Friday, December 17, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
That’s right! It’s finally the birth story. It took a whole 6 weeks after the event of one-handed typing to get it written, yet it still feels like I left so much out. I warn you, it’s long and gory and will only be appreciated by women who, like me, have a strange fascination for birth stories.
I had spent my entire pregnancy preparing myself for the experience of birth. I got myself so psyched about it I was even eagerly anticipating the intense process that I would have to go through before I could welcome my baby boy into my arms.
I wanted it to be all natural. I was determined to feel and endure every bit of it. I prepared myself for the agonizing hours it would take, and I was going to spend as many of those hours as possible in the comfort of my home. A crazy part of me felt that I wouldn’t truly feel like a real woman if I didn’t experience to the hilt everything there was to possibly experience in giving birth. Maternal instinct is weird.
Bright and early on Friday, October 29th I woke up noticing a consistency in the painless contractions I was having. Even though that was not the first time this happened, I somehow knew that this would be the day my baby would be born.
The entire week I had been feeling supercaly-istically frustrated that with all the labor activity I was having, it just wasn‘t getting the job done! At my last prenatal appointment we learned I had dilated to 4 pretty much overnight, cervix was thin and baby was engaged. But was I in labor?? NOOOooo. As the most uncomfortable week of my life wore on I could tell I was even continuing to (slowly. Obviously.) dilate, yet it was all just this cute little puttering around stuff. And all I craved was a deliciously painful contraction tearing my insides apart and gushing water and knocking me into the official category of labor. I was willing to even bear such humiliation in public. Just let me have my baby!!!
Family members called often wondering if I was in labor yet, or if by chance I had already had the baby. My sister, Courtney, and her family traveled from Nebraska to await the birth. As for me, I was pretty sure the baby was stuck and I was gong to be pregnant for.EVER!
I had tried everything. Even castor oil. A couple times. And large doses! And nothing. significant. happened.
Courtney--who has had three babies and is expecting her fourth, so therefore is well-versed on the subject of labor and delivery--told me to relax. She was going to take me on a nice girl’s day out. If nothing was happening by the end of the day, she would personally measure and mix the castor oil with the precise method she used that put her in labor with her last two.
So that’s what happened. By the end of the day there was not a peep of labor, even after requesting an extra-spicy quesadilla burger at Applebee’s for supper. So once again I gagged down Castor Oil. THREE whole 2-tablespoon doses with rootbeer 45 minutes apart. I was so tired of Castor Oil! For hours I felt nothing. My husband suggested a fourth dose, and I almost did it, except for that I was starting to feel a bit sick to my stomach. I just fell exhausted into bed and hoped that the baby would be born before the end of the year. Pretty please with cherries and chocolate sauce on top??
The laxative effect of the castor oil did eventually kick in. With every trip to the bathroom I miserably consoled myself, “It’s actually okay that this isn’t working in the labor department like it’s supposed to. I’m too exhausted, I feel sick, and I don’t feel like I have the energy to have a baby right now.” After a couple hours I fell into a deep, extremely restful sleep.
Sometime after 6am I woke up feeling nice and perky. As I lay in bed I realized I was having contractions. They didn’t hurt, but I started timing them. They were on the dot, every 2 minutes. I texted my sister and my friend Amanda--both of whom I had asked to be at the birth--to let them know that I think this is it, but I’m just going to stay in bed for awhile to make sure they stay consistent long enough so that when I get up they won’t quit like they have been doing all week. And then I nudged my sleeping husband and told him. “Mmkay,” he mumbled. “You want to labor at home as long as possible anyway.” He pointed out as he sleepily he rolled over and went back to sleep.
I had to make another little trip to the bathroom. When I got back in bed I waited for the next contraction… and it wasn’t coming! Shoot! They went away! I got up too soon! I considered the effectiveness of pulling my hair out in this situation.
And just then I got hit with a hard one. It completely took my breath away--that is until I focused my crossed eyeballs and worked on breathing through it instead of tearing the sheet apart. Wowzers. Five minutes later, another one. Uh, now they were coming with consistency… and a whole lot of pain! I started trembling. I thought I was excited and maybe a little chilled. My baby was coming today! If only I had known I had just reached the phase known as transition.
I woke up my husband again. “Okay, Babe, they just got a lot harder. This is the real deal. We need to get ready to go to the hospital!”
I got up and started gathering my things as quickly as I could between contractions. My sister and I had done some baby shopping the night before so I had a few last-minute things I wanted to add to my bags. I frantically threw things in the diaper bag, but for the life of me, I could not find the second mitt to a pair I wanted to bring to the hospital! I meticulously and frantically sorted through everything. Twice. Do you have any idea how hard that was to do being racked with transition contractions? I never did find it, and it was at the back of my mind throughout the entire labor bothering me. My baby would have scratches on his face all on account of me losing that stupid mitt! What a horrible mother am I.
When my husband noticed how often I was stooping over the bed painfully trying to breathe and moaning softly, he announced, “Okay, you’re not really even getting a break. It’s Gametime!” He proceeded to take over communicating with Courtney and Amanda and loaded our bags in the car, and encouraging me to hurry up.
But then there was this other weird instinctual thing that I couldn‘t do without. A shower. And makeup. I know. Hormones don’t go a very long way when it comes to brilliance. But it made sense at the time that in the next twenty-four or forty-eight hours (or whatever it was going to take to birth my first baby, since first babies are long, hard, stop and go labors) I was going to pretty much be stripped of humanity, and for some reason it was absolutely vital to enter that experience with as much of my sanity and wits about me as possible. The only way to accomplish that was to be clean and purtied up, right?
The shower was entirely heavenly. I had requested in my birth plan to labor in water. The only chance for that was in that 362-seconds-or-so shower. With every contraction I hugged the wall and whispered to myself, “I can do this! I can do this! I know I can! I know I can!”
Getting out of the shower, was not so heavenly. My poor husband couldn’t convince me to just get to the HOSPITAL! like any normal earth-dwelling citizen would recognize as a necessity right about then. So with every contraction he rubbed my lower back while I tried to squeak my gratitude that he was relieving 0.291% of the pain, which is huge when you’re in that kind of pain.
And then… a new sensation.
And I couldn’t stop myself!!
Okay, so maybe I wasn’t going to be in labor for days. Maybe this whole labor-at-home-for-as-long-as-possible thing got over-extended. Maybe Andy was right and I should have left when he said we should. Maybe we would be having a baby on the all-of-8-minutes drive to the hospital…
I made my way out to the car between contractions. I reached up and tightly gripped the handle above my head for the entire drive. Andy says that I groaned “This baby is coming NOOOOOOWWW!” The only thing I clearly remember about the trip was a car pulling out in front of us and then driving reeeeeaaaally snailishly sloooow. And that. was. just. wrong.
Upon arriving to the hospital, after a series of mishaps that took us to the wrong part of the maze-of-a-building, I looked for a place to sit for relief while Andy had to call the front desk. The only thing around was a lone wheelchair. I sat myself down and tried to catch my breath thinking to myself, Lovely. I’m going to have a baby in this lonely, cold parking garage on a wheel chair. Who does THAT?
Next thing I knew Andy was running across the parking lot, pushing me in the wheelchair. Part of me wanted to retain this weird sense of pride and be determined that I can walk myself, but the other part of me was really appreciating how fast we could go because Andy could really book it with me in the wheel chair. I remember seeing my sisters pull up--they had to stop and wait for us to cross. I smiled and waved at them, knowing they certainly were laughing at me.
By the time we reached the front desk, I was having another contraction, which meant I was bearing down. An older gentleman seeing the urgent state we were in took over the wheelchair to direct us to the labor & delivery floor, while Andy insisted the persistent receptionists bring their checking-in paperwork to our room. I was so glad he refused to leave me! They called after us, “They don’t have a room ready for you, by the way… but go ahead!“ (Like they could really stop us anyway, Ha!) Oh awesome. I wonder if they have a stable with a manger out back.
The time was 8:56.
Meanwhile, Mr. Old Man was going soooo sloooooow, and then he was even slowing down more for every little bump and announcing them as we reached them. I remember repeatedly telling him, “it’s ok, I’m not having a contraction right now.“ (while my mind chanted “Just go! Go! Go! Faster, faster, faster!“ as I gripped the arms of my chair and gritted my teeth.
Upon reaching the labor and delivery floor, there was a flurry of activity around a room near the nurses’ station. They quickly ushered us into it, the nurse handing me a cup and asking me to pee in it. I tried, believe me I did. But all I could get out with my uncontrollable pushing was a loud groan—“Iiii caaaaan’t PEEEE!” I certainly have had my finer moments…
Fortunately that made my awesome nurse, Krystina, realize just how serious the situation was and I was no first-time mom coming in for a bout of false labor. She had me wrap my arms around her until the contraction subsided. I’m surprised I didn’t break any ribs. She presented a gown to change into, and everything after that is a memory of a flurry of activity, contractions and insane pushing. Somebody was telling me to stop pushing because they hadn’t checked me yet while she put her hand up me muttering how far back my cervix was. “Oh! She’s complete!” uh huh, I coulda told you that.
They broke my water, hooked me up to a monitor, and with every contraction Krystina would stop what she was doing and give me an animated demonstration on how to push. The midwife arrived breathless and pulling gloves on. An oxygen mask was put on my face. And then they started telling me that I had to push between contractions. The oxygen mask on my face made me realize that they were concerned for the baby and I was willing to do everything they told me to do for the sake of the baby… and the avoidance of an epesiotome. I learned later his heart rate had dropped low enough to concern them. Krystina’s demonstrations were looking like dance moves. She was fascinating me and I was doing everything she told me to do while I squeezed the life out of my husband’s and sister’s hands.
By the way, my husband was awesome. He was entirely sympathetic and supportive while completely fascinated with the whole process. He was so cool.
And then my baby was crowning. Courtney told me this is the part that hurts the worst. She was right. It was a sensation that made me want to crawl out of my skin. In reverse. And high gear! At that moment I thought of all the women I knew who pushed for hours with their first babies and momentarily panicked. I got to this point too fast, now for the next several hours I have to feel like THIS!!!!
Two pushes later he was out. “oh! Oh! My baby!! Look Andy!! Our baby! He has haaaair!!”
How are there words for that moment? They handed him to me and I held his warm, sweet little body up against my chest and his feisty crying calmed as he snuggled against me. Andy was kissing me and touching our tiny little son.
“We did it, Babe, we did it!”
The time was 9:10.
14 minutes after arriving to the hospital our adorable baby was born. My entire labor was less than 3 hours. The most amazing experience ever!