A Halloween Treat
Eleven days past your due date doesn’t seem like much…until you are living it out, getting more impatient by the day, fielding numerous “what’s taking so long” inquiries (as though you are in control of this phenomenon) and dreading the necessary induction if you reach the two week mark.
Multiple weeks of Braxton Hicks and phantom contractions made Saturday, October 30th seem pretty consistent with the past 5 weeks or so of waiting. The only difference was the regularity, but every six minutes of very mild contractions doesn’t mean a whole lot. Thus, we began our immensely long to-do list of last minute baby requirements and routine chores/errands. Item 1: finish packing bag for hospital on Tuesday, when we were scheduled to be induced. Good choice. We never made it past that.
While lamenting to my younger sister via telephone that things were not happening the way I desired, I felt my water break…at least I thought I did. It wasn’t a big theatrical gush, so I wasn’t completely sure…really, how are you supposed to know? After ascertaining that I had, indeed, lost a bit of my bag of waters we abandoned our to-do list in favor of inspiring the labor that I still did not completely believe was happening.
The remainder of the afternoon was rather anticlimactic – contractions were only slightly stronger and no closer together. My parents joined us in the evening for a welcome distraction from obsessing about when things would actually get rolling. They left around 9pm, when I started to get tired, so we could attempt to rest in preparation.
I realize now that lying down in any way was a big fat bad idea for me. I didn’t sleep, just switched from side to side during contractions that were becoming more frequent, though only just uncomfortable enough to keep me awake. It is amazing how long you can be in your head, debating the correct course of action and attempting to will yourself to get some sleep, rationalizing that at least you are resting…somewhat. Let me just say that sleep is not overrated, if you can get it.
Three o’clock saw the last of my patience; I woke hubs and let Lisa know we would be on our way soon. Hubs gathered up the ‘last minute’ items (this took so much longer than I thought it would…and most of the stuff was probably not necessary) while I attempted to help (until I was ordered to sit down) and then we were in the car and on our way. Driving to the hospital in the middle of the night definitely enhanced our excitement.
As we walked in to the ER (since it was after hours) some teen tried to bum a cigarette off of us (seriously?). At triage we learned that I was only at 3 ½ cm, but there was no way they were sending me home at almost 42 weeks gestation and already losing amniotic fluid…so we were led to a room to get settled in (the birthing suite…sweeeeet). As soon as I could, I hopped in the tub (oh tub jets, how I love thee and thy amazing pain relieving powers), where I spent several hours (talk about pruny fingers!) until Lisa arrived around 9am and suggested I get checked and try another laboring position.
Back to the bed, lying on my side, contractions became intense. And I was only at 4cm. Lisa rubbed my back and encouraged me to relax through each new wave for about an hour or so. Finally, after over 24 hours of labor, I reached my breaking point and began begging for an epidural. This was an extreme deviation from our intended birth plan, but I believe God’s hand was in this decision, as the rest of the birth would have been extremely difficult without the epidural and quite probably would have led to a c-section. We came pretty close as it was.
Once Hubs and I agreed on the epidural (he wanted to make sure I would not have regrets about it) I kept asking if the anesthesiologist could come before the next contraction (negatory). As I waited and got hooked up to every machine in the entire hospital and then some I repositioned to my happy place – sitting cross legged and rocking back and forth, completely zoned out to everything around me (including the spewing IV fluid due to a messed up tube). I was glad to have a break and be able to rest once the medicine began working.
My “rest” was short lived – the epidural, it seemed, was what my body needed to enable it to relax enough to dilate…in minutes I went from 4 to 8cm and shortly thereafter I was at 10 and it was time to push! With an epidural this is a very weird proposition. At first I just made the appropriate “pushing” face and hoped it was doing the trick. Eventually Lisa told me to use my stomach muscles, which made so much more sense and helped me to become more efficient. My cheer squad (my parents and Hubs) were so supportive and enthusiastic during this 2 ½ hour process. At the beginning everything was very serene and they would quietly say “push it out” (which made me think of Bill Cosby – “push it out, shove it out, waaaaay out!”) or “don’t stop” (and I kept thinking “don’t stop ‘til you get enough!”). My favorite was Hubs telling me to “crank one out.” I frequently heard, during this time, that the baby was coming…so often that I stopped believing that the current contraction was actually bringing baby into the world.
Two hours into pushing Lisa was getting concerned, so she brought in Dr. Harris for consultation. He watched a few pushes and then he brought out his arsenal of baby removal products. First up was an episiotomy, followed by an unsuccessful vacuum attempt (due to baby’s head being at an odd angle) and finally he just reached in and pulled baby out manually. [Sidebar: fourth degree tear – yowza! That battle wound caused me to be known around L&D as “that girl”.]
When the head appeared the cheer squad went crazy, reaching a mighty crescendo. It took me a minute to realize that they weren’t bluffing this time and I watched as baby emerged with the biggest pouty lip – ready to berate us for removing him from his warm and comfy home. The moment to discover the gender of our baby arrived moments later and we were so shocked to see that we had a son! My dad (a former ultrasound tech) watched the sonogram DVD months prior and feigned that he couldn’t tell, but the whole time he had a pretty good idea, so when baby arrived my dad shouted “I knew it! I knew it!!” while the rest of us yelled “it’s a boy!”
Little Love was then monitored, warmed and cleaned up a bit, and then Papa (Hubs) got to hold him – such a sweet father-son bonding moment. During all of this, my Dad kept returning to the bedside to tell me how perfect and good looking his grandson was. I had to agree.
It appears that Boo was just waiting all that time to have a very special Halloween Birthday. Giving birth was the most amazing thing I have ever done, and I wouldn’t change a second of it. I am woman, hear me roar.
Shout out to Lisa for her amazing support, encouragement and wisdom during a difficult birth; and to Tiffany for her awesome prenatal and postpartum care, as well as her patience through alllll of my questions.