*As this is a birth story and I’m notsogood at withholding details, here’s your first and last warning that you may read a bit more about pain and body fluids than you’d prefer. Also it’s super long. Read on at your own risk.*
We left off with my water breaking, but I’m going to back us up a bit, just for context.
The Friday before I went into labor, I felt really off. Nothing I could put my finger on, just not really great. It was my grandmother’s birthday and everyone wanted me to go by to see her. I was waffling, but MFH really encouraged me to go. So I went, and my mother was there. She’d flown up from Houston for my grandmother’s birthday and my baby shower, keeping it a secret from me and my grandparents.
Suddenly, I was convinced that I was going to go into labor that night. I barely slept and every twinge had my pulse and blood pressure up. I didn’t want to ruin the shower for everyone, especially now that Mom was in town. I truly believe that I willed myself out of labor. I also willed myself out of some much needed rest.
Anywhoddle, the shower was amazingly lovely, and having Mom around made everything that much better. It’s odd to think that, had she not come up, she wouldn’t have felt Spawn move behind the belly. She flew back home Sunday.
And so it began…
At 3:54am on Monday, Feb 10th, I woke up to a pop-pop-pop-gush. Despite my constant eye-rolling at Hollywood’s portrayal of the Preggo’s water breaking before labor starts (something that happens less then 10% of the time in “real life”), that’s exactly what happened to me. I was 38 weeks and 1 day.
I quickly and quietly got myself into the bathroom without leaking on the bed or the floor. (Thanks to years of super heavy periods, I’m quite skilled at walking without moving my thighs.) I was so thankful for my decision to purchase Depends. Seriously, running around at that hour trying to locate a sizable pare of underpants and equip it with an assortment of pads to control the leaking was not something I could manage. Also, later on the nurses were so impressed/thankful I had some with me. Their words? “Oh, Depends are the BEST. We should seriously give them out to everyone, but they’re too expensive for the hospital.”
So I called M1, hanging out in my T-shirt and Depends. Because my fluid was clear, I was GBS negative, I wasn’t having any contractions, and it was four in the morning, we decided to to try to sleep and catch up around 9:30. Of course, as soon as I laid down, contractions started. They weren’t very long or close together, but it was enough to keep me from drifting off. Then by around 6, they’d picked up.
I chose to let MFH sleep in through all of this until his alarm for work would go off. I didn’t see any real point in having both of us walking around bleary eyed. Plus, it just seemed silly to have him up watching me walk around.
I started timing my contractions and was surprised to find that they were consistently 3-4 minutes apart. What wasn’t consistent was the pain level or duration of the contractions. I wasn’t exactly sure what this meant. Nor was I positive that it was okay that my (constantly leaking) amniotic fluid had turned pink.
MFH got up and I told him he wouldn’t be going to work. We sorted out last minute details, he took a shower and got dressed, and he got set up to time my contractions for me. I felt them as period cramps. Sometimes they were minorly annoying, but other times they reminded me of the old days when I used to pass out from the pain. I never really felt the hard-core tightening of the top of my uterus. I think that part of my core is just too numb from years of over use. :p
I noticed right away that my contractions were much more manageable while I was on my feet. Particularly, I felt like they were much easier while walking around. (Honestly, I think running would have been awesome, but not sure I would have been able to manage that throughout the whole labor.) I looked at MFH and made a rather unexpected declaration, “If they make me stayed in bed, hooked up to the machines, I’m getting an epidural.” MFH didn’t bat an eyelash and nodded, “That’s fair.”
By the time 9:30 came around, M1 agreed it would be worth it to go to the hospital and check on my status.
We met up at 10:30 in triage. I was super bummed to only be 1 cm dilated, but happier that I was almost entirely effaced. They wanted me on an IV, and ordered blood work to confirm that my hypertension hadn’t creeped into pre-eclampsia. A debate went on to determine if I was officially in the care of a midwife or OB. OB won out, but only because of compensation…which…kinda pissed both MFH and I off. Regardless, M1 assured me she wasn’t going anywhere.
When the OB on call came to talk to me, she told me I would be put on Pitocin (Oxytocin). Obviously, this was super bad news for me. I knew Pitocin was used to speed up labor, and I was on a clock due to the broken waters, but it still sucked to hear that. The OB also strongly wanted me on an epidural, because it would instantly lower my blood pressure. At this point, I knew I was going to be attached to the monitors, so I agreed, but I asked to wait. I did worry that the double-punch of Pitocin-Epidural would lead me into the direction of a c-section, but I didn’t exactly see how to avoid it. I said from the beginning; constant monitoring = epidural.
I was super surprised that M1 was all for the epidural. Her words, “In a normal pregnancy, you don’t need interventions. This isn’t normal, so things like an epidural make sense.” Awesome. No judgment.
My nurse, J, was young, super cute, and exceedingly funny. She let me stand by the monitors rather than sit or lay in bed. I wanted to kiss her. We decided together to time the epidural for in between a few scheduled sections. In the meantime, I chatted and passed the time with M1, J, MFH and my MIL and SIL S.
The anesthesiologist came in to see me, and we chatted about procedure and risks. I can’t remember how it got started, but we started sharing OMG pregnancy tales. I told him and J about the ultrasound tech who told me that a woman had come in at 32 weeks, measuring large. Turns out, she was having twins. Surprise! The anesthesiologist then told a story about his friends who had 3 boys. They decided to try one more time for a girl. Bam! Triplet boys.
The process of the epidural itself was not my favorite. I didn’t have a problem with the staying bent over, but I did not care for the numbing agent he used before applying the needle. It felt like my back bubbled up like it was burnt. The vague screwing sensation of the epidural needle wasn’t particularly awesome either, still that was over soon enough. The catheter was threaded into the needle and into my back, and then the meds began. I was happy to still be able to feel my pelvic floor…something that perhaps I would come to regret later on, but at the time it was encouraging to me.
While in bed, I got visited by a bunch of people. OB-R came by after her surgery, and she seemed genuinely happy to have me go into labor spontaneously. Also, the midwife who taught our prenatal class came by to say hi. Perhaps the most humorous moment occurred when my hypertension specialist, who I’d been scheduled to meet for the first time swung by with her students.
I’d literally just been checked (can’t remember if I was 3 or 5 at that point, but everyone was happy with the progression) and they were getting ready to put in a catheter. So I’m all bottoms up to the world when hypertension doc came by. Despite the calls to halt by M1 and J, she just kept coming. So, M1 and J quickly covered me and the doc with her duckling row of students surrounded me.
M1 and J were so indignant on my behalf, I couldn’t help but find it funny. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was a bit of a Monty Python sketch. Still, that sort of stuff is always funnier when you’re surrounded by friends, right?
I had a new nurse, E, come in for the night shift, and she switched off all the lights and ordered MFH and I to rest. M1 went home, promising that M2 would come in for the birth. MFH and I slept off and on for awhile. Eventually I progressed to nine-and-a-bit. (Her words.) Spawn was still super high, though, so everyone agreed that I could sit up for a bit, to encourage Spawn to move down. This seemed to help, and got me to the rest of 10 cm rather fast.
M2 showed up and we talked about pushing. I was warned that pushing would likely be 2 to 3 hours. The night nurse went on break, and a wonderful older Chinese nurse, D, came in to cover.
Everyone kept telling me to let them know when I felt like pushing. I don’t know that I ever did. Mostly it was just a lot of pressure all around my pelvic girdle and coccyx. By this time, the epidural had more or less warn off, and I could really feel the aching in my lady muscles. I was encouraged to push without it, so I didn’t bother with a top up.
Pushing was a process. I would wait for a contraction, and then roll my back, put my chin to my chest, and used every core muscle I possessed to push. D counted to 9, I got to take a breath, and then we’d start again. They tried to get 2 or 3 pushes out of every contraction.
Let me tell you, it will be a very, very long time before I can hear counting and not think of labor. Seriously, it’s a very odd muscle memory. Looking forward to getting over that one…
I could feel the process of Spawn moving down. Mostly it was just feeling uncomfortable/full further and further into my pelvis. It wasn’t pain, not really, but M2 kept checking different areas inside me while all of this was going on. She hit one area and I lost it. Irrationally, I felt like her finger there was preventing me from getting this baby out. I started crying and lost about 3 or 4 contractions. Everyone talked me down off that ledge. (MFH later said that he didn’t even notice my “breakdown,” but to me it felt like it went on for a long time.)
M2 told me that all I had to do was get Spawn past that point of pain and it wouldn’t hurt any more. So that was my focus. Pushing past the pain. It worked, mostly, although the resting in between I got to feel the phenomenon of my body stretching open to allow Spawn’s head to move down. Spawn’s head actually was a little cocked to the side and had to be repositioned. M2 thought that might be why Spawn stayed so high for so long.
During all of this, I had a very strong thought of my mother. I felt like something had clicked or changed in me. I experienced what she had with me and my brother. And what my grandmother experienced with her children. I never quite got to the all mothers who gave birth everywhere point, but I definitely felt an innate kinship with all of motherhood.
I also felt such a massive amount of thanks for MFH. He was so excited and supportive throughout the whole thing. He just kept saying, “You’re doing so good.” He helped hold my shoulders up, and occasionally grabbed a leg. He’s never let me down, but this was a pinnacle of awesome. But I digress…
Finally, Spawn was through my pelvis and ready to come out. They called in the OB on call to help with the last bit. I felt Spawn stretching me, and everyone commented on the amount of hair on Spawn’s head.
M2 quickly started breathing, “He-he-heee,” at me. I remembered our prenatal class midwife saying that there was this point in labor, when you could really save yourself from tearing if you could just sort of hold the position and not push through. I realized that that was where I was, so I mirrored M2’s breathing and tried to not push, but not let Spawn fall back either.
And then shit got real. They dropped the bed down and M2 and the OB started shouting at one another. Apparently Spawn literally started twirling on the way out, so the two ladies were trying to figure out who was going to grab what and when. Having two sets of hands inside me while pushing out a baby was my second Monty Python moment of the birth. I was so confused as to what exactly was going on, I’m not even sure I actually did any help pushing. I remember thinking, “Uh…what on earth is going on?” And because no one was directing me otherwise, I gave a little push and then had a wet, purple newborn put on my chest.
Almost immediately Spawn picked up her head and looked at me. I’ve been told excessively in the last week and a bit that she is unusually strong, and while she doesn’t have great control of her neck, she can move her head more than I expected a newborn to be able to. I think there was a bit of a concern and they were about to take her away, but then she started screaming and everyone calmed down. MFH cut the cord and discovered that he now had a daughter.
I have no real sense of time, but eventually they took her away to clean her up and deal with me. I had to actually push again to deliver the placenta, something that annoyed me purely because I’d been told you don’t even notice it. M2 joked that it’s a lot easier when there are no bones. I eyed M2 and asked how bad it was. (The it, of course, being the status of my lady-bits.) I managed to get by without a perennial tear, so the hold-and-wait routine seemed to work. I did have a small laceration near my urethra, probably from M2 and the OB having to catch a spiraling baby, but that was handled without much fanfare.
Then I got my baby back. Despite her alien shaped head and vaguely purple appearance, she was perfect. The OB said she had great features. Maybe she says that about all babies, but I took it to mean Spawn was extra special.
Oh. I guess I should properly introduce Spawn, now that she’s officially a person on the outside…
We called her Chloé. Linda Anne after MFH and my mothers. So, without further ado…