Okay, I totally fell off the bandwagon when it came to the weekly posts during pregnancy. And I’ll probably fall off the bandwagon again when it comes to this. But Fridays are days of reflection, and so shall I begin this Friday, before my alarm goes off at 3 am to feed the blessed creature.
Last Friday, October 11, I felt contractions all day. I had been feeling them for over a week. They were painful, but not unbearable. I kept thinking about the episode of Friends where Rachel goes into labor and the other women are coming and going from her room because they are progressing quickly and she is progressing slowly. One of the women in that episode has contractions that she basically squeaks through because they don’t hurt her too much. I was hoping I was that woman. Boy, was I wrong.
After several hours, the contractions were consistent and getting closer together. By 1:00 pm, they were 5 minutes apart. By 2:00, they were 3.5 minutes apart. We called the doctor and she said to go in to the hospital. Excitedly thinking we were having a baby (a week late, mind you), we headed on over. The labor and delivery nurses practically rolled their eyes at us because we were so happy and excited, but since my contractions were close together, they put me in the triage room to be monitored.
Sure enough, my contractions were about 3 minutes apart, but I wasn’t dilating or becoming more effaced. After 2 hours, my contractions were 2 minutes apart and more painful, but I hadn’t progressed at all. One of the nurses came in and said they were discharging me, and I almost lost my marbles (I wish it had been my water, but no such luck). How was I supposed to know when to come back to the hospital? Nobody in my family was particularly apt at giving cervical exams. Everything I had read said go to the hospital when the contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting one full minute each, and consistent for over an hour. My contractions had been like that for several hours already. I was convinced that the baby would be born in my bedroom since I couldn’t possibly know when to go back in. The nurse could only say, “You’ll know when it is time,” which was enormously all the more frustrating. I was distraught, to say the least. I cried my eyes out all the way home, screaming things about how this creature would never leave my body and I would be miserable forever, etc. You know, typical crazy pregnant woman hormone stuff.
When we got home, my whole family was there because they were excited about the possibility of labor. So while I writhed as the contractions got worse and worse, my brother and sister goofed around on the piano while The Big Bang Theory played on DVD in the background. My dad played the guitar while taking up the entire sofa to himself. My mom and Husband worried about me. I took a bath and cried. I lay in my bed and cried. I lay on the couch, tried to focus on TV or on the music, and cried. Soon, I started yelling through them because they hurt so bad. Eventually, around 9 p.m., I screamed and writhed and yelled and cried so loudly through the most intense pain I’d ever felt that Husband insisted that we go back to the hospital.
When we got up to the desk in the maternity ward, I tried to answer the basic questions so I could sign the consent form again and everything, but I had such a strong contraction that I started to fall over. Ryan caught me, and I was immediately admitted to a labor room. When I got there, they checked my cervix, and the darn thing was still only 3 centimeters dilated and 70% effaced – no change from that afternoon when I was dismissed. At that point, I started crying like an idiotic child because I was so frustrated. “My body is too stupid. It doesn’t know what to do!” I wailed while my mom and Husband tried to comfort me. The nurse told me I had a couple of choices since my contractions were obviously painful enough that I couldn’t go home – I could take a whirlpool bath while the jets ran, which would likely soothe the contractions a bit or at least get my body moving in the baby-having direction, or she could hook me up to an IV with pain medication. Still somehow convinced that I wanted to go as long as possible without any pain medicine (ha, ha, ha, she laughs at herself as she remembers that ridiculous notion), I chose the bath. After over an hour of running those jets through contractions, they were so painful that nothing was helping. More tears running down my face and one popsicle later, I decided it was time to suck up my fiery hatred of needles and get the IV. They gave me the modern girl version of demerol and within minutes I was drunk as a skunk, to say the least. The contractions still hurt just as bad, but I no longer cared. At this point, it was about 11:30 p.m., and they called the anesthesiologist to give me the epidural. I don’t remember a lot of this time period because that medicine was cray cray, but I do remember that the St. Louis Cardinals were playing some kind of semi-important baseball game, and the anesthesiologist made a joke that if he missed the game by giving me an epidural, I was personally held accountable. I also remember that when Husband saw the size of the needle they were using, he felt faint enough that he had to go sit down, and my epically awesome delivery nurse Becci had to hold me up instead. Good thing I didn’t see that needle. The epidural was the most wonderful sensation I’ve ever felt as an apathetic warmth spread through my entire body. All of my muscles loosened, and all of my fears and pains melted away under the glorious, joyful warmth. All I can say is that if epidurals are an option, I will never try to birth a human without one, for they are a medical marvelous miracle straight from the hands of God.
The epidural was administered around 12:30 am, and I spent the next 10 hours or so sleeping and flipping from side to side (with LOTS of help from Mom or Husband or nurses) every 15 minutes with absolutely no pain whatsoever. I always sort of imagined that childbirth took a long time and was very rigorous and that the entire time was spent screaming and yelling and throwing things because of the pain. It is now my understanding that rigorous childbirth is only the case for those people who are brave and daring enough to attempt childbirth without any medication, may God bless those women for their insane amazingness, and may they throw all the ice chips and scream at all the people they want for doing that.
At some point during the night, I still wasn’t making quick enough change, so they added pitocin. I didn’t feel a thing. I mean, I don’t even remember when it was added.
Around 10 or 11 am, I started to really transition. There was still no pain, but there was certainly discomfort. After another hour, things started to hurt. There was a button that supposedly added another burst of medication every 15 minutes that I needed it, but I’m pretty sure it was a placebo to appease Preggos around the world who are starting to feel the pain again into thinking that they are getting more meds, because I didn’t feel any better no matter how much I pushed that button. At this point, my primary issue was starvation; I hadn’t eaten since 11 that morning, and they would, of course, only allow ice chips. My mouth was so dry I felt like I had eaten a ball of cotton straight out of the field, thorns and all. After some sweet, medicated begging, the nurses gave me water in a cup if I promised to only take 1 sip at a time. I swore on the life of my unborn child and crossed my heart and gulped one gulp of water like there was no tomorrow. Around 11:30 or so, I was fully dilated. I was like, “Whaaaaaa? I’m gonna have this kid? Oh dear, this is happening.” They told me, though, that if I waited it out until I couldn’t stand it anymore, that I might not have to push as long. They wanted me to sleep some more to energize up since pushing was quite a chore. I slept off and on until 12:40, and when they checked me, the head was very low, which meant I needed to start pushing. I’m pretty sure the medicine was totally gone at this point, because no matter how much they told me it would just be “pressure,” it was definitely a ring of fiery death between my supposedly deadened tree stump legs.
And so I pushed. It was a strange sensation. Childbirth is definitely an inherently human nature event, because it doesn’t really involve thinking. It requires focus and determination for sure, and it is certainly not lacking in a requirement of effort, but it was like I left my body and sort of slept while some cavewoman took me over and did all the hard work. I could describe the pushing experience here, but it was very special to me for some reason, so I’m going to keep it for my somewhat drugged memories alone and just shared that it was an incredible experience. I felt more successful at the end of the pushing time (50 minutes) than I’d ever felt in any way before. And how could I not? The end of the pushing signified the beginning of everything.
And so, with one final push at 1:33 pm, Baby Hurricane entered the world, weighing in at 7 lbs, 13.5 oz, 21 inches long, and with a head of dark hair and red Esau skin. His shoulders were hairy just like his daddy’s. His first order of business was to projectile pee in the doctor’s face, so I’ll be giving him a hard time about that for the rest of my life. Then, in all his grossness, he was placed on my chest, and Husband, me, and Hurricane doted on one another, totally enamored, while a whirlwind of stitching and cleaning up and various other medical-related activities occurred to our ignorance. For those precious moments, it was just us three, a tiny family of love meeting one another for the first time. Then Hurricane peed all over me and parenthood began.
Since, things have been a blur of happy exhaustion while we spent time skin to skin, while the family met him, while I figured out how to use my beaten body (yikes!) again and help it to heal properly, while we learned to change diapers and give baths and care for circumcision wounds, while we pretended to sleep but instead just stared at our beautifully perfect sleeping son.
Welcome to our world, baby Hurricane. May your precious life be used to glorify your mighty Creator.