Please note: This will be full of no-holds-barred details. If you are squeamish, you might consider skipping this post. Don’t say I didn’t warn you 🙂
It was a Friday. I woke up at 5:30am utterly shocked that I had gotten a full night’s sleep without once having to empty my bladder or even waking up. (I actually made it through most of my pregnancy without having to get out of bed to use the bathroom, save for the last couple weeks. Keep in mind I stopped sleeping well much earlier but that was due to shortness of breath from constantly rolling onto my back in my sleep and general soreness).
After I finished my business I returned to my bed thinking about how much I absolutely did not want to go to work that day. Earlier that week at my Monday afternoon appointment with Dr. S, she had stripped my membranes in hopes of moving our girl along. Let me just say, for the record, getting your membrane’s stripped pretty much sucks. Dr. S may or may not have gone so far in that she touched my pancreas. I’ll leave the level of discomfort to your imagination. At that same appointment she also let us know that Friday was her on-call day at the hospital. If only we could be so lucky to get our own Dr for the delivery (though the other Dr’s in the practice are pretty great as well).
So you can imagine my surprise when I got back into bed, laid on my side and felt a small gush (for lack of better terms). It stopped me in my tracks. Could this really be it? No way. That would be way too lucky considering it’s Dr. S’s on-call day and I REALLY didn’t want to drag my fat, swollen kankles into work. So I laid there staying very still for a bit, my mind racing.
Suddenly, another small gush. At this point, I knew that this wasn’t just a weird pregnancy coincidence. I poked J in the back and asked him if he had an old t-shirt on his side of the bed. He asked me why and I told him that I think my water is breaking. He then shot up and grabbed a dirty t-shirt for me (I wasn’t about to ruin the newer white runner that was next to our bed). I made it to the toilet and when I did, a lot more fluid made its way out. This definitely wasn’t urine, my bladder was empty. At this time it was around 6 am and I started getting mild contractions immediately every 2-3 minutes (which really just felt like mild cramps in my abdomen- not terrible, just not comfortable).
This was totally not how I expected labor to go. Everything we learned at our scary birth class indicated that most labors go really slow without your water actually breaking and with several hours (or days) of early labor at home before actually going to the hospital. I naively thought that I would have all sorts of early labor time at home to hang out, tidy up, bake cupcakes for the nurses. You know what they say about people who assume…
I called the Dr that was finishing up their shift and she told me to come in. I asked if I could shower first and she said that I could, as long as the baby was moving (which she was). Justin immediately jumped into action packing a few last minute items, changing our sheets, getting the dog ready to go to my sisters, and making me an eggo waffle and a banana (no one wants to deal with a hangry, laboring Jessy!).
An hour and a half later we were out the door. We dropped Macie at my sister’s (at the time she lived down the street). This was an emotional moment for me because I knew her life would never be the same after this and a part of me was sad for her (damn hormones!). On our way to the hospital we called both sets of parents and all were extremely excited. Tears were shed (of the happy variety). Justin missed the exit (I think his subconscious told him he was headed to work) and we got to take the route through the ghetto. Uneventful besides consistent contractions.
When we arrived J offered to drop me off in the front but I just wanted to be with him and didn’t mind walking (while the contractions were slowly getting more intense and still 2-3 minutes apart, they weren’t terrible). We parked in the garage and I got out of the car. By this time I had soaked through 3 maxipads and was starting to see wetness come through my black shorts.
I was absolutely grossed out and made a point of letting anyone within earshot know this. Justin asked if I wanted to change pads in the parking lot which I declined (cameras and public don’t mix well with my pregnant butt). So we slowly
walked waddled into the hospital and up to Maternity. It was pretty slow when we arrived and we got right into triage.
I attempted to pee in a cup and then changed out of my soaked shorts into a gown and they hooked me up to a monitor. The Dr. in triage (who was gorgeous and looked all of 18 years old) went to check me and said “I don’ know why I’m even checking you because your water is still breaking as we speak and you’re obviously contracting.” The contractions were continuously getting stronger and she announced that they’d be admitting me and we’d head over to a birthing room.
The walk from triage to the birthing room was a long one because my contractions had gotten stronger to the point that I had to stop walking at times. Once we got to the room, we were introduced to our nurse, Amanda who would be with us for the day. Let me just say, she was fantastic the entire time she was with us- so friendly, so supportive. She had great ideas of ways to help with the pain and was one of our biggest cheerleaders without ever being pushy.
Amanda went through all of the questions. I let her know that I was open to anything but wanted to wait as long as I could before adding any drugs or an epi into the mix because I was afraid that would slow down my progress, and she was very agreeable with all of this. The way I saw it was I’d rather have more pain if it meant that the labor could be shorter as a whole. I never felt unnecessary pressure from anyone at the hospital to do anything I didn’t want to do- the atmosphere was very supportive. By this time my contractions were getting even more painful and still 2-3 minutes apart. The pain was not only the cramps in my abdomen, but also terrible pain in my back. Amanda told me this was back labor and they brought in a birthing ball. For a while I labored on the ball leaning on the bed and eventually onto J. The poor guy bore the weight of me for much of that day. He’s my hero.
Eventually I made my way into the bathroom to try and pee. I attempted to labor on the toilet, as I’d heard that can be good, but I didn’t find it comfortable at all so I move back to the room and labored standing against the ledge of the wall leaning on J. He was such a pro, talking me through each contraction, supporting the entire weight of me. He would say things to make me laugh which was so helpful and we were blowing air between our lips like a horse, which I had read about in the natural birthing books. This also made us laugh and helped us relax. This whole time my water was still breaking everywhere to the point that we started putting towels in the mesh underwear since the pads weren’t really helping. I was so embarrassed by how gross it was but no one seemed to care.
Around 12:30/1pm, Dr. S came in to check me and see how I had progressed. I was very nervous about this because I had heard so many stories about women who just don’t really progress and I wanted to avoid pitocin if I could. Turns out I was 6cm at that point. I was so nervous and happy that I started crying. I had been expecting to have to walk the halls to make progress, luckily that wasn’t the case. In general, I was very emotional through this whole thing. Dr. S and the nurses kept saying I was a rock star and that they couldn’t believe how well I was doing without any drugs.
Contractions started getting even more uncomfortable. I didn’t know at the time, but I was definitely approaching transition. I began laboring in bed so they could attach the monitor to my belly, which wasn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Once in a while her heartbeat would drop a tad, so I was laboring on my side and switching sides periodically. After a while of contractions getting stronger and more painful, I began to get very tired and was having a hard time dealing with the pain.
After discussing my options with Amanda, we opted to have a little Nubain to take the edge off. Its a good thing I was in bed because this made me quite drowsy. I was still laboring on my side and though I didn’t like the way the Nubain made me feel, it did take the edge off of the pain and allowed me to relax enough to take little 2 minute naps between contractions. After about an hour, the Nubain started wearing off and at this point I was in transition with the contractions right on top of each other. The pain and discomfort was getting to the point that I couldn’t take it. I was kind of a mess, crying and telling J that I didn’t think I could do it. I’m a little embarrassed by how much of an emotional mess I was, but looking back this was just transition labor at it’s finest. We agreed that it was time for an Epi.
By now, I was an 8.5. The anesthesiologist came and I was such a basket case. I was scared to death of the epi and that I wouldn’t be able to stay still long enough for the 15 minutes it takes to place. The anesthesiologist was amazing and J and Amanda held my hands and I focused on J’s eyes. This man was strong enough for both of us; without him I don’t know how I would have made it through the labor. Once the epi was set I immediately felt better and was all smiles again. There was a small window that it didn’t take in my left abdomen, but I didn’t care, I was just happy to have some relief.
Shortly thereafter we had a knock on the door. A nurse that I didn’t know popped her head in and said that I had visitors. In walked my parents. Interestingly enough, I had been adamant during my pregnancy that I didn’t want visitors while I was laboring because I had no idea how I’d handle it. I later found out that they were just planning on being in the waiting room and had stopped at the desk to see if A was here yet and the nurse said to just go into the room. They said they weren’t sure I wanted that and the nurse insisted and brought them herself. Kind of weird, but at that time I was actually really happy to see them. An hour earlier and I would not have wanted to see anyone but I was feeling much better. They only stayed in the room for a short time. Around 4:30pm they checked me and I was complete. My Dr. was doing a procedure on a different patient and so we waited a bit for her to be done to start pushing. Eventually, she made her way in and we did begin pushing. I was on my back with J and Amanda each holding a leg. Dr. S let me know that there was meconium in my amniotic fluid so they would have the NICU team in the room for delivery. For this reason, A would not cry right away and J wouldn’t be able to cut the cord- they would hand her right over to the NICU people to make sure she didn’t aspirate any meconium.
The atmosphere in the room was very light and very supportive. We were laughing and joking between contractions. J was the best coach ever, counting out the pushes and being very vocal in his support (and inappropriate jokes, which we all enjoyed). The good thing about having that window where the epi didn’t take is that I could could feel the contractions coming and knew when to push. This went on for quite a while (I found out later that I pushed for a total of 4 hours!) and we tried all sorts of things- using a bar, putting me on my hands and knees (that felt very animalistic). I just could not get her around my pelvic bone due to her size and the angle at which her head sat. I began to get frustrated and exhausted. Additionally, Amanda’s shift had ended at 7pm which sucked because she was a huge source of support and we were sad to see her go. Still Julie, the nurse that replaced her was really great.
After much longer than I expected (I think Dr. S knew I really wanted to get her out on my own and so she really gave me a ton of time to try), Dr. S let me know that I had a few options- forceps, a vacuum or a c-section. In my mind, I wanted to avoid major surgery at all costs, so a c-section was out. We asked Dr. S to talk to us more about the other two options. She said that she could do either and that they don’t really train newer doctors in forceps as much anymore, but she personally has more experience with forceps. While a part of me thought that I might tear less with a vacuum extraction, the knowledge that Dr. S had more experience with forceps made J and I agree that this was likely the safest option for our girl. She let us know that we would have 3 pushes to get A out with the forceps and after that I would have a c-section. Again, I was extremely emotional and kind of sobby about this because I was a little scared of the interventions and because I was frustrated that I couldn’t get her out on my own.
Once we decided on our best course of action, they had the anesthesiologist come back at get my quickly fading epidural back on track. The guy actually commented to Justin about what a great coach he was and Justin joked that he’s done this before and then gave me a mock “oh shit” look. He didn’t really know if J was serious. I was amused.
They began setting up the room for a forceps delivery- the NICU people came in along with a few more nurses. A forceps delivery is a horrifying experience in terms of wrapping my head around these large items being inserted into me and the fact that I was about to push out a human the size of a watermelon. It didn’t hurt (thank goodness for epidurals) but I could feel those huge things inside of me. I actually commented that those were the biggest things that had ever been in me and J said “outside of me” much to the amusement of the room full of people attending to us. The worst was between contractions the forceps were still in there. It really messed with my brain. I think by the third and last contraction I was screaming because it was just horrifying to me, there was this little nurse sitting on my chest pushing my stomach (she reminded me of a ninja which is now what I call her) and I was closing my eyes and push while everything just buzzed around me. It’s weird, I could actually feel myself tearing- not in a painful way (the epi was working beautifully in that regard) but the physical pressure of my flesh tearing was a scary feeling for sure.
Its funny, because people tell you that the minute the baby is out you immediately feel a lot lighter and that is SO true. Even though my eyes are closed and my epi was working full force, I just knew she was out. At that point, J put his arms around me and told me to open my eyes. As I did, Dr. S pulled our beautiful, quiet girl up and time just stopped while we stared at her in disbelief (Could this actually be happening? Were we finally meeting this girl that we prayed had for, for so long?). It was probably only a few seconds but it felt like an eternity. Then her big eyes popped open like an alien and they took her over to the NICU people.
Shortly thereafter we heard the most beautiful, strong cries of our little girl. Of course we were also crying. I told J to go over and see our girl, which he did and brought the go pro. I asked him how she was and he said that she had 3 legs. Then he told me she was perfect. On my side of the room they were delivering my placenta (they showed it to me and said it looked good). I jokingly asked how we should prepare it when I served it for my family without them knowing what it was. I voted pot roast. J voted smoothie. Then Dr. S stitched me up. I asked her about the damage and she told me it wasn’t great but wasn’t terrible (I later found out at my 6 week appointment that it was a 2nd degree natural tear). I did not want to see it.
Eventually, they brought A over to me. There is nothing in the world like meeting your child for the first time. I was so excited to tell her how much I love her and how we wanted her for so long and prayed for her. It really was such a remarkable feeling, I just knew that we belong to her and that she belongs to us. I also couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. Newborns always look different after the first few days but she was already beautiful (I recognize that I’m also biased where she is concerned). Just like that, our life changed for the better.
Eventually, we skyped with my in-laws in California and introduced A to them. They were touched by her name (it was J’s grandmother’s name). We then skyped with my sister in-law while I ate the crappiest turkey club of my life (which after 16 hours of not eating was delicious). Then my parents and sister came in to meet A. Tears flowed freely on both coasts. Eventually there was a time before we left the birthing room when everyone was out of the room except for me (bed bound waiting for the epi to wear off) and A in her little warmer a few feet away. I looked over and told her I loved her and her little hand went right up in the air, as if she was waving at me. And I knew then that life would never be the same in the best way possible.