My doctor had encouraged me to be especially aware of the baby's movements in the womb toward the end, so I tried to track his movement patterns on Monday the 28th of May. In so doing, I began to notice the uterus tightening periodically, which I initially wrote off as Braxton Hicks contractions. But later that evening, I began to time them and noticed that they were coming at somewhat regular intervals of 12 minutes apart.
I had a feeling that this was the beginning of the end. I told Barry as much, and we both agreed that it would be wise to go to bed and try to get as much sleep as possible. I knew that I would wake up eventually if this was the real deal. When I didn't wake up until 8 am, I figured that I had misjudged in typical drama queen fashion.
I went into the doctor's office for a scheduled appointment at 2 in the afternoon (on Tuesday). I had to get a biophysical profile, which means a sonogram, nonstress test, and exam. The sonogram showed that the amniotic fluid was back to an acceptable level, so that was a relief. But it also showed the baby had gained quite a bit of weight. The nonstress test showed something very interesting: my contractions were 8 minutes apart. Then the doctor came in and we discovered I was 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced.
My doctor advised me to eat a good dinner, as she expected to see me at the hospital soon. She said if the contractions continued at 15 minutes apart or less for more than an hour, I should head up to the hospital.
Barry and Abigail picked me up at about 5 pm, and taking the doctor's advice, we went to Cousin's BBQ for dinner. All the while in the car, I was timing my contractions. Keep in mind that these contractions were completely painless -- I could only feel a tightening sensation. They were still coming about every 8 minutes. On the way to Cousin's, we called Barry's mom and asked her to come to Fort Worth, just in case.
After we got home, we started rushing around to gather our things for the hospital. Barry encouraged me to sit and relax, and we put in a Veggie Tales tape for Abigail. I noticed that the contractions were now 5 minutes apart, and there was a slight crampy feeling. This made me very nervous, so we called our neighbors, Keith and Amy, and sent Abigail over. Then we headed for the hospital. The ride to the hospital was so very different from when I was in labor with Abigail -- I was excited and pain-free!
We arrived at the hospital at about 7:30 pm. I felt ridiculous showing up at the hospital without being in any sort of pain. I told the nurses at the check-in station, "I may not look like I'm in labor, but I think I am." They took me to the triage room to monitor me before admitting me. I was pretty sure at this point that I would be sent home. I was 4 cm when they checked me. An hour later, I was 5 cm, so they gave me a real room. I still wasn't convinced that I was really in labor, though, because I just didn't feel much pain. I walked around the room for hours, thinking that it would help get things moving. It didn't. The contractions were still coming 4 to 5 minutes apart and without much pain. Barry's mom stopped by the hospital at about 11 and we chatted. I was happy to have something to take my mind off the clock. I never understood before why the books recommend bringing playing cards or magazines to the hospital, but now I do.
We decided to get some rest, so we laid down and tried to sleep. I think my body being relaxed made the contractions start to come on stronger. There was no doubt I was in labor now. I tried to do my relaxation breathing. It was amazing how fast the contractions went from being completely painless to very painful. My contractions tend to double peak, too, so after an especially painful contraction, I thought, "I remember this, and it's only the beginning -- I'm not going through this again!" I called for the epidural.
I couldn't believe how fast the anesthesiologist arrived (it was about 2 am now). Before I had another painful contraction, the epidural was inserted and I was going numb from the waist down. By the way, I had been so nervous about that needle and it ended up being no big deal at all -- all I could feel was the bee sting of the numbing shot.
When I was pregnant, I had asked two different women who had had both natural and epidural deliveries, and both had said the same thing: "Wow, what can I say?" My sentiments exactly. No comparison really. After I had the epidural, I slept off and on all night.
At 6 am or so, my doctor came in and examined me. I was between 5 and 6 cm. Time to break the water to get things moving. That really did the trick. Though I couldn't feel it, I could see that my contractions on the fetal monitor were now coming close together. At about 8 am I was fully dilated, but I could only feel a very slight pressure. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to feel to push. However, they propped my legs up and told me when to hunker down and push. Having pushed out Abigail, I already knew what to do. Reuben came out in about 3 contractions, or 6 pushes or so -- very fast!
I couldn't believe my eyes: there he was all blue and crying and perfectly healthy (he quickly became a nice red color), and all without feeling any pain. And his face looked boyish right from the start. He was born at 8:21 am on Wednesday, May 30th, weighing in at 8 lbs. 10 ou. and 20.5 in. long. We sure do love our Reuben Ellis Bishop (or Mr. Ru, as we like to call him)!