By 8:30 I still wasn't sure, but they were painful enough that I knew I wasn't going to get much sleep if they didn't stop when I laid down and rested. I started timing the contractions for fun. They were 7-10 minutes apart lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. Still in the range where it could be pre labor, which can last for days before it really heats up and turns into the real thing. I decided to take some Tylenol, take a shower, and try to go to bed. About 9 I saw the "bloody show" which for me, both with Kins and Max, means slightly pink discharge. It means that the cervix is changing, and often means labor is either starting or else will within a couple of days. I tried to go to bed.
By 11 I was cringing and in pain for each contraction. I realized I wasn't going to be able to sleep and woke Tim up to discuss whether to have Laura come over yet to watch Kins. I was worried about dragging her out of bed, finding out it was false labor, and then having to drag her out of bed again a different night. Suddenly, I was struck with a panic that I wasn't going to make it to the hospital in time and called her. She showed up a half hour later, and she, Tim and I sat around for awhile debating if I was really in labor or if I was going to get sent home if I went to the hospital. I tried calling labor and delivery and they said you should wait until contractions are 4 minutes apart lasting 1 minute. Mine around then were 2-7 min apart lasting 30 seconds to 1 minute, so they didn't exactly fit the description. Finally, we decided to just head over to find out so we could either get checked in or else get back home and in bed.
They didn't bother checking me before getting us a room like they did with Kins. Maybe because I was having to pause to wait for contractions to end before continuing with paperwork or answering questions. By 2 am we were in a room, and the nurse checked me to find that I was already a 7. I was pretty pumped about that. Easy peasy so far!
I'm a little foggy on the timeframe, but I think my midwife showed up around 3 or 3:30. She checked me and I was a 9. It was shortly after that when I started pushing. Pushing didn't feel like it did with Kins. With Kins, pushing wasn't more painful than the contractions themselves, just a lot more work. Pushing this time felt excruciating. First I had a lip of cervix left, which finally I pushed past. Next, I learned that Max was posterior and wasn't fitting through my pelvis. After pushing for around an hour and several position changes that didn't help get him past my pelvis I was starting to get very discouraged and was pretty much sobbing inbetween pushing.
It was around 4:30 am when I had an epiphany. It really hadn't occurred to me until that moment that I might actually consider getting the epidural. I asked my midwife if it was too late, as soon as she said no, I said, "Ok, I want it right now." Tim was worried it was something I'd regret so asked if I was sure. I said being fully dilated there would be no stopping this baby from coming out vaginally as long as he fit. I told him I was dead certain that I wanted the epidural, and ASAP, so lets not waste valuable time talking. They had to give me an IV bag of fluids before calling in the anesthesiologist. After having surrendered to the idea of pain medication, my midwife suggested fentanyl while I waited for the epidural. I was worried if Max was born quickly, before it wore off, that he would have trouble breathing. She said that any trouble is reversible with a shot if it comes to that, but she didn't think he would be born within half an hour, after which the drug would be worn off anyway. It made me really dizzy, and I attempted to convince myself it was putting a dent in the pain, but it really wasn't as far as I could tell.
About 20 minutes after I'd asked for it, the anesthesiologist showed up to explain the risks of the epidural and get it going. He had me sit on the edge of the bed and arch my back. I laid my head on the table in front of me and Tim held my hand. The contractions were really intense while I was waiting for him to get me all prepped. After he was done he commented that I was a model patient. I don't know if he was amazing, or if I was in too much pain to feel it, but I couldn't feel the needle at all, so it wasn't too tough to sit still. It took about an hour from the time I said I wanted the epidural until it finally kicked in. I was in heaven. Less than five minutes after it started working I told my midwife I was feeling a lot of pressure like he was really low. She checked, and he had cleared my pelvis. It was time to push again. This time it was a breeze pushing. It felt like I was hardly doing any work at all, yet he was actually making progress coming out. It was also cool because I could focus on the birth in the mirror. He was born at 5:29 am, half an hour after I got the epidural, probably only 15 minutes after it kicked in. I don't regret getting the epidural. If he hadn't been posterior, I think I could've had him naturally no problem, but if I have another posterior baby who just won't turn, I will get it again in a heartbeat.
Here he is the day after birth, all cuddly 7 lbs 8 oz of him.