Sunday, October 13, 2013

A birth essay: LTW

Last Saturday (October 5th) marked my due date and today we celebrated Levi's three week birthday. In some ways it feels like he has always been hanging around here. Other times it is hard to believe that three weeks have already passed. He has assimilated into our family quite nicely. He definitely is one of us; hungry, hairy and requiring healthy amounts of sleep to maintain a pleasant disposition. 

I love reading birth stories, I feel like it was a quality I gained during mom initiation or something. So, before the details get too foggy, I'm going to jot down the tale of how we became a party of five (I only have one more "five" pun in my arsenal, I'll save it for the right time.)

So, the weekend he was born. I had just turned 38 weeks and my mom took us to get our nails done. Afterwards, I distinctly remember thinking, "alright, now I can have this baby." This was a turning point for me because for about a month prior I had discouraged Zach from a lot of baby talk because we had so many things going on (selling the house, moving, work stuff, etc.) I couldn't process bringing a baby into all that craziness. But finally, by that point, I was starting to feel like we were good and getting settled into a nice routine. Although I'm not one of those crazy people who claim to crave fruit and yogurt during their pregnancy, I am one of those weirdos who actually enjoys being pregnant. That being said, once I hit full term my body is pretty much over it and is ready to be done. 

I woke up to a very strong contraction around 1 am on Sunday, September 22nd. The day before, Zach had a plan. It involved getting me sushi and forcing me to waddle around the mall. The night ended rather uneventfully but I did have a feeling of impending change. Back to my 1 am wake up call. I quietly got up to see if I could get the contractions to become regular and busied myself by taking both a shower and a bath, doing some dishes and I think a load of laundry? I couldn't get them consistent nor any closer than 9-10 minutes apart but I could tell they were being productive and I just knew (knew!) today would be the day. I woke Zach up around 6 am and told him my plan. We were going to get the boys ready and I was going to try to make it through church. Afterwards we'd come home, have Shep take a nap, pack our bags, hand children off to trustworthy adults and then, I predicted I would be ready to head to the hospital. Spoiler alert- that's exactly what happened.

We got to church early, ate some donuts, chatted with a bunch of friends. I must have been pretty confident in my mother's intuition because I declared to everyone (even strangers) that today was going to be the day, goshdarnnit. I timed my contractions throughout the whole service but they still hung out around 8-10 minutes apart. On the way home Zach suggested we have Shep take his nap at Grandma Darlene's house since she was going to keep him once it was "time" to go to the hospital, that way if we needed to leave before he woke up he'd already be with her. We also called my mom for her to come and get Reagan. I busied myself by finishing packing and tidying up the house. My general rule is I don't head to the hospital until my contractions are 4-5 minutes apart and until I cannot walk or talk through them. No matter how much activity I did, I couldn't get them down and even though they were seriously strong, my stubbornness would not allow me to break my mental rule and head to the hospital (Zach's urging made no difference.)

Leaving for the hospital! 38 weeks.

Then the turning point came. After complaining several times to Zach that I kept uncontrollably peeing myself (our love knows no bounds, and this story just got very personal) I realized that it could actually be my water breaking/leaking. This was followed by a stop-me-in-my-tracks contraction. I firmly told Zach to put the suitcase in the car, it was time to leave. In the 6 minute drive to the hospital I had 3 more contractions but I insisted Zach park and we walk in together because I didn't want to appear "dramatic" being dropped off. My dress was also wet because my water started legitimately leaking in the car on the way there. This is about 5 pm. 

While in triage a tech walked by that looked very familiar. I told Zach to ask Abby if she was married to his college and baseball friend Cory. Indeed she was! Fun times. A nurse quickly popped in to take down my name, then left. While she was gone, my contractions really started rolling in. About every 1-2 minutes there was a biggie. It was taking her a while to get back and I was starting to see that this wasn't going very well. It seemed like I was progressing quicker all of the sudden. I still hadn't been checked but mentally, I was disappointed with myself because I felt like I wasn't handling the pain as well as I had in previous labors. I should have prefaced this post by saying I deal with pain in a weird way. I internalize everything, get really quiet and calm, close my eyes and basically become a breathing statue. I don't know why, it just works for me but unless you know this coping mechanism ahead of time it can be easy to overlook/disregard. Zach could tell I was really feeling everything now. Bless his heart, but I try to keep this from him as long as possible because he worries and turns into a movie-scene "someone get my wife help!"-like very quickly. Being the serial down-player that I am, this totally embarrasses me.  

Anyway, just as he is ignoring my pleas to not go and get our nurse she finally walks back into the tiny triage room. This is the part I am forever grateful and in awe of. Apparently one of the nurses saw my name come in and recognized it. It was Amanda, our labor nurse with Shepherd and also possibly my favorite person in the whole world. She warned the nurse evaluating me that "if this is the same person I think it is, she will act like she's not in pain but she'll actually be way farther along than you think. After her water breaks she has the baby almost immediately." I'm so thankful things worked out the way they did because they tested and saw it was my water that broke and took me immediately to a room. On the way there I made it very clear I would like my epidural as soon as possible. Amanda and Abby's pretty angel-faces greeted us in the room and helped me gown up. I sat sideways on the edge of the bed with my feet hanging down, I told myself I would sit like this until the contraction passed then I would swing my feet up and lay down. Joke is on me because the contractions never stopped and so until it was time to push, I sat sideways; half on/half off the bed.  

Suddenly I felt very nauseous. I knew this meant I was in transition. I also knew if I said it out loud the nurses would affirm this suspicion and I wasn't ready for that yet. Like them agreeing would make it real. Externally I was mute. Internally I was freaking... but we just got here! but I haven't had my epidural yet! my body is being ripped apart, I totally can't do this without medicine! I whispered to Zach that I was nauseous. The nurses understood. I was checked, I was 8.5 cm. I then told Zach, who had been standing next to me and blowing on my face this whole time, "I need my epidural NOW." I tried to use as firm of a tone as I could muster but I felt very weak. He consulted with Amanda, she stopped checking me into the computer system and left immediately to go get the anesthesiologist (see why I love her.) 

A few minutes later, around 6 pm by this point, the anesthesiologist was in my room. He must have been prepped on the sitch before entering because he quickly just asked me to give verbal consent to the procedure and got to it. The epidural process doesn't bother me much, I just keep my eye on the prize. Ahhh, pain relief. Sweet sweet relief. (Oh yeah, and having the baby of course too.) The anesthesiologist warned me it would take about 30 minutes for it to fully kick in. But as soon as I swung my legs up to sit normally on the bed, I noticed my body doing what I could only describe as "convulsing." I informed our nurse Amanda, she checked me and declared me to be complete. She also threw in that the "convulsing" I was talking about was my body involuntarily pushing. Say what?! 

She left immediately and called my doctor (who was on Jersey Ave and got there within minutes.) Zach left immediately to get our bags out of the car because that was where the camera was. He also tried to let family/friends know what was going on, most of which were out of the loop. Because of how quickly things moved it was pretty much like two texts "hey we think the baby will be here today!" and then "hey the baby is here!" Once he got back I had a slight freak out moment where I realized I was going to feel evvvverything come push time and also, holy cow how did this happen so fast- I'm not ready! Zach proved himself a worthy husband and helped me focus/reassured me. That guy is invaluable to me I tell you.

This part always gets me because all modesty goes out the window. People rush in and out, wheeling tables in with what look like 15 different kinds of tongs, everything is covered in blue sterile cloths and beds are broke down and into position. All this business happens around you and you don't even bat an eye. By 6:15 pm Dr. Fulk was in the room and magically sterile draped and I was pushing. My mental dialogue for the next 15 minutes was "ouch ouch ouch, oh my gosh pushing sucks, burning, dying, I hate this, please god just let me be done already, ow, can't do this, no seriously I think I'm dying." It couldn't have been any more than 5 pushes and out he came, 6:34 pm! Zach announced him to have the goods, they laid him on my chest and he cut the umbilical cord. We gushed over how much hair he had and how he looked kind of like the boys but still was his own little person. Mostly we just finally breathed. Oh, and thennnn my epidural kicked in. 

One of the best pieces of advice given to me was from my friend Sam, who had just had their third child a few weeks prior. She said... don't feel guilty, take the extra day in the hospital. And I am so glad I did! Although I missed the boys it was wonderful to spend the extra time with the new baby, it was really the only time life slowed down. Plus my recovery nurses (Rachel and Joan, whom I also had with Shepherd) were out of this world amazing. Also I'm not going to complain about having cable tv, peaceful showers, and unlimited ice water (why does styrofoam make ice water taste sooo goood.) It only took us 3 days but after we finally named him, they let us go home. 


bnlacombe said...

I loooove a good birth story. Can't believe you did it without an epidural! I deal with pain exactly the same! But i also got my epidural at 3 cm. ha! Congrats on the Levi!!! I hope your world isn't too chaotic. But this is the 3rd, you guys are pros. I still think we need a play date.

Marjaneh Sara said...

Great story. I love birth stories. I love hearing about bringing babies earthside :) I want to let you know I had a literal 45min labor and by the time I got to the hospital not only was I complete, my son had crowned. Haha. I know te burning you are talking about. Unlike you I couldn't keep quiet. The second his head/shoulders came out I SCREAMED. Haha. I'd do it all over in a heart beat though :)