Wednesday, April 15, 2015

as you may have figured out by now in my absence, i had my baby! he will be two weeks old on thursday and it still all seems kind of ridiculous to me. i'm someone's mom, guys. i still can't manage to say that with a straight face. anyway, here is the longer than it should be story of how my baby was inside of me one day and outside of me the next, or as i like to dramatically call it: the birth of a mother. (complete with unnecessary details and probably full of parts that you don't want to know.)

my husband turned twenty-seven on march eleventh. we had already decided to skip the whole gift-giving thing this year because new houses and new babies equal lots of money and stress and really, i could not handle the thought of any more. plus, i was giving us a baby, so like, don't be greedy. despite that, i felt bad letting the day pass completely uncelebrated so i decided to make dinner and get a nice card. i am not really the making dinner sort, although i totally seem like i should be, so this was a big deal. (in my defense, our schedules are so weird that we are only home together for dinner maybe twice a week.) i made salisbury steak with gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, and a carrot cake for dessert that my husband had literally been asking me to make for two plus years. better late than never. (side story: when i first got married i had decided to make salisbury steak for dinner one night and my mom said that she hated salisbury steak. so i didn't make it. even though she wasn't even going to eat from it. in the almost four years since then, my husband has said, "why don't you make salisbury steak?" many, many times, and i always respond with, "no. my mom hates it." which somehow seems like a better reason than "because i am lazy and how about i make us some soup out of a can instead?" like the cake, better late than never.) as we sat down to dinner that night, i said, "looks like the baby won't be born on your birthday after all." he was kind of hoping that he would be. and he said, "my birthday is not over yet." 

fast forward a few hours to us sitting on the couch watching tv. i look at the clock and comment on how weird it is that i am still awake and alert because for weeks i had been going up to bed at eight and falling asleep by nine at the absolute latest. it was ten:thirty and i had no desire to go up to bed at all. my husband, on the other hand, was mostly asleep on the couch already. at ten:forty five, i got up to pee because that is really what you spend most of your time doing when you are thirty-nine weeks pregnant. when i got into the bathroom, there was a small pop feeling followed by a gush of water, and i immediately thought, "oh great i just peed on myself." (maybe skip ahead to the next paragraph if you are easily grossed out.) so of course as i walk out of the bathroom, i wake up my husband and say, "i just peed on myself, and it's all your fault." (he had been making incontinence jokes pretty much the entire pregnancy. i was insistent that it would not happen to me no matter how pregnant i got.) i go upstairs to change and then feel another small trickle down my leg and i thought, seriously?! and a small feeling of uneasiness started to creep into my mind. i pushed it back, but when i got to the bathroom i noticed that my pantiliner was not just soaking wet, but also tinged slightly pink. i put on a pad, went to the top of the stairs, and said, "don't fall asleep. there is a very high chance that i did not, in fact, pee on myself." and then i proceeded to freak out

see, i was not prepared in the least bit for my water to break. my mom had five kids. my sister had two kids. neither of them ever had their water break. as i first time mom, i was told that i would likely deliver late. my mom delivered late on most of her kids, so i figured i would too. i was preparing myself to be induced at exactly forty-one weeks. i had already planned out my last few days of pregnancy. there were things that needed to get done, and i had specified the exact times to do it all in. except now, my time may have been stolen from me. there is no false labor with your water breaking. there is no going home to wait for a few days. the thing about your water breaking is that it sets a timer for the doctors. you generally have twenty-four hours from the minute it breaks to get the baby out of you. once the timer is up, they go in and get it themselves. i did not want a c-section at all, but my water broke and i had no contractions so i continued to freak out. it seemed like the best option at the time.

i whatsapped my older sister (several times) and she didn't answer. neither of my sisters answered my frantic messages in our whatsapp group. in the midst of swyping frantically on my phone, i was trying to see if my water really broke or not. i sat on my bed for ten minutes. when i stood up, i felt a gush. i laid down for ten minutes. when i stood up, i felt nothing for half a second, then a gush. meanwhile, my husband was very much awake at this point and trying to get things ready to go to the hospital. my sister finally responded to me with the oh-so-helpful advice of "call your doctor." which i did, of course. i left a message and waited for her to call me back. as i waited, i cried to my husband that i was not ready to have the baby today. i had plans. the doctor called me back, said that based on my description she was sure my water had broken, and told me to come straight to the hospital. the good news was that the doctor i was hoping would deliver me was the one on call. the bad news was that ohmygodohmygodohmygodohmygod it was time. (other bad news was that there was a golden retriever wandering ownerless around the neighborhood and i am deathly afraid of dogs and was partly serious when i said i wasn't going to the car unless it went away.)

the drive to the hospital was pretty uneventful. i mean, it was almost midnight so traffic was great. i wasn't having contractions so there was none of that drama to deal with. i called my parents and told them that i was headed to the hospital but no, they didn't need to meet us there. we got to the hospital, parked, and went into the ER. "my water broke," i told the guy at the front desk, my voice shaking just a little. so he had me sign the hippa form and the form allowing the hospital to tell my guests that i was there and found someone to escort me up to labor and delivery. (pre-registering is awesome.)

up at l&d, we made our way to the nurse's desk. "my water broke," i told them. "big gush?" the nurse behind the computer asked. "more like a few small ones," i said. she nodded. "still leaking?" she asked. i nodded. "meagan will show you to your room," she said, and then another nurse, meagan, magically appeared and showed me to room 2. once there, she gave me a robe, a giant hospital pad, filled out the chart on my wall, and started asking me a whole bunch of fascinating questions like "are you gbs positive?" (the answer of which was no, in case you are curious.) after meagan finished getting all of my information, jaimie - who would be my nurse for the night - came in. there was a brief moment of disappointment because i was told by several people who delivered at my hospital that anna was the best nurse you could get for delivery, but this quickly dissipated because, as it turns out, jaimie was awesome, and i kind of fell in love with her. jaimie put in my saline lock and called for someone to draw my blood while meagan hooked me up to a monitor and filled her in on my story (water broke, zero cm dilated at last appointment almost a week ago, zero percent effaced).

"so your contractions are not painful?" jaimie asked me. "i'm not having contractions at all," i said. meagan and jaimie shared a look. "actually, you are," jaimie told me. "regular ones, too. see those hills on the monitor? that's what those are." i was floored. after a bit more talk about contractions and doctors and stuff, i asked the inevitable question. "so, i know that having my water break means the clock is ticking. i have twenty-four hours to deliver this baby and then... c-section?" "actually," jaimie said, "the hospital gives you eighteen hours. if it looks like you're making good progress, though, and everything is okay with the baby, your doctor may push it a little or up to the full twenty-fours." and that was when my stomach dropped and all of the nerves came back. eighteen hours?! only?! i was told that first deliveries were long, like really long. and i couldn't even feel my contractions yet.

jaimie brought me some ice water and told me to walk around the floor and/or my room to try and make the contractions stronger. my husband turned on thor 2 and i walked. and walked and walked and walked. periodically a nurse would come in and hook me back up to the monitors. by the time three o'clock rolled around, i was tired of walking - just plain tired, really - and had been feeling the contractions for about an hour. not in an ogmygod oouuuccchh contractions kind of way but in an oh yes i think that may be my stomach tightening or actually maybe i just imagined that sort of way. but anyway, at a little after three i decided enough was enough, and i was going to sleep.

i had been told that i could eat any clear liquids, which meant ice chips and popsicles and broth. i was too nervous at that point to eat and then eventually too tired. i regret this because once i woke up, this privilege was revoked.

i woke up at six when jaimie came back in to tell me that her shift was almost over and also to check if i had made any progress overnight. and i couldn't exactly see what was going on, but i'm pretty sure that jaimie had her arm up to her elbow inside of me before she announced that "i was dilated to a one, but my cervix was still way up in new york." because walking and contracting for hours seemed to have done little to move my body towards getting my baby out, despite the fact that it had decided it was ready to get it out with the whole water breaking thing, my doctor decided to start me on pitocin. i had heard horror stories about pitocin, as most pregnant women have, so i was not too thrilled about this decision, but i was totally willing to try anything that would keep me away from a c-section.

at seven i was introduced to my new nurse, wendy. i was disappointed that i once again did not get anna, and this time i wasn't distracted from that disappointment by falling in love with her. not that she was bad or anything, she was just... fine, i guess. and i couldn't help but notice that she had big fingers and really long nails and there was no way that she was going to check my cervix if i could help it. at seven:fifteen wendy started my pitocin drip at 2 mL per minute, telling me that she would periodically be increasing it, probably reaching sixteen by the end. at almost nine, i finally saw my doctor. she came in and talked for like three seconds (she didn't want to check my progress for fear of introducing bacteria and causing an infection. and i sort of lied to her because she said "you were a two this morning when jaimie checked you, right?" and i didn't correct her because being a one meant that i was progressing pathetically and i did not want to go to a c-section. in hindsight, lying to the doctor is really stupid. you should maybe not do that should you ever be in a similar position). she reassured me that she would wait as long as possible before sending me to a c-section (past the eighteen hours if she could), told me that she was on call until four, and then, when i asked how long she thought this would take, she said, "you probably have another ten hours."

shortly after that, my parents showed up. "you're just in for a long day of sitting around and waiting," i told them. "i really would have called you guys once things start to get interesting." (they were somehow convinced that i would go into labor and not tell them, and i'm still not entirely sure how or why they thought this.) they told me that they didn't mind. wendy kept coming in to up my pitocin, and contractions started to get uncomfortable. and then they started to hurt. and oh my god why was my dad in the room when all i wanted to do was cuss? my dad, to distract me, decided to make a bet on when we all thought i would deliver. "the doctor said ten hours," i told him. my dad scoffed and repeated the question. "five," i said, mainly because that would mark the end of my eighteen hours and based on my lack of progression the previous night, i would be whisked off to my c-section at that point. "four thirty," my mom said. "three:thirty or four," my husband said. my dad shook his head. "the baby will be out by two," he said with such assurance. it was my turn to scoff.

at some point during the morning, it wasn't wendy that came in to up my pitocin dosage, but another nurse. "i'm anna," she said. "i'm going to be helping wendy out for a bit because another of her patients went into labor." and i did a little happy dance inside. outside i started to say something and then gripped the bedrail and forced myself to breathe through another contraction. "when can i get an epidural?" i asked. "whenever you feel like you need one," she said. i gritted my teeth and decided to hold out a bit longer.

shortly after my pitocin dosage hit twelve, anna came back in. it was ten:fifteen at this point and my dad and husband had left the room to raid the cafeteria for breakfast. i had been discussing whether or not i wanted to get an epidural now or hold out a bit longer. "i'm going to have to lower this," she said. "your contractions are getting to be too strong and too close together." right as she was leaving the room, i called her back. "wait," i said. my mom gave me an encouraging look. "i think i want an epidural now."

before i could get an epidural, though, i had to get an entire bag of fluids into me, so anna hooked me up to that. and let me tell you something, getting up to pee when you're having contractions and are hooked up to an iv line is annoying and harder than it should be. adding a second iv line just makes everything even worse. it took about twenty minutes for the bag to be emptied into my veins, and then anna came back. "i'm going to go get the anesthesiologist," she said. "when she gets here then only your husband can be in the room." my parents nodded. "do you need to use the bathroom?" i shook my head.

at eleven:thirty, the anesthesiologist walked in and started to read me all of the bad things that could happen if i got an epidural and i signed a consent form saying that i knew that this could possibly go very wrong, but i wanted the drugs anyway. then anna started moving me into position on the edge of the bed. she handed me a pillow to take and hunch over. "wait," i said suddenly. "i need to pee." "now?" anna asked as the anesthesiologist gave me a look that clearly said "what are you, twelve? i have other patients to see. i don't have time for this.""i'm sorry. yes, now. i'm sorry. i didn't need to until i sat up. sorry." "no need to be sorry," anna said, taking back the pillow. "go ahead." (the good thing about needing to pee literally seconds before getting the epidural was that they decided that since my bladder was empty they would put in the catheter later, after i was already fully numb. getting a catheter was honestly one of the biggest things in my anti-epidural column so i welcomed this news excitedly.) and then the part came where the anesthesiologist ran her hand down my back multiple times before saying something about how all of the bones seem really close together and she's not sure she has enough room and oh well this will have to do, and i decided that i hated her just a little. and then she started to jab me with needles and try and insert catheters into my back all while telling me repeatedly that i really needed to stay still so she could do this. in the midst of contractions and me hating her. "it's kind of hard to stay still when your jabbing a needle into my back," i snapped. and then she got it in. and i felt the cold burn of the drugs make its way down my back and with every minute that passed it got harder and harder to feel my legs. and i decided that the anesthesiologist wasn't that bad after all. after sticking around long enough to make sure that the drugs were working and she wasn't going to have to reinsert the thing, she left. "i'm sorry i snapped at you," i said as she was heading out the door.

once the contractions stopped distracting me from the fact, i realized that i was exhausted. i still had hours to go until the baby got here, so i decided to take a nap for a few hours. of course, before i could get into a real deep sleep, the clock struck twelve:thirtyish and my doctor came in to check on me. "let's see if you got further than a two," she said, and i took a second to pray that i had. anna told her that she hadn't put it my catheter yet, and my doctor said that she would "while she was in." ugh. but, as anna stood by with the catheter at the ready, she said "oh! you're already at an eight." she and anna were both thoroughly shocked because i was a first time mom and couldn't even feel my contractions until a few hours ago and anna kept saying "she was handling her contractions like she was at four." because i was so far along and had an empty bladder, they decided that i didn't need to get a catheter at all, and i did a mental happy dance. i was told that if my water hadn't broken, they would have checked my progress and decided that i was too far along for an epidural, and for the first time i was grateful that things had happened as they had. "you know what this means?" my doctor said. "you definitely could have handled delivering without the drugs.... but why should you?" she added, and i thought exactly. then she sent my husband out of the room to go get lunch because "that baby will be here in an hour. "my dad was right," i said, and told her about our bet. "that's amazing," she said. "would he consider working for me? if i could tell my patients exactly when they'll deliver... think of how much money we could make."

my mom stayed with me in the room as my husband left to get lunch with my dad (who had been taking phone calls at the time of the doctor's visit). anna told me that i would likely start to feel some pressure and to page her if it got too bad, but that it was really best to let my body work my baby down the canal itself for as long as possible before i started to push. after a while anna came in to lower my pitocin again because my contractions were getting out of control, and then wendy walked in and i immediately got less happy because i did not want her. "i can take back over here if you want," she told anna. no no no no no no  no no, i thought. and after a few minutes of them both saying that they didn't mind, anna said that she would just stick with me since i was almost done and she was basically my nurse all day, and wendy said that she would go find another patient and i heaved a sigh of relief. (because, as it turns out, anna was awesome.)

at one:fifteen, my doctor came back in to check on me and said, "you are ready to push." "i can't," i said, feeling like i had just walked into every tv show and movie ever. "my husband isn't back from lunch yet." my mom went to get him quick, and they started prepping the room for delivery. the room lights were turned off, and instead this overhead spotlight thing was turned on. gloves were snapped on, tables covered in tools were wheeled in and prepped, and they got me into pushing position. and yet my husband was still not back from lunch. at one point i let the horror stories i had read on the babycenter forums get the best of me and asked the doctor, "and you're sure that he's head down, right?" she laughed at me and said, "that's either a head or the hairiest butt i've ever seen." and that was how i found out he had hair, which surprised me because my husband and i were both bald babies. we laughed a bit about the things people say online.

apparently my body had done a pretty good job of pushing my baby through the birth canal and my doctor said that it was time to push for real. so as the nurse held one leg up, she held the other, and they told me to push. and then promptly told me that i was pushing wrong. and then my husband walked in. he took over leg holding duty from the doctor and was also put on making sure i curled my head in while pushing duty and when the next contraction hit i did three pushes again. wrong again. apparently i wasn't pushing hard enough but it is surprisingly really hard to push for ten seconds while holding your breath with half of your body numb. after the next set, she said, "your face is turning red when you push which, it shouldn't. that's wasting your energy. you should only be pushing with these muscles." a million snarky replies came into my head as i tried my hardest not to snap at her while simultaneously thinking that maybe i should have listened to the instructor at my childbirth class when she said we should practice relaxing and controlling specific muscles independent of the rest. "it's like taking the biggest poop of your life," my doctor said. "it really is," agreed anna.

eventually, i got the hang of pushing. (though let me tell you, ten seconds can be really, really long.) and i'm pretty sure that he was crowning forever. and thank god for drugs because the pushing part? it was actually sort of fun. i couldn't feel anything that was going on down there, and between contractions we were all laughing and sharing stories. my doctor asked about other stories that people had shared on the forums. i mentioned to anna how everyone had said she was the best. we talked about little debbie snacks, and apparently my doctor loves them too and any part of me that did not already love her quickly hopped on board. apparently she and her sister used to throw swiss cake rolls at the scary german shepherd next door when they were little and trying to get on its good side and didn't know that dogs aren't supposed to eat chocolate. (the subject came up when she said i should get a treat after this and i mentioned that i had little debbie in my hospital bag.) she also kept putting baby magic on the baby's head to help him slide out, telling me that i was awesome (except at the beginning when she said if i wasn't up to pushing she was going to deliver another baby and come back to me after), and when the baby was finally coming out she pressed on my stomach and said, "you were all baby, girl."

when it looked like the baby was almost here, anna went out and called in the rest of the delivery team: a nurse to tend to the baby and a nurse to help the doctor, and at two:oh six, i finally delivered a beautiful baby boy. the nurse took him from the doctor, rubbed him down quickly with a blanket, and put him on my chest. and it was the most amazing moment of my life. i remember looking at my husband and saying, "we made a baby" and staring down at him whispering "my baby" while ignoring whatever the doctor was saying to me. he was tiny and warm and curled up on me like he thought he was still in the womb. i honestly did not even hear anything she said. up until they took my baby away to weigh and measure him, and then i heard lovely words like "second degree tear" and "you'll need a stitch by your rectum." as she was stitching me up, i asked if i had delivered the placenta yet. she said no, but that she likes to be efficient with her time, and i remember a moment of panic (i think the exhaustion and adrenaline rush got to me) thinking that if she stitched me up, how would the placenta get out? the minute i asked about it, it started to slide out "as if i called it" as the doctor said. it was gross. the doctor also kept saying that i needed to stop clenching my muscles and that she was surprised that i had so much control over them with the epidural that was still working really well. (even though at one point during the pushing i did something that caused the drugs to spaz out and stop drugging me. the doctor assured me that there was enough left in my line that i wouldn't even notice, and she was right.)

meanwhile, the baby was off under the heater with my husband and his nurse. "this nurse is really good at guessing baby weight," my doctor said. the nurse picked up the baby and weighed him in her hands. "seven pounds three ounces," she said with confidence. we all laughed as the doctor said, "you're good, but not that good." and then she put him on the scale (or something? i couldnt actually see how he was weighed). "seven pounds three ounces," she announced excitedly. the doctor looked over at her, clearly impressed, then turned to me, "if i could get her and your dad together, we could have a great act."

i'm just going to take a moment here to gloat. just like i did when i heard his weight for the first time. the doctor that had given me the most grief about my weight gain, even when the other doctors said that i was normal or doing great, always said that the ideal baby weighed seven pounds two ounces, and that mine was likely going to be closer to ten pounds because i obviously wasn't taking care of myself and gaining too much (although some weeks she walked into the exam room all, "you're doing great mama."). my baby was only one ounce heavier than her ideal. ha. in your face. i think it was the drugs, but i did my gloating out loud at the hospital like an idiot. my doctor graciously refrained from calling me an idiot to my face and instead laughed about how exact her colleague is compared to herself, as she always says that the ideal baby weighs between seven and eight pounds.

soon enough the doctor and nurses sans anna left the room, and i sat there with my baby on me once again, marveling at how tiny and absolutely perfect he was. before we had even left the delivery room, he was sucking his thumb. it was kind of the most adorable thing i had ever seen.

over all, the nurses i had were all awesome. and when i was moved to the recovery/family room, i had amazing nurses and nurse technicians, too. i was lucky: with my pregnancy, my labor, my delivery, my recovery, and my baby, and i am so grateful for it all. (actually, though, recovery sucks. the first two days home were probably the worst in my life. and stitches are awful. and gross. but as soon as i had convinced myself that it would never end and i would be miserable forever, things got better. and continued to do so. and if i haven't said this enough over the course of my pregnancy, the human body is amazing and miraculous.)

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