Aahhh, nothing like a first pregnancy! For me, it was such an easy ride. Well, not the first trimester of nausea and light headed-ness. That I could have done without. But I glided through those last six months and loved every minute of it. I told people I wanted to be pregnant forever. Yeah, sickening I know. (don’t worry, I had more pregnancies so I had a taste of what a “real” pregnancy is like. Three times over.)
Hubby had to leave for training during my sixth month. THREE MONTHS of training, 400 miles north of where we live. Not so good. But seeing as how he’d been waiting almost two years for this training that was for a new job, I “let” him go. I was tough, I could handle it, after all, I had McKee to protect me. Wussy Tough guard dog that she is. I will admit though, that the payoff for him being gone was that I could eat whatever funky combination of atrocious food I wanted in total, complete, secret. That was a pregnant woman’s dream. I did get to see Hubby every other weekend. Some times he’d head home and sometimes I’d make the drive up.
I didn’t want to know what gender the baby was. I wanted to be surprised. Hubby on the other hand, did not. So I had my OB (who I’m sure thought I was the most neurotic patient he’d ever had) do the ultrasound to find out the sex. But I told him NOT to tell me. I just wanted him to write it down for me so I could give it to my husband. Obediently, he did just as I asked. (A good OB knows not to question his irrational patients. Unless of course he’s come to work wearing a cup) But Hubby told me over the phone (while I was still at my appointment) that he thought I was going to cheat and actually take a look before I gave him the paper. So the girls working at the OB’s helped me out and got on the phone to tell Hubby what the baby was and then they proceeded to tear up the paper in front of me at his request! There went my chance at changing my mind about not wanting to know! Just kidding, I really didn’t want to know.
I have done a lot of reading up on births and I knew that the birthing class I wanted to take was The Bradley Method. So my dear sister-in-law, B, single at the time, willingly came along as my “partner”. She was/is a brave soul. All the other couples that started with us knew we were sisters and that my husband was out of town. But we did have a few couples that joined up a little late and they had no idea about B’s and my relationship. We got some funny looks let me tell you! It was a great class. I highly recommend The Bradley Method as it is SOO informative! You will be as prepared as you possibly can be.
One thing I do need to let you all in on is the fact that the women in my family do not deliver on time. Our uterus’ are crockpots. Crockpots on low I might add! (Let me reiterate that I said crockpots not crackpots) We usually take a couple weeks extra to get our babies completely “done”. I had discussed with my OB how long he would let me go and he would only let me go up to 42 weeks. After that it would be induction time. I was comfortable with that idea. I really wanted to avoid an induction and I thought that 2 weeks was reasonable for him to offer. I knew that asking for anything more than that would be met with an immediate “no”, especially from an OB. I also had him sign off my birth plan (like every other obedient Bradley graduate). There were a couple things he didn’t agree with. I didn’t want an iv, I preferred to stay hydrated orally as long as I could. He was fine with that as long as I had a heprin lock. A heprin lock is basically the part of the iv that sits on/in your hand. But it isn’t hooked up to anything. I thought that was a reasonable compromise. I also must point out that on my birth plan, I requested no episiotomey as long as it wasn’t an emergency situation, that I preferred to tear. Through all my reading and study, I firmly believed that torn tissue healed faster and better than cut tissue. He agreed to this. Little did I know I would find out his true feelings about this request.
So 40 weeks rolls by. Nothing. 41 weeks rolls by. Nada. My mom flew in to help and we started daily walks up the local “mountain”. Now, mind you, it was the end of July. It was hotter than Hades and my hands, feet and ankles lived to show the world just how much water I was retaining because of the heat. Our walks were early in the morning so that it was as cool as possible. But ladies (are there any men out there reading this?!), I’m here to tell you, exercise does NOT induce labor! Not at ALL! It did, however, provide fantastic entertainment to the rest of the early morning exercisers to see me waddling up the steep incline with my arms above my head (I was trying to reduce the swelling. Not that it worked. But I was new at this. I was grasping at straws, folks), sweating like a pig and as red as a beet. At my 41 week appointment, we set the induction date. At this point, I didn’t care. I was so ready to meet my baby. I’d started having acid reflux at night for the first time and I didn’t care for that one bit. This pregnancy was starting to act like I really was growing another person inside of me! How dare it?! We arranged for Hubby to fly Thursday (the date of the induction) and stay for the weekend since he wasn’t due back until Sunday night. We waited around all day, waiting for the phone call from the hospital, telling us to come in and when the call finally came, it was just to tell us that they’d had a bunch of laboring women come in and could I wait until later? After muttering under my breath about the nerve of those other women, I replied that I could wait (I love it when they make it sound like you have a choice) and that I’d be willing to come in anytime, no matter the hour. So we started winding down. Hubby arrived home and we all started to get ready for bed. It didn’t look like we’d get in that day. Just as I was starting to fall asleep the phone rang, it was 11pm. They had a bed available if I wanted it. Did I ever want it! I was on a time crunch here after all. Hubby was leaving in less than 72 hours! I wanted to get my cervix to that hospital and have them make it start working, darn it! There was no way I was going to risk Hubby missing this major event. So we went in.
When I’m bored, I make ugly faces…
After we got situated in the delivery room, the nurse came in to put the Cervadil tablet on my cervix. This was more like it! I was excited, I was ready, I had read everything I could get my hands on, I had already attended a couple of nephews’ births and a friend’s, I had taken my Bradley classes, I had my birth plan, I had B on one side, Mom on the other, a cup of ice chips and Hubby snoring in the corner. This is NOT a staged photo:
Poor guy had been up since 5am. That was 20 hours ago at this point. The nurses took pity on him and set up this cot for him to nap on while things were quiet. He even had ear plugs!
After sitting in bed for an hour, anticipating the least little twinge of a contraction, of which there were none, the nurse said I could get up and walk. So walk we did. I walked and walked and walked. The delightful thing is, exercise actually helped this time! I only paced the halls for a couple hours (with some monitoring in between jaunts) before contractions started getting pretty intense. When I got to the point of not being able to walk through the contractions or even lean against the wall during them but actually had to lean over an empty gurney in the hall, with my knees going weak underneath me, I decided to head to my room for the remainder of my labor. I was really worried I’d loose control of my bladder during contractions since that was the sensation I was getting and the nurses had sent me out with no undies or pads. And not only that but I wasn’t having fun anymore. All of a sudden I was getting a glimpse of what I’d gotten myself into and I wasn’t sure I wanted to stick around for the rest of it. We headed back so I could use the bathroom. The nurse came in and checked me. I was 4cm dialated. I’ll admit, I was disappointed. I knew a 4 was good considering it’d only been a couple hours but I was a tad worried about how much worse this was going to get. After a little while of “nice”, regular, hard contractions, a nurse came in and let me know they were going to start some pitocin since I was dialated enough now. I looked pleadingly at B to intervene. She did. She asked if it was possible to just keep going as we were since I was contracting well, they were regular and strong. The nurse agreed to call my OB and ask for the approval not to start the Pitocin. He gave it. I was soo happy. I was having a hard enough time managing what was on my plate already. After a little while, I got up to use the restroom. I peed, flushed and then continued to sit because of another contraction. Then, as I prepared to heave my pregnant self off the toilet and head back to bed to relax myself before the next contraction, I felt a pop and heard water gush into the toilet. But when I looked in the bowl of the toilet, I couldn’t see anything different than a freshly flushed bowl. I let the others on the other side of the door know that I thought my water broke. Hubby was awake by now and I could hear the flurry of excitement as they all rushed to hit the call button for the nurse. If I wasn’t having another contraction at the time I would have poked fun at their hysteria but I was to preoccupied in willing my body to relax and “ride the wave”. No more liquid flowed other than the initial gush and the nurse came and forcedhelped me back to bed. Did she test the liquid to see if it was amniotic fluid? Nope. She just took a look and didn’t see anything else leaking. So she patted me on the leg, told me I was wrong and left the room. Whatever. I knew she was the one who was wrong. I just made myself take comfort in the fact that the fluid was clear. A sign that Baby was handling labor well.
Pretty soon the nurse came back in and started fiddling around in the room. I watched with detached interest between contractions. I think I zoned out for a little bit, so intent on willing every muscle in my body to stay relaxed. When all of a sudden I realized that she was pulling off my sheet and lifting my gown up. I looked at her and realized she had a RAZOR in her hand! I shot a horrified look at B and then at Hubby. What in the name of all that is good is this woman doing with razor in her hand and my crotch exposed??! I was pretty sure she wasn’t there to shave my legs. After all, I’d taken care of that already! Again B jumped to my rescue and let the nurse know that I didn’t want to be shaved. The nurse looked amazed that I would actually turn such a delightful free service down. Umm, hello, I never put my preference to be razor-free during labor in my birth plan because I didn’t think they did that anymore! Didn’t that go out the door with leeching, blood-letting and other such medival practices?! Seriously though! The nurse left the room, tossing the unused razor in the trash on her way while I did a quick, mental dance of joy.
Well, it wasn’t but a few intense contractions later that I felt the undeniable urge to push. Gals, if you haven’t had a baby yet and you wonder if you’ll know when it’s time to push? Well, if you are drug-free, let me tell you, YOU WILL KNOW! I was suddenly naucious (it felt like my uterus was pushing up as well as down), so, once again, there was a rush of barely concealed hysteria as two of my helpers scavanged around for something for me to puke in while the other called the nurse, letting her know I had to push. The only bowl-type item in the room was a bunch of those inserts you put under the toilet seat for someone to pee into so you can see it/monitor it before it’s dumped out and flushed. But I didn’t care. Heck, at that point, it could’ve been a USED one and I still would’ve shoved it under my face. I was so blown away with all the overwhelming sensations that were coursing through my body. I was laying on my side, the cool lip of the toilet “bowl” under my cheek (I can’t even begin to tell you how soothing it was. Even after my nausea went away I didn’t let them move it. I managed not to throw up after all) and the nurse came in to tell me how she’d “just checked” me and that it was “too soon” for anything to have changed. But after watching me struggle not to push through a contraction she agreed to check me. 7cm dialated! Not bad for 20 minutes. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a 10 and so I wasn’t “allowed” to push yet. I had to hang out, legs crossed, eat a bonbon or two and take a nap until my cervix corresponded with my uterus. Yeah right, piece o’ cake. It’s strange but at this point in the story, I don’t remember the pain, although I’m sure it was there. But I was so distracted by trying to keep my body from pushing (I was chanting over and over, “Relax, relax, relax”) that it’s all I remember. Well, that and totally failing at not pushing at the peak of each contraction. I just couldn’t prevent it. Trust me, I’d read enough horror stories regarding swollen cervixes from early pushing that I was using every ounce of control I could muster.
Then the shakes started. And I knew. Oh. Boy. Did I know. It was like sitting in the front car of a roller coaster and halting at the very crest of the first big plunge. You know, you instantly know, that as you see what lies ahead of you, that you want off that ride PRONTO! I started a dialogue of babble in my head that was basically me freaking out, pure and simple. But the rational side of my brain (it’s a small portion for sure) started to tell my irrational side that this was Transition. I was showing text-book, classic examples of transition. And while the rational side of my brain rejoiced that soon this would be over and I would be holding my brand new baby, the irrational side of my brain just screamed and begged for my mommy (and she was in the room, that’s how nutty I was).
So I continued on like this, with the battle of the minds going on for awhile. I think about 30 minutes or so. (can you believe there was no clock in that room? Course, if there had been one, it would have required me to open my eyes to be able to read it and that wasn’t going to happen) And then finally, those blessed words, “you can go ahead and try pushing now” were spoken.
And the clouds parted and sunlight streamed into my soul and I sang a halleluja song.
Well, not quite, I was drug-free after all. I did a few practice pushes, relieved to finally let my body push. My OB came in. And I pushed. And he left. And I pushed. And I pushed. Did I mention I was pushing? Yeah, well this was the first and last time I pushed from a flat-on-my-back position. At one point I asked if they could raise the head of the bed so that I could sit up more since I knew I wasn’t pushing correctly. I could tell I was just pushing her right into my bum but I couldn’t figure out how to push her up. Well, they raised it for me, a whole whopping inch and half. Thanks guys, that made it so much easier! Needless to say, I pushed for about an hour. Finally, during my last few pushes (my OB finally returned) I realized she’d moved and I was actually pushing her out.
Hello Ring of Fire, nice to meet you! Don’t take this personally but I totally hate you with every fiber of my being!
But I knew I had to keep pushing in order to “put the fire out”. So push I did. Baby came out all in one push. I had prepared myself for pushing the head out and then having to pant through the wriggling of the shoulders before pushing the rest of the body out. So when this warm, wiggly, delightfully slimy weight was put on my belly, it took me a second to realize it was the baby! I was done!
THEN the clouds broke and the sun shined on my soul. For real. I was gazing at my beautiful baby! They announced it was a “she” as they wiped her off and I tried to get my hands all over her. I remember all the nurses “ooh”ing and “aah”ing over how good her color was and how clean she was (that’s what ya get when you have a slow-cooked baby, not a speck of vernix!). They had never seen a baby with such good color. Her apgars were 9 and 10. Can’t get much better than that. After a minute or two they took her to the warmer so that the OB could work on me. So I lay there, straining to see my baby girl for what seemed like eternity. Then it suddenly dawned of me that the OB sure was taking a long time down there. So I asked him how bad the damage was. He told me I didn’t want to know. Umm, that sure comforted me. What did he mean by that?! What if I did want to know?! Did I?! So I lay there for a while longer until I couldn’t stand it any more. I asked him again how bad it was. He paused what he was doing, looked up at me from between my stirrup-ed feet, and said – and I QUOTE, “It looks like a bomb went off between your legs!” Who, in the name of all good bedside manners, EVER says that to a new mom??!!! I was stunned. I had no response (later I wished I’d had enough strength in my leg to kick upside his head. Or maybe thrown my placenta at him). I lay there, wondering how I would ever function again if what he said was true. Thoughts of my sweet baby girl fell by my bedside as I wrestled with this new little gem of information.
Finally, everyone was done. They all left us alone and my sweet nurse (I’d wished she’d been there for my whole labor but she actually came in right when I started pushing) helped me get skin to skin with Poppett as she attempted nursing for the first time. Sweet Nurse praised me for doing such a good job and reassured me that wanting to be skin to skin was fabulous because it’s so good for the baby. I was amazed at this bundle of life nestled against me. She was so warm. She smelled so good. She made such cute little noises. And her eyes… she looked at me. She knew me. She recognized my voice. For better or worse, I was her mom from here on out. The awesomeness of God’s gift to me was overwhelming. Hubby and I checked out every milimeter of her body. She was perfect. Totally perfect.
Which was much more than I could say about my body at that point. I’ll spare you the details. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been but it was pretty close. Some of the pieces of the delivery just didn’t add up in my mind. But I was hazy about a lot of things during my labor, as intent as I was on my task at hand. So later I asked my three amigos, who were present at Poppett’s grand arrival, details regarding the OB to find out what he had done or not done. To sum it up in one word? NOTHING. Not a darn thing. The guy might as well have sat on his hands. He did not help stretch me to make crowning easier nor did he apply any sort of counter-pressure to slow her super-fast exit. If he had done either of these two things, I would have had a lot less damage, if any at all. I really feel that he believed I needed a good taste of what tearing was. Why else would he have described my damage in so callused of a way? Heck, I could’ve stayed home and had Hubby deliver her and probably had a better outcome. Ah well. She was healthy and I had survived, that was what was most important.
Poppett was born at 7:19am, 7lbs 9oz and 21 inches long. God provided a “family” room for our overnight stay at the hospital, meaning that it was private and we had a queen bed so Hubby could stay with us overnight. It was wonderful. Our time with Hubby was so limited and to get to be together the whole time was absolutely God-given. No doubt about it. I would awake several times that first night because of Poppett’s little noises, only to see Hubby already up and bending over her, tending to her little needs. It warms my heart and makes me fall in love with him all over again every time I think back and remember that picture of him and her in the wee hours of the morning. He was soaking up as much of her as he could before he had to head up north again. It was so hard to let him go and even harder for him to leave. Thankfully, it was only for two more weeks. And he came home on the weekend between. Little Poppett, my mom, his family and I drove up for his graduation when she was two weeks old. Hubby had a grand time walking around with her, proudly showing her off to all his mates. It was my turn to just soak it all in. Part of me had wanted to be able to give him a boy first. You know, that whole father/son manly thing. But as I looked at him, proudly carrying her around, I knew he wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. And I sure wouldn’t either.
I love this picture because of the way Hubby is holding her tiny foot.