After I finished the IV fluids, I was transferred to a delivery room a little bit before 4 AM. As I was wheeled to the room, I passed my doctor in the hallway and waved. It was kind of funny because ealier in the week when we had discussed scheduling my induction and I had mentioned that I'd like to wait until after July 1 (because of my mom flying in), my doctor had commented, "Oh that's a bad day for me anyway." Oh well - I guess my mom wasn't the only one for whom the timing wasn't great. Anyway once I got to the room, my doctor came in to check me. After exchanging pleasantries, I inquired about my epidural since obviously nothing on earth was more important than that. The pain was getting worse, for both me and Eddie's hand. Tragically, I was told that there were two emergency c-sections that had recently come in and only one anesthesiologist on duty. But, she assured me, she would have him sent in as soon as possible and she hoped that I would get it in time. This concept was a bit of a shock for me, because I had not entertained the possibility of not getting an epidural. But I was optimistic about getting it in time though not thrilled about enduring more un-drugged labor while waiting for it. I was measuring 6 cm now, which means I had only dilated another 1 1/2 cm in the past hour. My doctor said they could probably do the epidural up to 8 cm, so I calculated that I had at least another hour before I'd reach that, maybe more. Dilation sometimes slows down toward the end and people get "stuck"... and getting stuck would have been fine with me.
While my doctor was in the room, I was unable to talk through contractions though they weren't unbearable. But after my doctor left, stating that she would return to check on me soon, the contractions started getting so bad, with each one seeming worse than the last, that I became vocal. Not actual screaming (yet), but I really started panicking about the idea of having to go through the entire birthing process with no epidural and I asked Eddie to please, please, please pray that I wouldn't have to because, as I told him through suppressed screaming, I simply cannot.
Apparently we can do the things we think we can't.
My doctor came back when she heard my screaming from the hallway. It was about 4:25 AM [by the way, I am able to be pretty precise with these times because there was a big clock on the wall in front of me and I had nothing else to do between contractions besides look at it] and I asked her to check my dilation again. I was horrified when she told me I was already 9 cm. I knew that this meant no epidural and that I was going to feel every bit of the rest of the labor. The contractions were absolutely unbearable at this point. At the risk of sounding overly melodramatic, I was writhing and kicking in agony and screaming through the contractions. It was almost like childbirth was some terrible punishment resulting from the curse of sin... oh wait, that is what it was!
Within a few minutes of the doctor checking my cervix, I suddenly felt like I had to push. I told her that I felt sure my body was telling me to push, so she checked me again; I was fully dilated and effaced. The nurse team quickly started breaking down the bed and prepping the doctor for delivery. You know how sometimes Hollywood portrays things unrealistically and we say about something like, "It's not like the movies"? Well, this time it was. It was every bit as dramatic as a movie birth, complete with blood-curdling screaming. But I pushed for just under 15 minutes, so it wasn't as long as it could have been. The contractions were coming every minute or less at that point and I pushed with every contraction, so that was about 15 rounds of pushing, give or take. After Liberty's head was fully out, the doctor told me to shop pushing, so I "sat out' one contraction. Later, Eddie told me that the cord was wrapped around Liberty's neck and that was why I couldn't push. After that, it was one more push to get the rest of her out and she was born at 4:45 AM.
Liberty was placed against me immediately and it was wonderful to hold her, but I must confess that I was rather dazed from the whole experience. After Peter came out, I felt fabulous because I had felt no pain. This time I felt so drained, physically and emotionally. But there were some positive difference between the two births. Like, I had been worried about the placenta not birthing (with Peter it didn't on its own and had to be removed) but this time it came out pretty quickly. Good thing too, because I've heard that having the placenta removed is more painful than pushing the baby out (I wouldn't know though - I didn't feel any of it with Peter). The biggest plus though was that there was no tearing with Liberty which ended up making my overall recovery much less painful than it had been after Peter (2nd degree tear then).
Afterward, in contrasting my epidural birth with my natural birth, I'm still a total epidural fan. I never experienced any of the possible side effects of an epidural (like headaches or the baby being too drowsy to nurse) and even though I tend to be "kinda crunchy" (as one Facebook quiz called my parenting syle), when it comes to pain that bad I can't logically process why I shouldn't make it go away if I can. I did ask my doctor if she thought that not having the epidural is what helped me to not tear this time around, but she did not think there was any correlation. Oh and speaking of being kinda crunchy, even though I had horrible afterbirth cramping every time I nursed Liberty, I didn't take any pain meds other than Ibuprofren (they kept offering me something like Darvocet or one of those narcotic painkillers, can't remember which exactly). So this thing really turned into a drug-free experience from start to finish!
I also had an excellent hospital experience and liked this hospital even better than the one Peter had been born at. The nursing staff was wonderful, I labored and recovered in the same room/bed so I didn't have to be moved an hour after giving birth (like seriously, why do they make you do that at other hospitals?!), the visitor rules were not enforced, and the food was great (and yes, after 9 months of pregnancy involving first nausea/vomiting and then heartburn, good food is important). This hospital also allowed the baby to room in with me even when I was sleeping, so Liberty didn't spend any time in the nursery at all. I think the only time she left me was for her hearing test. Overall, the experience was completely positive other than the agonizing pain, which was nobody's fault, and I'd definitely birth at that hospital again (hopefully not for a while though!).