|I made this for Kevin for Valentine's Day one year. He's never worn it.|
(By the way, we took that picture as we were packing for the hospital, know it was probably the last time we could!)
I don't know if he would admit it, but I think Kevin had been envisioning the drive to the hospital to be one plucked out of a prime time TV drama - me, panting, moaning and pushing, while he deftly navigates the hills and turns of our "shortcut" to the hospital, running stop signs and dodging pedestrians. I'm sure he was disappointed.
He had the car warmed up by the time I waddled out, but I wasn't ready to go just yet. Nope. I had to vomit three times in the front yard, first. When the nausea hit, Kevin asked if I wanted to go back in side. Like I ever would've made it! In case you lost count, I threw up three times in the last entry, so by this time, all of the noodles and broth I had eaten were pretty much gone. I finally felt well enough to get in the car, but we brought some bags, just to be safe. Kevin sped up the driveway, and I had to beg him to slow down. The turns and bumps were torturous to me - between the nausea and feeling like I could barely sit. I did, however, muster the strength and wherewithal to post on my Facebook page, "I think this bun is done!" :)
To Kevin's disappointment, I'm sure, we took the non-bumpy, non-shortcut through the hospital. With the general pain peaking in contractions every few minutes, it was a slow walk from the parking garage, although I think Kevin wanted to hustle. I just couldn't. It was a beautiful morning, though. A little misty with the sun just breaking through, and crisp and cool.
The worst part of our hospital experience was checking in. I was weak, lightheaded, and in pain, and the check-in process was incredibly slow. The receptionist needed a ton of information, and was not in any type of hurry about processing it. All I could do was prop myself up against a chair and think, "Can't you see that I'm not well?" Finally, our doula came and could comfort me and help me relax while Kevin finished checking us in.
The next thing I knew, we were in our room. We were hoping for the room with the birthing tub, but it appeared unavailable. At that time, I didn't even care. Then, again, once we got in the room, the nurses needed to ask a battery of questions and get a dozen vital signs. It seemed like an hour (I don't think nearly that long in real life) had gone by before a midwife showed up and said, "Should we see how far a long you are?"
Seven centimeters. "You didn't want an epidural, did you?" the midwife asked. Luckily, no.
Now, here is the thing about the rest of my labor. It's a little hazy to me. Not because it's been bathed in the glow of newborn bliss, but because I was truly out of it for most of the labor. I was exhausted and weak with hunger. I think the only way I got through the labor was to sort of check out. Our doula later said that she was amazed at how calm and well-composed I remained. I appreciate the compliment, but I was really barely there. Time got a little loosey-goosey, too.
I didn't move around much while I was dilating. I think people kept asking me if I wanted to get up, walk around, but I didn't much. Kevin remembers that I walked around with him a bit, but for the most part I stayed in bed. It's funny, when we took our birthing class, the instructor told us to make sure we changed positions every 45 minutes or so, and I remember thinking, "That's crazy! Who can stay in one position for 45 minutes, anyway?" Exhausted me in labor, that's who. They had to prompt me to roll from one side to the other in bed.
I remember being coached to breathe, and breathing. I remember focusing on a single point on the ceiling. It was painful. The whole time, never mind the contractions. It's like the norm was bad period cramps, and the contractions were that times ten. I whimpered about it hurting so much. I squeezed Kevin's hand; he put a cold washcloth on my forehead. I thought about how I completely understood why a woman would choose to get an epidural.
And we weren't even pushing, yet.
That's when things were supposed to get better, right? The pushing? I mean, not easier, but I was supposed to feel productive, and the end was supposed to be in sight.
I reached 10 centimeters around 11 AM. Someone I get up to push; how about trying the toilet? I felt like sitting was impossible, but the toilet actually felt...I wouldn't say comfortable, but not like I was sitting on a baby's head. I sat there, feeling pathetic, and said to the doula, "It shouldn't be long now, right? How long do people usually push?"
"It could be as short as a half hour," she said.
"Ok," I thought, "I can do that."
We tried pushing on the toilet. The doula coached me to push with calming breaths. Then, we tried pushing squatting next to the bed, squatting on the bed, on all fours, lunging on the floor. It was not entirely productive. People kept asking me what position I wanted to be in, what I wanted to do. THE ONE THAT GETS THE BABY OUT. I really had no idea. I was barely present, much less in touch with what my body wanted me to do, which is probably why I pushed for ABOUT THREE HOURS unsuccessfully.
As much as I was a proponent of not laboring on my back (it's unnatural; you don't have the help of gravity, The Man keeping us down, yadda yadda), in the end, it was all I could do. The doula finally had me switch tactics - rather than breathing through pushing, I was to hold my breath and give it all I had, three times through each contraction. She and Kevin held my feet, while I pulled myself up and pushed.
The thing was, after those three hours, my contractions were still 3-4 minutes apart. I was vaguely aware of the nurse and midwife glancing at each other. A little before 2PM, the midwife said, "We're going to hook you up to some Pitocin."
My eyes filled with tears. I had wanted so much to do this on my own, but even as my eyes filled, I knew I couldn't. I wanted to be consulted, though, not told, so I asked if we could wait until two o'clock to see if things changed on there own. They didn't, but in the meantime, they explained how small the dose would be, and how it would just make the contractions a little more powerful. At the end, I was thankful. I was too weak, too exhausted to keep doing what I was doing. I think if I hadn't had the Pitocin, my labor would've ended in a C-section.
I got the Pitocin around 2PM. The contractions increased in strength and frequency, and I thought that the baby must be just about out at least 2 dozen times. Oh my goodness, there was so much pressure, so much...stretching feeling, and so much pain, how could the baby not be out, yet? I kept saying that. I thought for sure I felt a head coming out, but no. At one point, I thought I felt a burning sensation, so I was like, "YAY, CROWNING!" but I apparently had totally underestimated what that particular burning sensation would feel like.
Kevin and the doula continued to encourage me and help me push. Kevin wiped my head and gave me sips of water, although he needed to be prompted now and then. He will tell you that I pushed him across the room to get a drink of water; I really just nudged him to get his attention.
Finally, oh finally, more nurses came into the room, bringing tables and medical instruments. That meant they thought it was almost time. Oh, thank goodness. I had been saying for about three hours that I didn't know how much longer I could do this, and why wouldn't the baby COME OUT???
I put all the energy I had into pushing, screaming with effort between each breath. Finally, around 3:20 PM, I felt the burning and the worst pain I've ever experienced, and screamed bloody murder, but AMEN, here was the head! And they turned to me and told me to stop pushing (so they could make sure the cord wasn't around the baby's neck or anything), and I was like, "I CAN'T!" It's like running at full speed, then just stopping on a dime. Apparently it all worked out, though, because moments later, a slippery blue baby was laying on my chest.
"Dad, do you want to tell her what it is?" the midwife prompted Kevin.
It was a girl.
I cried. Out of relief, and out of wonder that this little creature that had grown in my belly for nine months was now laying on me, screaming her head off. And out of gratitude that the universe had given me the little girl I wanted so much.
The doula took some pictures, Kevin cut the cord, and we latched the baby - Abby - to my breast to feed.
So, to review, and maybe you should've jumped to here if you wanted the quick version: I began having contractions around 2 or 3PM on Wednesday, December 12th. They organized themselves in the middle of the night. We got to the hospital around 8AM on Thursday, December 13th, and I was dilated 7 cm. I got to 10 cm around 11AM, then pushed with varying degrees of success for 4 hours. Well, I guess successfully, ultimately. I was in labor for about 24 hours, had been awake for about 36 hours, and had vomited up anything I'd eaten since dinner Wednesday night.
So, I might have felt in an "other-worldly" state because of the magic of giving birth, but I'm guessing hunger and exhaustion played a role. Family came in and passed Abigail around, but I could barely focus on conversation. I really felt like I was seeing everything through a haze. But our baby girl was here, and now, we could sleep.
|Mommy meeting Abby|
|Daddy cutting the umbilical cord.|