I went in for an appointment on February 9, two days past my estimated due date. This was going to be another round of Non-Stress Test, ultrasound to check fluid levels, and an OB appointment to check my cervix. The first two parts went off without a hitch – The Boy was moving fine for the NST, and my fluid levels were still great. When we got to the OB appointment, things kind of went off the rails. I got up in that lovely chair that gives you so much dignity, and the doctor proceeded to begin what I thought would be a normal cervical check. Only, it wasn’t. It really, really hurt, and it was lasting a lot longer than normal. At first, I just voiced my displeasure: “Ouch! That hurts!” but as time went on, and things did not get better for me, I started to cry. That was not good. I hate crying. I hate losing my shit, but I was most definitely LOSING MY SHIT. The Man must have jumped up from his chair and came to my side, because I was suddenly holding his hand as I demanded “What are you doing?” I heard the doctor reply, through a haze of tears and pain, “I’m trying to make the baby come,” and that’s when I knew she was stripping my membranes. The whole incident probably lasted less than a minute, but at the end of it, I was sobbing and I was pissed off. I do not like things like that being done without warning. I have since been told, by other people who have had this done, that doctors say if they warn you, then you tense up and they can’t do the procedure. TOUGH TITTY TOENAILS for them! I was already dilated, and as I soon discovered, she had already decided to schedule an induction, so what’s the worse that could have happened? She would have warned me, I would have done my best to remain relaxed and calm, and it either worked or it didn’t. I tried my best not to resent my doctor. I know she was doing what she thought was best for me and for the baby, and this was most definitely an anomaly in the “information flow” department. Usually, all of the doctors in my group tell me everything and anything I need to know. I think that’s part of what made it worse – I felt like suddenly, I was not to be trusted with my own body. However, I had to move on from that feeling because the appointment wasn’t over, I was still crying, and my doctor was trying to get me to calm down so she could talk to me a little more. She did acknowledge quite openly that I was most likely feeling angry and violated, and she apologized for all of the pain. She also told me she knew I might resent her. I think she really did feel badly about how upset I was. I doubt most people respond like that.
After I (mostly) calmed down, she told me that she was going to send someone in to schedule me to be induced. She asked if there was any day I really did not want the baby to come on, and I told her that yes, I would really prefer that he not be born on Valentine’s Day, if it was at all avoidable. After a little more fol-de-rol, she left, I got dressed, and a nurse came in to schedule my induction. It was a pretty big surprise to me to find out that, as long as there was an available bed, I would be induced at 8 PM the following day.
The Man and I went home. I started looking around the house, trying to picture house + baby, and failed. I started thinking of all the things that I hadn’t gotten to yet, and started taking care of some of them. For instance, I put Scotchguard on the glider and ottoman. I started doing some laundry. We went for a walk. We came home and started watching TV (we record every episode of “The Big Bang Theory” on every channel it plays on, so there are always approximately 467 “Big Bangs” waiting for us). The rest of that night I have detailed in a blog post which is currently private, but which I may open to public viewing soon. Suffice to say, that at some point during the evening I once again LOST MY SHIT, and after that fiasco, we went to bed, and let’s move on from there.
The next day we didn’t do very much. The Man had to do some work from home, and I finished the laundry and also finished packing our hospital bags. I really didn’t want to “over pack”, because all of the baby websites tell me that is the most common thing new mothers do. However, if I was going to spend at least one night in a hospital, I wanted some things that were comforting with me. It’s not my fault if things like pillows don’t fit neatly into an overnight duffel. It’s also not my fault that our cord blood donation kit was housed in a box that was too big to fit in the bag, or that I had to bring this freaking 3-ring binder of information with me, because the hospital demanded it.
So, we get to the hospital with all of our bags, and are checking into a room. It happens to be one of the rooms that has not yet been renovated – no big deal, it’s still a nice room, just no whirlpool tub and it has a less than comfortable sleeping place for The Man. For the first hour there is a bunch of hospital-grade busywork happening – I have to sign consent forms, and the lab has to come and take blood, and I get my saline lock put in. I’m checked for dilation, of which there is little, and the resident comes in to give me a dose of cervadil gel and offer a sleeping pill, which I foolishly decline. Around about 11 PM, one of my doctors from my OB group comes in to check on me. He offers to move us to a “tub room” (one of the renovated ones) that has opened up, and so we go. Once set up in the new room, we discover we have no idea how to turn off the light that is right over my bed. Neither of us want to bother the nurses with this (again, foolish), so we decide to tough it out. At roughly 2 AM, I get frustrated enough to grab the remote thingy that has the call button on it – and what do you know? There’s a light button on there, too. I press it, and the light turns off! Voila! The Man wakes out of his doze and says “What did you do?” We have a minor celebration, but I still can’t sleep very well. Soon after this, the resident comes in to check me (little to no progress) and give me another dose of gel. This time, when the nurse offers a sleeping pill, I take her up on her offer and accept half an Ambien. It’s lovely. I fall right to sleep. We are back up at around 7 AM for another check (some progress, not a lot) and dose of gel. I take the other half of Ambien and go back to sleep until around 9 or 10 AM.
Thus begins our day.
Both of us shower. I order breakfast. Mom and Stepdad arrive while I’m eating to sit and keep us company. I walk around the room some, and we visit. The nurses come in sporadically to check my vitals. I’m having contractions, but they are pretty minor. They are coming regularly, though. Everyone in the room is watching my monitors, because that’s pretty much what you do when you’re in a hospital room with a monitor. All of us confess to being fascinated by the lines and the instant feedback. At some point, our priest arrives to wish us well and give us the gift of a prayer shawl – so lovely. He says a prayer with all of us, and then leaves to get some meds for his own sick wife.
We talk and chit chat and Mom and Stepdad decide to go to the cafeteria to grab some food before they close down the steam tables. While they are gone, the resident arrives for my 2:30 check and gel dose. I still am not very far along, and by this I mean 2-3 cm dilated and perhaps 60% effaced. Mom and Stepdad come back right after the doctor leaves. J-bird also shows up for a short visit. After a little more talking, it’s decided that The Man and Stepdad will go out and grab some dinner for me, and that Mom, J-bird and I will walk the halls (per doctor advice) until they come back.
At around 4 PM, the food arrives. Mom, Stepdad, and J-bird decide they are going to leave and let us eat and do all the things the doctor told us to do to see if we can get things moving. So, The Man and I eat our food and then start walking the halls. We do that for awhile, and then I decide to get into the tub. The nurse comes in and fills that up and shows me how to use the jets. This is supposed to relax me to help labor move forward. It is pretty nice, I have to say. Once the jets quit (they were on a timer), we decide to do some more laps around the halls. On one of our laps, we run into the resident, who lets us know she’ll be in our room at 6:30 for another check. We head back to the room at around 6:20 to wait for her.
At 7 PM, one of my OB group doctors comes in, instead. This is the same doctor from the beginning of this post who stripped my membranes. She still felt pretty badly about how much pain I had been in, and apologized again. She checks me, and levels with me: not very much progress. Here are the options: Foley Bulb (which sounded horrifying to me), pitocin, or send me home and try again in a day or two. The doctor was pretty straightforward in saying that in her opinion, if we tried to force things, I was going to end up with a C-section. She wanted to bring me back in on Monday night (February 13). I was not happy about this, only because I really didn’t want a Valentine’s Day baby if I could help it. As I said to her, “If it happens on its own, I’m not going to whine and cry about it, but I really would rather not schedule something that would almost guarantee he’d be born on that day.” She was OK with that, and told me they would schedule me to come back in on Tuesday night at 8 PM to try again. After that, it was simply a matter of getting dressed, getting our discharge instructions, signing the discharge paperwork, and going home. We also had to call everyone who needed to know what was going on, and update our social networking people.
That was the end of attempt one.
Attempt two began on Valentine’s Day. Once again, we checked into the hospital at 8 PM. Once again, I am dosed with cervadil to help “ripen” my cervix. I took a dose of sleeping pill and went through the night pretty comfortably. I woke up at around 7:30 AM to be told that I was on a clear liquid diet. Needless to say, there’s not much one can eat on a clear liquid diet. I got a Coke, and some water, and settled in to do some waiting. Mom and Stepdad showed up in the late morning/early afternoon. One of my doctors came in around lunchtime and told me they would start the pitocin drip soon. She cleared me to eat some real food for lunch, but warned me that I would most likely “see whatever I ate again” later that night. At around 2 PM, they started my drip. My nurse told me that I could have an epidural at any point that I wanted, but she needed an hour’s notice because she had to push at least one IV bag of fluids into me to make sure my blood pressure didn’t drop. I asked her how I was supposed to know an hour beforehand that I would want an epidural, and she said “Well, you know how much pain you can handle, and you can tell when things are getting bad. You’ll know.”
She was right. Over the course of the next few hours, my contractions ramped up in intensity. I could still handle them and breathe through them, but it was getting more difficult for me to do. I decided to give my one hour’s notice. After getting the requisite fluids sent through my IV, the anesthesiologist came in at around 6:30 PM. Mom and Stepdad went out to give me some privacy, which probably was a good thing, because the epidural did not go well for me. The Man stood in front of me and supported me the whole time, and he ended up covered in tears and snot. Everyone had always told me that the worst part of getting an epidural is the shot they give you beforehand to numb you up. For me, that was the easy part. It was NOTHING. However, getting the epi placed was horrifying. It was not exactly painful, but there was a lot of very strange pressure, very strange pokes, some dull pain, and a ton of anxiety. The Man asked me if it had really hurt that badly, and I told him no, it wasn’t the pain, it was just a combination of tension, weird feelings, and not knowing what was happening. Regardless, once it was in, the contractions started to lessen in duration and intensity, and soon I was numb. Not much was happening other than that. Mom and Stepdad decided to leave for the night, and The Man and I settled in to sleep and wait.
At around 10 PM, I noticed that my left side was losing the numb sensation. It was really strange to feel the contractions again only on one side. It was also quite a bit more painful. I focused on my breathing and on getting through them until the anesthesiologist could come in and give me a booster. Once I was numb again, they did a check and told me I was dilated to nine. We only had to wait for a little while before I could start pushing, or so I was told. In reality, I didn’t get the go ahead to start pushing until 3 AM on February 16. My doctor came in and told me that she had to do an emergency C-section, but once she was done, she was going to come in and we were going to have the baby. Until then, the nurse would be with me to coach me through the early stages.
The pushing process started out OK for me. The nurse was coaching me in how to push effectively, and I was discovering that it is not easy to push when you can’t really feel anything below the waist. I thought that I was getting the hang of it, but apparently I was not making a lot of progress. The nurse helped me try a few different positions, and we worked on things for a couple of hours. THEN another nurse came in to help us out (I guess). I had never seen this woman before. She did not introduce herself to me, and she didn’t really talk to me, other than to tell me alternately that I wasn’t doing things right, and that I was doing a great job. Mostly, she talked to the other nurse, saying things like “She better start making progress, because Dr. S is going to be in soon and she’ll take her to surgery” or the ever-helpful “She’s not doing this very effectively.” She’d say these things RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, and then when I was crying that I didn’t know what to do, and I was a failure, she’d say “Oh honey, you’re doing terrific! You’re not doing anything wrong!” Needless to say, it was pretty hard for me to trust this nurse, and I didn’t.
The other thing that sucked was that at some point, they turned off my epidural because they believed it was slowing down my labor. So, all my pain started coming back, and to be honest, I had not prepped for a natural childbirth. I didn’t want one; I didn’t think I could handle it. And yet, here I was, on my way there, because my labor was taking longer than anticipated and two nurses had decided that the pain meds were slowing me down.
At around 5:30 AM, Dr. S came in and checked me. All I remember her saying is “Oh kiddo, that baby is not going to fit. He’s right at your pelvic bone, and his head is too big to go through.” By this point, I was sobbing. I think I said something along the lines of “I can’t do this anymore”, and she told me that I was going into surgery to get a Caesarian section. Sad for me, my pain meds were still off and I was not doing well with coping. My nurse (the original one, not the stranger) told me that the anesthesiologist would be coming in to give me more medicine. She kept telling me that he was coming, but he didn’t. I was, in the words of The Man, wailing in pain, and telling everyone that they were lying to me. I was literally crying out for drugs, for someone to come and help me, for someone to please, please make this go away. And that damn nurse WAS lying to me, because I heard her ask someone if the anesthesiologist was coming to the room or if he’d just see me in the OR, and the person told her that I would have to wait until the OR.
They wheeled me down the hall at around 6 AM. I’m sure that everyone in that wing could hear me crying and moaning. I had almost no idea what was happening. I remember going into the OR, because it was very bright and very white. I was told I had to shuffle myself from the bed to the operating table, and I said I couldn’t. Then they told me that they couldn’t give me any drugs until I moved to the table. So, I moved. And that really, really was horrible. But, I got myself over to the table with a lot of help. People kept coming over and sticking their faces next to me and introducing themselves. I don’t know what they thought I was going to do, remember them? The only people I cared about were the anesthesiologist and The Man. They wouldn’t let The Man in until I was prepped for surgery. But, finally….FINALLY the damn anesthesiologist started loading drugs into my epidural. I think it took about four doses of whatever he was giving me before I was numb enough for the surgery. Dr. S was on the other side of the sheet, asking me if I could feel things, which I blessedly could not. She told me they were going to start, and I asked “Where’s my husband?” and someone went to grab The Man.
He came in and sat down near my head, holding my hand. Things finally started clearing up since the pain was gone. Dr. S told me I was going to feel some pulling and pressure, but no pain. She also told me it was going to feel like she was sitting on my chest, and that was because she was going to be sitting on my chest. I laughed a little, and then said “Oh!” She said, “I told you about the pressure”, and I replied “Yeah, it’s not pain, it’s like someone is kneading bread in a bowl, and my guts are the bread dough.” Pretty much everyone behind the curtain laughed, and Dr. S said “Well, that’s a new one”.
The surgical team worked on me for awhile, and then suddenly a baby was crying. Someone told The Man to look over the curtain. Apparently, they were holding up the baby. The Man took a peek and then told me “We have a little boy. Can you hear him? Can you hear him? That’s our baby!”
The Boy was born at 6:37 AM on February 16, nine days past his due date. He weighted 9 pounds, 10 ounces at birth and is 21.5 inches long. He has a ton of black hair, fat little cheeks, and a very cute way of being cross-eyed when he tries to look at us. On his first day of life, he pooped twelve times. The first time was as soon as he was born.
Once I was stitched up, they wheeled me into recovery. We stayed there for a couple of hours. They wanted to monitor The Boy because he was so large – they were worried about his blood sugar levels. While we were in there, they gave him his first bath and wrapped him up for me. I was still pretty out of it – I was exhausted, mentally and physically. Finally, they took us down one floor to the post-partum unit, and my Mom, Stepdad, and J-bird came in to meet The Boy.
The hospital stay is pretty blurry to me. None of us got a lot of sleep. The first day, I had to stay in bed for 12 hours because of the surgery. I also couldn’t get The Boy to eat. As soon as he’d latch on, he would fall asleep. It was almost funny. He would latch, and his eyes would slam shut. Then, there was the aforementioned pooping. The Man got a lot of diaper practice that first day while I was confined to bed. At night, we couldn’t sleep because The Boy couldn’t sleep. As soon as we laid him down in his bassinet, he would start screaming. Or, as soon as we got him to sleep, the nurses would come in to check his vitals. One of us had to be awake with him and holding him all the time. We couldn’t fall asleep while holding him, because it was against hospital rules to co-sleep. Babies had to be in their bassinets if the parents were sleeping. On the 17th, the nurse and lactation consultant came in at 3 AM to help me feed him. They both walked in, took one look at us, and said “You two are exhausted. After we do this, we’re taking him to the nursery for a few hours so you can sleep.” We got three hours of sleep that night. It was lovely.
The next day was our discharge day. The morning was pretty slow, until they took The Boy to get his circumcision. After that, it was a broken parade of doctors and nurses and staff coming in to do all of the discharge stuff. We had to sign a bunch of papers and answer a bunch of questions. We finally got to leave around 2 PM. A nurse walked us out to our car and watched The Man struggle to get The Boy hooked into his car seat. The Boy wailed the whole way home.
Mom was waiting for us in our driveway when we got home. We brought our son inside and started on the new adventure of being a family.