So, now that we're a month out from the trauma (and it is absolutely trauma) of the whole birthing thing, I thought I would record what's left of my memory of the event before it's completely erased by lack of sleep and acquisition of new knowledge like finding the perfect BPA free bottle with the best nipple out of the 10,472 choices out there (so far Avent is in the lead). It all began on Sunday, March 20th...
Early evening, K and I went over to my parent's house to watch the Thunder (now in the playoffs, what what!) and as we were noshing on very healthy snacks like potato chips and french onion dip, I felt faintly blechy, which was not unusual (read every single post since November). When we were leaving, I was able to categorize the feelings as somewhat reminiscent of very light menstrual cramps, but didn't think much of it considering the tremendous pressure I'd been having in my lower pelvis for weeks as H had lodged his head pretty far down there and my hips and pelvis were splitting to accommodate. We headed home and I can't remember what else we did that evening, probably my nightly ritual of bath (to soothe said hips and pelvis), donning of old lady nightgown (the most comfortable at that time) and the firing of up of ye olde heating pad before lowering myself into bed at probably 9pm or so. But not before picking out my clothes for work - I was so excited to wear the Tucker for Target dress I'd picked up that weekend (still haven't worn it). I left work on Friday completely convinced that I would be in the office Monday and kind of left a lot for myself to finish up Monday/Tuesday before I was going to give myself a break. I am smart like that.
After lounging about in bed for a bit, I realized that the pesky crampy feelings were becoming more insistent. A bit later, they were painful. It then popped into my head that I have no idea what labor feels like. Great. So, how am I supposed to know? I consult Dr. Oz's book (You Having a Baby) and What to Expect When You're Expecting and they have wildly differing accounts of what a contraction can feel like. Then I think back to what people have told me (and man, do people like to tell you all about their labor and now I know why - it's a feat) and most said that contractions engage your entire abdomen, stretching from top to bottom and around the sides almost to your back. These feelings weren't that. It was an isolated cramp in my very lower abdomen. This worried me. In spite of having a completely normal pregnancy, in the span of three minutes I convinced myself that my placenta was detaching or some other calamity, which was causing the pain. I decided to call my doctor. But wait, my doctor doesn't take late night calls, by now it's 10pm. Instead, you're supposed to go to the ER or the birth center for triage. So, I call my other doctor, Lacey, who had just spent a month in L&D. She asked if I was timing the space between and length of the cramps/possible contractions. Why would I do that, I think, they're not contractions, they're cramps and indicate something is whack. We timed them on the phone. Two minutes apart and about 45-60 seconds in length. I remember from (ridiculous) birth prep class that the rule is 411, which we were clearly ahead of. I hang up with Lacey and try to figure out what to do.
I thought these must be what my contractions will be like, but they're so close together and not yet unbearable painful, I'd hate to go to the hospital and not be dilated at all, have no change, then be sent home. K however, was insistent that we go. What if this is just what my body does? Do I want to have him here? No, I think and get in the shower. Thank God. Because I was to remain unshowered for quite some time and desperately needed to shave my legs. K is becoming more panicked rushing around gathering up what we might need. I'd pretty much prepacked everything, but I'd left out a few odds and ends thinking I'd have at least another week. But, we got our crap together and headed out to the car with everything in tow, including Zeb. We drove across town and dropped Z off at my parent's house. By now it's about midnightish. The hospital's only a couple of minutes from there and we pull up and prepare to get out. I want to leave everything in the car since I'm 75% convinced they're going to send me home, in spite of the contractions being spaced so closely together. K agrees and we start inside. And then it happens. The combo of sprinklers, grassless dirt in the median, my nervousness and recentered center of gravity results in me totally biting it right side down in a pile of mud. Wet, stinky mud. Oh, and in Oklahoma, we literally have red dirt. So, red, stinking, sopping mud. I am covered from head to toe. It's in my hair. It's in my mouth. I am shaken and 100% certain I am not going in that hospital looking a hot mess. NO EFFING WAY. K thinks otherwise. In my nearly first act as a mother, instead of ensuring the health of my unborn child, I make K drive me back to my parents house (against his protesting and my sobbing - also getting the car supremely filthy) and stealthily break into the bathroom to hose myself off. I'm doing a fairly decent job of removing the mud from my clothes and feet (had flip flops on - there's now mud under my toenails - you're welcome doctors and nurses who will have to look at them later!) when I realize two things. 1) The only additional clothes I brought were for lounging about the hospital and were nursing friendly, oh well, and 2) I had gotten mud all over my mom's white carpet and if you know my mom, labor or not, she will not have that shit. So, in my granny panties (more on these later) and bra, I'm on the floor of the bathroom breathing through contractions and cleaning carpet. Basically, living the dream. I finish up, put on the most ridonk outfit ever and run back to the car where K is fuming that this is happening, but I'm cleaner and that's what matters.
We go back to the hospital, I'm checked into triage and change into a gown (which, in spite of our educations, took some work on K and my part to figure out how the damn thing worked). They check me and I'm still at 1 cm, but they do hook me up to a monitor to see what my contraction situation is and to make sure I'm ok after my fall. The contractions are definitely two minutes apart and strong according to the monitor. You can see the other women in triage on screen as well and I was kicking their asses, however, I was not changing, so after an hour, I was told to go home. I knew that was going to happen. They were getting really painful by then and I had this feeling we'd be back soon. The doc on call was satisfied that my fall hadn't done any damage because H's heart rate was ok and there were no other signs of distress. I was given a Lortab and sent on my way. I was disappointed, but also so relieved. Maybe I would go to work tomorrow, get caught up and have this baby when I felt ready, which would be never.
As we drove home, the contractions began to strengthen and were now far worse than any menstrual discomfort I'd felt (which having endometriosis is pretty bad). I'm making audible breathing sounds and whimpering, which I swore I wouldn't do (not sure why, it helps). We get to our house and a barrel into the couch thinking a soft surface rather than hard hospital observation table would decrease the pain. It doesn't. The only thing I can think of to help me hold on until a few hours when there might be a chance I'd dilated further (well, at all, really) was a bath. K ran a bath, I stripped down, plopped in and man, did it help. I was instantly calmer and the warm water really helped with the pain. Also, K and I could see the contractions happening so we could keep timing to have a sense of any progress. Still two minutes apart and 45-60 seconds, give or take. And I think this was the issue. I had been prepared for a long labor progressing through contractions becoming closer and closer together, but having a break in between to prepare for the next until toward the end. This was not that. As soon as one contraction ended, I was able to catch my breath for about thirty seconds then the next would begin. It was awful. Had they been 10 minutes apart, five minutes apart, I think I would've fared differently, but I was already mentally on edge dealing with the near constant pain. I didn't sign up for that! I signed up for half an hour between until I was way more dilated. Stupid nature. However, on the bright side, I was able to get the rest of the mud off of me, except under my nails. Finally, I tell Keaton eff this shit, we're going back, I don't care what they do, I can't handle this because I am more of a baby than my unborn child. So we go.
Back to triage, same routine, wait an hour, no progress, but wait another hour to see since I'd only go home and come back in that time anywhere. After hour two, tiny progress. After hour three, progress! I can be admitted. In the meantime, I have spent three hours in a triage room in labor, continuing to have powerful contractions (each nurse commented on the strength and rapidity) without a comfortable bed, water, pillow, anything. Also, puking. Yay! They move me to a L&D room and begin doing all of that business, which includes signing my life away on a variety of legal forms - I find this really disturbing - I was totally under duress, duh. K goes to get my stuff, I get IV'd, braceleted, poked, stabbed, blood drawn, all kinds of stuff and I'm so out of it (haven't slept in 24 hours now) and don't care what they do if they can make the contractions lessen, but I try to remain upbeat and polite, which was really hard, but I did it! (I could hear other ladies on the floor being total bitches - hey, it's not the nurses' fault you got knocked up, ladies.) I'm asked if I want an epidural and I emphatically say yes and they say they'll call the anesthesiologist who will be here shortly to take care of that. I steel myself to wait patiently. An hour goes by. To me, shortly doesn't mean an hour. Oh well, I'm just slowly dying, no biggie.
Finally, the epidural dude arrives. I hear him say that he's so glad he had a change to hit Starbucks on his way in. I fight the urge to murder him. It's about 6.30am at this point. He does his thing and it doesn't hurt at all - I was kinda worried about that. Roughly 10 minutes later, sweet, sweet relief and numbness washes over me. Thank the Lord. Also, a catheter because in spite of not having had any liquid, I'd had to pee forever and now that was all taken care of. Oh science.
This is where the boring part begins. Me laid up in bed, hooked up to 10,000 tubes and machines watching terrible daytime TV. My contractions march on, still two minutes apart, but now I can no longer feel them. K decides to make the calls to let everyone know that today's the day (or maybe tomorrow since I'm going nowhere quick). My mom texts that she's heading over to relieve K if he needs it. He does. I forget that he's never really seen me in any kind of physical pain before and were I him, I'd be totally freaked out by what I'd just been through. It's awful to watch someone writhe around in pain and not be able to do anything about it. He needed a break and went to get them breakfast. Lesson for birth partners. Do not eat McDonald's b-fast in front of your laboring lady who can't eat and won't be able to eat for hours and hours and hours. TURD.
And so it goes. K takes a four hour nap while mom keeps me company. Lacey will head down from Tulsa in a few hours. Oh, I forgot something. Sunday afternoon, we'd gone to lunch with K and his dad and stepmom. His dad was leaving for Orlando for three days and I promised him there would be no activity on the womb front until after he returned. I am a liar. He was crushed when K called to tell him we were at the hospital since there was no way H was going to be here before his flight left. But he was able to come by and see us for a minute and K's stepmom works at the hospital and was able to pop in all day to give him updates. Of nothing. Because nothing was happening. NOTHING! Right, so at about 9.30, my doctor comes in to break my water. They discover that there's some meconium in the fluid, which is somewhat concerning, but no need to take action. We all resume our positions of doing nothing for hours and hours and hours.
It's now about 4pm and I've dilated to a whopping five centimeters. Not enough. They've upped the pitocin (which I really, really didn't want to have to need) almost to the max, made me rotate positions, and still no action. My third nurse of the day (the others had left their shifts early - what did I do?) breaks it down for me. She suspects that my doctor won't let me labor longer than midnight that night and if I don't make any progress in the next couple of hours, she'll cut me off and we'll go the c-section route because clearly my body just isn't going to get the baby out this way. My cervix just wasn't playing ball. I am terrified. I don't want a c-section for so many reasons (like, cost and I need to get back to work sooner and oh yeah, it's major surgery!). I almost tear up, but she says she wants to try a few things before we get there. Before she comes back I start feeling my contractions again. WHAT? I have an epidural, right? I only feel them in a smallish window, but man, they are rough due to the pitocin. Like ouch city. I call the nurse back in to ask her what's up and she basically blows me off. I don't understand this. She says sometimes you can feel. I say, but isn't the point of an epidural to make you not feel...? Instead of listening to me, she begins rolling up blankets and pillows and contorted me into a really weird position to get my cervix going. She cranks the pitocin to the max and walks out. WHAT? JERK! I'm confined to this super weird position and in a fair amount of pain again. Balls.
She comes back about an hour later and checks me. Six centimeters! I'm getting used to the pain and she does the whole pillow/blanket thing again and tells me not to move. She comes aback in an hour. Nine centimeters. It's baby time. That lady knew what she was doing. I get why she ignored me now. I think I needed stronger contractions to get things going and her odd contortions did the trick. Or so I choose to believe.
This is when shit started getting real. I was shaking all over because in a matter of hours (because pushing can take 20 minutes or four hours, you know, no big deal) I would actually have a baby. No turning back now. The nursery and scrub techs are called in and get the room ready. By now, there are like 10,000 people in my room who are all anxiously awaiting this whole thing. I only want K to stay, which I've made clear from the beginning, but there's still some disappointment among the ladies, but sorry. It's my vagina, my baby and my babydaddy. When they turned the warming table on for the baby, I think my heart stopped. Seriously, this was happening. Oh shit. I had to actually go through with this. Fuck.
Nurse change (again?!) and legs in stirrups (awesome - not) and it's time to push. The nurse gives perfect instructions for what she wants me to do and I do it. Maybe three times. They say that it feel like taking a giant poo, but I wouldn't say that. There's a lot of pressure, but it definitely felt more in my lady business region than my other region. Right, so K's up with me, but fortunately/unfortunately, you can see everything in a reflective ceiling tile, so I pretty much watched the whole thing. I'm glad I was still somewhat drugged up. Ok, so pushing a few times then the nurse says to stop. Ok... We've got to wait for my doctor to finish up her clinic hours and drive across town before we continue. Oh, cool, I think. I'll just wait here with my legs spread and a baby almost falling out for however long that takes. It takes a looooong time. I don't have the urge to push because I can't completely feel the contractions, but I do feel the urge to get this over with (since him staying put forever isn't an option). She shows up and gets down to business. Scrubs on, the nurse and K hold my legs back, I push twice and she throws a wriggly baby at me. That was it. I didn't cry, I didn't do anything, I just smiled, I think. The nurse asked if K wanted to cut the cord and yelled yes, then she asked for our camera (which was my mom's since I'd been pestering K to get ours ready and he kind of never did...) and prepared to snap pics as soon as the kid was cleaned up. Meanwhile, the last part of the whole thing was happening.
H had pooped my uterus (speaking of poo, I was terrified of pooping the table and bugged my nurse about it and she said that since I hadn't eaten in forever and if I hadn't gone already, it wasn't going to happen - relief!), which made the whole delivering of the placenta tougher than normal, maybe. He was ok, they sucked his nose and mouth, but he didn't need any other respiratory help, but my doctor was having a hard time getting everything out of me. My placenta wasn't all in one piece and there were bits of unborn baby poo. She had to work for probably 45 minutes to get that all taken care of, plus stitch me up since she cut me (she's old school). That was just as painful as anything. She literally fisted me and dug around before she sewed me up and after my epidural had worn off. Holy balls that sucked.
And then, she was done and then they gave H back to me. Our families wanted back in, but we asked for a minute or two before the onslaught, mainly so I could remember I needed to look happy and to pull my hair back into a pony tail again so as not to scare everyone. And there we were. The three of us. Super weird. Kind of awesome. Completely exhausting.