I realize this post is a long time in coming. Those of you who followed me back in December on my Facebook fan group got regular updates, and sporadic ones after that, but I’ve completely neglected my blog. I’m so sorry.
You like to think you know how things will go when having a baby, especially with all the advice and tips you’re given, but nothing can ever fully prepare you as a first time mom and there are always little twists. Things didn’t go quite as I expected, though I’m thankful to say I do have a healthy baby boy. We’ve just had a couple of bumps along the way. Hence, my delayed post.
First off, I never went into labor. My doctor wanted to induce me at thirty-nine weeks because of my “advanced age” at thirty-seven years old and the risks that come with that. I insisted on waiting until I was full term at forty weeks. That landed on a Sunday, though, so we waited one more day to induce. I hoped that whole weekend I’d go into labor on my own and was definitely ready because you do become rather uncomfortable at that stage and just want the baby out. It didn’t happen, so I checked into the labor and delivery ward at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning (December 18th). At first I was by myself, but my husband came as soon as he got off work an hour later and my aunt joined us a couple of hours after that. She helped be part of my support team since my mother (her sister) passed away when I was a child, so I didn’t have her to be there for me. Thanks so much, Aunt Connie!
They started the pitocin on a very low dose around 7 a.m. and it really wasn’t bad at first. Regularly after that, the nurse came to up the dose a bit more. Still, as the contractions began soon after, they didn’t seem too awful. I even dilated a bit more in the first couple of hours. Here is a picture of me that actually turned out rather good despite my being in early labor (keep this one in mind for the after giving birth photo of me, which is quite different).
My OB arrived a little after 9 a.m. and broke my water. I’d been fearing that part because I knew things were likely to become painful after that. The water breaking itself wasn’t bad at all, to my relief, and the contractions still weren’t too unbearable at first. After about thirty minutes, though, they definitely became rather painful. By a little after 1 p.m. I was in complete agony. My husband slept through the painful part where I tried all sorts of breathing tricks and positions to make myself more comfortable. With the IV and monitors it was impossible to walk, which would have been nice. Thankfully, my aunt was there to help and I appreciated her support.
Around 1:30 p.m. my contractions were coming less than a minute apart so that I couldn’t get any relief before the next one began and I’d dilated to 5cm. Despite my hoping to make it further along without pain killers, I was done. There is no pain like labor and nothing can prepare you for it, especially if you have pitocin making it worse. I decided that I’d lost any fear I had of a needle near my spine. They could do whatever they wanted as long as they made me feel better.
The nurses were prepping me for the anesthesiologist when my husband finally woke up (the man can seriously sleep through anything). He asked why I was getting pain killers since I’d hoped to avoid them. He was lucky I didn’t have a knife within easy reach. My aunt informed him that if he’d seen how much I’d been suffering for the last few hours then he wouldn’t ask that question. So at around 2 p.m. I got my epidural. I thought it would be awful to get, but in reality the needle hardly hurt at all. It didn’t even rate on the pain scale compared to my contractions. I had to wait another thirty minutes for it to fully work, but my God did it make a world of difference. It’s hard to believe anything can make that kind of pain just disappear. I think I fell in love with my anesthesiologist right then, she did such a great job.
My father showed up about an hour later. Apparently, once I told him I’d gotten an epidural he decided it was safe to come visit me. I think he was worried I’d start using all my military training on anyone near me once the pain got bad. My husband is lucky to be alive is all I have to say. Anyway, whenever the doctor or nurses needed to examine me, they just pulled the curtain across the sitting area of the hospital room to provide privacy (it was a large room that I got all to myself). It worked well so my family could stay close and I was rather cheery for the next few hours.
My labor progressed fairly fast after that. For some women, the epidural will slow their labor down, but for women like me it actually speeds it up because we’re no longer fighting the pain. By 6 p.m. I was fully dilated and effaced and they could see the baby’s head and hair. The only trouble was he wasn’t dropping low enough. They had me try a few different positions to help him along, but he wasn’t moving.
We spent two hours with me pushing and the doctor trying to manually turn him with her hand because while he was upside down like he needed to be, he was facing sideways, which caused him to get stuck. I was willing to try anything to help him move. I should note by this point the epidural began wearing off on my left side. That sucked, but it enabled me to feel when my contractions were coming, so at least there was that advantage when trying to push. It also gave me enough feeling that I could try some different positions in the hopes it would help.
I was so desperate to have a vaginal birth. After more than two hours of pushing (it was around 9 p.m.), I was getting exhausted, but still I wanted to keep trying. The OB shook her head, saying he wasn’t budging and there was nothing more she could do to move him along. He would have to come out via cesarean. I cried and asked if she was sure. She gave me an apologetic look, knowing how much I’d wanted to avoid a c-section, but we had no choice.
All the way to the OR I continued to cry and everyone consoled me the best they could. Once we got to the doors, my husband couldn’t join me at first until they finished prepping me. I pulled myself together, knowing I was doing what was best for my baby. With my water broken that morning, we could only wait so long to get him out. I gazed around at the surgery team and realized every one of them was a woman. It was kind of surprising, but I loved how supportive and kind they were. By this point, I’d vomited a few times because despite the fact I couldn’t feel much pain, my body still felt it on some level. A nurse had to hold a bag next to my head so I could puke sideways one more time before they opened me up (by then the anesthesiologist had fixed my epidural so I couldn’t move from the waist down anymore). She also poked a needle on my tummy to be sure I couldn’t feel anything. I was totally numb.
They finished prepping me and let my husband join me at my side. He was back in my good graces by then. It’s sort of a blur from that point on until the OB pulled the baby out. Her first words were “This is one big boy. Where was she hiding him?” The last ultrasound at 34 weeks had estimated he’d be between 8 1/2 to 9 pounds, but when my OB checked my fundal height each week after that I’d been measuring small. No one guessed he’d be that big.
She lowered the curtain a little so my husband and I could get a peek at our son, Adam. It was like love at first sight. He did look big, not that I had a lot of experience in the matter of sizing babies, but the best part was seeing him for the first time and hearing him cry. The poor little guy had a huge bump on one side of his head from me trying so hard to push him out (took a month for that bump to go away). I felt awful I’d waited as long as I did to do a cecarean, so at that point I had no regrets about not having a vaginal birth anymore. One can only imagine what it must feel like for a baby going through all that and then they’re born and poked and prodded from the moment they take their first breath.
They put him on the scale and he came in at 9 pounds 6 ounces (or 4.25 kg). It’s no wonder I couldn’t breathe or get comfortable in those final weeks of pregnancy. The poor guy was crammed in there tightly, which is why he hadn’t been able to move for delivery. My husband was allowed to take pictures as they wiped him off and got a diaper on him. He also got to re-cut the umbilical cord.
The hardest part about a cesarean has got to be that you’re stuck on the operating table through all that, hearing your baby cry but unable to reach him or do anything. It was the longest wait, though they really do try to hurry. I was so happy when they finally brought him to me and I was able to hold him while the OB stitched me back up. Never in my life had I seen anything more beautiful or felt such strong emotions as I did when they tucked my son onto my chest. It was amazing…and only took ten years of trying to get pregnant. Even now, I look at him and can’t believe he’s really here. I’d lost all hope of becoming a mother, so I definitely cherish having him that much more.
I was able to hold him for about ten minutes or so before they took him back and put him in the bassinet. Once the OB was done with me, they moved us all to a post delivery room. For an hour we had “family time” so it wasn’t until after that my aunt and father were able to come see the baby. I was holding him and not letting go, but by then it was after 11 p.m. so they needed to head home soon anyway. They returned the next day to see him again.
I didn’t sleep that night. Partly because the nurses were coming and going so often that it was nearly impossible and partly because I was so excited to have my baby that I couldn’t sleep. I worked on trying to breastfeed him (that first twenty-four hours is the toughest!) and I just soaked him in. He was my little miracle and I didn’t want to miss a moment. There was a lot more to the four days I stayed in the hospital, but I’ll get into that in my next post since this one is already super long. For now, I’ll just share one more picture taken the next morning by a professional photographer. We were lucky the baby cooperated so well and I did fix up my hair and make-up after getting a shower.