However. I felt that writing a birth plan would be setting myself up for failure. I knew that if I took the time to think about every possible scenario and write a plan based on the various outcomes, I would be disappointed when things didn't go exactly as planned (which they wouldn't. I'm not foolish enough to believe that the birth would follow my precise directions.)
So I didn't have a birth plan.
Shawn and I talked about what we wanted / didn't want and we relied on each other for support. Shawn knew he was in charge of preventing the doctor from giving me an episiotomy and I knew that he didn't want to cut the umbilical cord and we both knew we had each other's back. (In the end it didn't matter because it turned out the doctor who delivered Grady was staunchly anti-episiotomy and when it came time to, Shawn actually did want to cut the umbilical cord.)
I'm getting ahead of myself.
By the time we were in an actual delivery room, I'd been labouring in the hospital for over four hours. I tested positive for group B strep which meant that to prevent infection, my doctor didn't want to break my water or check the progress of my dilation too often. So when Shawn got back from giving his mom our house keys, it was 11pm, I was standing in a hot shower, my water had not broken, and the last time my cervix had been checked was 4 hours before and was between 4 and 5 cm dilated. The gas had lost efficiency by that time but the mask had become my security blanket. I took it into the shower with me, I dragged it behind me as I paced the room, I loved that gas mask.
When I got out of the shower, my nurse checked to see how far I was dilated. She said that because my water hadn't broken, it was impossible to tell accurately how far I was dilated but that she estimated I was between 6 and 7 cm. I was in so much pain and the contractions were coming so close together. I was devastated that I wasn't further along. I told Shawn I couldn't do it anymore. I needed the epidural. Shawn and I both knew that the epidural was an inevitability. My pain tolerance is low and his watching-the-wife-in-pain tolerance is low so we agreed that I would have an epidural when things got bad. I was hoping to make it to 8cm before requesting it because I didn't want to get it too early and end up stalling my labour, but I couldn't imagine being in that much pain for much longer.
The tech came in to do the blood work but I couldn't stand still long enough for her to do it. I was standing at the end of the bed, hunched over my giant belly, screaming at the nurse that I needed to push, when my doctor came in to check on me.
Brief side note. I went to an obstetrical clinic with 8 doctors. The clinic did not assign doctors, you saw the doctor that was in on your appointment day. I ended up seeing 3 of the 8 doctors during my prenatal visits but I really connected with 1 of the doctors. By some happy twist of fate, she was the doctor on call that night and she ended up delivering Grady.
So my doctor came in to check on me, saw how frantic I was, and decided it was time to break my water to get a true assessment of how far I was dilated.
I was 9.5cm dilated. One contraction later, I was 10cm dilated. Too late for the epidural. Time to push.
I cannot accurately describe how much fear I felt when my doctor told me I couldn't have the epidural. The epidural was what I was holding onto through the hours of pain leading up to the delivery. Not having an epidural was not an option for me. I was ready to throw in the towel. Except that you can't actually quit labour. You're kind of stuck by that point.
Fortunately, I had no time to dwell or panic. It was midnight and I was starting to push.
Another brief side note. My doctor was the Monday doctor. During the whole "you can't have the epidural" debacle, I was also panicking because I thought that my doctor was going to leave right before the delivery and the Tuesday doctor was going to take over. Like, at the strike of midnight. It's funny now but at the time it was devastating. (My doctor did not leave. I'm assuming the doctors on-call status changes at a more reasonable hour and not at midnight.)
Pushing is a blur. I remember my nurse was a rockstar. She coached me brilliantly (Shawn told her she should consider joining the Canadian women's curling team because she was so good at yelling "HARD!") I remember crushing Shawn's hand. I remember indescribable pain. I remember screaming. A lot. I remember the burny burny pain of crowning. I remember the huge feeling of relief of my final push. And at 1:07am on July 26th, Grady was born. The exact hour and minute that my little sister's baby had been born 23 days earlier.
They put Grady up on my chest and Shawn cut the cord. My little man was born but he wasn't crying. My doctor and nurse were rubbing him with warm towels but his face stayed grey and his arms and legs stayed blue. That's when they took him away from me. My doctor kept calling over to me, "he's safe, he's safe" but I still made Shawn go hover over her shoulder.
Fifteen minutes later I had my baby back. My beautiful little cone-headed, lizard-eyed baby.
taken half an hour after birth