Monday, September 27, 2010

"She's complete."

Already, everything about pregnancy, labor and delivery is blurring in my mind, so I figured I'd better record Miss M's birth story while I can still remember a few of the gory details.

My OB checked me internally for the first time at my 39-week appointment Sept. 9. It hurt so bad, I couldn't help crying out loud. (Sorry to whoever was in the next exam room!) Afterward, she told me I was 3 cm and 75% effaced. That was great news, but she was careful to caution me that it didn't mean anything as far as when the baby would arrive. She did say that it could mean my labor would go more quickly.

I left the appointment feeling encouraged that my body seemed to have a general idea of how to get a baby out. That afternoon, I went back to work and barely noticed any cramping. Walking to my car after work, I realized my lower back was kind of achy, in a PMS sort of way. But I thought it was due to the exam and figured a soak in the tub would feel good.

I'm not sure how long I was in the bathtub. Long enough for Chris to grill me two hotdogs, and for me to eat them in the tub. Also long enough for me to realize I was having contractions. After about three sharp, low cramps, I started timing them. At 15 minutes apart, they were regular enough for me to allow myself to acknowledge I could be in early labor. But I kept thinking about my best friend, who had contractions five minutes apart for two days before the hospital would admit her. So I prepared myself for the long haul.

By 9 p.m., the contractions were 6-8 minutes apart, and I was pretty uncomfortable. I called L&D to see what to do. The nurse wasn't encouraging. She said I could come in, and they could check me, but they hated to have to send me home. She recommended trying to get some sleep and seeing if the contractions slowed down. If my water broke, or the contractions sped up to 3-5 minutes apart, then she said I should come in.

All it took was the threat of another internal exam to make me determined to wait it out at home as long as possible. We went to bed, and I went to sleep ... in 6- to 8-minute increments. Waking up in the middle of a contraction is no fun. I remember trying to get on my hands and knees to rock through the contractions. The worst were the ones where I didn't wake up in time and was stuck on my side unable to move through the pain.

Around midnight I got up, and decided to try to walk the dog. I only made it one house down the road before doubling over again in pain. As soon as the contraction ended, I hightailed it back to the house. The next contraction had me in tears, and I told Chris we were going to the hospital immediately.

The ride to the hospital was awful. Every turn, every little bump in the road was excruciating, and I kept telling Chris to slow down. Then I'd want him to speed up so we could get there faster. Thank goodness it was the middle of the night, and no one was following us.

Checking in seemed to take forever, even though the only waiting was for me to be able to answer questions between contractions. You know how it is when the dental hygienist tries to make conversation while cleaning your teeth? Or when you take a big bite of food just as the waitress stops by to ask how you're doing? Check-in was like that, except instead of a mouth full of food or floss, I had a uterus full of pain. The best part was posing for a lovely headshot that was printed on one of the four wristbands I got to wear.

I lost track of time, but I know it was sometime around 1 a.m. when we checked in because when I asked what date it was, I was surprised to hear Sept. 10. At this point, all I could think was that they had better admit me. By the time a doctor came in, I told him if I wasn't in labor, I needed him to give me something to make the pain stop. Lucky for me, he said I was 4 cm, 100% effaced, and I'd be having a baby today.

By this time, every contraction had me writhing and moaning in pain. Getting admitted was Step 1. But I still had to get an IV and have bloodwork done before I could get my epidural. The doctor was kind enough to offer some morphine while I waited for the good drugs. It took the edge off, but not the pain. (Although I sure would have liked to had it before the nurse took three tries to insert my IV.)

The anesthesiologist -- I mean, the epidural he delivered -- was amazing. The relief was immediate. When they checked me after, I was 5 cm. The doctor broke my water and said he would wait a couple of hours to see how I progressed before deciding if I needed pitocin. He recommended getting some sleep, but I was too excited. Two hours later, about 6:30 a.m., I was 6 cm. He seemed pleasantly surprised; I was relieved and finally passed out.

About an hour later, I woke up when a new nurse came in. I asked her how long she thought my labor might be. She said if I continued to dilate a centimeter an hour, they'd consider that good progress. I did the math and hoped I'd have my baby before the end of the day so my doctor, who I adore, could deliver her.

Just then, my OB arrived. She checked me, turned to the nurse and said, "She's complete." I think we were all surprised. The nurse had just came on and was still getting her stuff in order. I was still waking up. My doctor was headed into a busy morning of clinic appointments. But just like that, it was time to push.

You have to know, at my first OB appointment, I expressed my two fears. One, that the epidural wouldn't work. (Thankfully, it did!) My second fear was that the baby would get stuck. It happened to a friend of mine -- she pushed for three hours before being rushed to the OR for an emergency c-section.

My baby was at zero station, and my OB said I had a ways to go. So I was prepared for the worst. Thankfully, I was in the hands of an experienced, calm, compassionate nurse. She was by far the best nurse I had during my entire stay. I owe my positive delivery experience to her.

Back when they broke my water, they learned the baby had already passed meconium. Both nurses and my OB talked to me about what this meant and prepared me for what would happen when she was born. I'm grateful they took the time to do that.

The atmosphere in the room was calm and quiet. With the exception of spotlights turned on my hoo-hah at some point, the only light was natural morning light through the windows. Pushing took all of my energy, and in between, I laid back with my eyes closed. I only spoke to answer direct questions; toward the end, I'm not sure if I even did that.

I pushed for an hour and 45 minutes, but I had no sense of time passing -- it seemed to fly by. The nurse adjusted the bed several times until I was at an angle she liked. She said my contractions were really long, and had me do four, 10-second pushes each time. At some point, she got a towel and had Chris stand between my legs holding the ends. She had me grab the middle and told me to try to pull him on top of me while I was pushing. It worked.

Everything happened so fast at the end, what sticks in my mind are a few random details. I remember my OB was already in the room when they were paging her for the delivery. I remember feeling something coming out so suddenly I sat up and yelled -- not from pain, but from the surprise of it. When I looked down, I saw a gray Gollum-looking thing slide out. They immediately whisked her away to a side room, where I later learned they intubated her twice to remove meconium. A few minutes (moments?) later, we heard strong cries, and they asked my husband to come over.

What happened next is documented in pictures I didn't see until a week after she was born -- Chris meeting the baby, Chris cutting what was left of the cord, Chris holding the baby for the first time. I remember a nurse relaying what she could see. "He looks so scared!" Then I remember him bringing her to me. In the pictures, I still have a washcloth on my forehead (pushing gave me a headache). I am holding her little hand. She is quiet, wide-eyed, looking at me. I remember saying I didn't want to let them take her, but they were anxious to get her to the nursery to check her thoroughly and make sure she was OK.

After they left, I remember the doctors were stitching me up. They said I had a second-degree tear, and they were using words like "rectal sphincter," which scared the bejeezus out of me. I was so afraid of feeling any pain, I kept trying to push the epidural button, but I couldn't get anymore drugs. Thankfully, I couldn't actually feel any pain. Just pressure. It was weird.

I must have catnapped after that. But the next thing I remember is Chris coming back with the baby. The nurse told me he was on his way, and I was sitting up in anticipation. I hope I never forget the feeling that came over me when he walked around the curtain into view with our baby. The most intense love, pride, joy, hope. We were complete. I was complete.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Miss M made her grand entrance Sept. 10, five days before her deadline, but not a day too soon for mom and dad.

I am in love. We are in love.

And yes, everything they say about forgetting the horrible parts of pregnancy and childbirth is true.

One look at her expressive eyes, her hungry mouth, her infant froggy legs already stretching out ... and I'm ready to do it again.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Home stretch?

This week brought puffy feet and ankles. And joint pain in my fingers. All normal, says my OB, who is apparently so unconvinced this baby is making any movement toward arrival that she hasn't bothered to check me.

This I am grateful for, since I hear internal exams can be really uncomfortable. And I'm uncomfortable enough right now. I really don't need anyone messing around down there only to tell me that nothing. is. happening.

But it's still a little depressing.

The good news is that I'm two weeks away from my due date, and my OB said they would probably induce around 41 weeks. So, either way, I'm meeting this baby in about three weeks. Woo-hoo!

That's good news for work, too. (The part where they might be stuck with me for another three weeks.) If you recall, I already had a leave plan drafted when I dropped the preggo bomb on my boss. And for the past six months, I've been focused on getting everything in place so the plan would run smoothly. Basically getting other folks used to doing things without me. I wasn't worried at all about heading out.

Then yesterday, the person who was my primary back-up turned in her three-week notice. (Insert entire vocabulary of four-letter words here.) I'm devastated for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is how much I enjoyed working with her, but I completely understand and empathize with the personal reasons driving her departure.

Still, six months of planning flew out the window, and I am scrambling to cobble together a Plan C. Today, that meant me making calls to clients to tell them they're SOL because my department is SOL. Tomorrow, I will make a few more of those calls, I will reassure my boss that this will all work out, and I will be one more day closer to meeting this baby.