It’s still hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that I delivered our first child over a week ago. I wake up on my belly and find it strange that it’s no longer uncomfortable and I don’t feel tiny feet poking my ribs – then I roll over and see the most perfect little face fast asleep in his bassinet and can’t help but smile. 🙂
Backtrack to my last pregnancy update and you’ll see that we were scheduled to be induced a week before my due date because the doctors were concerned that the baby wasn’t growing properly and that my placenta may have been failing. At our 36 week ultrasound they estimated his weight to be 5 lbs 12 oz – not small enough to be in the danger zone, but he had fallen from the 50th percentile for weight at his gestational age at 26 weeks to the 19th percentile at 36 weeks.
My induction was scheduled for 39 weeks and we had to see the doctor twice a week for non stress tests, additional ultrasounds and my personal favorite, blood work. 😦 Every test came back beautifully except my blood pressure, which up until 36 weeks had been perfect. I was now considered borderline high and was under additional watch for pre eclampsia.
Fast forward to induction day and I dutifully woke up at 5:50 AM to call the hospital to confirm our arrival time that my OB had written on my induction appointment instructions – 7:30 AM. The nurse put me on hold and then told me that the hospital had me scheduled for 7:30 PM and was I sure my paperwork said AM. Yes, I was sitting right there looking at it as I had for the past two weeks every time I opened my fridge.
She then informed me that they had two other inductions scheduled for the morning and that if they didn’t, she would tell me to go ahead and come in since that’s what our paperwork said. However…since they DID have two others scheduled in their system that I had to wait until 6 PM to call back and confirm that I could still come in at 7:30 PM for the induction time they had me scheduled for. Considering my OB had me down to be induced by Cervidil and that Cervidil doesn’t usually send women into full blown labor on its’ own, I was now looking at an overnight stay in the hospital before my cervix would even be ripe enough to start Pitocin. Add in the fact that I set my alarm for 5:50 AM and there was no way I was relaxed enough now to go back to sleep, I was dreading this induction and preparing myself to be awake for anywhere from 24 – 48 hours depending on how the induction went. No bueno.
After calling my mom to let her know about the mix up, I ended up waking my husband because I just really didn’t know what else to do. We went back and forth about calling the hospital again to make absolutely sure the nurse didn’t hear my name incorrectly or give me the wrong information and should we call the OB when they opened to ease our minds. All in all, we decided to just wait – mainly me reassuring us both that if the nurse at the hospital gave me the wrong information that we would eventually get a call from the hospital asking where the hell we were.
No such call came and we spent the day keeping the house tidy and running some light errands.
As the afternoon rolled around, my husband and I kicked up our feet to relax for the last couple of hours we had as just us. We cuddled up on the couch and turned on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. (Ironically, my sister texted me during this time and asked how I was doing. I told her I was doing fine and the last thing she said to me was “poop now or forever hold your shame”.) I believe we got through an entire episode and maybe half through a second when – at around 4pm – I felt a “pop” in my lower abdomen.
“Did you feel that?”
“I think my water just broke.”
I started to feel a small warmth, almost like I was beginning to pee myself, and I hurried off the couch and into the bathroom. Five seconds later, a small trickle of fluid came, followed quickly by my husband. I wiped.
“Well, that’s an odd color.”
I guess it’s all he could think of to say. But, yes, the fluid had small green chunks and I quickly became panicked, knowing with 100% certainty that my water had just broke and that the green I was seeing meant that the baby had pooped and could signal that our baby was in distress. I had Jeremy get our induction paper and I called labor and delivery right there on the toilet, shaking, leaking and knowing full well that my husband had no idea what that “odd color” meant.
“I’m scheduled for an induction at 7:30 PM, but I’ve just had event and I don’t know who else to call. I’m pretty sure my water just broke and it is definitely green.”
“The baby pooped, which means it may be in distress. Go ahead and come in. I’ll let them know you’re on your way. Don’t speed.”
As calmly as I possibly could, I stayed right where I was, shouting instructions to my husband from the toilet. Once we were pretty sure we had everything in the car, I put on a pad and waddled my way into the car. The hospital is a 25 to 30 minute drive from us and I was diligently tracking my contractions all the way there – 30ish seconds every 3 to 5 minutes.
At the Hospital
As we pulled into the parking lot, my husband was trying to find a spot as close as possible and it was all I could do to not yell as I told him to just park. He grabbed the few things we needed immediately and as I stood up, I could feel amniotic fluid start leaking down my legs – go figure I was in lounge shorts that day. I ordered my husband to let me have the shirt he packed for himself so I could make it up to the third floor without leaking everywhere. As unhappy as he was, I bundled up his shirt and held it between my legs as I waddled as fast as I could.
We were admitted to our room around 5 PM, where I changed into my labor gown and pleaded with the nurse to please get the IV in place the first try. I jinxed that because my vein kept rolling and after five or so minutes of digging and a cold washcloth around my neck, she gave up and called in a second nurse. That second nurse’s name just happened to be Glenda.
“Are you Glenda the good witch? Since the other nurse was the bad witch.”
She seemed slightly confused at first and then got my stupid joke. But she was obviously Glenda the good witch because she did get my IV in place without too much struggle – and by that I mean she bound my arm up tighter than a nun’s _______ and proceeded to check this vein and that vein and let me sit there with two hot packs on my arm trying to get a vein to show up.
The doctor came in to check my progress right after and at a little after 5 PM, I was 2 cm and 80% effaced. (The day before going into labor I had been 1 cm and 50% effaced.) She then informed me that I was going to be receiving a neonatal catheter – of which, all I heard was “catheter” and began to panic again. I soon found out that a neonatal catheter is essentially an internal shower – it doesn’t hurt when its’ inserted and it just pumps saline fluid into the amniotic fluid to help clean out the meconium. However, it created so much extra fluid coming out of my body that every time I would change positions during contractions I would leak out through the huge diaper they had me in. Once or twice, I even left puddles on the floor as I got out of the rocking chair.
After I was all hooked up to every tube they could stick in me and every monitor strapped to my belly, we settled in for the long haul. Luckily, the baby’s heart rate was strong and regular and was tolerating labor very well. Apparently, he just needed to go.
At this point, let me just say, if you are a first time mom and you are worried about your modesty and dignity during labor delivery… Just. Stop. People told me the same thing. When the baby’s coming you don’t care if it’s a man or a woman who delivers it, you won’t care if you’re naked, you won’t care if you poop on the table, blah, blah, blah. IT IS ALL 100% TRUE.
Labor & Delivery
Here’s a recap of the timeline: my water broke at 4 PM, I was 2 cm dilated and 80% effaced at a little after 5 PM with contractions coming every 60 to 90 seconds last for a minute or more.
Sometime around 6 PM, a new nurse came on shift – an extremely chatty nurse. She asked when I last ate and what was it. A double chocolate chip cookie at 3 PM. She looked at me with the most pathetic look and said, “oh sweetie, you should’ve eaten something on the way in”. Then followed it up with this little speech:
“You can have Jello, Popsicles, juice, coffee with no milk, soda and water. As many as you want. I’ll go get you something if you want. You’re a first time mom, so you’ll be in labor for awhile – typically 12 to 18 hours. We would consider it great progress if you dilated at about one centimeter an hour. We’re looking at a breakfast baby.”
My reaction? You. Are. Shitting. Me. I have already been up for 12 hours and I’m going to have contractions every minute for the next 10 to 16 hours and push this baby out, all on a practically empty stomach? Give me the Jello.
After enjoying a little cup of Jello – I didn’t even get to pick my flavor – and a couple sips of ginger ale, the time between my contractions began to lengthen out to every 5 to 6 minutes. The nurse monitored them for roughly a half hour, started me on a little Pitocin to help my contractions along and checked my cervix again. At 9:30 PM, I was 3 cm and 85% effaced and starting to lose hope that I would have a fast labor. I was then told that the Pitocin would take 30 minutes to 2 hours to take effect and to try and sleep while I could.
Pitocin’s response? **** you.
Within 15 minutes, my contractions picked up again and I could barely rock my way through them. At this point, I asked my new nurse – I swear I saw every nurse that worked on the ward – was there anything, besides an epidural, that could just take the edge off my contractions and she gave me a half dose of Fentanyl.
Back to the contractions. Every time one would start, Jeremy would ask if I was okay. It’s just a contraction. It’s just a contraction. It’s just a contraction. I finally told him that I was fine and whatever I did – from rocking back and forth or leaning my head back or doing a cartwheel – it was me trying to work through a contraction. And with that he did what any normal man would do when he legitimately cannot help: fell asleep.
Disclosure: Jeremy did as much as he possibly could for me while I was in labor. From helping me to the bathroom, getting in and out of diapers, keeping me company and even being sport enough to try to rock with me through a contraction while on my feet, leaning on him. But at a certain point, there is just nothing anyone can do for you – labor is a one woman show.
I guesstimate he was out for about 20 minutes – it was now about 12:40 AM – and I was back in the bed, working through another contraction when it felt like a rock dropped into my pelvis. As another contraction was cresting, I instinctively knew and simultaneously whacked that call button for a nurse and managed to loudly say, “Jeremy!”. I have literally never seen my husband move so fast in my life – he sprung right up off that couch and was at my side before the contraction subsided and in the midst of that wave I told him I needed to push and I needed a nurse NOW.
He disappeared for a minute and another contraction had me thinking “don’t push yet”. In the middle of that contraction he returned without anyone, said there was no one out there and all I could think was “Jeremy is going to deliver this baby”. I insisted one more time that I NEEDED a nurse NOW and he frantically went back into the hallway. (He later told me that he could hear two or three other women actively pushing and there was one nurse walking down the hall, he just pointed at her and she said “do you need help?” He told her I needed to push and she followed him into our room.)
She checked me – it was so quick compared to the others that I feel the baby must have been super close to just coming out on its’ own – and said “yep, it’s time to push”.
I sort of remember saying it, but when people ask about my labor and we get to this part, my husband jumps at the opportunity to tell everyone exactly how much I cussed. I apparently also dropped some F-bombs during pushing. Mama’s got a mouth.
The nurse hurried back out the door for the doctor and I think at this point Jeremy started to panic, knowing the baby was crowning and he was again alone in the room with his wife who desperately wanted to push. Before the next contraction, I was flipped over on my back, surrounded by three or so nurses, with a spotlight right where no spotlight should ever shine and being told to just go ahead and push with the next contraction. I was offered a mirror, which I refused and Jeremy was offered my other leg, which he also refused. LOL. (He gets queasy and I wasn’t going to – excuse the pun – push it because I didn’t want him to potentially pass out during the delivery of our first child. Subsequent children, eh, we’ll see. 🙂 )
What I was not prepared for was how different contractions feel during pushing. (The only way I can describe contractions is like waves of the most intense menstrual cramps ever over and over and over.) From the moment I felt him crowning, the feeling of the worst menstrual cramps ever completely stopped and I just felt tightening in my abdomen, an intense pressure in my pelvis and the overwhelming need to push – other than feeling things stretch to accommodate our baby, I was no longer in pain. I was legitimately blown away by that.
About three contractions later, being told to stop pushing on contraction two so I didn’t tear and, my worst fear coming true, pooping, Elias was born at 12:55 AM. Of course, we didn’t know right then it was a baby boy – the doctor held him up and said “Dad, what is it?”. Jeremy proudly responded, “a boy!”. They put him on my chest and did all his newborn shots and tests right there.
After he had his skin to skin time with me, the nurses did his footprints and weighed him. Our little guy weighed 5 lbs 10.5 oz – almost 2 ounces less than what they estimated his weight to be three weeks earlier. At 18 inches, all the nurses were commenting about how long he was and how he’ll grow up to be a piano player because of his long fingers.
At this point, I don’t really remember a whole lot in detail because there was just SO much going on. I do remember the nurse hunting me down a turkey wrap meal because I was starving – I only finished 3/4 of the wrap and left my chips and fruit cup because I just wanted to hold my little man. It didn’t even occur to me later that I should’ve taken my food with me into my postpartum room. (That’s what hormones do, people.) But I do remember Jeremy holding him for the first time, how little our boy looked in his daddy’s big arms and how happy Jeremy looked being able to finally hold his child.
Jeremy called my mom, my dad and his mom and I texted my sister while we were still in the delivery room, letting them know that our baby had been born. Everyone asked if we had had a boy or a girl, but we kept them waiting until they actually arrived at the hospital so we could catch their reactions on video. Needless to say, they were all a little frustrated that we STILL weren’t telling. 🙂
As we left the delivery room, I proudly held our brand new baby as they wheeled me past all the other laboring women toward our recovery room – our victory lap around the maternity ward. Once we settled in, our once again new nurses told me how well everyone said I did and that because my first labor was so fast that next baby I had better be getting to the hospital because otherwise we’d be delivering it at home or en route. Jeremy was terrified of hearing that but I just took it in stride, completely confident that we could absolutely handle that. Now, when’s breakfast?
I was super exhausted, but all I wanted was to keep holding the little person I had waited so long to finally hold. So I did. Only giving him up for brief periods for vital checks and for family members to hold him, I held him through the majority of the morning and well into the afternoon, staring into his little face and telling him over and over that I would always protect him, always love him and always be with him. Always.
To sum it up, my labor lasted a total of just under 9 hours, shocking everyone at just how fast I progressed. Remember, I was 3cm at 9:30 and was told that “great progress” would be 1cm an hour – I did 7cm in three hours. With one half dose of Fentanyl and no epidural, I delivered Elias in about four contractions, with no tearing, minimal swelling and no insane screaming. Yes, I did drop the F-bomb, but I used my inside voice and I even had the energy during the pushing phase to tell Jeremy that I didn’t even care that I pooped. For me, labor was not anything like the horror they show in the movies. I felt so empowered by not needing an epidural and even looking at my soft postpartum body now , I feel so confident and proud of what my body did that I’m not even upset that it’ll take me a bit to get back to where I was. I am a mom – hear me roar. 😀
And, yes, although during active labor (not the pushing phase) I doubted that I could ever do it again, I will absolutely do it again.
While in our recovery room, I asked Jeremy how he felt during the pushing phase. Did he get queasy? Did he actually look? Here was his response:
“I accidentally looked out the corner of my eye and saw just his head starting to come out and immediately looked away. The next time I peeked it was half a body just sticking out from you and all I could think of was that scene in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”
I, of course, knew exactly what he was talking about and responded with, “kinda hot in these rhinos”. True love, people, true love.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can watch the scene from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective here. Try not to laugh, I dare you.