Four hours later, around 8:30pm, I started having contractions. These contractions felt different and a bit more uncomfortable than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having. I was finishing up making turkey soup for dinner and in between stirring I watched Titanic on TV and laid on the exercise ball while Aaron timed contractions with an app he had downloaded on his phone. They remained about 5 minutes apart for 2 hours, so we packed the hospital bags and I decided to call the midwife. Wendy was on call, and I was expecting her to tell us to leave for the hospital, thinking my baby boy would be born that night, but instead she suggested that I stay home as long as possible if I really wanted to avoid medical intervention (which was my hope for my labor). Disappointed, I got off the phone and Aaron and I waited some more. At 1am, my contractions were not any different so we decided to go to bed in case this was not real labor and Aaron had to go to work in the morning. As soon as I laid down, my contractions shortened to 2 minutes apart and became more intense. After an hour, I woke Aaron up and told him we needed to leave.
We arrived at the hospital just before 3am where Wendy checked me and said I was about 5cm dilated. The nurse monitored Nolan and my contractions for a little while and then told me to alternate walking in the halls and resting on the exercise ball or in bed. So that's what we did...for 5 hours. My contractions had slowed when we reached the hospital and I remained at 5cm until the new midwife on call, Mary, checked me again at 8am. She gave me the option of going home to labor longer, or having her break my water to get things moving. I definitely did not want to go home and do this, so we opted for breaking my water. Almost immediately my contractions were much stronger and more regular. I couldn't walk comfortably anymore so I swayed on the exercise ball and breathed through contractions for another couple hours.
The hospital has a jacuzzi tub and my vision had been to labor in there during transition, the hardest part of labor from 7-10cm. When I was really uncomfortable on the ball, I decided to get in the tub, even though I hadn't reached transition yet. I wasn't in there very long when my contractions became almost unbearable. I actually asked the nurse about my options for pain medication but she knew that I had wanted a natural birth, so they moved me to the bed and Mary checked me again--7cm! I had only barely made it to the beginning of transition.
The last few hours of labor are a blur... Mary kept encouraging me to do just one more contraction, or two more contractions, over and over again, and she never mentioned medication and I didn't ask again. I know that I was moaning through contractions, something that I didn't expect. Aaron was doing a great job encouraging me, getting me drinks, and keeping Christmas music playing the whole time. I also remember changing positions a lot--the anterior lip of my cervix would not dilate and I had to move around to try to make it go away. The worst part of the whole thing was probably the last half hour before I began pushing--I had the horrible urge to push and wasn't able to--Mary didn't want me to bruise or tear my cervix. Eventually, she held the little edge of my cervix out of the way so I could begin pushing. When I got the ok, I assumed it must be nearly over, but I pushed for an hour and a half--the hardest and sweatiest full body workout of my life. And, it turns out that Nolan was much bigger than anyone expected. His shoulders got stuck and he did not cry when he finally came out. The midwife had to cut the umbilical cord (a job Aaron was hoping to have) so that he could be taken across the room to be checked out quickly before Aaron and I got to meet him. Nolan Zachary Riedl was born on 12/16/10 at 1:47pm, weighing 9lbs 8oz and was 21 1/4" long.