Saturday afternoon and evening I thought for sure that labor had started. The contractions were every 5 minutes apart and pretty painful. I took a shower and the contractions even got stronger and more frequent! So we packed up the bags to go to the hospital and called. The midwife told me to take some Tylenol (paracetamol) and call back in a couple of hours. At this point, it was 11pm, so I thought I'd try to sleep. To my surprise, the contractions slowed down and I fell asleep. Although I was disappointed, I now realize that God blessed both Dave and I with a last good nights sleep.
Sunday morning I awoke feeling rested, and had a few slight contractions, so we went to church. Around noon, I realized that they were coming every 5 minutes or so, but were rather mild. Around 2pm, I called the hospital to let them know that my contractions were getting worse and we would soon be coming in. The midwife again said to call back in a few hours. I tried taking a shower but couldn't relax so I knew we were getting close. We called someone from the church to take us to the hospital, and finished packing our bags. I called the hospital again, and the midwife again urged me to wait a bit, but I told her that we were on our way.
Arriving at the hospital around 3pm, we were put into a room at the maternity ward. We were assigned a midwife, Sue, who was a wonderful motherly-type woman who was a relatively new midwife. She was with us, in the room the whole time, helping through the contractions and offering pain relief. I tried the gas and air (laughing gas), but didn't like that too much, so labored for a few hours without any medicine. I was at 3 centimeters dilated when we arrived at the hospital, and the contractions were fairly quick and strong. I asked Sue about average labors, and she said the first one usually lasts from 12-16 hours, starting in "active labor" (which they say begins around 4 cm).
The contractions kept getting worse and worse. I was on the monitors the whole labor because Georgia's heart rate was a little fast. They had a doctor come in and give me an ultrasound (because of my uterus shape) just to check that she was still head-down. They also ordered an IV for me to keep me hydrated and help Georgia's heart rate slow down. I labored mostly in bed because of this, but was allowed to also sit on the birthing ball for part of the time. Around 6 pm, I was checked again, and was now at 5 cm (yay!)
After lots of thought, I was getting tired and the contractions were very strong, I thought it might be nice to have a little relief. So, I asked for the epidural. It was the right decision. It took close to an hour to actually get the epidural, and the pain was so immense during that hour. Dave was a little queasy during the procedure and actually had to leave the room to clear his head. I probably would have been too, if I had seen the needle they put into my back :-)
The epidural provided just a small bit of relief. I think I only got the test dose, although I was offered a top-up, the midwife discouraged it because I was progressing so quickly. I could still feel (very strongly, too!) every contraction, but it wasn't quite as bad as it had been. After receiving the epidural, they were no longer able to find Georgia's heartbeat on the monitor, so they called the doctor in to break my water and apply a monitor to the top of her head. The doctor came to do that, and almost immediately I progressed to 8 cm. I was beginning to feel the urge to push, and it was very difficult to hold back.
I kept asking to be checked, and finally about half an hour later I was checked, fully dilated and was allowed to push. It was so relieving and also very hard. I pushed for about half an hour, and Georgia was born at 8:20pm. She was a tiny thing, weighing in at 2.71kg (6 pounds) and 19 inches. We had been in the hospital for just over 5 hours, and I had the epidural for a little over an hour. Because of the meconium in my waters, we were put on 24 hour observation.
Dave cut the umbilical cord and also put on her first diaper and change of clothes. He was so in love with her, it was really sweet to see!
The recovery went fairly well. We spent two nights in the hospital (and Dave got to sleep at home - thats how they do it here!) and were discharged Tuesday afternoon in the middle of the first snowstorm of the season.
I really appreciated spending two nights in the hospital. We had some issues with breast feeding - both Georgia and I were slow learners, and it was very helpful to have the midwives come in for every feeding to give suggestions and help.