(Ok, so that was me being sarcastic. It's been 3 weeks, I can laugh about it now. Almost.)
As I said before, I really wasn't mentally prepared for what unmedicated labor was going to feel like. I'd read about making a birth plan, but in all honesty, I didn't have really strong feelings about how I wanted to give birth. I knew I didn't want narcotics, for various reasons, and I knew I wasn't against having an epidural, but beyond that, I was fairly ambivalent about it. So, when the contractions started to get serious and things with the epidural went haywire, I kept thinking about how I'd failed at this. It wasn't an overwhelming sense of failure, but more of a regret that I hadn't taken it seriously enough. As I sat hunched over that pillow, trying desperately to breath through the contractions while they messed around with the catheters, I just went inside myself. I spent most of the time with my eyes closed, trying to remember to breath, and holding onto Travis' hand for all I was worth. It was a swell way to spend an hour or two.
The epidural did finally take affect and I was more than ready to take a nap. I had slept really badly Monday and Tuesday nights, and after staying up all night Wednesday, I was beyond exhausted. The nurses assured me that it would be a couple of hours and that I should get some rest. About 20 minutes later, I began to shake a little. I knew it was a side-effect of the epidural, and they weren't bad, so I just casually paged the nurse to ask for a blanket...but not to hurry. Also around this time, I noticed that the pressure I had been feeling in my pelvis had moved to my bottom. It was only intermitten at first, but over the course of about 20 minutes, it became constant. It wasn't painful, just weird. Travis had returned at this point and given me a blanket, so I wasn't as concerned that the nurse hadn't come by. However, I began to wonder just what the pressure could mean. At this point, I had to remind myself that I wasn't inconveniencing the nurses by asking them to come into my room. The hospital had a one-to-one ratio for labor and delivery nurses to patients, so it's not like I was prying her away from someone else. So, I pressed the button again, and asked to have her come by. She was apparently unavailable, so another nurse came into to check me. She did a quick exam and laughed. Apparently the pressure I had been feeling...well, that pressure was a baby. She said it was time to push and she went to get my nurse.
It was surreal. After all those months, and after such a long day, the time had finally come. I was so overloaded at this point that I wasn't really emotionally processing any of it. I remember thinking, though, that I had really been looking forward to that nap. Oh, well! It was showtime.
Pushing ended up being a lot easier than I thought it would be. With the epidural, I wasn't feeling the contractions at all, and I was worried I wouldn't be able to push very well. But it wasn't hard, at first. Then I started to shake uncontrollably. The shivering had been fairly light earlier, but it kicked in hardcore about the time I had to push. It was awful. I couldn't believe after all that had gone on that afternoon, that I was still going to be thwarted. My jaw was killing me cause I kept clenching it to deal with the shaking. I even had Travis try to massage it because the pain was so distracting. It zapped all my energy to push.
However, despite the shaking, I was still able to deliver within 30 or 40 minutes. My doctor happened to have another patient who was delivering at the same time, so a midwife that was part of the same practice came in to help deliver. At that point, I really didn't care who down there. I just wanted to stop shaking. After all my worrying about the pain of giving birth, I never expected that the one thing that would wear me down was shaking.
So, with a little coaching and a lot of encouragement, Luke James Norton was born at 5:21 PM. He was and is perfect. All 10 fingers and all 10 toes, cute dimple in his left cheek, and a little Travis-esque face. After all those months of carrying that baby around and then giving birth to him...the kid looks nothing like me. Where's the justice in that? Oh well. If he can't look like me, at least he looks like my favorite person. :)