Monday, October 15, 2012
Hey Baby. A Birth Story.
Be forewarned. This post (almost) never ends. If you want to skip ahead, it probably starts getting juicy around "Transition (aka the time I didn't have time to get an epidural)". Or just scroll all the way to the bottom for a little video (it's PG. Pinky swear.)
For those of you who enjoy birth stories, this post is for you. When I was pregnant with the duckling, I must have read close to 300 birth stories in the hopes that I could crack a secret code that would reveal what my own birth experience would be. I had a little apprehension about the unknown, and in addition to a hypnosis program (which I wrote about here) I also found some comfort in others' stories. I didn't unlock any secret message about my own experience, but I certainly appreciated hearing other womens' take on it, so now I'm paying it forward. If I can get my act together maybe I'll share the duckling's story soon, too, but for now, let's talk about my little birdie.
Due. Aaaand Overdue. - My due date was Wednesday, July 11th, which came and went without so much as a sneeze. After having executed the Tony Awards Gala at 36 weeks pregnant I thought maybe the 4,765 laps I walked in the Plaza Hotel that night was enough to guarantee me a timely labor, but I guess the little one was liking the free ride. Having gone six days over with the duckling, I knew babies come when they darn well please, so earlier in my pregnancy I put Friday, July 13th as my last day at work. That day came and went, too, and with a move to our new house planned for Friday the 27th, I was watching a very small window get even smaller. And if you've ever seen me overdue with a baby, you know this big ol' mamma ain't fitting through any window. I grumped around that week, my only condolence being all the time I got to spend with the duckling before he was no longer an only child. And I did something I simply love and hadn't done in years - I treated myself to a movie. In a theatre. By myself. With a box of Sno-Caps. I even managed to make it through the whole movie without peeing.
Induction - Sometime after I hit 40 weeks my doctor set up an induction date. I was petrified of getting induced my first time around (I ended up going into labor on my own 24 hours before my induction date), but this time I went along with it, only because I needed to get the baby part over so I could move on to the move. So Thursday the 19th my mom flew up to be with the duckling, the four (and a half) of us went to dinner at our favorite restaurant, I put the duckling to bed, and then around 9pm my husband and I drove into the city to go to the hospital.
Hospital (aka who are you calling a bulging sac?) - At the hospital, they first thing they did was check me to see how far along I was - the report was 3cm with a "bulging sac". If there were ever two less attractive words used to describe any part of my body I've never heard them. I got hooked up to a hep lock and a fetal heart monitor and was told to sleep until they came to start the pitocin drip around midnight. Between the nurses continuously adjusting the monitor and my husband complaining about his pullout bed, there wasn't much sleep to be had, but I certainly tried. I got a pitocin drip sometime after midnight and waited for the drugs to do their magic.
Contractions - By way of background, when I went into labor with the duckling, I experienced a lovely little gift to laboring women called back labor. It was intense. So intense that in the car ride to the hospital in the middle of the night I was certain that I would be 7 or 8cm when I arrived at the hospital because the contractions were so strong in my back. I was 1cm. This time there was no back labor, just your regular old run of the mill contractions. What a different sensation that was from my first experience. I had read in some of the birth stories about "orgasmic births", where contractions mimicked the same sensation as a good old fashioned romp in the hay. I didn't have that, not even close, but there was a certain peace that came after each contraction ended. Maybe it was because I was calmer, or maybe because compared to my first run-in with contractions these were so much more relaxed, but I actually smiled when each one was over. And truth be told, I wouldn't have said no to a glass of wine and a candy cigarette. By 7:30am I was having to close my eyes and really turn inward during the contractions, but by no means did I think I was as far along as I was...
Transition (aka the time I didn't have time to get an epidural) - The doctor came to check me around 8:20am, at which point I couldn't talk during a contraction but was pretty much fine after each ended. I was shocked to learn I was 7cm, which is typically the start of transition, or the last (and most intense) phase before you actually push. The doctor told me if I wanted an epidural that I had to get it right then because once my water broke (it hadn't yet), labor would likely go too quickly to allow for one. I hesitated for a second, since I'd felt good up until then but decided that I did indeed want the epidural. I told my husband to let the nurses know I was ready for the anesthesiologist. This is where it started to get a little blurry...
Pretty quickly the intensity ramped up. I suddenly felt like I was sitting on a giant boulder that no matter how much I shifted and moved I couldn't get off of it. I could feel that my water was going to break any moment, and sure enough a few moments after the anesthesiologist's assistant arrived, my "bulging sac" unbulged itself all over the blanket I'd been sitting on in an attempt to get off of the imaginary boulder. Water. Everywhere. Sorry, housekeeping. And may I also take a moment to apologize to the poor anesthesiology assistant who had a front row seat at the farm animal sound show I began right about then. It was ugly. And I'm sorry if I frightened you. With my water broken, I knew in my heart there would be no time for an epidural. The doctor checked me and indeed I was fully dilated, and before the anesthesiologist could even get out of the room (and if I remember correctly he was sprinting for the exit), I declared to everyone in the room that I had to push.
Pushing - Like I mentioned earlier, the timeline here is all a little blurry since I didn't really get a chance to take good notes while I was giving birth to a human without an epidural. But I do know that at some point around now I temporarily lost all feeling in both arms and legs. You know when you wake up in the middle of the night and your arm is achy and tingly because you (or your boyfriend or your dog) slept on it wrong, and it fell asleep, and then the sensation comes back and the whole thing tingles and hurts and you have to use your other arm to pick up the tingly arm because you can't yet move it on your own? Yep. That's the exact feeling I had in all four of my limbs. I thought I was going to puke. My husband thought I was insane. Sprinkle in here the sound of a cow giving birth and you've got a pretty accurate picture of things at the moment.
Oh, and remember when I mentioned that I told "everyone in the room" that I was ready to push? Well I progressed so quickly that there was only my husband, the doctor and a nurse (ps there aren't enough words on the interweb to talk about how awesome nurses are). While the three of them were frantically trying to get the baby slip 'n' slide in place at the end of the bed, I decided that I needed a wet towel on my forehead. And I needed it, like, yesterday. No, last century. My husband brought me a wet paper towel which was the wrong kind of towel at which point I'm fairly certain I lashed out at him in tongues. The nurse quickly stepped in with an actual wet towel, and all was right in the world for a brief moment. Then I pushed out the baby, or shall I say the force that is an 8lb, 3oz nine day overdue baby propelling itself down a small hallway that happens to be located inside your body happened. 1, 2, 3, contractions and pushes and the baby was out. And I will say that whatever is responsible for the mystery that is the human body is a badass because adrenaline is the best drug ever created. Full stop. In the split second after the baby came out, my very first thought was simple relief, but then as I opened my eyes towards the ceiling I remembered I had just had a baby. And then it got awesome.
The Baby - We did not find out if we were having a boy or a girl. We like it that way, and it was never a discussion of would or wouldn't we. I assumed we were having a boy since on my husband's side there are boys in every direction. And I love boys, most especially my own. Regardless I wanted my husband to be the one to tell me what we had. After the fog lifted and I opened my eyes, I remember looking towards where he was, not knowing if he was even holding the baby and asking, "What is it?". And then he said it. A girl. His voice cracking under the weight of the joy, he said it was a girl and we cried. My husband cut the cord. He held her. Then she somehow she was on my chest. My daughter. I held her until my arms shook and I couldn't hold her anymore. "It's a girl", the words I couldn't stop saying aloud over and over for the whole world, but mostly myself, to hear. And the same words my husband couldn't bring himself to say on the phone to his parents, who were eagerly awaiting the announcement, without crying all over again. Pure magic. A girl. Our girl.
And in case you're wondering, that wet towel was on my head this whole time. The end.