If you don't want to read a birth story, stop here. I'm writing this down for me. It may have information that you never wanted to know. So the above picture? That was it - the most pregnant I ever was, at 40 weeks, 5 days. It was taken about 5 minutes before we left for the hospital on Wednesday, June 16th. It's about 7pm. I had been having contractions since that morning, and had been to the dr earlier in the day to get checked and was 2 cm dialated and she confirmed I was in early labor. I had gone in because I had my bloody show - which was the first of the most disgusting things I have ever seen my body produce experiences. By 6 pm I had contractions 3-5 minutes apart that I couldn't walk or talk through for about the last 3 hours, so I called into the hospital to see if I should come in. Unfortunately the midwife on call had a family emergency so I ended up with an OBGYN, which made me nervous, but proved to be an interesting comparison between styles later on. We were admitted to triage around 8pm Wednesday night, I was checked and was confirmed to be 2.5 cm dialated (progress!). So they had me walk around for a couple of hours to see if I would make any more of that "progress" we were looking for. There was no place to walk really, just a couple of hallways to pace back and forth on, but Chris and I paced them for hours. We had the nurse let us off the unit to wander the hospital at one point because oh my god it was boring....other than the contractions which had become a lot more irregular at this point. The contractions themselves? Well yes, they were painful, and yes, you have to concentrate to get through them....but strangely, I didn't really mind them. I could totally deal with them one by one. My yoga breathing helped, as did staying positive. The nurses even commented how well I was breathing through them. After a couple of hours of walking, they checked me again and I was at a 3. We were all disappointed with my progress, but I was officially progressing and in labor with my contractions 3 minutes apart, so they admitted me. They knew it was moving slowly (normal labor progresses at about a cm an hour, I'd gone a cm in about 10 hours). They wanted me to get some sleep, so they offered morphine and some medicine to help me sleep. This is the only thing I think I regret, I wish I would've not taken it...but at the same time, I wouldn't have slept at all if I hadn't, or only about 2 minutes at a time. Hindsight, who knows what would've happened had I chosen another path. So we were given a room, given drugs and I slept fitfully through contractions that I could mostly still feel. In the morning I was checked again and I think I had made it to a 3.5 (things are a little fuzzy in my mind). Since it was morning, the midwife on call was going to take over. Before he did (yes! He! The only male midwife and exactly what I didn't want, but that's who I got - worked out awesome, but still freaked me out at that point) the OB came in and told me I needed pitocin, my water broken, and an epidural. I was glad she was leaving. When my midwife got there, I had tried the bath, the birthing ball, and been walking again. He checked me, I think I was at a 4 (quick progress!), and I asked him what he thought. He said although I was making slow progress, it was still progress, and we should see what my body would do. It was exactly what I needed to hear. The contractions stayed irregular, and I started to have a lot of back pain, which I attributed to sleeping on a crappy hospital bed, but apparently was back labor because the baby was kind of off-kilter...which is also why I wasn't progressing. He was looking up, and should've been looking down, so his head wasn't hitting my cervix, which meant I was dialating incredibly slowly. He had me try some positions to turn the baby, and explained that breaking my water would actually hinder progress at this point because the baby wouldn't have any cushion to turn. Someone mentioned that my midwife, John, had a knack for predicting a baby's weight. I told him that I was 9lbs 1oz at birth, and asked him what he thought my baby was. He thought 8lbs, 5oz, which he said he cheated and adjusted for my higher birth weight. Under 9lbs sounded great to me. About 1pm John checked me again and I had made no progress. None. Still at a 4, and I had been in labor for approximatey 27 hours at this point. I was exhausted and slightly hung-over feeling from the morphine. John went out and when he came back I was crying and slightly freaking out....I was just so frustrated that nothing was moving and I was so very tired. He said that he thought we needed to use pitocin to get labor going. Although I had told myself I really wanted to try and go without an epidural, the words were on the tip of my tongue. John did a really good job of calming me down, and worked me through the fact that my birth plan was not set in stone (which I knew). Labor is intensely emotional, and you don't necessarily get another chance, and I really wanted to try and do it myself. When they said that the contractions would get stronger and closer together, and I still had 6 cm to go, I knew that I needed a break. I broke down, I asked for the epidural. Getting the epidural itself is no big deal, the scariest part is the side effects (hypotension, a headache for weeks, hitting something in your spine, infection). They had to try and put it in twice because I have small spaces between my spine. Again, everyone was so nice and commented how well I was staying still during the contractions (already had the pitocin), and how a lot of people wouldn't have gone this long. Of course, I became hypotensive immediately after getting the epidural (I knew I would). But that quickly passed. I could no longer feel anything except a sometimes tightening high up in my abdomen. Luckily it didn't deaden my legs totally and the nurse was greatful for how well I could move my legs around. So was I. Once you get an epidural, they put in a catheter (fun times) and you basically wait until you feel like you have to poop. I did not like the epidural, it was an awful feeling to have people touch you and sort of feel it, and to not have full control over your limbs. I hope to never get one again if I do go into labor, but I'm not against them. I believe that if I hadn't had it, the outcome to my labor would've been very different. One good thing - I was hungry. I hadn't eaten anything since about lunchtime on Wednesday and I was allowed jello, juice, soda, anything liquid. I binged on jello and frozen ice pops. My water broke on its own a few hours later (embarassing to have to ask a nurse to come clean that up since you can't move) and around 9pm I felt like I needed to push with my contractions (I could feel them more and more). They checked me and I was at 10 cm. It took 6 hours - 6 hours that I was able to rest up for pushing. They let me labor down until I felt like I couldn't handle it anymore (and you'll know, it feels like you HAVE to push, there's no choice with each contraction). So the nurse I'd been with all day starts talking about how she's excited to meet my baby (she's 26 weeks pregnant with her 3rd child herself) and John starts talking about how the 17th is a great day for a birthday. At 9:30 pm they turn off my epidural and take out my catheter and let me push in a couple of positions (still lying down though). I start pushing and after about 2-3 contractions I felt like I was in another world. The nurse really helped me relax between each contraction, and during each one I pushed 3 times (3 breaths) for 10 seconds each. Pushing was insane. I pushed for 2 hours, 45 minutes, and I was exhausted. I have never been so exhausted in my life. I ran a marathon in 2005, and I think pushing was harder. The crazy thing is that your body doesn't let you stop. I don't remember much during pushing. Just little things. I remember being upset that John kept coming in, looking at me, and leaving again. I knew that meant my baby wasn't close to being born. I remember saying that nothing was happening over and over. What I meant was that why the hell is this taking so long, I knew things were moving (oh, I knew, ouch), but it was taking forever. They had me reach down and feel his head, which I then got really upset and said "oh god, don't push him back in." They all laughed, but what I meant was I thought by touching him I might accidentally push him back in. And dear god I was working too hard to get him out for that. I remember saying "you've got to be kidding me" at the beginning of one contraction and everyone laughed. Otherwise I felt like I was going to puke at one point and I remember being really hot. I remember the pregnant nurse leaving, which I then realized it was 11pm and I was so sad that I was still pushing. I remember everyone yelling at me to push, and being incredibly annoyed at the new nurse for where she was putting the heart monitor for the baby. It was so uncomfortable to have that monitor there, and I just kept asking her to stop, and even took her hand off me at one time. I remember the new nurse kept repeating "that's a lot of baby down there" and I was really annoyed by that too. Like I didn't know that already. I remember the feeling of him coming out - it was insane and painful and weird. I will never forget that.
12:13 am, June 18th Eliot Michael arrives. When he came out, he wasn't breathing very well and was very gray, the umbilical cord was wrapped around him and his neck and John commented that they never heard a heart decel, which I attributed to the strength of my little man. They placed him on my belly and he looked right at me. Big open eyes, staring right for me. I don't know if that's a baby's reflex, but I will never forget him looking up at me, I would know my baby anywhere by his face right after that....I have tears in my eyes right now....he knew to look for his mommy. I didn't expect to, I really didn't, I thought it would take some time for me, I'm not a person to fall into anything quickly, but I was in love. They took him away and had him under the warmer (not part of my birth plan, but I didn't realize at the time that he was seriously having trouble breathing), so I kept asking them for my baby and seriously nobody responded to me. It was really frustrating. Finally the lady was done checking him and starts to get him dressed (after confirming that we were waiting on eye drops and the vitamin k shot thank god), and I got kind of snippy and said, just give me my baby like he is, don't dress him! She did, finally, and the first picture of the last post is me meeting Eliot. My little boy. The whole time John is stitching me up, I had a minor first degree tear, he said less than an episiotomy would've been. They weighed Eliot and everyone was very surprised to hear he was 9lbs, 5 oz. My big strong little man. He also had a 14 3/4 inch head. So yea, there was a reason he took so long to get out. Eliot is an eater, he took to nursing like a champ....nursed for 45 minutes about a half hour after he was born. Thank god for that, I was so worried breastfeeding would be a challenge. The only challenge is finding time to do things like write in my blog! This baby eats often!!!
I have to mention that Chris watched the whole thing, coached me through much of it, survived on little to no sleep, hospital food, was our contact to the outside world and our crazy impatient parents, and cut the cord...and he still finds me sexy. I love that man. He's also taken to fatherhood so well. I married the perfect person.
The first few days with Eliot were amazing and challenging. I had a lot of anxiety and was/am still worried that it could turn into post partum depression, but I'm doing really well this week. He's changed so much already, only 12 days later. I knew it would go fast, but I can't even keep up with his daily changes!