Dear readers, my apologies for having not written in over two months. It turns out that having a newborn is not conducive to free time, let alone trying to write. Now that she is starting to sleep longer, I am going to attempt to share with you things I have learned or am learning. However, before we can get to that, we should start with Lil' Bit's birth. So, without further adieu, the main event.
WARNING: May be graphic.
When last we left our story, I was waiting not so patiently for my induction on November 17. So, November 17 arrives. My in-laws have come to town to help out after the baby is born and we are getting all things ready. At 3pm, I dutifully call the hospital to see if they have room for me. Turns out they are already full to bursting with birthing mothers and put me on "delay" and told me to call back at 5pm. [Ultimately, the 17th through the 21st will turn out to be extremely busy at the hospital, in part because many mommas-to-be are trying to give birth before an impending strike at the hospital (a strike that never comes, but gets very close).]
Five o'clock arrives and I call labor and delivery (L&D) again. They are still full and I am advised to call back at 7pm if I have not heard from them before that time. Each time the phone rings I hope it's them, but it never is. I call the hospital back at 7pm--I am nothing if not punctual. They inform me that they have deliveries happening that might make room and I should call back at 8pm. There's hope yet!
I make my 8pm call and am given a new plan. I am to go to bed and get some rest and call back at 7:30am to see if they have room for me to come in at 8am. So, induction will not start until Nov 18, but there's still hope Lil' Bit will share Mickey's birthday. It's hard to get to sleep, but I finally manage it. I am tired when I wake up early to make sure I am ready to leave the house at 7:30am if I am given the go-ahead. When I call, they tell me that they will call me back, but don't give me a time frame. To say that I am frustrated at this point would have been an understatement. I inform the family that we are not yet on our way and wait for the phone to ring.
I receive my call shortly before 8:00am--yay! I am to come in at 11am to begin the induction. Excitement ensues as does a little bit of terror. How long will this take? What will it be like? When will Lil' Bit arrive? I don't remember exactly what we did that morning, but I remember we ran an errand before we all left for this hospital. My in-laws followed in a separate car and we all arrived shortly before 11am. I got checked in and was put in one of the L&D rooms. I changed into my special laboring clothes, got hooked up, and waited for things to begin. Labs were drawn and they checked my cervix--still only 2cm dilated. The first doctor from the practice began the induction. I was given a dose of Cytotec (oral) and waited. My good friend Kate (Lil' Bit's godmother and a nurse) arrived shortly thereafter. She told me that only I could look good while laboring. It gave me a nice boost.
According to the monitor, I began to have really good contractions, although I never really felt much. However, I never got more dilated. At 5pm, the first doctor's 24-hour shift was over, and the second doctor from the practice came on-call. By 6:30pm, the consensus was that I could eat dinner and they gave me another dose of Cytotec. I had to eat a "healthy" meal because they were still checking my blood sugar levels. Bummer!
I finally started feeling real labor pains. Nothing terribly horrible, but they were certainly uncomfortable. Still, no change. The in-laws rented a hotel room to be nearby in case anything happened and headed out for the evening. It was becoming clear that we were not going to have a Mickey Mouse birthday. Still, I had friends and relatives with Nov 19th birthdays, so Lil' Bit was still likely to have to share.
Sometime in the early morning of Nov 19, the contractions finally started getting uncomfortable. Sometime between 3:30 and 4am, my water spontaneously broke. At this point, I knew I would be having my baby within about 24 hours. No turning back now. They checked me, but I still wasn't any further dilated. They did an ultrasound to make sure Lil' Bit was still head down--she was--and started me on Pitocin. Labor pains started getting painful and I couldn't get any sleep. I talked to the doctors about my pain choices--Nubain or an epidural. I was concerned about getting an epidural because of all the research I had done that said getting an epidural before you are 4cm dilated can slow down labor and often ultimately results in a C-section. However, I respond extremely poorly to all narcotics, so I wasn't really wanting to see how I responded to Nubain either. The truth was, if I didn't progress much further, I'd likely have a C-section anyway, which would require a spinal if I didn't already have an epidural. I realized that I had been laboring for roughly 16 hours with no progress--I didn't see how an epidural could slow me down any further. So, I took the epidural. Turns out to be the best choice I could have made for multiple reasons.
The first benefit from the epidural was that the pain relief allowed me to rest and relax my body, which immediately began to progress. At the 24 hour mark, we had finally reached 80% effacement and 5-6cm dilation. By 2pm, I was 10cm dilated and Lil' Bit's head had reached 0 station. The doctors said I could labor down for a while and she how she did on her own. I managed to wait about an hour before I decided that Lil' Bit wasn't that far away, I would try and push. [This is the one decision I would do differently if I had to do it all over again--I would have waited for her to labor down longer.]
Pushing is difficult. Everyone talks about the pain, but no one talks about the effort. Pushing requires using muscles you don't really use and to coordinate them in ways your body is not used to. After a few pushes, I really wanted to say--oh, wow, this is harder than I expected, can we go back to waiting? I didn't, though. I just kept going. At 5pm, the second doctor's shift was over and doctor number three from the practice took over.
I ate lots of ice during labor. In fact, it became something of a routine. I would feel the contraction coming before it would register on the monitor. I would signal one was coming. Phil would take one leg, Kate would take the other, and I would do three long pushes per contraction (I would count to 10 in my head for each push). After the third push, I would eat some ice and wait for the next contraction. It was, in part, because of this routine that I did not realize how much time had passed. I did notice that I was exhausted, however. By the end, I really just wanted them to take her out, but we were past the point of no return and it was all me. In the end, I had pushed for 3 hours. It was my first indicator that Lil' Bit was going to be like me--stubborn. She would not be rushed, thank you very much. Lil' Bit made her arrival at 6:45pm, 8lbs, 8 oz, 21 inches. I got to hold her briefly, but she would scream and then hold her breath (our second indicator of stubbornness), so she had to be taken off to the nursery to be given oxygen. This ended up being a good thing, because I was unable to care for her.
Because food service ended at 7pm, they ordered me a food tray to eat when I was ready--I got waffles! I never got to eat it, though. First, they finished up the delivery. Delivery of the placenta was painful. It was quite attached and, upon finally being delivered, was quite large--my friend pronounced it to be "as big as a cow's." The doctors then spent a good deal of time sewing me up. I had two level two tears (meaning it includes the muscles); one on each side. This was another reason I was glad to have the epidural--both the tearing and the sewing up would have been much more painful. As it was, I felt neither. I had lost a good deal of blood during delivery, in part because of the tears, and then proceeded to vomit up all the water from the ice I had eaten. The food got taken away. I began to experience erratic heartbeat and at one point they considered giving me a transfusion. I fainted several times, so they couldn't move me out of the L&D room to the Mother & Baby wing. [This was a problem for them, because they needed the room for other laboring women.]
Still, even with all this crazy stuff going on, I kept my humor. When the nurses attempted to take me to the restroom, I promptly fainted. They popped an ammonia popper and waived it under my nose and began repeating "can you smell that?" I answered, "Yes. It reminds me that I need to do my roots." This response prompted the head nurse to pronounce me recovered, so they hauled me back up, where I promptly fainted again. This taught the nurse that just because I can be funny and coherent doesn't mean I won't faint.
We stayed in the room until, at 1:30am, the nurse came in and announced that we were being moved to the Mother & Baby wing--they managed to get me in a wheelchair. Although she had been quite gruff and was not one of my favorite nurses, she did swing me by the nursery to see Lil' Bit before she took me to my room. It was wonderful to see her, but hard for me because she was in an isolette because she was getting oxygen. I put my hands in and stroked her for a while. It was hard to believe she was mine. She was beautiful--even if she had a major Aztec cone-head from the 3 hours of pushing. I cried a little and then we headed to the new room. There, I finally got some rest and got to eat some breakfast. Although I could sit up, I couldn't stand without blacking out, so my goal for that day was to finally get enough to eat and drink that my body could get better and Lil' Bit could finally join us. Until then, they took me by wheelchair to the nursery to try and breastfeed Lil' Bit. Needless to say, it didn't go well. But that is the beginning of another story...
For now, we shall remain wrapped in the memory of the excitement and revelation that I had managed to give birth to my daughter.