Tomorrow Parker will be 3 months…on one hand I can hardly believe its already been three months and on the other I can’t believe its only been three months. As I sit here – in the middle of yet another day of work fires – I realize I never wrote down Parker’s birth story. So here it is…mostly for the sake of helping me to remember my experience.
Let’s start the week before:
Picture me – huge round belly and tree trunk legs because I am so swollen, only ever in dresses because nothing else fits – waddling from our house to my in-laws (about a half mile) EVERY SINGLE NIGHT in an attempt to self-induce labor, despite the caveat from my midwife that walking DOES NOT bring on labor, but it will definitely bring on contractions. And every single night after this walk, I would have loads of contractions and Mike and I would time them and get all excited because as each day passed the contractions started to get closer together. And every single night I thought to myself “this is it, this has got to be it!”
Friday morning, we have an appointment at Kaiser to check how I am progressing. At this appointment I am 2cm dilated and convinced that every little cramp is the beginning of labor. My midwife informs me otherwise and schedules a non-stress test for me since I am almost at a full week late. She says that at this appointment they will schedule an induction, if I even make it that far.
Sunday night, we once again take a walk to Dennis and Gloria’s because I am beyond desperate to get this baby out. We have dinner and chat – and by chat I mean I complain for most of the night about how ready I am to have this freaking baby already. The next morning, we have our Non-Stress Test appointment which I am excited for because it means there is an end in sight. I have done my research as to the possible outcomes of this appointment (1: everything is good and they schedule the induction for some time in the next few days or 2: something is wrong and they immediately induce). As I have had a very easy pregnancy so far, I assume that option number 1 will be the case and don’t bother making sure my bags are fully packed because I don’t think we will really need them in the morning.
Monday morning, we have to drop the girls off at Bethany’s and we are running late as always and completely forget the bag and breakfast and barely make it on time. We check in and get settled for the test which is basically just an ultrasound. The tech comes in and begins the ultrasound and is making all kinds of alarming noises. This is the first point throughout this process that I have actually been really scared for my baby. I ask her – choking back tears – what is wrong and she nonchalantly tells me that I don’t pass. “What does that mean?” I ask. She responds simply with “well, it means you don’t pass this portion of the test.” No shit Sherlock, but what does not passing mean? I ask again, “what does that mean? For the baby? For me?” “Well, it means that you can’t leave. Do you have your stuff? I am going to go call and see if I can get a bed for you now, we are going to induce you because your fluid is low.” “What does that mean?” “Well, there is not enough amniotic fluid and so we need to induce you to ensure the safety of your baby.” Ensure the safety of my baby? Now I am completely scared and definitely fighting tears. She tells me that it is okay, the fluid level is not so low that the baby is in any harm, but that it is low enough that they don't want to let it go any longer. I look to Michael, somewhat relieved by this statement and realize we don’t have my bag and I am starving because we didn’t eat breakfast, but we decide to wait until we get into a room to get food and for him to go get the bag since I can’t leave.
We call everyone and let them know what is going on and about an hour later we are in our room (which is more like a small hotel room than what I had expected, complete with couch, rocking chair, tv, etc). The nurses come in and are introducing themselves and I ask where I can easily get food. The woman gives me a sad look, “you can’t eat! You’ve been admitted, all you can have is jello and ice chips at this point” my stomach gurgles. So as they are getting me set up for the Pitocin, Michael takes off to go and get our overnight stuff. They check me, give me an IV and start the meds just as Mike is getting back.
The contractions are getting very close together now – that Pitocin works real quick. The anesthesiologist comes in to talk about my option(s), though for me there is only one: drugs. I decide that I can wait a while until the pain is really bad. After about an hour on the Pitocin, I get a contraction that makes me burst into tears it hurts so bad and all of a sudden like 10 people are in my room and they are doing a bunch of stuff that I can’t see or understand. A really nice doctor walks right up to me and holds my hand as he tells me it’s going to be okay, the baby's heart rate has dropped because I had so many contractions back to back and that it’s like the baby is holding his breath. I am so scared at this point for Parker. They tell me that they are going to take me off of the Pitocin for a while to give me and the baby a little break, but that they will be back in an hour to start it up again.
In the meanwhile, Mike and I play cards and read and I indulge in television (since we don’t have cable).
4 hours later…they finally come back. The anesthesiologist comes and gives me an epidural – which is not nearly as intimidating as everyone makes it out to be. Yes the needle is big, but it’s not that bad. They give it half an hour for that to really kick in and then start up the Pitocin again. At this point I am 4 cm dilated. It is at this point that I also realize that I am SO HUNGRY. I ask the nurse if I can get some jello but she tells me that because I just had my epidural I can only have ice chips from this point forward *insert sound of heart breaking here*. I get some ice chips and munch them as the pain steadily increases despite the recent injection of highly numbing pain meds – my utmost respect to those women out there who deliver drug free. Mike has a 15 minute timer set so that we can hit the “more drugs” button as soon as possible. About an hour after they reinstate the Pitocin, the nurse checks and I am 6cm dilated and tells me to call her if I need her. It’s about 8:30pm at this point (not completely sure because the clock was broken in my room). I have to have the anesthesiologist come in several more times to give me a little something extra in my IV because I am in so much pain. I am just laying there in the bed balling as a squeeze Mike’s hand. Within 30 minutes I have this sudden urge to push and I tell Mike to get the midwife. She comes and checks me, but I am still only about 6.5cm dilated. She leaves and says she will check on me again in 30 minutes. 10 minutes later, I tell Mike he has to get her again because I NEED TO PUSH. I start pushing because it’s the only thing that alleviates the pain in any way. The midwife comes back and checks me again, I am 9.5cm dilated and she says that its go time. She starts to direct me in how to push.
And the pushing begins.
Roll this way, push push push. Roll that way, push push push. Roll again, push push push. The problem is that the baby is facing the wrong way (at this point I can’t remember if it was up or down, but in any case it was the wrong way). I am in so much pain and so tired because it’s been forever since I ate something other than ice chips – which Mike is feeding me every few minutes. Two hours pass and I am exhausted. I ask the midwife how much longer they are going to make me push before they move to plan B. She says at this point I just have to keep pushing. It has now been two hours and just under forty-five minutes and in sobs, I ask her again “how long are you going to make me keep pushing? I can’t do this anymore.” By “this” I mean the roll, push, roll push routine. In the middle of all of this, Mike has become her second set of hands. He is simultaneously letting me squeeze the crap out of his hand, holding my legs up as I push, helping me rotate every few pushes, feeding me ice chips and telling me it’s okay and will be over soon. Just as they are going to get the doctor to prep me for a c-section, another midwife walks in and determinedly tells me we are going to do this here and now. She pops up these hand grips from the bed and has me pushing as hard as I possibly can. Within minutes the baby’s head is visible and I keep pushing. After probably ten minutes of solid, no screaming allowed, non-stop pushing, I feel the ring of fire and the baby’s head is out. Deep breath, bigger push, the baby is out and on my chest and I am instantly in love. I take a deep breath and am in awe of the little crying blood and goop covered ball on my chest. They take him, cut the cord and start to clean him up as they have me continue to push out the placenta. Once that is out my words were something along the lines of “oh dear God, I feel so much better, the pressure is finally gone.” Then my next question is “is it still Monday?” (We were hoping that he would be born on Monday so that there was a little bit more time in between his and Hailey’s birthdays, but he had a different plan) The midwife tells me that I have torn and that she is going to stitch me up after she gives me a little extra pain medication since it seems my epidural has worn off. She finishes up after about an hour and I get to hold Parker for the first time. Pure happiness and elation. I tell Mike that this is probably the proudest moment of my life and that I can’t believe I actually did it because towards the end, I really didn’t believe I could.
The three things I remember most but can’t really describe are the ring of fire – which must have been when I tore, the feeling of Parker on my chest and watching Parker getting cleaned off as they stitched me up. He was born at 12:19am on Tuesday August 23rd, weighing 7lbs 10 ozs and measuring 19.5in in length. Perfection.
And now, three months later I think about how far we have come from that point. How far we have come from gently passing him back and forth like a china doll. How far we have come from sleeping on the big chair in the living room for three nights straight when we first brought him home because it was too uncomfortable to move from the stitches, etc. How far we have come from being scared that I wasn’t feeding him enough before my milk came in and therefore letting him nurse for 5 straight hours until my nipple actually started bleeding. How far we have come from waking up every hour to feed him. I am so proud of myself and so proud of Parker for all of our accomplishments over the last three months and am so excited for everything that is ahead of us.