I'm going to attempt to type out Elise's labor and delivery story, even though some of it was a bit fuzzy at the time... which means it's even more fuzzy now :). I'll try my best, though.
I started having random contractions on Wednesday night, December 18th. I was hoping they would pick up speed on Thursday but they pretty much stayed the same. I went in to work for half a day Thursday but told my boss I would not be back on Friday... I was determined ;). I went home and tried to get things in order. I had a feeling we might need to clean things up, so I had Jason help me get the guest bedroom ready, just in case we had to have his mom stay with Logan overnight. As we were making the bed, I felt a warm gush and just knew my water had broken. I told Jason as I ran to the bathroom and he said "are you sure you didn't just pee your pants?" I was sure ;). I called my doctor's office and they told me it wasn't an emergency but that I should pack my things and come to the hospital. We contacted Jason's parents and they headed to our house. We left the house and arrived at the hospital around 10pm and they were expecting us.
They took me to room B2 and checked me to make sure my water had actually broken and it had. They hooked me up to the fetal and contraction monitors, IV (fluids & penicillin every 4 hours for Group B Strep), drew blood and basically told me to get comfortable because I wasn't leaving until the baby was here. When they checked my cervix, I was only dilated to about 1cm and I think I was about 70-80% effaced. I was starting to feel the contractions more but they were still coming at only about every 10-15 minutes. I think they waited to check me again until the next morning and I had dilated to 3cm. My doctor (Dr. Lambert) had gotten to work at this point so he told the nurse to start me on pitocin to get my contractions going in a better pattern (more frequent and intense). I had been dealing with the pain fairly well until then but the pitocin (aka Devil's venom) put me over the edge. I finally requested the epidural, which the nurse thought would help me relax enough to dilate more. When the anesthesiologist showed up, I was ready for the drugs. I seriously almost gave that man a hug. Anyway, once it kicked in, I was much more comfortable and was able to rest a little bit. Soon after they gave it to me, they told me I was no longer able to eat or drink and that I was only allowed to have some ice chips. They kept pumping fluids into my IV, so I guess that was supposed to keep me from getting dehydrated.
I really wish I had snuck a Zantac at some point that morning because my heartburn was really horrible. When they checked me again in the afternoon, I had dilated to 5cm and was about 90% effaced but baby Elise was still really high up and definitely not in position in my pelvis. The nurse had me trying all sorts of different positions in the bed to try and get the baby to drop. Since I had the epidural, I wasn't allowed to get out of the bed to squat or walk or anything like that. One of the positions she had me try was lying on my side with one leg propped in the air and the other leg straight out. I had to roll over about every 20 minutes and one such roll made me really nauseous. The nausea combined with my heartburn made me throw up and when I threw up, I had a heart palpitation. I've had these since I was really young and they used to be much more frequent but even now when I get them, they only last about 5 minutes and then they go away after I lie down and breathe slowly. Well... that wasn't the case this time. The nurse called the doctor and a cardiac team and soon there were about a dozen doctors in my room asking me questions, hooking me up to an EKG, doing an echo on my heart, and monitoring my heart along with the baby's. The baby was completely content so they didn't freak out as much as they could've but after all the tests came back showing that everything was normal, they decided to try a beta blocker first and when that didn't work they tried another drug that started with a D (don't remember), which finally brought my heart rate back to a normal level. They said it had been about 20 beats higher than the baby's which was averaging around 130. The palpitation had lasted about a total of 30 minutes, which I thought "of course this had to happen while I'm in a hospital", oy :). After all of this, they determined that I have what they called SVT, which is Supraventricular tachycardia and sounds like nothing to be really concerned about but they still kept me hooked up to a monitor for the duration of the delivery.
After my SVT episode, they started the pitocin drip again and Dr. Lambert continued to check on me to make sure I was feeling ok. I was making progress yet it was very slow. I was sure Dr. Lambert was going to get tired of waiting and just tell me it was time to have another C-section but as long as I made some kind of progress, he gave me "2 more hours" each time, which kept me going. Late Friday night, my epidural stopped working. The anesthesiologist came back to my room and tried giving me another dose of pain killers, but they didn't work. The nurse called him back and he redid the epidural completely. It worked pretty well but I still felt pain in my lower abdomen. Even so, there wasn't much that he or anyone else could do about it so I just dealt with it. At 2am on Saturday I was dilated to 9.5 and was 90% effaced. Baby Elise was still really high, though. My nurse continued to do whatever she could to try and get the baby to drop. Elise was also in a bad position in my belly... she liked to curl up to the side. One thing the nurse did was tie a sheet around my belly to keep the baby in the center of my belly. It was kinda comical, really. At some point early Saturday morning, the 2nd epidural stopped working. A 3rd anesthesiologist came to the room and ended up redoing the epidural for a 3rd time. Again, it worked ok but I still felt pain. As a side note, anytime a new doctor or nurse came to my room, they commented on the excitement I caused earlier... apparently "that girl in B2" had quite a reputation :).
At 4am I was 10cm dilated and 100% effaced. The baby was still really high up, though, so the nurse was getting a bit discouraged and wasn't sure if I would be able to avoid a C-section or not. At 5:30am we decided that I should start pushing along with my contractions to see if I could move the baby into a better position. After about 30-45 minutes of pushing, the nurse started getting really excited, saying "you're doing it!". My doctor came in around 6:30 (I think) and was pleasantly surprised. He said he had come in to talk to me about moving forward with a C-section but he could see that I was making progress and that I was doing a great job. I could definitely feel pressure from the baby moving into position so I set a goal for myself of 7:30am. It seemed reasonable at the time but time really went by fast while I was pushing. I think it was around 7:30 when the nurse called for the doctor and a team to come prep for delivery. I was pretty delirious at this point. Even though contractions were coming every few minutes, I kept falling asleep in-between them. My eyes were so swollen that I finally told Jason to tell me when another contraction was starting (yes, I felt them but they were hard to recognize between the pain and pressure of the baby's position).
Everyone who was in the room was encouraging me and telling me to push harder. I was getting a bit frustrated at that point because it was a little after 8:00 and she still hadn't come out. My nurse from overnight (Mary) even stayed past the time she was supposed to leave because she wanted to see Elise born :). I kept pushing and just about the time when I was going to request an episiotomy (or anything to get her out), the doctor gave me one. With my next push at 8:17am, she came out and they put her on my chest while they massaged her to get her breathing. It was a really crazy moment... I was exhausted beyond words but so happy at the same time. This experience was so different than Logan's birth (c-section). I got to have skin-to-skin contact with Elise right away, they honored my request of delayed cord clamping, and I was able to start nursing her within 30 minutes of her birth. Before the nurses did anything with/to Elise, they asked me if it was ok.
Baby Elise is absolutely perfect. She has my chin, Jason's toes, and she has such a sweet temperament. She rarely cries, she loves to snuggle, and she eats and burps like a champ :). She was 7 lbs 15oz and 20.5" long and is a beautiful little girl :). Even though my labor and delivery didn't go exactly as planned, I was able to successfully achieve a VBAC after 36 hours of labor. Elise (or "baby Halise", as Logan lovingly calls her) is here, healthy, and I will always be grateful to the doctors and nurses who helped her to get here safely :).