I started this post a few weeks ago, but so much has happened beyond taking care of a new baby since then that it has been nearly impossible for me to return and finish it. Rather, I should say, so much is happening, as the drama continues. In the last few weeks, I have called the ambulance twice for my Mother (who is still in the hospital with chronic and severe heart and lung issues), Mr. S was, as you might have read, very ill leaving me alone for several days, and Baby G was so colicky one day that we were instructed to visit the ER at 5 AM (the same day as one of my Mom's 911 calls). Luckily all is well with the little guy. I will detail all of this later, but in the mean time, I'm instead compelled to write about the best experience of my life thus far. So, here it is:
Final birth stats:
27 hours active labor
3.5 hours pushing
One fabulous, 7 lb. 10 oz healthy 20 1/4 inch long baby
We were set to induce Monday evening on the 16th of November. The plan was to have a foley catheter placed in my cervix and inflated in order to dilate it mechanically to approximately 3-4 centimeters before the need for drugs to help it along (not that I'm not a fan of drugs--clearly that's what got me here!). The family was all set to join us that afternoon, but when I woke up with contractions and some bleeding early Monday morning, we thought for sure the show was about to unfold on its own, and quickly. Everyone rushed up (they live over an hour away) leaving me to feel silly by afternoon. Except for some residual cramping and spotting, there were no other signs that any progress was being made so off I went to my final OB appointment that afternoon to get set up with my very own foley catheter.
As always, I researched the catheter and found that most people said, yes, it's placement is uncomfortable, but not excruciating. What I didn't manage to find was tales of having an immediate and believe me, very STRONG contraction right after getting it in, which is what I experienced. It took my breath away. As my abdomen hardened like a basketball, I grew instantly nauseous and left the office with severe cramps. While the nurse practitioner indicated that going into labor after the catheter placement is somewhat uncommon, my body managed to do just that and within a few hours, my consistent contractions were leaving me breathless at 5-6 minutes apart. While I was scheduled to check into the hospital at 9, I decided to go earlier and was already doped up with an epidural by the original appointment time. My goal has never been to be brave!
The Hospital Arrival
Speaking of which, epidurals are my friend. Seriously. Perhaps even my best friend. So, with a room full of Mr. S, in-laws and my Mom, we set out for a long evening. Despite the fact that the nurse was certain that birth would not take place before 8 AM, everyone insisted on staying overnight at the hospital, despite the fact that our house is only 20 minutes away and there were not enough chairs for everyone in the room (and a regulation preventing bringing more in).
All in all, the 27 hours spent in labor were interspersed with epidural-fueled naps, internal checks and a few scary instances of Baby G's heart rate dropping as a result of the Pitocin. I can tell you, there is nothing more terrifying than waking up from a deep sleep to a few nurses rushing in and a baby heart rate monitor that says 60. Luckily, immediately after backing off the Pitocin and flipping me on my side every 15 minutes, his heart rate climbed back up. As labor progressed, his heart rate seemed to also decelerate following each contraction, but would climb right back up, which worried the nurses. While my OB didn't seem nearly as concerned, I spent so much of the time with my eyes glued to the heart rate monitor that I was getting cramps in my neck. They eventually gave me oxygen to help baby G and while everything seemed to stabilize, I still slept with one eye open.
I was also told that baby G was posterior (head down, but facing the wrong way) and that plus my previously diagnosed narrow pelvis, we still had no idea whether we were in for a C section or a vaginal birth until the very end. And if a vaginal birth was to happen, it would likely require a vaccum to get him out of my cramped quarters.
Time to Push
Someone commented to Mr. S. after Baby G was born, "Oh, you're the one whose wife was 10 centimeters for a day." Yup. That was me. My OB didn't mosey in until late Tuesday, but before that time, the nurse was measuring me at 9.75 for hours due to a 'lip' that was still in the way on my cervix. My OB decided later in the day that the 'lip' could be pushed out of the way. He's also a fan of a 'passive' active labor, allowing contractions to push the baby down to decrease push time (haha, I pushed for over 3 hours-how much longer could that be??). When the pushing began, it was without any fanfare. Just one nurse was in the room and my OB had yet to join us. When he did, he sat for about 30 minutes manually rotating Baby G's head to get him to face the right direction and managed to do so quite successfully. Mr. S's Mom held one of my legs, Mr. S held the other and while my Mother tried to hold my neck, she was too weak and shaky (and was wheezing in my ear, which didn't make for a quiet calm), so Mr. S. took over leg and neck duty. I was in a good mood and much of the time was spent talking
I will say this, pushing, especially nearing the end, was some of the hardest work I've endured (making me question whether I might end up blowing some blood vessels in my eyes), but I did so with a smile on my face and lighthearted discussion, despite the fact that I had dialed down my epidural and was feeling every contraction. Oh, that and I tore and also was gifted an episiotomy, but frankly, that didn't phase me. Let's face it, after all this time and effort just to get here, what's 3 1/2 more hours of pain and hard work? I had the ultimate motivation and before I had even realized all of that time had passed, Baby G made his way into the world (without the help of the vacuum!).
At first, it was surreal. His cry sounded like a baby bird's and as a team quickly descended into the room, they lifted his gorgeous little body up and declared him a healthy little man. This time went by in a flash-there were tears, hugs, and at some point, my OB had delivered the placenta and stitched me up, though I hardly noticed. When they placed little G on my chest, I was amazed. I mean, I knew there was SUPPOSED to be a baby in that belly of mine, but to actually see a baby, a real, live, healthy baby that came from ME and who was MINE, was the most miraculous moment of my life. In fact, as I type this, I feel like my words are so ridiculously understated.
So, in short (yes, that was actually the short version!), I had a pretty amazing and actually a somewhat 'normal' experience. Normality for an infertile chick with a crazy family is in short supply, so when it does come, it is not taken for granted. But truthfully, I would have been glad to endure more abnormality to finally see Baby G home.