SO...starting on his due date (December 23rd), we initiated Operation Self-Induction! I made a laborious egg plant parmesan dish guaranteed to put women into labor, drank more herbal raspberry tea than anyone should ever drink in a week, took lenghty walks everyday, ate almost an entire pineapple in less than 24 hours...and participated in some of the more enjoyable inducing methods!
Luke & I (and Augustine!) on Christmas Eve...one day past Augustine's due date!
December 29th arrived, however, and we still didn't have any signs of labor. Somehow we continued to have a glimmer of hope that it would happen on its own--though with each passing minute, we became more accepting of the alternative plan. That afternoon I picked my sister, Ellen, and her daughter, Ariana, up at the airport. That evening Luke's siblings, Anthony, Tessa, and Mary (along with two friends) stopped in for dinner on their long drive to Florida. Though they knew I was slated for an induction at 5:30 the next morning, I don't think any of them suspected I would be going into labor on my own within hours of them leaving our house!
As I was getting ready for bed--something that I put off, much to the chargin of Ellen who insisted I needed to rest for labor the next day--I noticed a considerable amount of mucous when I went to the bathroom. Luke and I were so excited--hopeful, yet aware 5:30 am was only getting closer! It was about midnight when we went to bed, and at 1:15 am, I woke up to the best feeling--contractions! They hurt so good!! I timed a few, and they were six minutes apart. The next few were spaced a bit further apart, but they kept coming! By this point, I had slowly waken Luke up (by pulling on his wrist to time my contractions with his watch), and we thought maybe it was the real thing! For the first few hours, we were definitely experiencing the first emotional signpost: excitement. Although the contractions weren't too painful at this point, they were too distracting to sleep through...plus, we were too excited to fall back to sleep. We considered watching a movie, but we ended up just lying in bed while Luke played with my hair and read to me out of our Bradley book. Several times I went to the bathroom, and the mucous discharge continued. We rejoiced over going into labor spontaneously and not needing to be induced!
By 6:30 am I was ready to go to the hospital! It had always been our plan to do a few hours of hard labor at home, and I thought we had done that...in retrospect, we probably should have waited it out a few more hours at home! Luke stalled until 7 am, and then we were off!
It was very cold outside that morning, and Luke offered me a blanket to wrap up in as I left the house...but I just wanted to get into the car and GO! We pulled up to the emergency room entrance and left the car parked right there (Luke meant to go move it right away, but he forgot until a few hours later when a staff member came to our room to remind him). I was wheeled up to labor and delivery and had to wait for what seemed like forever for them to prepare my room and check me in (...even though I had pre-registered weeks earlier!). It's funny to think that I thought I was in A LOT of pain at that point...hahaha.
Once in my room, I got into bed so my nurse, Robin, could put two monitors around my belly--one to measure my contractions and one to monitor Augustine's heart rate. Then she inserted my IV port--Luke and I really did not want this "routine" IV, but apparently it was non-negotiable and I received fluids throughout much of my labor. It was 8 am by the time I was settled, and I was at 4 cm dilated. Luke was hoping I was further along, based on how much pain (I thought) I was in--little did we know what was to come! Luke was an incredible coach through the entire labor, and I really appreciate him talking me through each and every contraction for the first ten hours or so! It was only when I got to the point that I had to direct my whole focus inward that he gave me that space and supported me by mearly being present.
For the next few hours, I sat in the whirl pool, ate a grape popsicle, sat on the birthing ball, and again tried to walk/stand through some contractions. For some reason, standing during a contraction was just too much for me, so I got back into bed. My sister, Ellen, arrived shortly and was there for the next few hours--until she left to pick up Caitlin and Cole from the airport.
Trying a few contractions on the Birthing Ball. As you can see, I am still kinda smiling, which translated into the realm of natural childbirth means I still have a LONG way to go!
When I was checked again I was at 7-8 cm. This was encouraging at the time, but I stayed at 7-8 cm for the next several hours. It was a great blessing to have Fr. Joseph Mary bring the Eucharist to me around 12:30 pm. (Luke was able to attend Mass at the chapel in the hospital at noon, while Ellen sat with me). The doctor came around 1 pm and said that if I didn't progress soon he would start some pitocin and recommend an epidural. This was disheartening news, as neither Luke nor I wanted to take that route. The pain was SO intense though, and I was beginning to hit the "Self Doubt" emotional sign post.
The nurse offered to give me a dose of Nubain into my IV to "take the edge off" the pain. At that point, it seemed like I either take that or end up with an epidural because I was in so much pain. I compromised with conflicting desires and asked for half a dose of the IV solution. From the minute the nurse gave it to me, I was totally focused inward. Each contraction required all the focus I had. I had to deliberately breath through each second of each contraction. I could no longer communicate with others or respond well. I tried to move as little as possible, for fear of causing more pain or losing my focus. Although the contractions continued to get closer and stronger and were still more painful than anything I had ever (or could ever) imagine experiencing, the Nubain helped me stay focused/calm.
The doctor came back and broke my water at 2 pm. He said that if it didn't help me progress, we would start the pitocin. By 2:50 pm, I "needed" to push. My body was bearing down without my consent, and, per the nurse's request, I was doing everything I could to not push. My body was heaving violently though, and I told Luke I was "pushing by accident." At 3:15 pm, the nurse checked me because my urge to push was so strong, but unfortunately I was still at 7 cm. (Little did I know, at that point she began preparing for the pitocin and an epidural). It was very difficult to fight against my body--I desperatley wanted to cooperate and push when I got the urge, but the nurse said that could cause my (not fully dilated) cervix to become inflamed. BUT I was so sure that it was time to push that I had the nurse check me again at 3:45 pm, and--hooray--I was at 9.5 cm! Although she credited me with being "fully dilated," she said I had to wait for the doctor to arrive to start pushing! Did I mention the doctor was across the street seeing patients at his OB clinic?!? Robin informed him over the phone that I was ready to push. The next half hour was very frustrating for me--my body was telling me to push, my cervix was finally ready too...but the nurse told me to wait for the doctor! He did say I could give one big push, just to see if I was really ready--Robin said Augustine's head came right down the birth canal, and that, YES, I was really ready!
As soon as Dr. Paoloni walked through the door, the pushing began (eh, continued...)! Pushing was an interesting phase of the labor for me. Here I had spent the last 12+ hours in pain, merely waiting for my body to get me to this point. I had been breathing diligently and staying as relaxed as I could, but up until this point there is not too much one can actively do. Now it was time to push...and I felt like it was ALL up to me: if I didn't push, Augustine would not come out! This was a stressful thought to me--one that I had pondered for several months leading up to this moment. Despite my relative calmness thus far, I kind of lost it during the pushing. It was hard for me to tell I was making progress, even with Luke, Robin, Dr. Paoloni, and about five nurses that showed up out of nowhere cheering me on. I pushed at least three times with each contraction, and at some point began crying for a few seconds between each contraction. Things like, "just get him out of me" and "you guys just think I'm doing great, but I'm not" came out between sobs...until I realized, thanks to my husband, that I needed to relax and rest and save my energy for the next contraction.
(Side Bar: Per my request, there was a large free-standing mirror stratigically placed at the foot of my bed. Just as a warning to future Moms who take this route...
*For the last ten minutes of pushing, the mirror is a very cool thing! It's incredible to literally see your child enter the world.
*For the first thirty minutes of pushing, the mirror is not a very cool thing because people telling you you're doing great is not as believable when all you can see is a sliver of your son's head...a very small sliver...think "eye of a needle" sliver.
*AND last, but certainly not least, the moment your child is born, that mirror needs to be wheeled as far away from the foot of your bed as possible...it took them about ten seconds in my case, and let me just tell you, that was about eleven seconds too long!).
Our Family! Luke, Augustine, & I just minutes after Augustine was born. Smiling with my sisters!
At 5:03 pm, after about an hour of pushing, Luke and my life changed forever in an unbelievable way--our darling baby boy was born. Luke and I both teared up...overwhelming emotions of joy, thanksgiving, and love. Luke cut Augustine's umbilical cord, and the doctor placed him right on my chest. I couldn't believe how beautiful he was. It was so surreal to finally see him! Immediately, all the pain and exhaustion I had felt completely disappeared. I was all smiles and had a rush of adrenaline that I don't think has quite worn off yet, almost four months later! Within an hour of his birth, Aunt Ellen, Aunt Caitlin, and Uncle Cole came up to meet their new nephew. I just loved having them there to share such an special time in our lives. We spent two nights in the hospital and came home the morning of January 1st. What a great way to start off the year! Augustine's first outing was to Mass that day!
Our Sweet Baby Boy, Augustine Patrick Vercollone! 6 lbs., 13 oz., 19 1/4 in. long.
Augustine is absolutley amazing, perfect, wonderful...as I said in the beginning, there are no words to adequately express it. Luke and I thank God each day for our perfect Little Man. We are so blessed!!!