Here it is, the labor story with all the glorious details! Feel free to skip this post and head to the next one with the cute Kenna picture if you haven't yet seen it! :-)
Sunday night, February 25, I was awakened several times throughout the night with uncomfortable contractions. All day Monday I felt "weird." Probably other moms can attest to the same unexplainable feeling--it's just different, a sort-of-knowing-but-not-entirely-sure that something is going to happen soon. My contractions came and went throughout the day. I had called Ted, who was TDY to Florida, to let him know I had been having contractions and put my friends on alert in case something happened before he got home.
I scrapped with some customers at my house that evening, and the contractions came fairly regularly, 15-20 minutes apart. By this time they were more than just uncomfortable...so I called Debi and took her up on her offer from earlier in the day to come over and camp out on our couch, just in case. The other ladies left around 10 p.m., and Debi and I headed to bed shortly afterwards.
I slept for about an hour before I woke and started timing contractions. They were about 7-8 minutes apart. I called Sarah to let her know they were coming closer, and after we talked a bit, I took a nice, long, hot shower. I decided to lie down after that to try to get some rest, since the contractions were consistent but not getting any closer together. Lo and behold, they slowed down, so I dozed about 10-15 minutes at a time only to wake when another one came. It was at this point that, though the contractions were 15-20 minutes apart for about an hour and a half, that I truly felt the onset of labor--the pain was greatly intensified. It was approximately 2 a.m. Debi heard me moaning through a contraction and came in and sat with me. After we talked awhile, I got up. The pains began coming at regular 4-5 minute intervals, so I called Sarah back. She arrived at the house around 3:00. I went in to kiss all my kids before we left. The boys didn't move, but Charis smiled sleepily at me. I told her I was going to the hospital to get her baby sister, and she said, "Oh!" and gave me a hug. I'm not sure whether she was really coherent, but it was cute anyway.
I called Ted as we were leaving the house, and he immediately began doing what he could to make arrangements to come home early. During the 14-mile drive to the base hospital I had NO contractions. Debi and I were beginning to get worried...the last thing I wanted was to mobilize the troops only to be told I was having a false alarm, something that happened twice with Arden. (It's rather embarrassing to be in the hospital TWICE thinking you're in labor with your THIRD child!!) Fortunately, I had another contraction right as we were getting ready to pull onto base property, and they began coming regularly again as we made our way up to Labor & Delivery.
Once I was hooked up to all the monitors, etc. (probably around 4:15 a.m.), the nurse told me that after they checked my cervix, they'd probably have me get up and walk awhile. (I don't know, maybe I wasn't moaning loudly enough?!) Upon checking, however, they discovered I was 4-almost-5 centimeters dilated and having very regular contractions. Whew. They asked what my "pain management" plan was, and I said I wanted to try to get to 6-7 centimeters before getting an epidural. I had epidurals with both of the boys--Tobin's labor was quite quick and intense, and I was about 8 centimeters (possibly even more) when I got the epidural, and he was born shortly afterwards. With Arden, however, I got the epidural at 5 centimeters, and labor progressed extremely slowly throughout the night, so slowly that they ended up giving me a couple of drops of pitocin, which was awful. I had to get the epidural adjusted, because it wasn't doing anything for the pain, and it was just not a pleasant experience. I didn't want to chance having my labor slow down this time, so I figured getting to 6 or 7 centimeters would be reasonable.
In the meantime, I had Debi read a couple of passages I had felt God lay on my heart during my quiet time:
"Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a glory which far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that youwill not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:1-3
She read these verses while I squeezed her hand during each contraction, and we made it through the next hour or so. I remember the contractions during my labor with Tobin were so intense, coming one on top of the other so that I could hardly breathe. The Lord obviously knew how much I could handle, and this time there was breathing room in between the contractions, for which I was most thankful! It seemed like the nurses and staff kind of left me alone for awhile, and I wasn't checked again until 5:30 a.m. I didn't even have an IV in my arm, which is very strange--they usually poke you as soon as you get admitted to a base hospital, it seems. Anyway, by this point I was more than ready for some pain relief, so I was glad to hear that I was at 7 centimeters. I talked to Ted, who was waiting to board his plane, on the phone to tell him that I would be getting an epidural shortly. By the time we hung up, however, the nurse informed me that, "Um, actually, you're now at 10 centimeters and her head is right here."
What?! "Isn't there anything I can get?" I begged.
Nope. Not when the baby is so close to coming out! My immediate thought was, "I'm gonna die. I can NOT do this."
Well, needless to say, I did not die, and I DID do it. I had Debi call Ted back to tell him the baby was on her way, and she caught him right as he was boarding the plane. I'm not sure how many contractions I pushed through, maybe 4-5. The contractions were cake compared to pushing Kenna out--I felt like I was being ripped open, and I truly do not know how women can choose to go through natural childbirth more than once. My hat is off to those of you who have done it! However, it's nice to be able to say I had a baby naturally, and I do love the fact that she was so much more alert in those first hours and days than my sleepy epidural babies. (I had a spinal with Charis, which was beginning to wear off as I started my 45 minutes of pushing, plus I had had some IV drugs that must have taken the edge off the pain of pushing, because I know I certainly didn't go through that much pain when she was born.)
Debi was great to take some pictures for me of Kenna in the delivery room, and I'll post some later. She was born at 6:12 a.m., just about 2 1/2 hours after we arrived at the hospital. So--how long would I consider this labor to be?! That's really hard to say! I had had contractions for literally weeks leading up to her birth, and definitely had them off and on Sunday and Monday. However...I think the turning point was those no-kidding-delivery-is-just-around-the-corner painful contractions that started after my shower late Monday night/early Tuesday morning. So, approximately 4-5 hours, maybe? Much different than when I had Tobin and the contractions DEFINITELY began at 8 p.m. and he was born 6 hours later.
Kenna nursed like a champ right after she was cleaned up and handed to me. By that point I was breathing again and feeling better after having been told that despite how my body felt, I actually did not have any tearing. Wahoo! I then walked to our room since L&D was especially busy and they needed the delivery room ASAP. Kenna was whisked away a bit later for her bath, and then Debi got to spend some time holding her before she headed home for some well-deserved rest. She was a great labor coach, and I'm so thankful she was able to be with me during these special moments. I think I scared her half to death with my yelling during Kenna's delivery, but that couldn't be helped. :-)
Ted's plane landed in Las Vegas at 11:40, and the B family brought him and all of our kids (ours and theirs, I mean) to the hospital. About 6 hours after his daughter was born, Ted got to hold Kenna for the first time, and it was definitely love at first sight. Then the kids came in to ooo and aaah over her, and we spent some precious moments together before Ted took them home for lunch and gave Kenna and me a chance to rest. They came back to the hospital for dinner and spent another hour and a half with us in a very tiny room that seemed to have more buttons than we could keep the boys' hands off, but the important thing was, we were together!
Kenna and I were released from the hospital the next morning, my shortest hospital stay ever. (I was required to stay 48 hours with the other babies.) It was so wonderful to get home, and now that Kenna has been with us for 9 days, as usual, our family has expanded our hearts and we just can't imagine life without her.
Pictures to come in the next post. This mama is tired, and Kenna is ready to eat again!