gave me a pelvic exam and told me I was at 4 centimeters I wanted to cry. It was only one centimeter more than when my doctor had checked me a week before. Thirteen hours of labor for one lousy centimeter?!? Rather than cry I told the nurse I wanted an epidural. Bad news for me was that I needed to actually be admitted before I could get my pain meds. She needed to call my doctor and see what he wanted to do. Much to my irritation he said it didn't sound like false labor, but to wait 20 minutes and check me again. Then I really wanted to cry. I asked if I could wait in the tub. That wasn't allowed because I had to be hooked up to the monitors while we waited the 20 minutes. Then I really, REALLY wanted to cry.
You know how sometimes it's harder to wait for something when you know it's right there, just beyond your reach? So it is with an epidural. My contractions started to increase in intensity very quickly and I was kind of miserable. A lot. Thankfully the nurse showed us a comfort technique (pushing my bent knees toward my hips) that took the edge off the pain. Between that and my mom fanning my face it was enough so I could handle everything surprisingly well. For two contractions. Then it was Eric's turn to push on my knees. I figured he wasn't doing it right because the edge came back. Hard. It felt like the longest 20 minutes of my life. I just wanted my epidural. Eric was doing it right, I just didn't know what was going on with my body.
Twenty-ish minutes later my new nurse came in and checked me. I was dilated to an 8. Four centimeters in twenty minutes. No wonder I had been miserable. I wanted to cry again. This time it was because I wasn't sure whether or not I wanted to get the epidural. There was no way of knowing if it would be worth my $1500. I asked for the toilet and the tub instead. The pressure in my back and abdomen was getting pretty bad. The bathroom helped very little and as for the tub...well, I think I was too far progressed for it to do its job as I had hoped. Besides, I started getting the urge to push. Water births are not allowed, so I was told I needed to get back out. Easier said than done, lady. Any time I started to grunt the nurse got a little more nervous and tried to hurry me out. My doctor also arrived while I was in the tub. When he heard that I progressed four centimeters in 20 minutes he came quickly.
After hauling my backside out of the tub I got back on the bed. I can't give many specifics because I found that keeping my eyes closed was a comfort measure for me. I guess there was too much stimuli and I needed to block something out. If nothing else I was pleased to discover that I'm not a screamer. When feeling the urge to push I certainly grunt, but I'm not a big noise-maker. Anyhow, once I got back into the bed the nurse checked me again and announced I was complete. I got a great feeling of "you can do this; you're going to succeed at natural birth" that lasted until my doctor asked what station the baby was at. When he was told it was +2 the doctor said baby needed to come down further. That was when I had my only moment of anything resembling crazy. I shot my doctor a look so full of malice and contempt I'm surprised he didn't shrivel up like a dead leaf. I thought he was going to suggest a rest and descend. And then I was going to break his nose if he expected me to stop pushing. But then another contraction hit and everyone leapt to the foot of the bed as I started grunting. The beauty of the urge to push (for me) is that it becomes all-consuming and I feel that more than the pain.
Once all the leaping for the business end of the bed began I really couldn't tell you how long I pushed. My mom said it was less than half an hour, probably twenty minutes. The doctor broke my water to get things moving faster. It worked. I don't remember it increasing the intensity so that was nice. At one point the doctor said Quintin was a little posterior and wanted to turn him. With the next contraction the doctor succeeded in turning Quintin's little head. I had no idea how long I would spend pushing (with Maya it was three hours) and was overjoyed to hear Eric tell me that his head was almost out. One push more got his head all the way out. Two pushes later and the rest of his body slipped out. Maybe it's strange, but I really noticed the empty feeling in my tummy once he was out. I'd never noticed it with the other two.
It took them a minute to get Quintin on my body because he wasn't really breathing like they wanted. After he got a good rubdown he started breathing a little better and they put him on my tummy. I know there's supposed to be this huge rush of bonding and emotion (particularly when there's there's no epidural) as soon as the baby's out, but mostly I just felt relieved that it was over. I was so happy to see him and hear his little cries, but I admit to just being glad the ordeal was finished. I suppose it was a little anticlimactic for me. I've heard people talk about how with a natural childbirth they feel like a rock star or that their babies are so much more alert or any number of things that makes natural a superior way to go. Yeah, I was just happy it was over. And that I'd saved us $1500.
So now our little guy is doing well with nursing (after a rough time of it the first night). He doesn't have the same squished newborn look his sisters did because he didn't spend all that long being squished. I'm head over heels in love with Quintin. he's so perfect and so sweet. The girls seem to really like him, though Maya has no idea what she's in for just yet. She'll learn soon enough.
Wanna know the really funny part? The billing office spoke to us and gave us the paper with the rates (all flat fees) for self-pay maternity patients. After a quick scan of the paper I discovered the epidural is covered, something I wasn't told as I was doing research on which hospital to deliver at. I laughed because you can either laugh or cry and I choose to laugh. The way I see it is that we saved the $900 we would have paid the anesthesiologist for administering the drug rather than having spent $600 we didn't use on epidural medication. It makes for a good story, anyway.