By 6:30 am, the contractions were right on top of each other and I was pretty sure my water had broken on its own. I spent the next 30 minutes laboring pretty intensely until an anesthesiologist surprised us by walking in with my epidural.
My emotions were very mixed at this point… I had mentally adjusted to the idea of delivering without the epidural so didn’t know how to feel about the unexpected possibility of getting pain relief. But in the end, no one really asked me, so I just rolled with it.
Getting into position for the epidural was a challenge because my contractions were so intense and close together. But I sat up, put my feet on a chair next to the bed and concentrated on following the anesthesiologist’s instructions. Josh had been coaching me from the other side of the bed so he stood up and came around the bed to hold my hand during the continuing contractions and the epidural. The doctor was instructing me to roll my back so he could insert the needle when suddenly Josh’s head was resting on my neck! I thought it was a strange time for him to give me a love nuzzle, so I called out his name. No response. I said his name a second time, a little louder. Josh had passed out.
The anesthesiologist recognized what was happening and called out, ‘Dad! Dad!’ This alerted the nurse who roused Josh and managed to get him into the chair where my feet had been resting. His proximity to the chair was fortunate as the nurse was tiny and had no home of supporting him had it been necessary. He was only out for a second or two and in some ways it was a welcome distraction from my pain. He had seen me get my epidural when our two other boys were born, so I was confident that was not why he fainted. I asked him what had happened and he said he got light headed when he stood up and was pretty sure it was because he hadn’t eaten anything since the night before. He stepped away from my side to get some food from his backpack and the nurse brought him a soda.
It was probably around 7:10 am at this point and the anesthesiologist was finishing taping the tubing to my back. Suddenly, I felt a rush of fluid and intense urge to push. This baby was coming NOW. I yelled to the nurse and she instructed me to try to resist the urge (ha!) until the anesthesiologist could finish his work and they could move me on to my back from the sitting position. She also told me to pretend like I was blowing out birthday candles… that this would somehow lessen my urge to push. All that work on my epidural was for naught as there was no time for me to receive the anesthesia.
The room was in some degree of chaos. Clearly I was progressing much faster than anyone expected. My nurse called for my OB to come in as well as additional nurses to prepare the equipment for the baby. I was concentrating so hard on breathing through the contractions and resisting pushing, I was only vaguely aware of the hub-bub until my favorite OB (Dr. M) from my practice walked in. Turns out the doctors switched shifts at 7am, so Dr. A had left and Dr. M had arrived. Hooray!
I remember frantically calling for Josh (who had been boosting his blood sugar with a snack) as they positioned me to push. My focus was still on breathing through the contractions so it took everyone in the room to break through to me that I needed to HOLD my breath and push through the contractions. When it finally registered what they wanted me to do, I started pushing. Pushing was certainly not pain-free, but it was a different pain than the contractions. I pushed though two contractions, maybe three, and Jonah Thomas Lauer entered the world with a healthy cry.