October 4: J and I loaded up the car Thursday afternoon with our two pillows, suitcase, purple bouncy exercise ball, and a canvas bag filled with things to pass the night away. See, were were thinking that Thursday night would be slow and incredibly boring-seeing as I wasn't going to start the Pitocin drip until Friday morning. (The Pitocin drip, for those of you not in the know, was what would start the contractions.) Thursday night was for "ripening my cervix." That's what they said-like I'm a plum. So my plum butt was ready for a slow night.
We got to the hospital late-blamed it on traffic-and were filling out paperwork when my Dr. walked into the office looking for us. It took another hour to get settled into the labor and delivery room-which was gorgeous, really-hardwood floors, dim lighting, and a nice couch for the helpers-which J didn't get to enjoy but the at least the option was there. I undressed and put on the horrid hospital gown, plum butt waving in the wind, and sat on the bed and got hooked up on both of the monitors and the IV. With so much attached to me I was worried that I wouldn't have the freedom of movement I wanted if anything started. But, hey, nothing was going to happen until the next morning, right?
I was given the pill that would "ripen" me up and J and I sat about watching TV and joking like we do. We were nervous and excited but relieved that we had at last started our labor. About an hour after the tiny, tiny white pill I started to feel some small contractions-nothing big or scary but enough to make me pause a bit. Still, in the back of my head I had the feeling they would just go away. So I was scared they would end but excited to start feeling something-anything! Truth be told I made a deal with my body that if it was ready I was rearing to go. And it seemed like I was ready.
Four hours after the pill I was dilated to 5 cm. Another two hours after that I was at 10 cm. That's right, people, six hours from 0, zero, zilch, nada to 10. On the monitor recording my contractions I remember seeing them go from three minutes apart to mere seconds. I also remember crying out about needing more time in between them. Otherwise I was pretty quiet, it was very much an internal struggle. Definitely like nothing I've ever experienced and like nothing I can think of. I will say that at one point I just had to focus on the moment and whatever would help me get through the next contraction. Everything else fell away from thought. It was just me, J, and the contractions.
It helped to march, of all things, not sure why. It wasn't something we learned in our Childbirth ed. classes but it felt right and good to march. March from the bathroom door to the bed, march next to the bed, march in the shower, just march. By marching, swaying while holding onto J's back and using this counting and breathing technique we learned in our classes I got through most of the labor sans meds. It was at the point when I was watching my contractions go from a minute apart to a few seconds and they weren't letting up that I started to think about the epidural. I have to say that J and the nurse were great-they never once pushed the epidural on me. J said later that I looked like I was dying and I know he was worried. He was, I have to say, absolutely wonderful, better than wonderful. Supportive and loving and always at my side-like always. He held my hand, swayed with me, stood in the bathroom and held the IV while I marched in the shower, and didn't say a thing when I pooped during pushing.
That's right. Poop. In front of people. I admit this was something I was dreading-the embarrassment! The horror! Truth is I didn't even notice. I think I saw myself poop in the mirror while I was pushing and I remember looking over at J and apologizing-damn my politeness. But I was pushing so, gosh darnit, who cares? I pushed for over an hour before I stopped because D's heartbeat was falling with every contraction. The nurse tried putting me on my left side, my right side, and back again but it wasn't helping and his heartbeat continued to fall with every push. He was also face up and still had to get through the smallest part of my pelvis so the Dr. on call felt it would be safer for the baby if we had a c-section. Turns out he also had the umbilical cord around his neck. At the time I just wanted him to be ok and after looking at J for reassurance we agreed. Now I wonder how often this happens, and if we really needed to-but what's done is done and, like I said before, I just wanted us all to come out of this healthy and happy. No use thinking about, or feeling bad about, what we thought was best at the time. And I refuse to feel bad about it.
Half an hour later we were in the operating room listening to the troop of people chat and crack jokes and ask about each other's weekend plans, all the while some adult contemporary radio station played Dido. J was told he had to sit on this stool, in case he decided to faint we guess, and a few minutes later there was D. He cried the second he was out-a sound I will never forget and will always cherish. From that moment on all I wanted, with everything in my being, was to see and hold him. J walked to the corner where they cleaned him up, weighed and measured him, and went with him to the nursery for the short time they had him there. I was put back together and carted to the post-op room where the nurse kept asking me if I could move my legs yet and I kept willing my little toes to move. J came in a few times with pictures on his iPhone and I kept pining to hold D. Finally! The nurse said they could bring him in and there he was-I admit it, I cried. He's beautiful. How could I not?
And such a serious face, too! We stayed at the hospital for four days while we both recovered. I was ready to go home the next day but oh well. It wasn't my favorite time, but I'm incredibly thankful to all the great nurses at St. Joe's who helped me out while I was there. And after a bad day of jaundice we got to take D home.
The first two weeks have been tiring and fantastic. My Mom was here and was an enormous help the first week and a half; she cooked, she cleaned, and was supportive of everything we were doing. She was so terrific I cried several times in a hormone induced sadness when I thought about her leaving. I'm still sad she's not here. So I end up calling and emailing her a lot instead.
D's wonderful, so it helps when the absolute terror that this little being is in our charge hits me. We've had a few scares: jaundice at the hospital and the day D pulled off his umbilical cord, but otherwise our lives has simply become a cycle of nursing, pooping and sleeping. And that's pretty great.