I started trying to write this over 24 hours ago, if that’s any indication of how crazy things are right now. (If I owe you an email, I’m sorry. I’ll get to it, I promise.) So! Here’s the timeline of how it all happened:
3:30 a.m. – My water broke. I called the hospital, and they said that since I wasn’t having contractions yet, I didn’t have to break any land speed records trying to get there, but “you definitely need to come in and have that baby today.” Okie-doke. Dave and I each took a shower, since we figured we had time. I even put on my make-up, which Dave totally laughed at me for, but I think it was more because I was afraid to leave the bathroom since I was leaking water everywhere. I was just sort of standing on the bathmat trying to figure out what to do (and, um, not panic), so hey, why not mascara? I guess that during times like this, when you know that something huge and scary is about to happen, the familiar is comforting.
5 a.m. – I was all checked in to my room with the monitors hooked up. Still no major contractions. I kept asking the nurse “was that one?” because I’d feel a slight twinge, but nothing that I could pinpoint. I think the nurse thought I was insane. Oh well, she wasn’t there long. We got a new labor nurse (Laura) when the shift change happened at 7 a.m., and she and her nurse trainee were with us for the rest of the day. They rocked.
8 a.m. – Since it was nearly five hours after my water broke and I still wasn’t contracting regularly, they started me on pitocin to get things moving. (The longer you go after your membranes rupture, the more the risk of infection increases.) About a half hour later, I no longer had to ask whether I was having a contraction or not. Ouch. They gave me some narcotic that I had never heard of to take the edge off of the contractions, and told me that I could get an epidural when I had dilated to four centimeters. At that point, I was still in the 2 1/2 to 3 range.
9 a.m. – I asked the nurse probably two or three times the name of the drug they had given me, because it sure was niiiice. (To this day, I have no idea what it was called.) The contractions still hurt like hell, and they were almost entirely in my lower back, but at least I was able to completely relax in between them.
11 a.m. -?The labor nurse told me I had finally gotten to four centimeters and asked if I wanted the epidural. Yes, please, thank you. Meanwhile, I guess there was a full moon out this weekend because the hospital was chock full of women having babies. The labor nurse told me that they had twelve other admissions that same night. So it took the anaesthesiologist a loooong time to get to me.
12:30 p.m. – During the hour and a half that it took for the anasthesiologist to arrive, the narcotics wore off and my contractions got really intense. That was the worst part of the entire experience. It was back labor, so Dave would try to apply counter-pressure during each contraction, but it didn’t help that much. I couldn’t even speak during the contractions, I just made moaning and grunting sounds. All I could say was “ok” when it was over, so Dave would know he could stop pressing on my back.
When the anaesthesiologist arrived, Dave left to get coffee. It was my idea, because I know he’s squeamish about needles, and he’d be useless to me if he was passed out on the floor. But trying to manage those insane contractions without him there was really difficult mentally – not to mention that I was trying to hold perfectly still while a very large needle was being inserted into my spine, and I had to keep telling the doctor to stop when a contraction hit. The labor nurses were rubbing my shoulders and telling me that I was doing a great job, but it really took all that I had not to scream/cry during the contractions. If that is any indication of what natural childbirth is like, I’m glad I opted for the drugs. I have a new respect for women who go the natural route, because I know for a fact that I couldn’t do it.
Now, after the epidural? Dude, that rocked. It’s a very strange sensation to be numb from the waist down, but it was amazing to watch my contractions on the monitor (which were 2 minutes apart, lasting over a minute each, and getting progressively more intense) and not even feel them.
1:30 p.m. – The ob/gyn on call – not my regular doctor, but a very nice lady who I liked a lot – came in to examine me about an hour after the epidural. She said I was at about 5 centimeters. We also learned that while the baby was head-down like she was supposed to be, her head was facing the wrong way, and it was way up high even though I was dilating. She told us to relax, because it was probably going to be several more hours before we had a baby.
1:30 – 3:30 p.m. – Since I had the epidural and wasn’t in pain anymore, Dave and I both took naps. Neither of us had slept very much the night before, and the day had already been pretty exhausting.
3:30 p.m. – The doctor came back to check on me. I told her that I was feeling some pressure a bit lower, so I wondered if maybe the baby’s head had finally dropped like it was supposed to. She said she doubted it, but offered to go ahead and examine me just to see. I said ok.
Around this time, Dave mentioned that when he talked to his dad earlier in the day, his dad had predicted that the baby would be born between four and six p.m. The labor nurse laughed. The doctor scoffed. I said that I thought his dad was probably confused by the time zone change between here and England. Dave just shrugged, agreed that I was probably right, and went back to chowing down on my lunch tray of hospital food. (I told him he could have it since I was restricted to ice chips. It honestly didn’t look that appealing, anyway.)
The doctor checked me and everyone in the room was stunned to learn that not only had the baby’s head dropped, but I was fully dilated and ready to push. The hell? I went from five centimeters to ten in two hours. I don’t think it’s a world record, but that was still mighty impressive.
Dave was finishing off the piece of cake from my lunch tray, so he stopped and went to the restroom to wash his hands. By the time he came back, the nurses were already holding my knees in the air and counting down from ten while I pushed. I think he freaked that the whole thing was going to be finished before he got there, but he made it just in time.
The next few minutes were a totally surreal blur. I was trying to push even though I was totally numb, so I was using muscles from memory rather than sensation. I felt the pushes more in my face than anywhere else. I don’t honestly remember much about any of that – I think I pushed through four or five contractions. The labor nurse told me later that the pushing part lasted 14 minutes from start to finish.
3:51 p.m. – Suddenly, there she was. This pink squirmy baby with a head full of dark hair was lying on my stomach and shrieking up a storm. Her little screams were so high-pitched, the first thing I said to Dave was, “She sounds like Teenie!” (Of course I would compare my child to the cat I’ve had for the past 11 years. Totally normal. I am not one of those crazy cat people, I swear.) We also realized that Dave’s dad was wrong by less than ten minutes. Who knew?
Dave and I both just sort of stared at her in shock for a couple of minutes. Dave took her off of my chest, and brought her to the nurse to get her cleaned up. The second he picked her up for the first time, she stopped screaming. And that is how things have been for the two of them ever since. Dave = Comfort. He is the instant end to tears. It is amazing to watch them together. Which is not to say that she and I haven’t bonded – believe me, I am totally smitten and can stare at her for hours on end – but I think she is going to be a complete and total Daddy’s Girl.
As for how things are now? It’s day three, so we’re still in Survival Mode. Everything is new and foreign and All About The Baby. We’re totally exhausted and happy. Breastfeeding has proven to be a bit tricky, but it’s new for both of us, and between the lactation nurses at the hospital and our pediatrician, I’m pretty sure we can work the kinks out of that system. I’m not too stressed about it, and I’ll get into all that business some other time.
Right now, I’m going to take advantage of Dave’s awake time so I can go take a shower, and then we’re going to see if the three of us can get some sleep. At least for an hour.