A year ago today, I started having contractions. Real ones. Actually, I started having one contraction an hour starting on November 2nd, but, while they were strong enough to wake me up, I barely noticed them during the day. The contractions that started on November 3rd (it was a Thursday) were much more organized. Throughout my entire labor, all I could keep thinking about was how labor/delivery/giving birth was like a hurricane – you know that it’s coming, you prepare for it, you watch the signs change, and then you wait to see what happens.
On the morning of November 3, 2011, my contractions were still about an hour apart, but they seemed to be getting a little more organized – like a Tropical Depression. I did go to work that day. I told Brian, “I will text you updates throughout the day and I will call you when it’s serious/time,” so he would be able to try to be productive at work. SEVERAL people (okay, EVERYONE) at work asked my “WHY THE HELL ARE YOU HERE?!?!” when they found out I was having contractions. I would explain that they were still over an hour apart and that there was no way I was just going to sit around and wait all day at home. The contractions did strengthen throughout the day, but with walking around and drinking water, I was fine with them. My plan was to leave work before 4pm so that I wouldn’t risk being stuck in rush hour traffic. That plan, as most plans do, failed. I left work at 4:45pm and had to fight the whole way home. I think that the drive wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t need to go to the bathroom so badly – that made the contractions feel MUCH worse. At this point they were around 20 minutes apart – my storm was strengthening into a Tropical Storm at this point in my mind.
When I did get home, go potty, and walk around, the contractions weren’t as painful – they were still strong and regular, but they didn’t hurt as bad. I did a lot of walking around the house, which, of course, made Brian and the dogs quite nervous. At ten o’clock, we decided that we would at least lay down and Brian would try to sleep and I would rest. Didn’t work. I know that he never closed his eyes and I just couldn’t get comfortable. Brian asked if we should go to the hospital. They contractions were still 1o minutes apart – they had been for about 2 hours, but they weren’t getting any closer. I did not want to go to the hospital and then get sent home. So we waited. Around 11:30 pm I decided to take a shower to see if the water/warmth would help – every book and video we saw said this worked. Such a lie. Okay, it did feel a little better, but that was more from the angle I was leaning than the actual shower.
I am not joking – at midnight the contractions got faster and by the time I dried off, got dressed, etc, they were 5 minutes apart – the magic timing my doctor had given me. We could go to the hospital. *The joking part is because Brian’s mom was in labor for 21 hours with him, and then he was born ON his due date. Apparently, this was Grace’s plan, too.
We got to the hospital shortly after 1:00am, Friday, November 4, 2011. As it was after hours, we had to go through the emergency room entrance – on the opposite side of the hospital from the labor and delivery department/wing. They called a nurse down to take us to the right area. She brought a wheelchair with her for me. It was very uncomfortable for me to sit – we would later learn that my bag of waters was basically bulging through my cervix, which was causing my the increased discomfort when sitting or needing to go to the restroom. It took a bit of convincing, but we told her that I would rather walk. Even the security guard was like, “Are you sure? It’s pretty far.” And it was. But the distance didn’t bother me, it was the speed – I think she forgot or didn’t realize how far into labor I was.
We arrive at the Labor and Delivery wing and I go through my first assessment. The triage nurse said, “I need to check some things and then we will see if you are going to stay.” I just laughed inside, thinking, “You are NOT sending me home.” She checked to see if/how far I was dilated. I was at 4cm! She looked at me and said, “Wow. Good job! We’ll get you to your room.” I got to my room, we get settled in, and the on duty nurse comes to check on me. It is near 2:00am at this point and the contraction are regular and painful but I did decline the epidural at this point.
I had absolutely no “birth plan” going into this. Well, my plan consisted of: 1. go to hospital, 2. have baby. 🙂 I was not dead set on any of the details. I was planning to have an epidural, but I thought I was doing okay without one up to this point, so I wanted to see how I could do. They had started an IV line with saline for me and I had the fetal heart monitor, awkwardly wrapped around me. Because of Grace’s position, they would put the monitor on a good place, I would move two inches and then it wouldn’t be in a good place anymore. I do believe it was that the nurse was frustrated at the end of her shift and didn’t want to deal with me. Two hours later, I wanted the epidural – standing, breathing, and focusing wasn’t working any longer. Of course, when I am ready, the anesthesiologist was just prepping another mommy-to-be for a c-section. The really cool thing was, he was able to come to me in between some of her prep and LUCKILY I took the epidural easily. He was able to get it in on the first try and it worked within moments. I had heard horror stories about it taking several different sticks to find the right place or the epidural not working and/or wearing off or it coming out.
Near 5:00 am I was dilated to 8 cm, they broke my water, and we decide to start me on Pitocin to see if it would speed things up. It didn’t really. The bad thing was, we figured out 2 hours later was that when the nurse started the Pitocin IV bag, somehow she turned off the drugs for my epidural. For those two hours, I was having the worse contractions of the whole situation without any pain medication. Around 7:00 am – with the help of an amazing delivery nurse who had come on duty, I started pushing. We did discover that Grace was “sunny side up,” as they all liked to say. Instead of her being face down to come through the birth canal, she was facing towards my stomach. I pushed hard in every possibly position for over two hours. Nothing was happening. Well, that’s not true – Grace got stuck. Because of the position of my cervix and pelvic bones and her head the “wrong” way up, she was stuck. All vitals (hers and mine) were always good – she is a strong little sucker.
By 10:00am, my doctor, the nurse, and I know what is going to happen. I knew, and said, that there was no way that I could keep pushing like I had been. The nurse confirmed that I was doing really well – I’m sure just trying to make me feel better. My doctor agreed, like she said, “Even if you do push like this for another hour, we might be in the same place and maybe at that point the baby could become distressed.” Brian looked at the three of us and said, “What does that mean.” I said, “Brian – she has to come out.” He knew what was going to happen, and he told me later, he just needed one of us to actually say that I was going to have surgery. That was one of the big things about this adventure, too – I had never been a patient in the hospital before – no surgeries, no broken bones, nothing. So, like I say, “Go big or go home.”
The decision is made, they turn my epidural back on so I can lay there in this weirdly uncomfortable limbo while things are prepared. At this same time, my doctor goes across the street to the office to do office visits, my anesthesiologist is with a woman in surgery delivering twins, and she’s in the regular delivery operating room. They had to figure out if I could wait, but then decided probably not, not knowing how the multiple birth is going to go. SO, they say we get to use the other OR – not a big deal except that they heat had not been turned on that day and it was about 60 degrees in the room. I get prepped, Brian gets scrubbed out, my IV lines get taken apart so that I can be hooked up to other machines. Not going to lie – it was kind of nice being able to (okay, having no choice but to) lie there and watch all of this activity going on around me. I get wheeled into the OR and, yes, it was COLD.
The last time I see the clock before they put up the drape it was 1:15pm. I am hooked up to the new anesthesia, the anesthesiologist asks me, “Do you feel that?” I said, “Feel what?” He said, “Right answer.” We laughed – it was so stupid. He was a REALLY nice guy. He asked me if my husband had a problem with blood – I’m sure figuring out what they were going to actually let Brian see. I said, “Oh, no – he used to be a CSI.” They let Brian in immediately after that – I guess he passed the squeemish test.
At 1:41pm, Friday, November 4, 2011 – Grace was born. Something I learned later is that babies born by c-section don’t cry immediately. I panicked for a split second and then she screamed. It was awesome. Brian got to help clean her up, cut the umbilical cord, take pictures, all the fun stuff. They laid her on my chest and all I could think was, “Hi, little girl – We’ve had a long day. I will hold you as soon as I can.” They took her off to the nursery and Brian went with.
Because the room was so cold, they were using warmed towels to keep me warm. They were so nice and toasty. When they took Grace and Brian away, I was laying there, letting the doctors do their thing, and I realized that I was drifting in and out of sleep. I hadn’t really slept in 2 days, the stress on my body of labor, the drop in the adrenaline after the birth, were all taking a toll, BUT I didn’t want to freak out the doctors/nurses/whoever if they thought I had passed out, so I tried to stay awake. And then I started to notice that I was still on the operating table… shouldn’t I be done? I did ask the anesthesiologist, who had been trying to let me know what was going on throughout the whole process. I was told by my doctor that when Grace got stuck there was a little bit of damage to my bladder that they were checking and fixing but everything was definitely okay. I learned later that the hadn’t told Brian why I was still in the OR either. All told, I was on the table for nearly 2 hours.
After that it’s all a blur, but I can tell you every detail if I think about it. Because of the damage to my bladder, I had a catheter for another day and a half, so I couldn’t get out of bed. That sucked. Because I was on a liquid diet for that, I didn’t start producing breast milk early enough for Grace to get enough. She became jaundice. That sucked. We didn’t leave the hospital until Tuesday, November 8. That really sucked. Brian wanted to spend time with us, but there was nothing for him to do in our hospital room, but he didn’t want to just spend time by himself at home with us in the hospital. It was rough on all of us. It was a wonderful day when we got to come home as a family.