I started this post, obviously, when D was one week old. He's now 7 weeks old. But I finally finished it!
One week ago I gave birth to a little boy. He was 7lbs, 2oz, nearly 20 in long, and started crying immediately upon birth. I wanted to write down some of my recollection of his birth before I forget everything. So, warning, this may be "too much information" for some of you...
The last few weeks of my pregnancy had been pretty rough. I got bigger and bigger, and more and more uncomfortable. Work became challenging, chores even more so. Sleeping was really hard and eating became really tough too. I went for OB appointments every week, and at my last appointment my blood pressure was high. I had driven myself to the doctors, against my better judgement (my belly was nearly pressed up against the steering wheel) and I was feeling some cramping. The doctor was concerned, so she asked me to do a 24 hour urine collection, take a blood test, and head over to the hospital for a non-stress test. Needless to say, Alex and I both decided my driving days were over. My first non-stress test went well. His head was down (and we got yet another picture of his testicles - yup - I'm positive he's a boy), his heartbeat looked good. All was well. I was having some contractions, but none that I could feel. I tried the 24hr urine collection, but I failed miserably. They gave me a container that was too small, so I had to repeat the test. On Friday, I went in for another non-stress test. Something was weird. They were looking for a certain pattern of heartbeat (what they called "accelerations"), but we weren't getting any. I wasn't too concerned. I could feel D moving and shaking in my belly, so I figured they would just send me home with instructions to come back on Monday. However, that was not the case. They sent me to Labor and Delivery, where they placed me in a tiny, tiny room, and they monitored my blood pressure and the baby's heartbeat for nearly four hours. We watched some of the movie "Identity Theif" (not as good as I wanted it to be), and I kept thinking, OK, they are going to send me home any minute now. My cervix wasn't dilated, but my blood pressure seemed to be trending towards high. The doctors were concerned I was getting pre-eclampsia. At the end of our stay in Labor and Delivery, we were told to return on Sunday morning for a scheduled induction. The doctor thought D would be born on Monday.
Needless to say, I was in shock. I had pictured a quick labor, I abhorred any idea of interventions. I was sure they were setting me up for a c-section, which filled me with dread. I shook the entire time we drove home. I was so out of sorts, I had a glass of wine to calm my nerves. I tossed and turned Friday night, with nightmares of all the horrible things that could go wrong. On Saturday, I felt a little bit better. I tried to use my mindfulness techniques - just get through this minute, this hour, etc. We cleaned the house pretty much top to bottom. We packed our bags for the hospital, and we purchased all those last minute things we needed. Saturday was another fitful night of sleep, and we awoke on Sunday morning knowing we would leave home and return as three. What an odd feeling.
Checking into the hospital was odd. It was like checking into a hotel, but with incubators and medical instruments all over the place. They asked me to undress and put on a gown. They inserted a IV line that hurt like hell. They told me that the doctors would come in and talk to me about what was going on. We decided on induction by Cervidil, which is basically some prostoglandin placed near the cervix to help "ripen" it (god, I hate that word). It went in about 1pm, and Alex and I spent the day watching football and baseball playoffs. I was getting contractions, but I couldn't feel them. The biggest bother was my IV line, which was getting more and more painful. Around 8pm, my night nurse, Fely, came in. She checked my IV line and told me it was not good. My hand was swelling like crazy and it continued to be pretty painful. She decided to replace my line, and placed an IV into my other hand. It was hard to be tethered to this huge IV machine. To keep my spirits high, I named the IV pole "Fred" and then he became a little cartoon-y to me, instead of something scary and medical. At 1am, the doctors came in to remove the Cervadil. It was the most painful thing I had experienced until then. It was so uncomfortable to have it removed that I cursed the doctor. I am sure it wasn't the first time for her, but it was certainly the first time for me. It was also the first time that I thought that maybe I was in over my head. Maybe I couldn't find my way out of this situation like I thought I could.
With the Cervidil removed, they thought they might give me some other prostoglandin drugs, but I was contracting too often. I still couldn't feel the contractions that much. They decided to start me on Pitocin. I was really, really against Pitocin, but I felt like there was no turning back now. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and settled in for a night on Pit. I got some sleep, and Fely took amazing care of me. She upped my Pit every half an hour, but, for the most part, I got to sleep through the night. In the morning, they checked me again. I hadn't really progressed that much, but I was still contracting, so we just kept moving along. I ordered some breakfast, turned on the TV and just waited. I did get up and walk around some, and I tried to remain standing for as long as I could. I remember reading somewhere that keeping pressure on the cervix could help it dilate. Who knows?
Around 1:30 or so in the afternoon, Alex had had enough of the hospital room. I was still contracting, and things were moving along, but it was slow and steady progress. He decided to go out and get some lunch and walk to the bookstore. We had come wholly unprepared for this long labor, and we didn't have many things to do except stare at each other and wonder what would happen next. Plus, daytime TV on a Monday - not that good.
I decided to rest some - take a nap. At some point, I had to get up to go to the bathroom and I felt a gush come out. The nurse didn't think it was my water breaking, but then, a little while later, it happened again and she said it was my water breaking on it's own! It was about 2:30PM, and she told me my son would be born by 2AM the next day (turns out, she was right!).
I called Alex and he came back to the room with 4 different books and a card game. Guess we don't need those now! I tried to keep walking as much as I could, but I started to feel the contractions. They were getting stronger and stronger and I was working to get through them. Eventually, I decided to get the epidural since I was unsure how much stronger the contractions would get. I was dilating by that point, so we called in the doctor. Contractions got increasingly more and more painful, to the point where I couldn't open my eyes, I had to vocalize and I just had to breathe through them. The change occurred so quickly, it took me by surprise. I got the epidural (along with a dose of fentanyl to keep me still), but it just didn't take very well. I was still experiencing alot of pain, and the contractions were getting worse and worse. I was also getting tired. The doctors decided to give me another epidural (try again, I guess), so with another dose of fentanyl, I sat up, put my feet on Alex's legs and got another epidural.
This one took effect almost immediately. They gave me a spinal block, and my blood pressure dropped significantly. They doctors and nurses worked without drama, but I could see the white face of my husband watching me. They pumped massive amounts of saline into me, gave me three doses of some drug to raise my BP, and put my head below my feet. I was freezing, shaking and all of a sudden so, so itchy. I felt like a drug addict or something. I was finally comfortable, after several hours of pain and discomfort. When the dust settled, Alex turned on The Hobbit, and we settled in for the night. They told me to tell them when I felt like I had to go to the bathroom. Around 11:30PM, I said I felt like I had to pee. They checked me, and I was completely dilated and ready to push. Pushing was a scary thought, I have to admit. I was so tired, but I was also scared. I had to push this baby out now? Yikes! For two and a half hours, I pushed. Or, I guess, I learned how to push. Alex held one leg, my nurse Cassandra, the other. Every contraction, I pushed. And pushed. And pushed again. I assume I got the hang of it at some point in time. Time seemed to both go really fast and really slow. At some point, people started coming into the room. Doctors, residents, attendings, other nurses. I remember one of the doctors was pregnant. Things were assembled, the baby bed was turned on. My nurse from a couple nights ago, Fely, came in to tell me she was there. I was so glad to see her. Cassandara was amazing too. They were my cheerleaders (and Alex was too). I was so lucky to have to care I had. I would breathe oxygen between contractions, and then take the mask off when I was pushing. Alex would give me endless sips of water. Over and over and over again.
I got really, really, really tired. I have never been so tired in my life. Even opening my eyes was exhausting. And then the doctors were at my feet, covered in splatter shields and then many many people were telling me to push - just once more, you can have this baby! I was literally so exhausted at this point that I didn't think I could do it. I was also in a bit of a epidural-drug haze. After several pushes, several more contractions, out came our little guy - pink skin, screaming literally as he emerged, and was placed right on my chest, vernix and all.
All of a sudden, I was awake. It was over? Oh glory be. Such relief. Alex cut the umbilical cord. And D was taken over to his little station where Fely took care of him. I was delusional from exhaustion and epidural. And all of a sudden I was STARVING. But he was here. We had done it. We had survived.