What I should be doing, rather than writing down my birth story, is showering or running around and putting shit away or doing laundry or something, but I just want to get this all down before I forget. It’s already almost been a week (!) and the memories are starting to fade.
So at about 1:30 in the morning last Saturday, I woke up with kind of a pain, thought it was gas, went pee, went back to bed. At about 2:30, it was still going on, so I figured I’d better get up and start timing it, and also walk around to keep things progressing. Sick Miguel was sleeping in another room, and I knew he’d hear if me or dog got up. I wanted him to get as much rest as possible, so I was confined to pacing the bedroom and scribbling my contractions down on a random piece of paper (instead of my neatly laid out spread sheet trapped in a notebook downstairs).
For a while there, they were coming 3 and 4 minutes apart, and the pain really wasn’t at all unbearable, just like a bad menstrual cramp in my back (which I’m very used to since I have a tipped uterus). I waddled around, already optimistically starting to pull out and pack up borrowed maternity clothes. Around 4:30 Miguel heard me and got up, we went downstairs and I had some peanut butter toast to fortify me for the long day ahead.
And then the contractions started getting further and further apart. Since it looked like this was a false start, I called the doctor on call at about 6 to see if I should start the 24 hour urine test; I would have liked to avoid peeing in a jar all day if I wasn’t going to make it to 24 hours. She sadly confirmed it seemed like things were slowing down, told me to go ahead with the test and to get some rest in the mean time.
I laid back down until almost 11, and as I sat up on the side of the bed, I felt something squish down there and hustled it to the bathroom. It was very definitely my water breaking! So I told Miguel and started to shower and get ready (hey; who knows when I’d have another chance to do so…plus there were going to be pictures taken later!).
After I was ready, I called the doctor again, who said we didn’t have to rush, but should get to the hospital within the next couple of hours. The contractions at this point were still very mild and totally bearable. After another hour of fiddling around, calling people, packing up the car, etc., and we headed out.
When we arrived at the hospital at about 1:30 in the afternoon, they still made me go to triage before being admitted to confirm that my water had indeed broken, despite the fact it was a sensation that can’t really be confused with anything else. At that point, I was just barely at 2 cm, so not dilating a whole lot. We were there probably about an hour while a resident checked me and confirmed with a microscope sample that my water had broken. Then we were moved across the hall to a labor and delivery room.
Once there, they got an IV of fluids started, took blood and started me on a pitocin drip. The IV and blood work were required prior to getting my epidural; the pitocin, no one really asked me if I wanted it or not; maybe it is just standard operating procedure when your water has broken and you’re not moving along. The pitocin really started the contractions, with all the pain centered in my back, thanks to wee baby being sunny side up, instead of facing my tailbone like he was supposed to.
While waiting for the epidural, I tried kneeling on all fours (too hard to support my weight on my hands), and standing by the side of the bed, trying to use gravity to get him to drop down and turn around. Finally the nurse anesthetist came in, they sent Miguel out, and started attempting the epidural. Yeah, attempting. As waves of contractions kept hitting me with the pain all centered in my low back, I had to sit still while a needle was repeatedly poked around, in my low back. They finally had to call another doctor, who had similar difficulty, but finally got it in.
As the numb tingly goodness started coursing through my legs, I asked what they would have done if they couldn’t have gotten the epidural started, and they told me, “you would have had to go natural.” To which I replied, “No Freaking Way.” I literally could not conceive of enduring that level of pain to dilate another 8cm and then push a baby out. I would have lost my mind and they would have had to knock me out for a c-section.
Once the epidural fully kicked in, she checked me again, and I had gone almost another 3 cm to 5. In just over an hour or so, so I was really trucking along. At that point, I couldn’t even feel the contractions and spent a few happy hours lolling about, trying to read and doze off.
Somewhere as I approached 9 cm, they started having trouble with the baby’s heartbeat; not like code blue alarm, but they shifted me around trying to get a better read on the monitor and make him a little happier, which seemed to work for a while. Then the same thing started happening again, so they tried to do internal fetal monitoring to get a better read, but were having trouble getting it to read out-something with the equipment more than wee baby being in distress. But still vaguely worrying.
When the doctor came in and I was almost fully at 10, they had me start trying to push to get wee baby to come down more, and maybe turn around. I was feeling no pain at this point and had to be told when a contraction was starting. What I was feeling though, and could see through the nurse’s repeated clean up attempts, was that I was pooping as I pushed. A lot. Which is very, very distracting. They’re counting and encouraging and telling you to push from your bottom and all I could think was “Am I pooping? In front of people? Is Miguel looking? Oh my God, I am pooping. More pooping? Just how much poop do I have? Thanks, trusty company stomach!” It really pulls focus from the whole pushing effort when you can’t think about anything but the poop.
I pushed for about an hour or so, with Miguel alternately pacing the other side of the room studying the ceiling tiles and holding my leg some for me as a bore down. Round about this time, the epidural was starting to wind down, and they counseled me not to hit it again as it would deaden me for the final push.
They got set up with gowns and stirrups and then the fun really started. My recollection of the rest is rather hazy, but I do know that nice, easy going, good pusher Books went away with the epidural, to be replaced by trying really hard not to swear and be mean Books for the rest of the delivery.
All told it took another half hour or so to get wee baby out. The doctor actually had the forceps brought in because he wasn’t turning and wasn’t able to get his face down under my pelvic bone. That was the incentive I needed to give it my last reserves of pushing to get him out. At one point she started to very patiently present the pros and cons of an episiotomy, and I cut her off and just told her to cut it. At this point, I just wanted him out; making the hole bigger for him just seemed like common sense.
It was so frustrating, because you’d get him down there with a three push series (I could feel the fullness of his head filling my birth canal), and then as soon as you let go, he’d slide back up, which was beyond frustrating. I think I started to whine somewhere around here.
Other charming moments, as his head was crowning, the doctor kept encouraging Miguel to look down from his position holding my leg and check it out; I might have snapped at this point to leave him alone, he didn’t want to look. I mean, I just wanted everybody focused on the task at hand, getting this over with. (For the record, he did look and he was almost crying at this point…I’m not sure if it’s because it was so overwhelmingly beautiful to see his son emerging or fright at what was happing to my formerly um, sensual, parts.)
Same thing when she tried to talk him into cutting the cord. I was like it doesn’t matter who cuts the damn thing, just do it so we can deliver the placenta and be done. Of course, delivering the placenta was a mess too, and she had to go in after part of it, yummy.
Anyway, he finally emerged at 8:43 pm, and it was the best feeling in the world physically and emotionally. And then they had him all cleaned up and brought him back to me and he was so perfect and awesome and just looking around all befuddled, like how did I get out here.
We spent another hour or so in the labor and delivery room, contacting the cord blood collection company (VERY FRUSTRATING, first Miguel was on hold forever and then all the verification and info they kept asking for, all of which was already on all the paper work we’d filled out). Miguel was finally just about to start making the family calls when Salsera called. He called the rest of immediate family and then they packed us off to the postpartum floor.
I think I was just dazed at this point; I didn’t cry or sob…everything just felt so surreal, like I was watching it happening to someone else. It was like an episode of the baby story, except it was staring me.
Anyway, the first few days home have been predictably hard, full of highs and lows. We are having some trouble with breastfeeding, which is leading to even more stress and less sleep. I’m still having trouble with puffiness and blood pressure. But other than that, Baby Still Needs an Alias is so perfectly healthy and wonderful. He passed Wednesday’s nurse home visit with flying colors, as well as yesterday’s pediatrician’s visit (except for the part where he completely confounded the nurse practitioner/lactation consultant with his non-breastfeeding stubbornness, more on that in another post). He is, knock on wood, minimally fussy and sleeping, eating and pooping well. It is amazing to see already the differences in his alertness and demeanor from when we first brought him home until now. I can’t wait to see what’s next!