the birth story
On Saturday evening (the 22nd), I started having some random light contractions. It wasn't just that the crappy movie Hubby was watching was making me sick. (Seriously, what's with men and watching bad movies? Like Jean Claude Van Damme bad.) They were just light cramping but I felt good knowing that something was happening and that there would at least be progress at my next OB visit on Tuesday. And it was nice to know that I could actually feel them since my entire belly had been so tight for so long. The contractions stopped around 9 pm but I had also started to lose my mucus plug (I know, TMI--more to come). A little freaky but progress! Real contractions doing real work!
At around 3:30 am on Sunday morning I woke up to a little stronger contractions. They were also a little more regular but still spread apart (maybe 12-15 minutes). I timed them for about an hour and then went back to sleep. They were kind of off and on throughout the early part of Sunday but I figured this was the beginning of real labor. Hubby was still skeptical. He had a To Do list for the day and I told him he may want to get started on it that morning. So he got a haircut and honestly I can't remember what else. We went for a walk with Maggie and the neighbors' dog sometime in the early afternoon. Contractions were a little stronger as I felt like I needed to at least pause when they came on but I could still relax and breathe through them.
The Brother had texted earlier in the day to see if we wanted to come over for dinner and football. I told him we might but I thought I was in labor. Around 7 pm I told him that we'd run by but just pick up food to go. I was just getting a little tired of being in the house so Hubby drove us over there (about a 5-minute drive). Contractions were about 7 minutes apart at this point. They seemed to having gotten closer together a bit more quickly than I expected. We got to The Brother's at about 7:20, I get out of the car and my water breaks. I had read/heard that if it breaks and you're standing up, it's just a trickle. Uh, not for me. Gushing. Even though the baby's head had been low for weeks. No doubt that it was my water breaking instead of me peeing because no 40-week pregnant woman has been able to pee that much at one time in months. Perhaps Hubby finally realized we were actually having a baby. So he still runs inside and goes all 911 on people. He points at The Brother and tells him to get the food. He points at SIL and tells her to get towels. I wish I could have seen that but I was just uncomfortably standing by the car. They wanted to know if we were going straight to the hospital or home and Hubby has no idea. He makes it back and I tell him we're going home. We needed to get our things, and our plan was to labor at home as long as possible.
I send a few e-mails to friends and family as well as work folks. They were all saved as drafts so I wouldn't have to think about what to say or who to send to. Hubby walked the dog and loaded the car. We called the doctor's office and basically told the on-call doctor that we were headed to the hospital. Contractions had quickly gone to about 3.5 minutes apart.
We got to the hospital room around 9:30 pm and contractions were still frequent and getting stronger and longer. I was able to make it through them until about 1:00 am (Monday now) when I decided I wanted the epidural. I don't know what would have happened without the epidural. I probably would have labored less long but who knows. Contractions were 1 minute long with only about a minute of recovery in between and they were painful. No relaxation technique was going to work for me. I couldn't really talk through them so I had to quickly try to tell Hubby what to do and what was going on before the next one came. I got the epidural at about 1:30 and was about 6-7 cm dilated at that point. Seeing that needle and hearing horror stories about epidurals had been part of the reason I wanted to avoid one but it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. And I did a good job at staying still during the multiple contractions I had while he prepped and placed it. Perfect dosing because 10-15 minutes later I couldn't feel the pain. I still knew when I was having contractions because the baby's butt was STILL POKING ME. And I've heard that people couldn't feel their legs but I could. They just felt like they were a little asleep but I could move them and change positions as needed. I could also nap, which was awesome. It was a dark and stormy night--perfect for calmly laboring.
The contractions kept up their fast pace even after the epidural. I fairly quickly made it to 9 cm and the nurse thought we'd have a baby by about 3:00. But 9 to 9.5 cm took awhile. And then 9.5 to 10 cm took even longer. The baby's position was slightly off so the nurse had me change positions and it straightened her out. I could feel the pressure to push but only during contractions. The nurse told me to tell her when I felt it all the time. It's interesting that you can feel all that pressure but it doesn't really hurt.
So once I made it through transition and it was time to push, the contractions slowed WAY down. Instead of the normal few minutes in between, mine waited every 8 minutes. I pushed for about an hour but any progress I made in moving her down was lost since there was so much time before the next contraction. I ended up getting pitocin to help speed things along. I figured I already had the epidural; the pain of pitocin-induced contractions wasn't going to bother me and this baby really needed to make some progress. After that, I still ended up pushing for another 2 hours. The baby handled all these contractions and pushing quite well. I had a few hits of oxygen at one point as the baby got a bit stressed but really nothing concerning. I guess the good part about all of this is that my doctor was able to be there to deliver the baby. The on-call doctor had never even come in my room to introduce herself. Whatever. The rest of the staff was great.
My OB is wonderful. She's encouraging and empathetic. She could tell by looking at me (me=girl bits) that I had been pushing for a long time. She stayed in to watch my pushing for a bit and then left for awhile. That's a little discouraging. And might I add that even with drugs, pushing is HARD WORK. Sheesh. So she comes back in a little later and actually puts gloves on and they break down the bed so it feels like I may have a baby after all. After a few more rounds of pushing, she tells me that she thinks if she used just a little light suction the baby could be out with the next contraction. I asked Hubby if he thought that was ok and he did. I really didn't want to have to use suction but was so tired and just wanted to be done so that's what we did. My OB just needed one gentle pull to get her out. I was pushing so hard and had my eyes closed that someone had to say, "Mama, open your eyes. Here's your baby." And someone was kind enough to say that it was a girl.
Throughout my pregnancy, my OB knew I wanted limited interventions and was at least going to try to go drug-free. We had also talked about donating the cord blood but the collection kit didn't come in time (it actually never came and I still haven't heard anything back from them). Since that was out, we wanted to see if we could wait a few minutes to let the cord stop pulsing before cutting it. We also wanted the baby to stay on my belly for at least 20 minutes or so and not be immediately whisked away for weighing and cleaning and things. During our hospital tour, it didn't seem like these things would be options but they totally were with the staff who was there. After a few minutes, Hubby cut the cord. The baby was placed on me while the placenta was delivered (totally forgot about that) and I got stitches. Turns out that pushing for so long = swelling and swelling = inability to stretch as much as normal. So a few minor tears plus a whopping 3rd degree. That's the only part of me that doesn't feel recovered from the birth now 2 weeks later.
A few random things. It was amazing to have this little person out of me. While everyone over the last few weeks has commented on how small she is, I would just look at her and think that I couldn't believe that entire human was just inside me. That I had been carrying her around. When I feel her little heels and elbows I am reminded of how they felt when jabbing me from the inside. They feel so familiar. When they placed her on me, she cried pretty quickly. Then she gave me the sad lower lip. I immediately knew that that lip would break my heart for the rest of my life. She really did have a lot of hair and it wasn't at all red. I was a little surprised about that. Also surprised that of the 4 names we had narrowed it down to, the one that was my favorite going in just immediately felt wrong. So we were down to 3. We felt like we needed to see her cleaned up before deciding, though. And, finally, Hubby was fantastic through all of it. He remains fantastic 2 weeks later. We're very lucky to have him.
And about that name... We still didn't have one by the time she had her first visitors. After they left, I told Hubby that I'd be ok with any of the three we had left on the list and that he could pick. He picked Scarlett. I made sure he was sure and we went with that. I had wanted Caroline for her middle name because it was my dad's mother's middle name. She was a fantastic grandmother and woman and I can only hope our daughter somehow gets some of her characteristics. Hubby wasn't 100% sold on it but let me have it. Note to all men out there, this is a good move as your wife just pushed a human out of her. I expected her name to get lots of Scarlett Johansson references but only one person mentioned her and that was about a week and a half later. Most people go straight to Gone With the Wind. I'm ok with that since I enjoy the book/movie and also because it was Mom's favorite. I think she would have approved of the name, and I know she would have been thrilled that her daughter now has one of her own. It's really unbelievable.
So my weekly wisdom? I don't care how you get there or how it differs from your original plan...are you alive and well? Is your baby? Then you've had a successful birth. Don't let anyone (yourself included) tell you otherwise.