It is SO hard to believe that a week has flown by already, but it has, in a sleep-deprived stupor.
One week and some hours ago, one perfect baby entered the world and changed the course of our lives forever.
It all started on Tuesday the 23rd. I woke up around 6am with one big contraction that I wasn’t sure was really a contraction. You forget these things when it’s been six and a half years.
These contractions (that I wasn’t sure were contractions) continued every. twenty. minutes. all day long. They didn’t really hurt at first, which is why I wasn’t sure they were real, and besides, I had already chosen Monday, October 29th, for her to be born since that was the full moon and all, and it would have been a really convenient day for me to go into labor, so I chose to stay in denial most of the day and pretend I was just having Braxton-Hicks contractions.
It was beginning to look like I was REALLY going to have that baby before October 29th (our due date was Halloween), and I had not even had a chance to get my pre-delivery pedicure yet. It was horrifying, really, to think that my feet were going to be all up in stirrups with my toes undone. And there were other minor details that I planned to take care of in my last week before baby’s arrival. Minor details like one last grocery run, making arrangements for who would keep my other two children while I was in the hospital, and thinking up a baby name and stuff like that. But nobody asked me.
So hubby got home shortly after 5pm, and by then my contractions were 3 to 5 minutes apart. They weren’t terribly uncomfortable, and so I refused to go to the hospital just yet. I had this birth plan, see, where I was NOT going to have Pitocin, I was NOT going to have ANY pain meds, and I was going to go to the hospital at the last possible minute so that it would be too late for me to cave about the drugs, and I was going to pop this baby out quickly and easily and return to my college body within minutes of giving birth. I had been induced with my first two babies, but I know more now and wanted to go a more natural route this time around, AND I had been told by everyone that labor with your third baby is SOOOOO much faster and easier, and so THAT WAS THE PLAN.
But nobody asked me. OK, well, they DID ask, and I adamantly told them all the PLAN. No Pitocin. No Stadol. No epidural. Quick. Easy. Twenty-year-old body. The Plan. But then I started playing back conversations in my mind about how third babies come so fast that sometimes they’re born in the car on the way to the hospital, and seeing as how THAT particular scenario wasn’t part of the Plan, when the contractions started coming two to three minutes apart, I told hubby that we should probably think about getting to the hospital…
He was instantly whipped into a nervous frenzy.
I just knew, however, that I was only slightly uncomfortable because this being my third baby and all, and me being the tough, sturdy sort of person who could withstand extreme pain without losing my calm, that I had in fact labored bravely at home through the worst of it and just KNEW that upon being checked, the nurses would marvel that I had already dilated to a 9 and would be just seconds from popping this baby out quickly and easily, all the while never breaking a sweat and cracking jokes the whole time.
|The view of my room from the hospital bed.|
As was the case when we arrived at the hospital around 8pm. The admissions clerk asked me how far apart my contractions were, and I told her with a sweet smile, “Oh, every two to three minutes…” I thought she must have been wowed by my bravery and toughness, and wondered if she had ever seen anyone look quite so together during labor. I mentally patted myself on the back.
Oh, I HAD this, so I thought.
She escorted me to room 4507 where I changed into a glamorous hospital gown and prepared to have this baby and be sleeping comfortably by midnight. We smiled and joked with the nurses and each other. It was shaping up to be a fun and exciting night, really, and I was going to make this whole labor and delivery thing look GOOD.
And then the nurse checked me and had the audacity to tell me I was dilated to…. a three.
OH NO, I said, that can’t be possible, because I have labored bravely at home all day long, and this is my third baby, so please check again. I’m at an eight; I can feel it.
“I’ll check again in two hours,” she said, “and if you haven’t made progress they’ll probably send you home.”
I was beginning to feel some alarm, because these contractions were starting to HURT, dangit. Oh, I was still able to smile and laugh, in between the hurt, but that was only due to my toughness and bravery, and not because I hadn’t progressed very far in labor. So I thought.
I decided to walk the halls, because walking makes these things move right along. I’d show THEM, I thought.
We walked the halls, me in my fabulous hospital gown, smiling and joking in between the now-quite-painful contractions. I thought it would be wise to do some lunges up and down the hall. I did one, which wasn’t pretty at 39 weeks pregnant in my hospital gown and house slippers that were slick on the bottom, and almost dislocated a hip. In retrospect, I probably should have done more, but I just KNEW that this walking would get me to an eight if I just kept at it for six or eight minutes.
So I bravely endured, and two hours later, prepared to wow the nurses again with how GOOD I am at this labor thing, I was still at … a three. WHAT ABOUT THAT LUNGE?! THAT DIDN’T HELP AT ALL?!
I’m not gonna lie. I was in full-blown panic mode by this point. A THREE???! Well DAGNABBIT! Whoever said this third labor and delivery would be EASIER… LIED. They LIED.
AS it turns out, labor is PAINFUL. For all of us… even the brave, tough ones. Even when it’s your third baby. Thank you, Eve.
It was around this point that my resolve flew out the window. I forget how many hours went by, but the contractions came closer and closer, and more and more intense. Hubby sprinted to the nurses desk, all wild-eyed, and begged SOMEONE to do SOMETHING. PUHLEEZE give my wife some drugs…. something…. anything….
The nurse told him she could not offer me drugs since I had ever so adamantly refused them before. She told him I would have to ask. I was still so torn about it. Ugh, it was so miserable… but yet there are SIDE EFFECTS of epidurals and pain meds for mom AND baby, and I was agonized about that. I told the nurse my concerns… “I’m only at a three, and pain meds would slow labor even more, and then I’ll have to have Pitocin…” Having been induced twice before, and had the epidural that slowed down my labor both times, I really, really was opposed in my heart to doing it again.
Then she said the magic words: Sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Sometimes it actually helps you speed up your labor, because right now you are so tense and anxious that your body can’t make progress. It helps you relax so you can focus on labor.
So I threw The Plan out the window and begged like a shrieking eel for some Stadol. And you know what? It worked… that thing she said about how it actually speeds up labor? It worked.
The next time she checked me, I had progressed to a SEVEN. Just like that. It had taken me fourteen hours to get to a three, and only a matter of minutes to get to a seven AFTER I had a dose of Stadol. And I heard angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus, because after that, I was allowed an epidural.
At 2:30am, the anesthesiologist came in to give me an epidural, and never in my life have I been happier to have a large needle inserted into my spine. It was blessed, blessed relief. I went from agony to feeling normal within seconds as the lower part of my body went numb. I went from feeling swallowed up in excruciating pain to feeling like myself in minutes. I was actually able to carry on a conversation with the doctor, and it actually became enjoyable and exciting as I opened my eyes for the first time in hours.
I wish I could say I had a baby naturally without drugs. I so admire my friends who have done it. I know it’s best for mom and for baby and for recovery. But I WILL say if you go this route, you NEED to have a midwife and deliver your baby at home in a tub of warm water where you can move around. I don’t see HOW you can possibly be comfortable enough to labor med-free through the pain whilst on your back in a hospital bed strapped down to fetal monitors and blood pressure cuffs and IVs. But that’s just my two cents, after the fact. Now I know.
My water broke as I was getting the epidural. My water has never broken on it’s own before. THAT was a bizarre experience, and I just thank my lucky stars it didn’t happen in Target, or WORSE, in church, like I was convinced would happen. It was why I didn’t go to church the last month of my pregnancy, if you want to know the truth.
At 4:12am, after three pushes, my perfect baby entered the world and they placed her sticky, waxy little seven pound, one ounce body on my chest and I loved her instantly.
She was MAD. MAD. MAD. I had no idea a little person weighing slightly more than a bag of sugar could have such big lungs. She screamed. Then screamed some more. I knew from several months of experience that the girl was strong and energetic… and all the screaming fit only confirmed what I already knew. THIS was a girl who would make a big mark on the world.
I don’t remember much from the next few hours… I took a shower…. she was cleaned up… visitors… nurses…. the rest is a blur. Probably because we ended up being awake for nearly 40 hours straight.
So, as it turns out, not much went according to my Plan. Come to think of it, not much really ever does…
But we have a perfect, beautiful baby, a happy, healthy family, and I’m overjoyed with all that God has blessed me with, and none of the rest of that stuff matters in the grand scheme of things anyway.
And all that pain and agony? Forgotten. It was one of the best days of my life and I’d do it again in a heartbeat, and that’s all I need to remember.