I am not a medical terminology educated person, I'll be the first to admit. I do not enjoy watching surgery on television, but Chris definitely does enjoy it. I could work on animals wounds all day (courtesy of growing up on a farm, I guess), but humans... not so much. I can deal with kiddo scrapes, but stitches and open wounds, well I'll pass when I can.
I read and re-read the What to Expect book until it nearly fell open when I picked it up. Who knows how many hours I spent reading it. I was literally speaking, as educated on labor and delivery as I could be. Books, however, don't tell you all the nitty gritty about the finals hours of pregnancy. I relied on my candid sister, sisters-in-law, friends, etc to fill me in on those graphic moments. They laughed (while I winced in fear) for hours telling me about the size of their newborns heads, "pretend you're going number 2" when you push, pads the size of a mattress and more. Don't even get me started on their comic stories of relieving engorged breasts in the kitchen sink like milking a cow, crying in the shower with cracked nipples or leaking through shirts at the cry of any nearby child. My "ladies" have kept me in laughing stitches for weeks, and their honest talks have been invaluable.
A friend (hi Eve!) asked me to expand on our labor and delivery experience, and I feel I should, as she is abroad getting ready for her own final pregnancy hours, far from the candid mouths of her "ladies". I'll try to not be too graphic, but yet give her a look into our experience. Let me just repeat what I've been told and can attest honestly to... once you hold your beautiful new baby, any less than desirable moments from the past 9 months will go out the window... honest and true my dear. Honest and true.
Our original due date was June 20th, but all along the ultrasounds read June 14th, so that was really the due date in my mind. I had a gallbladder attack around week 37, but other than that, everything (aside from trimester 1 blahs) went great with the pregnancy. I did have some contractions from the end of May on, but even though they were steady, they never got strong enough or less than 3 minutes. Until...
It was Friday, and I woke up feeling different. We were out doing errands and stopped at McDonald's for lunch. Chris headed to meet with a nutrition guy from his gym, while Ceiba and I ate lunch. At 1100 contractions started. I propped my feet up on the seat in our booth and waited for Chris to get back. He knew when he walked in that I was feeling different. I knew better than to go anywhere yet, so we decided to go walk around Wal-mart for a while. The weather was turning, a storm was on its way, and our OB doctor mentioned weeks earlier that many women go into labor when the barometric pressure drops. Come on rain!
We took our time, going down every aisle, spending lots of time in the toy section keeping Ceiba busy. My walking was getting slower and more painful, contractions sometimes stopping me in stride. I took numerous trips to the restroom, noticing things were changing. My last trip from the back of the store all the way to the restroom seemed to take forever. Upon arriving, the cleaning cart was in the doorway with a sign to come back. I wanted to cuss! Really, all this walk and all this pressure. Now what? The attendant peeked her head out, to which I said, "I am WAY pregnant. Can you tell me when you'll be finished?" She advised me there was another restroom in the back of the store. Where? Oh, of course it's by the toy section... where I just trekked from.... and why wouldn't it be.
Around 2PM, I told Chris we should probably make our way to the check out and call his parents to camp out with Ceiba. We headed home first to finish bag packing. By then it was raining. I remember getting out of the car in the rain, but stopping mid stride in the rain until a contraction passed.
Chris's dad and brother met us at the hospital, with his brother mock traffic controlling us into the pavillion. Ceiba went home with gpa, while Uncle Erk helped count contractions and entertain us with stories of their delivery. By 3PM, contractions were less than 2-3 minutes apart.
Okay, this is turning into a long story. By now, I have the attention of moms-to-be wanting the nitty gritty and been-there-done-that moms reminescing. Thanks audience.
I had hopes to go o'natural on the birthing plan. At one point, I always even planned to birth at home, but hey we don't exactly have a homey home anymore. Though I did not plan to veto the epidural option, I just wanted to try without it. My body decided for me.
When the nurse checked my cervix at about 3PM, I was only 1 cm, which I had been for weeks. The first thing she asked was if I'd ever had a Leep procedure (biopsy on the cervix due to abnormal pap). I had. She said sometimes this caused scar tissue, which made dilation difficult. Perfect, just perfect.
So crazy contractions really kicked in about 9PM. And just kill me contractions lasted, less than seconds apart, until almost 3AM. In that time, I laid, sat, stood, walked, cried, yelled, screamed, groaned and all but begged to be put out of my misery.... to which my ever patient hubby, feeling helpless painfully watching his poor miserable wife labor replied "PLEASE take the epidural".
I felt like if I could just hold out until the scar tissue ruptured, dilation would happen and I could make it through delivery without the epidural. In the meantime, I had agreed to drugs, but after 3 rounds, the nurse said they wouldn't help anymore. So by 3AM, and the nurse for about the 6th time telling me I was still at 1 cm, I sobbed tearless cries and succumbed to the epidural with a nod. Chris followed with "she nodded yes, is that good enough? Will you please give her the epidural?" And so the anistesiologist was summoned. Chris sighed in relief. And I continued to be speechless and doubled over until he arrived.
Aren't anestesiologists chipper? They watch women moaning in pure agony and yet smile away. Not sure if it's due to just seeing SO many woman in this state or knowing they are about to "make it all go away" and be the hero of the day. Anyway, he was chipper. Chris sat in front of me, taking the brunt of my digging hands (into his 2 day old tattoo, which I'd forgotten about in my poor state), while I tried to not budge a millimeter while contractions continued and the needle dove into my spine. It all went well and in moments the nirvana of relaxation began. It...felt...nice. For hours, I had been a clenched ball of muscles spasms in pain, but now it drifted away. The "GET THE EPIDURAL" advice of all the women I'd spoken with now became clear. Okay, it wasn't the plan, but neither was a cervix that never had any intention to help me out.
Within the hour, I dilated to a 5. Throughout the next day, I progressed, but not rapidly. Avocet's heart rate stayed great and steady. Later into the late morning, the epidural was wearing off or she was getting lower and the pain started to build again. At the contractions became harder, my dilation progression slowed. So they upped the epidural again, and by 5PM we were FINALLY ready to move to delivery and start pushing. Woo hoo!
By now I was a woman on a mission. Get this baby out of me! We wanted to meet her desperately and getting the pain to subside would be a welcome bonus. The nurses and we were by now on a very personal basis, mentally and very physically (wow, when people say your modesty goes out the window, they aren't kidding). She said for a first time delivery, 3 hours + of pushing is not unusual. I rolled my eyes at her, and she smiled and said "but your delivery will not be 3 hours". I was shooting for less than an hour. Baby was very low at this point. With each contraction, came 3 pushes of 10 counts each with a breath in between. Chris laughed that I asked him to scratch my nose, as my arms were busy holding my legs. Sorry, not the greatest mental picture, but it is what it is ladies and gentlemen.
After 30ish hours of labor, we had 30 minutes of delivery. The plan of not needing to watch, as not to change the magnetism that created this baby, went out the window when pushing began. Chris watched and coached and cheered me on. Though when offered for me to feel her emerging, I passed on it, still with my eyes closed and mind determined to get her out into the world. And when she did arrive and the doctor offered Chris to cut the cord, he too passed. We were thrilled that she was here, but we were fine to let the doctor do the delivering.
The final push was amazing. In moments she laid on my chest and time stood still. It was a take a picture with your mind moment; one I never want to forget. She was perfect and here and ours. Love, true love.