Spoiler alert: this one has a happy ending. 🙂
As I mentioned in the last part, I left the hospital and went home for the weekend. Words can’t describe the defeat I felt; but I also realized that I had time to finish everything around the house. Although my midwives were adamant that I ‘take it easy’ over the weekend, I couldn’t sit still. I reorganized the nursery, I unpacked and repacked the hospital bags, picked out a new outfit for coming home, gave the dogs extra cuddles. Truth be told, there was also quite a bit of pity partying happening that weekend too, but I’m pretty sure it was justified.
I had an appt scheduled on Monday morning for follow up, and this time I knew I needed Jeremy at the appointment with me. We headed over to the clinic and began the waiting game again. In an all too familiar routine, I was called back and sat down at the blood pressure machine. Sure enough, it was high again; the nurse didn’t even have to tell me- she saw it in my eyes when I read the numbers on the screen. We went back to the exam room and I waited for the m/w to come tell me the news. To my surprise, she didn’t want to jump the gun on the induction immediately. She had me to another non-stress test after taking another urine sample. Maybe 15-20 minutes later, she came back with good and bad news. Good: baby was still healthy! bad: they found elevated protein in my urine. Time for induction round 2. She did tell me to go home, get a good lunch, gather my thoughts, and head back to the hospital in a few hours.
Jeremy and I left the clinic, walked to the parking ramp and got in the car. The moment I sat down, I lost it again. It’s not fair. I don’t want to go through this again. I think it was worse because I *knew* what I faced. more hours in that stupid hospital bed. more waiting. more drugs. more nurses. more midwives. more waiting. But I sucked it up and went home, arranged for my cousin to come hang out with the dogs, wrote up a note on their usual routine. (I remember being REALLY concerned about this.) We grabbed lunch and drove back to the hospital. At least this time I knew where to go. Same nurse was working when I checked in. I just said “hey. I’m back. did you guys miss me??” I also made them swear they wouldn’t reassign me to the same room.
I got settled into the new room, in an oddly familiar routine by this point. It took awhile for them to find someone who could get my IV set up, because my veins were completely shot by then. The midwife came in to say hi and set a game plan. She checked me first, and good news! I had actually made a little progress while hanging out at home. Baby girl had moved down a little, I was more dilated. She sounded pretty hopeful the induction would be much smoother this time. She asked if I wanted my membranes stripped too ‘just to see what happens’. That was… weird… feeling. But it did kick in some contractions, which was a good sign. She got me started on the pitocin again almost immediately, and I settled in attempting to rest a little. It was about 4pm on the 27th for anyone keeping track.
By about 6pm, she came back and broke my water, joking that they couldn’t send me home again now. (It’s common to start a 24-hour timeclock from when your water breaks to needing baby out.) That was such a strange sensation; it was a lot like the ‘gush’ they portray in movies. But the part that surprised me was that I still felt it over and over again with every contraction after that. Right around the time she broke my water, they also started the pitocin again. I was having pretty frequent contractions, but they weren’t very regular; the hope was that the pit would help even out the contractions and strengthen them a little to get the show going.
Around 8pm I opted for an epidural. I originally wanted to avoid the epi as long as possible (if not altogether) but after 3 days of ‘labor’, I just wanted relief and a chance to rest. Once the epi was in, I was actually able to doze off for a little bit off and on… until it wore off. Yup. I think it was around 2am that I realized I was feeling everything again. Every contraction- the pain and pressure. I begged the anesthesiologist for something else and she was able to give me a boost of the epi or something. I never got completely relief though. Around this time, they also turned off the pitocin completely when my body finally decided to cooperate. The contractions continued, getting more intense (I finally made Jeremy turn the monitor away so I would stop staring at the little number that measured my level of contraction) and more regular. That whole saying that they feel like waves? So accurate. I told myself over and over again “this one will pass. It’s one step closer to being over” with every contraction.
By 4-5am, I was in serious discomfort. The anesthesiologist said she only had one option left for drugs, so she encouraged me to hold off a little longer. She was surprised that I was in so much pain, and to be honest- I think she doubted me… until she did the little poker test thing. I wasn’t looking, but I could tell whenever she poked me, and I was only numb down to my belly button or so. Not so helpful when all the pain is below that. I could move my toes/feet too at that point. She left with a promise to come back and check on me soon.
Around 8am, she returned, to me- in tears. She knew I was in serious pain at that point, and went to grab the last of the drug options (I really can’t remember what it was. But I think she gave me a shot of narcotics into the epi line?) It was enough relief to at least lie down for a few minutes. The m/w came back and did a check, saying it would probably be soon! I was fully dilated and soft and all of that good stuff, but baby girl was still a little too high to actually try pushing. She told me she wanted me to ‘labor down’ for a little while in hopes of an easier delivery. For those that don’t know, ‘laboring down’ sucks. Basically- you allow your body to continue contractions and the natural process that forces baby further down the birth canal… all while resisting the natural urge to push. The idea is that you don’t waste energy pushing, and wait until baby is much closer before really working with the contractions.
So anyway. I did the whole “labor down” thing for about an hour. It was absolutely awful. I felt like I was going against every natural instinct in my body (which I was), and it hurt. It wasn’t painful, per se, but so uncomfortable. The worst pressure I’ve ever felt. People joke that it feels like you need to take a huge monster crap, and I think it’s pretty accurate. Except 100x worse. The nurse came in at one point to check on me (graciously, they had left me mostly alone all morning) and I BEGGED her to let me push because it hurt so bad. She said she’d go grab the m/w, but asked if I wanted her to check me quick. yes. PLEASE tell me there’s been progress and this has all been worth it. As soon as she started to check, she grinned and said “I can feel her head! You’ve made so much progress!” ohthankgod She paged the m/w right away and told her I was ready to push. (This was about 9:45am)
I don’t remember much about the first half hour or so of pushing. It was very repetitive, and involved a lot of awkward readjusting trying to get comfortable (ha) with it all. The nurse I had was absolutely amazing and I owe a lot of it to her. At one point during pushing, I remember looking at her going “I’m going to puke. Please tell me that’s a good sign!” (it is. it’s a common sign of ‘transition’). Although I was 100% convinced I didn’t want Jeremy to be anywhere down there during baby girl’s birth, when the time came, I did not care at all. about anything even remotely related to decency or humility. So he watched, all of it. And watching the expressions on his face was more motivation that I ever could’ve imagined. The feeling of pride I could see and seeing his awe in what I was doing, what my body was going through, was better reassurance than anything else at that moment.
Quick pause. Because I just need to remind you all that this is a birth story, and I want all the dirty details recorded. So I’m going to get detailed. Probably more than you ever wanted to know about all that. So continue with that in mind 😉
Alright. To continue. I distinctly remember the last few minutes before Lo made her dramatic entrance into the world. There was a time when the m/w announce she was crowning and asked Jeremy if he wanted to see, which of course he did. She then asked him if he wanted to touch baby girl’s head; he looked at me nervously as if to ask permission. Considering all he’d seen at that point, I was beyond being concerned about anything, so of course I nodded. He completely beamed. More motivation to get that kid out. I remember the nurse calling down to the desk for extra help (a nurse for the baby), which was such a relief to me. She must almost be here! I’m almost done!
I can still feel (because at that point my epi was completely worn off. i.e. no drugs at all for the actual delivery. just keep that in mind) the moment she crowned. “They” aren’t joking about the ‘ring of fire’ warning. it was such an intense pain it took my breath away. Literally- the nurse had to keep reminding me to breath in, breath out. At that same moment, I felt it– the moment baby girl punched her way out. She came out with her first next to her head, and I felt myself tear at that second. There may have been screaming and there may have even been some profanity. But I did it. I got my daughter out, safely. except. apparently you have to birth more than just the baby’s head… like the rest of their body. I tensed up and refused to push again… until the asshole baby nurse asked if I was just scared. nothing like a little stubbornness to motivate me. I gave another full-effort push and felt the rest of her body come out. I seriously wondered if I had just given birth to a slimy alien. No one prepares you for that bizarre feeling.
Within less than a minute, they had her on my chest, and I panicked internally. ohshit. this is a real live human. mine. she is completely dependent on me. what do I do? who thought this was a good idea? who in the world is crazy enough to trust me to be a parent?! within minutes, the nurse (the nice one- mine) was helping show me how to nurse. To my surprise, baby girl (still didn’t have a name) figure it out immediately. I, on the other hand, physically seemed to figure it out, but emotionally/mentally, I was a little shell-shocked still. wait. my body is providing all the nutrients that this little human needs to survive? and I grew this?! I made this?! this perfect little baby? To say childbirth is a roller coaster of emotions is an understatement.
They gave us awhile to just stare at her. and hold and cuddle and to, just, meet her. It was such a strange, amazing experience. To finally meet this little baby that we’d been planning for and talking about for 9 months. She was more perfect that we could ever have imagined. Even today, we hear often that she is the perfect combination of Jeremy and I. Instantly, I recognized his ears and his mouth; she had my eyes and my nose.
I tried to use her as a distraction while the m/w and nurse finished up the rest of the ‘afterbirth’ process. Another thing people don’t always warn you about, but I wanted to write down here. Because it was part of the experience. After the baby comes out, there’s still the placenta and all the other… stuff… that was hanging out in the uterus. True sign I was with a m/w practice? They asked if I wanted see or even keep (!) the placenta. no thanks. They also worked on kneading my stomach to help my uterus start contracting back down. I was unprepared for just how uncomfortable that would be. But it paled in comparison to the, uh, ‘repair’. Turns out Baby Girl did some damage on her way out- I tore pretty significantly when she came out hand-by-her-head. I needed quite a few stitches, and it was bad enough that the midwife wanted the OB to do it, because they’re actual surgeons. I knew it was bad when the OB came over and went “oh! this is going to hurt” before she started sewing me up. I also need to point out that they didn’t numb me first (OB didn’t realize my epi had worn off). Needless to say, I screamed and told her to give me something before she started sticking a needle in me. For the record- I had 2nd degree tears up and minor tear down. At one point she was worried about my recovery, because I tore very close to my urethra. I am happy to report that all is well and I healed just fine in the long run. (Though I won’t lie- it hurt. a lot.)
But back to the mushy stuff. After about an hour or so, they brought Baby Girl over to the scale and weighed and measured her. She was born at 19.75″ and 7 pounds 2 ounces- significantly smaller than the “at least 8 and a half pounds” they had been telling me. But she was born with a huge head, which accounts for the guesses that she was going to be a bigger baby. They wrapped her in a blanket and I was able to snap this first picture of Jeremy with his daughter…
At that point, I felt such an overwhelming sense of… comfort. and love. Our little girl was here and we were a family. We made it through a pregnancy and a trying labor and birth. And we did it together and it was all completely worth it; Lorelei was part of our family, and our lives would never be the same.