First of all I will preface this with saying that labor was not at all what I expected. I expected it to hurt more. Way more. I have always suspected that after the baby is out there is some blissful hormone that makes women forget how much it hurt and how horrible labor was - but labor wasn't bad at all - and not just because I got a baby at the end.
It started out like any other night - me lying in bed contracting waiting to fall asleep. I wasn't even contracting more than usual, but for some reason I was just feeling that night like I couldn't sleep so I sat and played solitaire on my phone. About 1 in the morning I got up to use the restroom about 20 minutes after I had just gone but since this was pretty typical I didn't think much of it. Until I went and discovered that I was bleeding.
It was the exact same sensation as was at 19 weeks of shock and immediate worry except this time I put my hands on my belly and just prayed for her to move. I thought going into labor would be something that got worse over time or that I would break my bag and start contracting worse but really I felt nothing different from the way I felt in the several months preceding. When I had previously imagined how labor would start I thought I would be contracting for a while at home and would probably have time to get a shower in. No such luck since I was starting to freak out that I was bleeding and she wasn't moving.
I woke the husband, grabbed the bags and we made it out of the house within minutes. Fortunately once in the car she started dancing around which made me feel infinitely and instantly better.
We got to the hospital, I checked in and got checked and there I was 4 cm dilated and contracting every 2-3 minutes. Everyone kept asking me when the contractions had gotten stronger - I didn't know quite how to answer being that the contractions were exactly the same as they had been for over a month albeit a little more regular and frequent. Since I had been about 1.5 cm 2 days prior they admitted me for labor even though I wasn't really sure I was in labor - there certainly was no going home after that amount of bleeding.
So I sat there for several hours not really making any progress and not really transitioning to active labor so I let them start some pitocin and sure enough it pushed me over the edge. My water broke, I got my epidural (which was absolutely fabulous by the way) and went from 4 to 8 to complete in 4 hours.
For my final check we did a couple test pushes, realized she was right there and once everything was ready I pushed for a matter of minutes. I actually could have probably done a bit less personal damage if I went slower but there was a point where we couldn't hear her heartbeat on the monitor and I just realized that I wanted her out.
In the next moment - there she was. Open eyed, looking around, stunned and in my arms. She didn't cry - only wimpered as she just snuggled into my chest. Between me my husband and the nurse we were all trying to stimulate her to cry to get her lungs opened up - but she was perfectly content from the get go - and so was I.
Usually really crappy things happen to physicians when they are in labor. Its usually a 2 day induction for preeclampsia followed by an arrest of decent of the baby followed by an emergency cesarean. Usually pediatrics needs to be there for some complication and overall the labors can be nightmarish which is what I was expecting. But mine was about as straightforward and minimal on pain as they come. Yes I had an epidural and it worked well and I am glad I did - for me it allowed me to really relax and enjoy the process. I actually kept it at a level that the contractions still hurt somewhat so I could feel what was going on. My only complication was a bit more blood loss than usual and continued bleeding after which left me on the border of transfusion, but I escaped because of how anemic I was to start.
Medically - I was a nothing-burger. I came in, I had a baby and I recovered and went home. In a pregnancy stacked up against how things were supposed to go, this was a nice refresher. I came up with an interesting conclusion to this story: my body may have been incapable of conceiving, have struggled holding a baby in until term but I was meant to give birth.
Something had to work right :)