Republishing this because it’s totally where my head is right now.
For those of you keeping track (like me) today is our due date. And let me tell you how glad I am that we’re not still waiting for Jayne to come out and meet us. Because she would probably have ballooned to like, 8 whole pounds by now. And I would have exploded.
After hearing the stats for a first pregnancy and the childbirth education nurse’s advice to make dinner reservations for tonight to ease the disappointment that was supposed to come as our due date came and went without her arrival, we were all prepared to go overdue, even though I always thought she would come in early February. Two weeks ago already– my god, has it really been two weeks? (Last week, on her one-week birthday, we drove part of the route to the hospital on our way to our Valentine’s dinner while my parents introduced Jayne to babysitting. I sniffled most of the way to the restaurant, amazed that it had been ONLY and ALREADY a week since we’d driven to the hospital. And now it’s two weeks (well, 13 days) and… wow.) I don’t know what to say. My cup overfloweth. (And so do my eyes at the moment. Oh, those hormones!). Some of the details of her arrival are permanently fixed in my head… others are sliding away. Writing out Jayne’s birth story might help hold on to them a bit longer. Anyway, here goes. (NOTE: childbirth is gooey. I’ll keep the goo references to a minimum, but know up front that there will be some goo if you continue reading). Know also that I reserve the right to tinker with this post as I remember more pieces.
I woke up around 6:00 am on Friday the 9th. Wide awake. With a to do list. Clean the bathroom. Scrub the sink. Pick up the apartment. Get the cat’s allergy meds refilled. Dissertate. This is all highly ambitious for the 6:00 am me, as many of you know. I’d like to say that I jumped up and started tackling the list, but that would be a big fat lie. I got as far as lifting the covers before deciding it was way too cold to get up yet, let alone scrub the bathroom tile. So much for my last nesting surge.
When I did get up around 8:30 and made my first pit stop of the day, I noticed I’d lost some mucus. Knowing that loosing the mucus plug can mean the baby might come in 2 days or 2 weeks (thanks, Dr. Google!) I successfully tried to not get too excited. Obviously, she would eventually arrive one way or another. I felt crampy, but, expecting late pregnancy to be generally uncomfortable, didn’t get too excited about that, either. I’d convinced myself I’d be a babbling, nutty mess if I got excited about every little thing happening with my body because no way would I be lucky enough to deliver on the early side and not have a huge, gigundo baby. (And who gets excited about cramps anyway?).
I proceeded with my usual routine, which entailed getting some dissertating done at a local Barnes and Noble. Which is where, I suppose, I had my first real contraction around 5:00 pm, just as I finished my 500 KelDisHaFoPro words of the day. It felt, um… like bad cramps, like I’d ignored my PMS warning signs and forgotten to take ibuprophen. It lasted for about 30 seconds. I’d been having Braxton-Hicks (“practice”) contractions pretty regularly for 2 weeks and chalked that one up as just a strong one. But, since I’d done my 500 words, I decided to browse the BN pregnancy section anyway. So, basically, the first thing I did when labor started was research labor. What can I say– I’m a grad student!
I snagged about 5 books about childbirth and headed back to the cafe area. I skimmed through most of them until I got to one explaining the stages most women go through in labor. I think it might have been a book about the Bradley method. What stuck with me was that stage 3 of labor was often characterized by self-doubt. Stage 4 was pushing, which I’d heard was a relief compared to transition/stage 3. I told myself to remember that when I got to the point where I thought I couldn’t handle labor any more (completely oblivious to the fact that I was already in early labor) that I would be almost done laboring. Feeling reassured, I stopped at the vet for Purrcy’s refill and for some odds and ends at Target before heading home.
I had cramps most of the evening and sporadic contractions. They didn’t feel regular and they didn’t hurt as much as I expected them to, so I figured they were just more “Braxies,” (I’d had so many Braxton-Hicks contractions that week that Ben had nicknamed them). I tried to reconcile myself to feeling like that for the next 2-3 weeks. Because the last two weeks are supposed to be the worst, right? So you’ll be ready to do ANYTHING to not be pregnant any more by the time you go into labor. I was nowhere close to feeling that bad– in fact, I felt pretty good. It was exciting to be pregnant but I was content to wait to meet Jayne. I knew that once we had her everything would be different forever and, since I really loved the time that we had “just us” I wasn’t in a rush for it to end. She was safe just where she was.
I talked to my mom that evening, told her about loosing the mucus plug and the cramps, said that I’d probably still be pregnant in 2 weeks. We went on our usual walk that evening at 8:30. It was too cold to walk outside, so we walked the Crystal City Underground from end to end. It’s about 3/4 mile each way. I was quite proud, later, when I realized I walked a mile and a half in early labor. Contractions were about 15-20 minutes apart, but walking usually brought on braxies so I still didn’t think they were serious.
We watched part of a bad movie after our walk: Mary Catherine Gallagher’s Superstar. I knitted. And contracted. More regularly. And intensely. But I still thought they were braxies. Ben copped on far earlier than I did to the whole DUH, Kelly’s In Labor thing. Ben suggested we go to the hospital, but #1, I didn’t think I was in labor and, #2, wasn’t going to go to the hospital until contractions were regular and 5 minutes apart anyway. The longer I held out, the less likely we would need much medical intervention. I really wanted to have Jayne with as little intervention as possible. Because recovery would (probably) be better. Because there would (likely) be less permanent damage to my body. Because I understood why and how it would hurt and knew that it would eventually be over. Because it would be better for Jayne to not have all those chemicals in her system. And because she would be more alert so we would then be able to bond with her during that famous 1st magical hour.
Ben humored me, refrained from saying he though we really should go to the hospital, and we went to bed at midnight. I got up at 12:30 to go to the bathroom. Mucus. And at 1:00. Mucus. And at 1:30. You guessed it, more mucus. (Remember, I warned you about the goo factor). Before I got up again at 2:00 am, I felt a sensation like Jayne had rubbed her hand over a balloon, like that sort of squeaky sound you hear when you squish a full latex balloon crossed with a sort of glug glug feeling. (If it makes any sense to describe a sensation with a sound). When I sat up again I felt a gush. It felt like I’d peed my pants. In fact, I made Ben get up and google “water breaking vs. peed pants.” I thought, nah, this isn’t labor and tried to go back to bed, only to feel more gushing. Ben convinced me to go to the hospital to get checked; we had learned in childbirth class that delivery needs to happen within 24 hours of the water breaking or there’s a chance of some nasty infection or something. I first had Ben clean our apartment up a bit– that 6:00 am to do list was haunting me. If this really was labor and we really were having a baby, we just HAD to clean and pick up a bit. I mean, we HAD to make a good impression on the baby. Because she would TOTALLY notice that stack of papers on the desk and the dishes in the sink. I directed the cleaning and the last of the hospital bag packing from the bathroom. God bless Ben for humoring me. Contractions were suddenly 5 minutes apart and consistent.
3:10 am: we left for the hospital. The roads were empty. Contractions were 4 minutes apart in the car. I remember having a contraction in the elevator as we arrived on the maternity floor. Some other dude in the elevator was nice enough to gesture to let me walk out first but there was no way I was moving until it was over. The guy hastily left when he figured out what was going on. It was kinda funny, actually. Later.
We got a room right away and when the nurse checked me I was 4 cm dilated, 100% effaced, at the -1 station. My water had definitely broken. It was 4:00 am. We called my parents at 4:07. I made Ben wait to call his parents until a more reasonable hour as we knew they would be in the waiting room lickety split and wanted to save them at least part of the wait. They hooked me up to the monitors for half an hour to get a baseline for how Jayne was responding to labor. I really wanted to keep walking around but had to stay in the bed until my OB could come by. Unfortunately, she was in the midst of a C-section so I was stuck in the bed for way more than a half hour. In fact, she wasn’t able to check in with us until I was dilated to 6, and at that point they didn’t want me walking around. They did eventually bring me a rocking chair. A hard, hard wooden rocking chair. Which did help relieve the feeling that my pelvis was shattering. Kinda. But it was a very, very hard chair. Thinking back I’m surprised I didn’t just get up and walk around anyway but it felt easier to focus, somehow, by staying still.
4:45 am: contractions 3-5 minutes apart. I think it was around this point that I had to ban ESPN. The TV went off and our CD player went on. I think I made Ben replay Damien Rice’s “O” album every hour for the next 6 hours. His intensity, simplicity, tortured emotions and fondness for dramatic crescendoes felt appropo.
5:10 am: dilated to 5 or 6, 0 station
6:40 am: dilated to 6, +1 station
8:00 am: Contractions grew in intensity and started to come in doubles (a strong one closely followed by a medium one). I got through them by staring at a point in the ceiling, breathing slowly, and counting my breaths. With some of the really bad contractions I counted as high as ten. Ten reeeallly slow breaths. I started to think about pain relief around this time but told myself that This! This was Stage 3! Self-Doubt! I was almost there! I did check with the nurse about pain relief options at that point. It was too late for Nubain. And the idea of an epidural needle in my spine scared me more than the contractions. The nurse asked me to rate my pain level on a scale of 1-10. Figuring that 10 was “Already Passed Out” I said 7. I felt I could handle a degree or two more but no more than that. She checked me again and said we were dilated to 8, +1 station so I knew that I was probably approaching or already at the worst of the worst: transition. If it got more than 2 degrees worse I might have asked for an epidural. By the time it got more than 2 degrees worse I knew Jayne wasn’t going to wait long enough for me to get an epidural, even though the nurse said I would probably be pushing for 2 hours. I knew pushing wouldn’t take that long.
9:00 am: dilated to 8 cm, 0 station. The nurse suggested I visit the restroom again; my full bladder was likely slowing things up. She was right. By 9:40 I was dilated to 9 and 1/2, + 2 station. I wanted to push but they made me breathe through contractions until that last 1/2 cm dilated. My pelvis felt like it was shattering and vibrating into pieces at this point and my back felt like it was being hit with a big, dull hammer. I think Ben and the nurse both worked up a sweat putting counter pressure on my lower back at this stage. We tried several different positions in vain hope of some relief. Contractions were so frequent I sometimes had one while attempting to change positions, hindered as I was by various monitors and wires and the IV. I think that was the worst: being unable to make it better because I was so tangled up! Oh, wait. The catheter they inserted before they let me push was pretty bad, too. Stupid full bladder.
10:00 am: they finally let me start pushing. The doctor arrived and suggested I push on my side; Jayne was coming in at an angle (which explains the earlier back labor). Jayne cooperated and turned her head. Pushing was SOOOO much better than not pushing. All I have to say is hooray for all those pregnancy workout DVDs I did; my body was strong enough to handle it. Pushing took 20 minutes. At one point they told me to reach down to touch her head but I couldn’t reach that far and it felt too distracting to be reaching anywhere at that point. I just wanted to push! I tore a little bit (1st degree, minor) but didn’t need an episiotomy (YAY!).
And then our sweet, sweet little baby Jayne was here.