So Not-Jac told me that, while I couldn't have an epidural, I could have something else. Remifentanil. She briefly explained what Remi was and gave us a sheet of facts. It wasn't a pain management option I'd heard about at all prior to that moment, which surprised me given all my research. I've since learned that they only give Remi when a patient can't have an epidural.
We agreed to the Remi, which would be self-administered via a pump. They got another cannula put in my hand (this time in a very awkward place, right where my wrist bent) and got me all hooked up. The nice student midwife helped me put my hair in a ponytail. I tried to do it myself, but the IVs made it impossible to manoeuvre. It was a small act, but still sticks with me as a reassuring, and sweet moment from my labour.
the Remi port the day after giving birth
After the pump contraption was all set up and the port was in, Not-Jac explained that I would have to push a button to administer a dose. I could choose when to release a dose, but there was a time limit on how frequently I could push the button. She explained that I'd need to learn how to time it with the contractions for maximum effect and suggested pushing the button as each contraction started. She then held out the button to me. I remember a look in her eye as she made me reach out for the button and take it, rather than just handing it to me. It was a final moment of "you must choose this". I'm not sure how much that memory is based in reality. I grabbed the controller and, as Ross put it, "pushed the button like I was blowing up China". Nearly immediately, I felt the relief flood my body.
From there, time gets REALLY fuzzy. It was about 4 in the morning, I think. My world narrowed to just me, the button, and anything happening within about a foot of me. Even Ross is quiet blurry in my memory from this point. I was frequently aware of (and very grateful for) his presence, but was so "in" the labour that I don't think I interacted much with him. I know he kept calm by emailing updates to people and cleaning up the ice that we'd brought that had now melted. (Our freezer bag was leaking and he had visions of midwives slipping in a puddle on their way to render aid to the baby with the machine that was next to him. He was meticulous in cleaning it up. In the end, distraction was the only thing that ice was good for.)
Labour continued on unremarkably from this point. (There was one point where Ross overheard the midwives with scraps of "obviously in distress... baby isn't doing well... I don't want to be the one to tell her..." I didn't hear any of this (Thank God!!), but Ross was understandably freaking out. He called over the the midwives, who were on the other side of the room, and asked if everything was ok. They seemed confused why he was asking and replied "Of course" and that "if anything were wrong they'd tell us". Apparently they were discussing someone else! Ross told them that it would be nice to be told that everything was ok from time to time. My poor honey! I've said it before, but I don't envy the husband during labour. It's a tough job!) At some point, our midwives had a break and someone else came in to cover for a while. Then our original midwives went off their shift and someone new took over. She was a young midwife and I don't remember much about her, other than that she was nice. For some reason, I was giving a nose thingie to give me oxygen. I threw up a couple of times.
The next thing I really remember is when things go exciting. I started to feel that things were HAPPENING. I noticed the midwives moving into action. I overheard someone tell someone else that I'd be starting to push soon. I informed them that it was happening NOW. I felt an uncontrollable need to push and that wasn't any stopping it. Someone pointed out that the Remi had run out. My first reaction was that I needed more, but that didn't happen. I decided that I could make it for the last bit med-free. I am so happy with that decision. Because it's such a fast in/out drug, I was able to be really present for the pushing and birth. It was much closer to the birth I'd wanted than I thought I'd be getting!
All in all, I think I pushed maybe 5 times. It didn't take much more than about 15 minutes. When I got to the point of the "ring of fire", I followed the advice of my midwife and panted, rather than pushing. Man, that sucked. In the last few moments of pushing I remember thinking that I could feel the baby's nose squishing against me and jokingly mentally cursing that sweet little nose. And then, I pushed and I felt the most massive relief in my life. Linus shot out between my legs and I felt the umbilical cord follow suit. It felt like a hose unravelling, complete with "bdd-dd-d-ddddd" sound effects. It seemed impossibly long in the moment.
Ross was at my side as we saw our son come into the world. He looked so huge to me. He was slightly purple (which I'd been prepared for), but perfect. He had lots of hair. The midwife quickly wiped him a bit and then placed him on my chest for skin-to-skin. He scored 9s on both of his APGAR ratings. It was 8:25AM on March 1, 2012.
Linus' first picture