In light of Theodore’s 1st birthday, I’ve decided to share one of the most precious (and nerve wracking) experiences of my life. Please feel free to read on, and know that I’ve chosen to give you all the PG version of this story… You’re welcome (wink).
After gaining over 60 pounds in my pregnancy and being so terribly uncomfortable, I was ready to get that kid out of me by my 30th week. I prayed for a healthy baby, perfectly full-term at around 38 weeks (but really, I would have been okay with 37…). Many people in my life said to me “Oh no, you’ll go past your due date…First time moms always do.” And I immediately wanted to punch them. Past my due date? Are they serious? I’ll be lucky if I make it past tomorrow…Then, at 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant, this happened:
3:30 AM – I got up to use the bathroom for the 35547651352458 time that night, and as I walked back to my bed, it felt like I was still going. I thought I’d better walk back over to the toilet just to be sure. When I sat back down, I made the connection that my bladder was empty, and that no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t keep the water from coming out – My water had broken! So I waddled over to wake Christopher up with a towel between my legs. Then I went back to sit on the toilet as more water came out with every small movement while Christopher made me something to eat and packed up the car.
5:00 AM – We arrived at the hospital. My water breaking was like someone was tipping over a full glass of water with every move and every bump. I couldn’t believe how much water there was. Christopher wheeled me up to the Maternity Ward where they placed me in a bed to check how dilated I was. I had heard that they send you home if you are not very far dilated, or if your water is just trickling. The nurse came in for the exam, I told her there was no trickling happening and that her bed was already soaked just from me being there for 5 minutes. She checked the bed and said, “Yep, we’re admitting you.” Thank God.
6:00 AM – Still no contractions… the monitors said they were happening, but I couldn’t feel them. A few hours later, the doctor allowed me to eat some breakfast, which I was extremely grateful for the rest of the day.
12:00 PM – Now I could feel them. They were about 1.5 to 2 minutes apart, but nothing too bad. I always had pretty terrible menstrual cramps, and these contractions were about half as painful. But the nurses recommended that if I wanted to get an epidural, now was a good time to do it, so I did.
1:00 PM – Epidural from a very dry humored anesthesiologist. I felt pretty numb for the rest of the day. I tested positive for Strep B, so I needed antibiotics (which made me very nauseous) and was put on Pitocin to speed up the labor. I was about 4cm dilated at this point so Christopher and I spent the next 8 hours or so watching the Chef’s Table on Netflix.
3:30 PM – 7 cm dilated. Yay, this thing was really moving along!
6:00 PM – 7 cm dilated. Wait, that’s it?
7:00 PM – 7 cm dilated. Oh, come on!
8:00 PM – 7.5-ish cm dilated. F***…
10:30 PM – At this point, I knew I was more than 8cm, but the nurse hadn’t checked in a while. I begged Christopher to get the doctor because I could feel the baby’s head crowning. This feels like incredible pressure, especially when you’re lying on your back with your legs together. The doctor didn’t come in to check, but told Christopher that it was great news that things were moving along so to keep watching it… NO. Get someone in here NOW. The nurse came in and checked, turned to Christopher and said, “Would you like to see your sons head?” I was ready to start pushing.
11:00 PM – The nurse comes in saying that the doctor is busy delivering another baby, but that she was going to turn off my epidural so I had more strength to push, so to start pushing anyway and hopefully he would get there in time. I started. This was the most exhausting, grueling thing I have ever done. After feeling so tired, being so heavy and not as active as I had wanted through my pregnancy, pushing felt like moving mountains. The nurse kept on telling me to push harder… But not “that” hard. What? What the heck does that mean? I kept pushing.
12:00 AM – After an hour of pushing and the baby’s head not moving at all, the nurse went to go get the doctor. Christopher kept telling me my pushes were working, but I later found out that was just to keep my spirits up so I wouldn’t give up. At this point I was on the verge of loosing consciousness. This was the moment I actually thought to myself: “You know what? Let’s go home. I’ll come back tomorrow.” I was trying to come up with ways to convince the nurses that I could hold the baby in until then. Irrational I know, but that’s how tired and fatigued I was. The doctor came in and had me give a few pushes. He told me that the baby’s forehead was getting stuck on my pelvic bone and that it would take much longer for me to get him out. He expressed concern to Christopher that because of my fatigue, he was worried I would not be able to last another hour or two of pushing and asked how we felt about him using the vacuum just to help guide the baby’s head around my pelvic bone. I had read so many stories about why this intervention is not necessary, and to (almost) always say no when it’s offered. But by that time, I was vomiting and dry heaving with every push, and if I’m unconscious, I can’t deliver my baby. So we gave him permission to go for it.
12:15 AM – About 10 other people walked into the room at that point – the entire NICU unit it seemed. The doctor explained that this was necessary when the vacuum is being used. So, with about a dozen people there to witness the birth of my baby (and all the glory that goes along with it), he asked me to do just a few more pushes.
12:20 AM – 3 pushes later and still no baby. Might I also remind you that my epidural had worn off by now…So I was feeling a good amount of what was happening. The doctor looks up at me and says, “this is the one, let’s go.” I began to give one final push as the doctor reached into his pocket to pull out some very large scissors and made a rather large snip (if you catch my drift – yikes).
12:23 AM – There he was. Perfect and beautiful. I couldn’t believe it. He didn’t cry right away, which scared Christopher half to death, but he did cry very shortly after being born. Christopher was overcome with emotion, crying and weeping. I wept for a few minutes too, but that was all the emotional energy I could muster.
21 hours, countless tears, medications, and pleading… We had the loveliest, healthy little boy. We paused to enjoy some mandatory baby bonding time, as well as about an hour of *trying* to breastfeed. This was particularly challenging for me, as the last thing I was prepared to do at that point was spend an hour learning to nurse an extremely tired newborn. It was tough. But after family got a chance to say hello, we were moved into a recovery room to rest. We didn’t get much rest though, because a doctor/nurse came in every hour or so to check Theodore, every 3 hours to massage (sooo painful) my uterus and I was told to try to breastfeed him every 2 hours. So very little rest was to be had for anyone.
I look back on this time with so much fondness. I wasn’t sure that I would, because it was so challenging, scary and exhausting. But I look at Theodore sometimes and wonder how on earth he came about with so little blood, sweat and tears. His life is miraculous, and I’m overjoyed that we get to celebrate him a year later.
I hope you enjoyed reading that as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thanks for sharing in the goodness of our son.