100 points if you make it to the end.
I didn’t go into labor until the 16th, but Grayson’s birth story starts on Tuesday, January 13th. I motivated myself to walk the 3 miles around the reservoir near my house with a girlfriend and spent pretty much the entire hour bemoaning my severely pregnant state. I was so miserable that the baby wasn’t here yet, and convinced that I would be pregnant all the way until the 42 weeks the OB allowed before forcing an induction. On one hand, I really wanted the “natural” birth experience (ahem – natural with a side of epidural of course…), but on the other hand I wanted thus kid OUT and the induction date couldn’t come soon enough.
After the walk, I came home thinking that I was leaking amniotic fluid. I wasn’t sure if that was really the case or if maybe it was just wishful thinking, but I high tailed it to the doctor to have the situation assessed. I was 39 weeks pregnant exactly, and according to the doctor, 2cm dilated (maybe even 2.5), and 60% effaced. It was progress, so I wasn’t going to complain. However I wasn’t currently leaking fluid. I had leaked at some point, but it appeared that the bag of waters had either healed itself, or baby’s head was keeping it closed. I was out of the danger zone for the moment, but now an induction date was in my near future. The baby would be served his eviction notice on January 24 – if he wasn’t here before then.
On Wednesday, at lunch with a girlfriend, I decided that I wanted the baby here that coming Friday. (January 16th) I only had a few old wives tales left to try, but I was going to somehow make it happen. I focused on positive visualization, Sun Tsu style. If I visualized it enough, maybe he really would come. SOMETHING had to work. I picked up some Blue and Black Cohosh and even some **gasp** castor oil and spent the next day and a half bouncing on the yoga ball.
After dinner on Thursday, I knew something was different. I felt twinges of something in my lower abdomen when I was on the ball and just generally felt ‘off’. I did not want to jinx myself and think of the L word, so I just took a shower and went to bed as usual.
At 1:30, I woke up knowing I was in labor. My contractions weren’t consistent yet, but they were completely different from the millions of Braxton Hicks contractions I’d had in the previous few weeks. I probably should have rolled over and tried to get some sleep, but my completely vain self decided I should flat iron my hair while I had the chance. (Looking back, I really can’t believe that was priority of mine!) By the time the 15 minutes of primping had passed, I was actually forced to concentrate on breathing through the contractions.
At 2:30, I couldn’t stand through the contractions and I needed Koka to help me time them. And to help me deal with the pain.
Now, I should also point out that I’d tried (unsuccessfully) to take some castor oil early in the day on Thursday. The few internet pages I found with instructions said to take about 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup on the nasty stuff to make it work. I got overly anxious in my haste to get it down and mistakenly only took 2 teaspoons. Needless to say, it didn’t work. But now, at 2:30 in the morning, I was terrified that Koka and I would rush off to the hospital only to be told I had bad intestinal cramping. Again, irrational, but I was pretty worried about it! I had no desire to be the lady who couldn’t tell the difference between labor and the runs.
Around 3:30, when my contractions were three minutes apart and lasting over 60 seconds, it was clear that this was the baby. I let Koka call the doctor and we started to head to the hospital. I think it took me about 10 minutes to get my pants on. Which is funny since all I did was strip them off the minute we got there…
Since I had pre-registered with the hospital, we got a room the minute we showed up. I do have a funny memory of one of the registration nurses trying to ask me who our pediatrician was in the middle of a contraction. She may have asked me 2 or 3 times before I actually asked her to “please stop talking to me”. Hopefully it came out as calmly as it sounded in my head.
I got into my labor and deliver room, stripped down, and got ready for the show to begin. At about 4:30, the nurse on duty did an internal and I was 4 cm dilated. The contractions were coming pretty fast and almost completely in my back, so I was pretty uncomfortable. I was pretty proud of myself for breathing through them and remaining completely calm, but I also knew that I wanted an epidural. The nurse checked me again after we hooked up all the monitors and I was already at a 5 and 85% effaced. (I had warned her that my mother’s labor was fast and furious) It may have helped with the pain if I could have walked around, but baby needed to be monitored since his heart rate kept dipping.
My new best friend, AKA the epidural man showed up at 5 and by 5:30, I was feeling great. The contractions I’d been feeling before the drugs now just felt like the Braxton hicks tightening again. I couldn’t feel the pain, but I’d gotten a low enough dose that I could feel ‘stuff’. Exactly what I wanted. The only exception being that my right leg was completely dead weight. They assured me that that sensation would eventually fade, and it did.
Koka and I figured it would be a while at this point, so we did our best to get some rest. I’m pretty sure I slept until about 7:30 when the nurses had a shift change. They checked me again around 8:30 or 9 and I was at 7 cm. I was so excited for progress, and thought for sure I’d be having this child by lunch time.
Not so much.
I stalled at 7 cm for quite a while and eventually my OB decided to break my water and see how much further my body would progress on it’s own. I honestly have no idea why, but after they broke my water I broke out into cold sweats and thought I was going to blow chunks all over myself. The nasty feeling lasted about 20 minutes. So bizarre.
The rest of the day passed completely uneventfully. Koka and I watched an insane amount of television. Really, the worst part of my ‘transition phase’ was how hungry I got. Ha! I feel so guilty for such an easy labor.
Around 4:30, I started to feel the urge to push during my contractions. I knew that eventually I’d have that feeling consistently, so I held off calling the nurse. By 5, I knew this kid was coming out. When the nurse checked, and confirmed that I was ready to go, I reminded her once again that my mother popped me out VERY quickly. And while I had no idea if I would have a similar experience, I wanted them to be prepared.
Unfortunately, my OB had gone into to perform a C-section. I kept hearing that he’d be out in 5-20 minutes, so we called our family and told them to get to the hospital. My nurse was really wonderful, but I’m pretty sure she had no idea what she was getting into with me. Around 5:30, with my OB still not available, I had Koka run to the nurses station and inform them that I thought my baby was going to fall out.
While she was in the room checking me out, I had a contraction with pressure so acute I was breathing through it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to avoid pushing. Mistakenly, she thought I was in pain and sent in the Epi man to push another dose of drugs through me. I was so focused on not pushing, I didn’t do a good job of telling the guy I wasn’t interested. At this point, after 14 hours of calm, I started to break down. I was crying to Koka that I needed to push, my lady bits were starting to burn, and I just wanted to get this child out of me.
A few minutes past 6:00, the nurse finally came back in to start doing practice pushes. When she sat down to get the show started, you could already see a small amount of the baby’s head. My OB made a brief appearance around this time, but quickly left when he thought I wasn’t close to delivery. I guess they let the nurses do most of the prep work?
At this point, I lost complete sense of time. I think I made it through 3 or 4 contractions of “practice pushing” before I felt what I can only describe as the Ring of Fire. Excruciating pain. And I had an Epi! Good lord. As soon as I started to yell that my vagina was going to explode, the nurse started to panic. She frantically pushed the call button on my bed to get an OB in the room, any OB at this point. When no one was available, she instructed me to “not push” and ran out of the room. Poor Koka, I just looked up at him and started bawling. I was in so much pain, and I knew that just one more push, and it would feel unbelievably better.
Once the nurse was back in the room, she was in my face helping me pant through the contractions so that I could keep the kid in a little bit longer. I have NO idea how long I panted. It felt like hours, but it was probably only a minute or two before my OB came RUNNING into the room. I just remember staring at the nurse’s mouth and trying to mimic her breathing. Koka remember’s the OB looking up and asking if we “were ready for a birthday party”. CUTE.
One more push, and the baby’s little head was out. The cord was wrapped around his neck, but the doctor quickly unwrapped him. Before long, his shoulders were out, and he was being placed on my chest. Grayson was born at 6:39pm. About 20 minutes after I started “practice pushing”.
I will never be able to articulate the feelings I felt at that moment. I remember a sting of “Oh my gods” escaping my lips. I remember looking up and seeing Koka with tears streaming down his face. And I remember this unbelievable amount of love I felt for this squirming, screaming child on my chest. It was surreal. He seemed so small and yet HUGE considering he had just come from inside of me.
From there, everything happened very quickly. I managed to do very little damage to my body, so my OB was out of the room very quickly. (Only one stitch!) The nursery nurse hadn’t made it into the room before I delivered, so we had to wait for her to come and take all of Grayson’s vitals. (9 and 10 APGAR scores!) And then they let our families in.
My delivery was better than I could have imagined. I was able to go into labor naturally, and Grayson came out quickly and happily. It was all so special, and so life changing. Cliched or not, I will never be the same.