L&D Part 3
After leaving my final petsit, you would think I’d have run screaming to the hospital to get this kid out! But no, not I. Honestly, I had no interest in spending hours of my life at the hospital if nothing was happening yet. And they have proven that once your hit those front doors, everything slows down. It’s a combination of stress and environment change. No thanks!!!!!
So instead, I called Scott to let him know and made a couple other phone calls – dad, Grandmama, a couple others – and drove to meet the woman who would be taking over my route. I sat in Starbucks, sipping on my delicious Venti Sweetened Green Iced Tea, and she was staring at me, bug-eyed, in a total panic as I talked about my clients and paused for contractions. I was fine!!!!! It was funny to me then, but it’s even funnier now, I gotta tell ya!
On the way home from Starbucks, I called one more friend of mine, who said “So have you called the hospital and doctor yet?” “Ooh… no.” “Do you think maybe you should do that?” Riiiiiight….. THAT!
Here’s the really fun part. I called the doctor on duty, and she proceeds to tell me that my water hadn’t actually broken! OVER THE PHONE, LIKE SHE COULD ACTUALLY TELL FROM THERE!!!!!! So I explained to her that it looked, smelled, acted like “water,” and she finally decided to believe me. I have to tell you, the doctor I had for my delivery wasn’t exactly the picture of a mommy/baby friendly doctor that I’d been hoping for. I’d seen her a few times during my prenatal appointments, and she’s one of those doctors who knows too much, and not enough, and is a little too big for her britches. She has this attitude like, “I’m the doctor; you’re the patient. That means I know everything and you know nothing. You asking questions is an insult to my 12 years of schooling and my intelligence is far superior to anything you could come up with off the bloody internet or a book. My being a doctor CLEARLY means I know more about childbirth than any mother out there.” YAY!!!!!
I think if I had stalled long enough, I might have been able to just have the baby in the kitchen, which would have mostly been ok with me, but everyone finally convinced me that it was time to go to the hospital. We hit the road, made a few more phone calls, and strolled into the hospital to check in around 7:30 pm. Pretty boring stuff there. “I’m in labor.” “Ok, fill this out please.” You’d think they’d have a speedier method for getting that information, instead of making you fill out paperwork while you’re standing there trying not to have a baby on the waiting room floor, but clearly as many babies go in and out of hospitals each year, it hasn’t alerted anyone to that necessity.
So, after checking my vitals, and the baby’s vitals, the nurse confirms that my water has, in fact, broken. WHAAAAAT????????? Incredulity!!!!!!!!! They set me up in my L&D room… and then switch nurses on me. Awwwww. Bummer. I really liked the first girl I had. She was sweet, and incredibly calming and understanding. BUT, she promised me that she was switching me to a girl who was very cool and would make my experience great. Enter Melissa. ROCK STAR!!!!! Yep, best L&D nurse on the PLANET!!! Funky style – I told you before about all the jewelry right? It was cracking me up. Perfectly timed and executed sarcasm. She definitely helped to keep me sane.
Obviously the above picture was taken before anything really started. About 2 hours later, the LAST thing I’d have been doing at a camera was smiling.
My labor didn’t get really bad until about 10pm or so. Before that, I was up and walking around the hospital wing, trying to stay comfortable and move things along. My mom and mother-in-law were walking around with me, talking about breast pumps and baby carriers, and all sorts of other exciting things. Rather, DISTRACTING things. Good times. When we got back to the room, I got a contraction so bad I was on the floor, on all fours, in the corner of the room. Melissa walks back in and says, “You know, you might be more comfortable if you do that on the bed.” Oh. Right. Thanks.
For the next few hours, no one could really have told me how much time had passed. The contractions of hard labor came on so fast it was all I could think about. I was on the bed with my hips in the air, gripping onto Scott’s hands and arms while he just kept whispering that I was “doing great.” To which I once responded, “You’re never. Having. Sex. Again. Ever.” He told me later that it was everything he could do NOT to laugh at me, for fear of being murdered right there in the L&D room. Smart man.
I stood up and swayed, I “danced” with him – which ended with me squatting, whether I had intended to or not, and him holding all of my 170 lbs in his hands. Much of the time I was just bending over the bed, gripping onto the sheets, or anything else I could hold onto, waiting for that wave to pass, and collapsing so I could try desperately to grapple for recovery before the next one crashed down.
Some friends from the neighborhood came by to visit me, at one point even helping to prep me for the next contraction. At that point they were still showing up on the monitor before I could feel them. As briefly as it lasted, it was immensely helpful. Unfortunately for me, all that ended with everyone – friends and moms alike – against the wall biting their nails with pained expressions as they watched me bring life into the world. I’d had enough and I made Melissa kick everyone out. From then on, it was Melissa, Scott, and me… until the stupid doctor showed up.
I had what I would call a reasonably short labor. Granted, my water broke at 11am which made my FULL labor something like 13 hours, but from the onset of hard, productive labor to delivery, we’re talking about 4-5 hours tops. I don’t know if anyone’s ever told you this before, or if maybe you’ve experienced it yourself. But let me tell you. For many women, a short labor is about the same as a long labor. Same amount of pain and exhaustion. It’s just a lot more impatient and insists on all taking place within a shorter amount of time. Same pain, concentrated. Kind of like orange juice in a can. You don’t want to drink that stuff straight.
The worst part about the labor was that my contractions were SO severe and so close together, but I wasn’t progressing fast enough to warrant the intensity I was experiencing. They were coming one right after the other with no break. I always knew that girl was impatient. And she still is! Have you seen her eat?? At one point, Melissa came in and asked me if I wanted some IV narcotics to take the edge off. I said no, and later, hunched over the bed, I was loudly whimpering, “I don’t want druuuuuuugs!”
I swear it hadn’t been that long since the initial offer, but her response to me was, “Oh honey. I can’t give you any of that now. If you want anything, it’s gonna be an epidural.” DON’T YOU SAY THE ‘E’ WORD AROUND ME!!!!!! Like HELL are you gonna stick a needle in my back. Forget it! Damn things don’t even work right half the time. So instead, they hooked me up to a saline drip to help ease up the contractions. No drugs (hurray) but I was getting a little dehydrated and for a short time, the contractions stopped being worse than they had to be. And I stuck it out like a champ. A champ that screamed a lot. There was a chunk of time that I had noticed the door to my room open behind the privacy curtain. I found it odd, but didn’t really care enough to say anything about it. I guess my cries got bad enough that I was starting to scare the other new moms on the floor because someone came by and finally closed the door. If I hadn’t been gasping for air, I might have laughed a little.
Also, I might mention that I was impressed and surprised at how eager I was to be waddling and rolling around the room STARK NAKED! I started out the whole experience wearing two hospital gowns. They were both done very shortly after I kicked everyone out. Melissa told me that happens a lot with natural labors. I tend to believe her. I also understood very quickly why so many natural mamas have learned to wear labor skirts and tops. Wear your own clothes and things might tend to be a lot less annoying.
Then, Doctor P showed up. She says hello, and then she says, “We need to start thinking about a C-section.” “What?! Why???” Seriously? That’s the FIRST thing you have to say to me when you walk into the room? You haven’t even BEEN here!!!! The woman is knife happy, I’m sure of it. “Oh, well, it’s just good to be prepared just in case you can’t deliver.” “Ok fine, but let’s just stay where we are and see how it goes, huh?” Crazy woman doctor. I bet she doesn’t even HAVE kids.
At this point, they were checking my cervix pretty regularly. I don’t mind this, personally. I’m the kind of person that needs to know what’s going on. Give me the numbers and I’ll feel better. Those contractions were the worst. I was stuck on my back, clawing at the ceiling, gritting through a contraction while they checked my dilation. I was starting to feel the urge to push, but I was only at 7 cm, and that would have been a BAD thing. From that point on, I got to lie on my side with my legs crossed, burying my face in Scott’s arms, as I waited for them to pass.
Then I got the bad news. My anterior wall wasn’t fully dilating. Relatively speaking, I was ready to go, except for this one lip that wouldn’t budge. Doctor P decides she’s ready to deliver and drops the bottom out of the bed. Obviously she couldn’t be bothered to have read my birth plan, which CLEARLY stated I wanted to be squatting or on all fours for this one and NOT on my back. She didn’t even bother to communicate anything with me like, “I know you wanted to do it this way, but with how you’re progressing I don’t see it as an option.” That would have been nice, actually. I’d have probably gone along with it too. But no. Bed dropped down, stool swiveled in, and Doctor P’s convenience ahead of the patient’s as usual.
Flat on my back, pulling my knees up to my ears was not how I had imagined bringing my daughter into this world. Especially since I kept begging for help holding my knees up because I my arms were just too tired to do it right. I’m not even sure how I did it, but I did the best I could, arms shaking, and I felt like I was more constipated than I’d ever been in my entire life! Guess what, kids, that ain’t poo. That’s the baby! So, with Doctor P’s hands holding back that rotten anterior lip, I pushed out my baby girl’s 13-in circumference head. Is it any wonder that I tore??
And then, she was here. My little fat Asian man screaming at the top of her lungs. 8.5 lbs of bright red flesh and nearly black hair. For all the angst she put me through being so impatient to come into this world, I suspect she was having second thoughts for a while there. The pain was mostly gone, and I just didn’t care anymore. They say you forget the pain, but I don’t thinks that’s exactly accurate. You remember. But you’re not knee-deep in the middle of it anymore. And for all the pain there was, it just doesn’t matter. When you’re finally holding your baby in your arms, nursing her for the first time immediately after birth, the pain is irrelevant. You’d go through it again if you had to… not that you’d want to. But you would. She was, and is, MINE. She’s 9.5 months old now and I still have a hard time sharing her. I can only pray that our relationship is this incredible for many, many years.
6 pounds and 7 ounces.
A ball of bones and flesh and tears were you.
Now your hands, your tiny pink hands,
grew larger than my hands ever grew.
We don’t say a word.
There’s nothing to say that hasn’t been heard.
And how you’ve grown my little bird.
I’m regretting letting you fly…
– Ingrid Michaelson, “Highway”