An Unabridged Version of Labor

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Our first day together.

I still have the voicemail my doctor left on my phone at 5:52 am on July 10th, 2013.

She told me to come in as soon as I could, she wanted to see me before 7:00 am if possible. I actually remember it not being very clear to me whether I was just going in for a check-up or if I was going to be induced. I knew my doctor was about to leave on vacation, so maybe she just wanted to see me again before she left and set me up with one of her colleagues. I took my packed hospital bag with me anyways, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be admitted or not.

I was six days past my due date—they’ll let you get to two weeks— and at that point I was resigned to the whole labor process. I felt certain I would never go into labor on my own, my baby was huge (although measuring right on track, which is why they didn’t pop me sooner), and I just didn’t care anymore how he came out. They say that is when you know you’re ready, when you stopping caring and worrying, and instead of saying “I just want to have my baby” you are saying “I just don’t want to be pregnant anymore”. I’d had my hospital bag packed and the car seat installed since 35 weeks pregnant, and now I was almost at 41 weeks. I was so beyond “ready”.

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I sent this to my baby daddy the day after my due date with the caption: still pregnant.

There wasn’t a fear, or a nervousness, or even a butterfly-in-the-stomach feeling. All I felt was an overwhelming sense of “Let’s do this.”

My induction had been scheduled for the night before, but they had to cancel it because the hospital was too full. I blame it on those 50 Shades of Grey books, they created a mini baby-boom. Anyways, a room must’ve opened up because there I was, waddling into the elevator and up to the maternity ward.

I didn’t know when I entered those doors that I wouldn’t be walking through them again for 3 days.

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It happened quickly and slowly at the same time. They got me in a gown, my doctor came in a checked me, gave the go ahead to start pitocin and gave me a rough timeline for the day. I would probably have my baby by the evening if things went smoothly.

I have nothing against women who want to have their babies naturally. You are woman, hear you roar. We are amazing creatures capable of enduring so much. But what you are about to read is why I believe you should at least give birth in a hospital. Drugs or no drugs, at least be inside the hospital.

I had a wonderfully textbook pregnancy. Everything happened exactly as it should. Except one big detail: I didn’t go into labor when I should have. My baby was healthy, I was healthy, but apparently I made too nice of a home in there for him, because he stayed too long. He grew larger than what would be physically possible for me to fit through my body, but we didn’t know that yet.

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So the pitocin (labor inducing drug) dripped into my veins, my water was broken for me, and when I started feeling the contractions at like a 4 on scale of 1 to 10, I got an epidural. (I was iffy on an epidural, I wanted to go as long as I could without one, but once you get to a certain point it is really hard to sit still long enough for them to place it, and it makes things more difficult for you, your baby, and the anesthesiologist. Also, my anesthesiologist was about to be tied up in surgery for two hours). By 1:00 pm, I was numb from the waist down, contracting regularly, and waiting for things to speed up. I watched Harry Potter, I played cards, I got caught up on my favorite TV show. Friends came in and out, family too. It was very relaxed. I had no indication of what was coming,

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Notice their jackets and sweatshirts? I had the AC up on high. Apparently it’s normal for mamas to be super hot during labor and the days following.

Around 4 pm, when no one was in the room with me except my baby daddy, I puked. All over. My gown, the bed, the blankets. He called the nurse and helped me get cleaned up. I was hungry (I didn’t eat breakfast in the rush of getting to hospital that morning), but they won’t let you eat anything solid because so many women throw up during labor. I had tried jello, popsicles, sprite, broth. Didn’t matter. It was all back up now.

My doctor’s shift ended; I met my new doctor. They checked me again, and I was still at 4-5 centimeters. I had been walking around at 1 centimeter for a month, then when I got the pitocin I went quickly to 4-5 centimeters. Then I stayed there. All day.

I was still contracting right along, they got me set up for the evening, and instead of having my baby on the 10th of July, they told me, because of my slow progress, to sleep now and hope for the morning.

Around 11 pm is where I stop remembering most of the details. I have flashes of moments. Seeing the emoticon pain scale on the wall and realizing I’m a 10 I’m a 10 I’m a 10. The anesthesiologist was being paged back in. People were coming in and out of the room and talking over me. My best friend/birthing coach rolled tennis balls on my lower back to help ease the pain. My mom held my hand and I squeezed hers back. The doctor or the nurse or my subconscious told me to focus on a spot on the wall until the contraction had passed. Someone tried to put Justin Timberlake in the cd player because I wanted to give birth to Pusher Love Girl* but I said no, don’t.

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The tennis balls were great for counter pressure and they are supposed to save the masseur’s hands from getting too tired. They didn’t at the level of pressure I was asking for, so baby daddy and best friend switched off. That’s my mom’s hand I’m squeezing, look at how white her fingers are…. sorry mama.

I had gone from feeling the tiniest of twinges when I had contractions to feeling EVERYTHING. They tried to up the epidural—I felt really bad for the anesthesiologist, it was his last day before retirement and it wasn’t his fault I could feel everything. They checked me again, and I was at 6 centimeters but my cervix was starting to swell. The boost in the epidural wasn’t helping. As each contraction grew stronger I knew that my pelvis was going to break.

I’m pretty sure I said it out loud, but in my head I know I was begging for a c-seciton and a spinal. I knew a spinal block would work and stop the pain. And a c-section would get the baby out and that would definitely stop the pain. I was so nauseated at this point I couldn’t open my eyes. When I did I became so dizzy I felt immediately like throwing up. My contractions were 45 seconds apart, and I had no breaks, and my labor was growing more and more intense, but my baby wasn’t getting closer to coming out.

I remember even less. It was maybe 1 am. I was being wheeled to surgery, my baby daddy was somewhere gowning up. Then I was getting a spinal block and digging my nails into the nurse holding me up on the table. Then throwing up again, all over, and someone made a joke about how many gowns I was allowed to go through.**

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Baby daddy took a selfie while he was waiting for the surgery to start…. #abouttobeadaddy

Someone, probably the doctor, asked “can you feel this” as a scalpel was pressed to my skin, and I was pretty sure I couldn’t. But I could’t really move my face to talk to tell him that. My lips were heavy and dry and I wanted water but they definitely won’t give any water to the girl currently in surgery and whose been throwing up all over. My eyes were still shut so I wouldn’t puke again. Someone said that I was going to feel a lot of pressure and pulling and tugging. I think I asked my baby daddy to take pictures of the c-section—I really wanted to see it—but I couldn’t open my eyes and he was not so into the blood and guts stuff.

I don’t remember much, but let me tell you, I could feel it. I could feel what was happening. I didn’t feel any pain, but I felt all the motions. And then I felt the doctor pull my baby out of me, and I said out loud, “Oh, that feels so much better”. I am pretty sure the whole operating room laughed at me. It did feel so much better. Immediately, all the discomfort I was feeling was gone, and the nausea was gone, and a huge weight was lifted. Literally.

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Now that’s a fresh baby. Maybe 2 minutes old here.

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And that, dear readers, is why my baby got stuck and I had to have a c-section. I often get the jaw-drop reaction when I tell people how big he was, and then they look me up and down, and their jaws drop further. “That baby came out of you?!”

The doctor joked that he “made a 5 pound incision for a 9 pound baby”, and the anesthesiologist said “that baby’s as big as she is!”, and my baby daddy was saying “he’s so beautiful he’s so beautiful”, and I was just so glad not to be pregnant anymore. I wanted see my baby but I still was not opening my eyes much because now the exhaustion caught up to me and my eyelids were so heavy.  I asked what color hair he had because that would help determine what we would name him. His hair was dark because it was wet, but some how this connection was not made, and so I said “maybe Luke”.

The first person Eli made eye contact with. His 23 year old mirror, his daddy.

The first person Eli made eye contact with. His 23 year old mirror, his daddy.

My baby daddy held his baby, our baby, our maybe Luke baby. I turned my head trying to see, but I was still numb and stuck on the table while they stitched me up.  At some point I know I asked to see my placenta. It was so cool, but the poor thing was tired and used up. One week overdue and a 9 lb 2 oz baby really beats up a placenta.

My arms were heavy and still too numb hold my baby boy. We wheeled into recovery, it was going to be my chance to hold him finally, well kind of, they put him on my chest and I’m pretty sure I put my arms around him but kept my eyes closed and asked begged for ice chips. We did skin-to-skin for an hour and then baby daddy got to do skin-to-skin for an hour. Nurses monitored our vitals, measured Eli’s head and length.

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In recovery. If this is the first time I held Eli, I don’t remember it.

Then it was 4 am and it was over. We were wheeling back to my room, the room I had just been playing cards in earlier. The nurse was going to give Eli his first bath and baby daddy was going to watch and I kept saying how I wanted to watch but I couldn’t because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was so tired and my eyes were so heavy.

After the bath, we told the nurse to take him. We were so exhausted, and we just needed to sleep. It was just baby daddy and me now. And our baby. Our new fresh, perfect baby. Did you know they still say “ten fingers, ten toes” in the delivery room? Even though we’d already seen all of them on an ultrasound. Anyways, the nurse took my little baby boy out to the nursery. (They don’t usually do that anymore, it’s been found it’s best for the baby to stay in the room with mama and dada). We slept. A few hours went by and I woke up, it was morning. I wanted to see my baby—now that I could actually open my eyes and see— and I paged the nurse to bring him in.

It was the morning of July 11th, a new day, a wonderful new day. At 1:54 am my son had entered the world. After some much needed rest, I was ready to meet him. To stare at him. To ogle him. To fall in love with his face and his soft soft skin and his tiny toes and his strong fingers and his bright, alert eyes. I wasn’t sure how, but in those moments with him, everything was right in the world. That day, and every day since, the world has been a much better place.

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* because the name of the song says pusher, a baby born to JT will be born with a swag rating of 100, and because its a good upbeat song to workout to, and I equated labor with a going for hard run.

**I was very glad for the joking atmosphere in the O.R. If I had gotten to choose to have a c-section and been more coherent for it, I would have been right there with them joking and light hearted. I actually asked at one point while pregnant if I could watch my own c-section, they told me no because you go into shock or something…whatever. How many other times can you talk to the surgeon as they operate on you?! How epically cool.

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