Most surreal day/night ever. I’ll fast forward through some details, but I think it’s important to get the main story written down. As far as labor and delivery goes, I think mine was pretty much textbook. But it’s my story, and therefore important.
My due date was February 22. A Wednesday. Of course I believed I would go against the typical first-time mom and have my baby on or before that date. This caused near tears when after my 40 week appointment that day, the on-call doctor (mine was out of the country of course…) said I wasn’t dilated at all. None. Zero. The following morning, my workout stayed the same, but near the end I started to notice a few cramps that caused me to rest more than usual. Later at school, my bad mood stayed and was accompanied by worsening cramps, that I attributed to the check-up the day before. They continued to worsen throughout the day, but after I called the doctor’s office, I was told that it was just early labor and that it could take a long time to progress into actual labor. I went home right after school, and asked my husband to do the same. We went to the grocery store to get a few items in case the “big day” came, and walking without a shopping cart to support me was almost an impossibility. The pains strengthened to the point where sleeping for 15 minutes without expressing my pain through screaming in a pillow and focused breathing was the new norm. Now with teaching, you can’t just call in sick to work. You have to arrange a sub, and make plans, for all 150 students. Around 4 a.m., I’d realized I was probably going to miss my first workout in months, but was still very insistent to my husband that I wanted to try to go in to teach. Too much to do, it was a special celebration day at school, just easier to go it, etc were some of the excuses. Luckily he didn’t listen to me and told me there was no way middle schoolers could take me seriously if I was leaning over breathing in pain every 5-7 minutes. I begrudgingly called in a sub and emailed her plans. I refused to go to the hospital at that time though, since I’d read too many stories about women being admitted, only to then be sent home for not being far enough along. I didn’t want more disappointment. We held out until around noon before heading 15 minutes to the hospital.
Once admitted and hooked the monitors, I was only 2 cm dilated. Only 2??? One of the many great nurses on staff told me they’d give me an hour and check again. If I’d dilated more, they’d admit me. Then she gave me the best advice: walking around DURING labor helps it progress quickly; walking around BEFORE labor really does nothing. My husband and I spent the next hour roaming the halls of the labor and delivery floor, pausing to lean over for each contraction. An hour later, I’d progressed enough to stay, and began making phone calls. Determined to keep progressing, and to not get the epidural until the halfway point, I continued walking around, IV intact. Finally around 6:30, the pain had brought me to tears. Luckily, I had made it past the halfway point and was almost 6 cm dilated. Bring on the epidural! At that point, I didn’t care how big the needle was. All I know was that all the pain went away after getting it.
***I know there are women who swear by all-natural births, the way it was meant to be; I’m not one of those women. If science created something to make the process a little easier, I’ll try it. And I’m not sorry.
The next few hours were sort of a blissful blur. I napped at times, or talked, or watched the monitors. They had to hook me up to some oxygen…mostly because my already-low pulse dipped lower after the epidural. The ONLY downside with the epidural was the catheter. Around 1:30 Saturday morning, I had progressed to full dilation. At the time, there was only 1 doctor on staff, as every other doctor was on vacation out of the country…what are the odds in late February?? So getting him in the room was a chess game, finding the right slot to bring him in amidst the 7 other deliveries happening that night. I wasn’t mentally ready for the pushing part, and I think my baby felt the same. I only pushed less than 8 sets of the pushing, but we had to take several breaks since every time I pushed and would get Maclin close enough to come out, his heart rate would dip in half. Once the doctor figured out how his body was turned and was able to rotate his head correctly, a few more pushes brought him right out, at 2:38 a.m.
Everything after that was in bits and pieces. Getting stitched, holding my baby, moving rooms, sleeping for from 4:30-5:30 before the nurses came in for their hourly check and press on my uterus, FINALLY getting to drink water, and the fiery pain of going to the bathroom for the first time postpartum. Holding my baby more and taking a small nap before the parade of visitors. It was quite the 48 hours from being admitted to being discharged, and as he grows I already feel my connection to those memories slipping away.