Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Birth Day

This is the way we met the newest member of our family.

The day before, Friday, I had a constant dull, nagging backache I hadn't had before. Foolishly, I called the doctor, thinking maybe they wouldn't dismiss me with a wave of a hand as just another one of those 9-months-pregnant women looking for hopeful signs. Alas, they did. So I went about my day.

Fast forward to 2:45 on Saturday morning. I woke up and was laying there thinking about inconsequential things when I literally felt a pop! Suddenly, my nagging backache was much worse. And I realized my water had broken.

To understand what happened next, you have to know what happened with our other two kiddos. My water broke and...that was it. No contractions, nothing. We sat around for hours, waiting. Finally, at the hospital they had to get things going for us. With the other two, they were born a full 15 hours or so after my water had broken.

Even though third babies tend to come faster, I figured I had, if not all the time in the world, plenty of time. Especially because, while my back was hurting badly, I wasn't feeling those classic contractions everyone talks about.

So Dan and I got up. Wouldn't you know, he had a hugely busy day scheduled over at the business. He also wasn't quite prepped for it and had planned on heading over there early Saturday morning to do a few things. "Why don't you go over now?" I suggested. It was sometime past 3am. "We have time."

So Dan showered and left the house and I puttered and try to tie up a number of last minute loose ends. Sometime in the next hour I started to feel what I thought might be contractions. What did I know? I'd never felt a real one, only those induced by drugs. And of course they didn't feel the way they described in the books, and the timing didn't seem to match the book descriptions, either. Nothing wrapped around from my back and tightened in my stomach. Everything just HURT, but mostly in my back. And they didn't seem to come in waves that were predictable. More like calm and then a bunch of waves not spaced evenly.

I called Labor & Delivery and learned my least favorite OB doc from my practice was on call that night. Darn. A one in six chance, and he was the one available. I entertained the idea of waiting awhile to call, thinking maybe someone new would come on in the morning, but after a bit I knew there was no holding off. Maybe it wasn't textbook, but I was in labor. The doctor told me to head in. I called Dan and told him, "I think you need to come back."

A few minutes later I realized I'd have to wake the kids. It was about 5:45. There was no time now to wait for family to come stay with them. In typical fashion, Anna woke blearily while Ethan bounded out of bed. "I can't wait to meet my new friend today," he announced. While they dressed I kept being driven by pain to sit down. I knew very shortly I was going to become very scary to my kids.

"Ethan," I said when I had a breather. "I'm going to be in a lot of pain, and I don't want you to be afraid. That's just what happens when people have babies. I'm going to be okay." He seemed to be listening.

Thankfully Dan arrived not long after, and we all piled into the car. The sky was still dark and the air frosty. Then we began our 15-minute caper to the hospital. For the first time, I realized how close we were cutting things and wondered how we'd gotten to this point. Two hours before I'd barely felt contractions. Now I was gripping onto the door for dear life. I thanked God our ride was 15 minutes and not 50. I wondered how in the world I was going to get out of the car and walk inside.

Just as we pulled in and parked, I got another break from the pain. We had to walk down an endless hall and take the elevators. Once we got into Labor & Delivery I tried to explain to the staff that I wasn't doing well. Yet still they had me standing there, signing my name on papers while I struggled to hold the pen and focus.

Finally -- joy of joys! -- they let us all back there and got me hooked up to monitors. Dan looked at me and looked at the kiddos. "I have a bad feeling I'm going to miss this," he said. It was true. He couldn't keep the kids with us much longer or they'd be traumatized.

"Why don't you take the kids to the waiting area and we'll send someone in a little while to sit with them?" a kindly nurse suggested. In a moment, they were gone...and then I entered into some sort of Twilight Zone punctuated by lots of pain and voices all around me. There were people there, and I'm assuming most of them were nurses (although at least one or two were residents), but I could barely focus on their faces. For some reason, they didn't seem to have my records. So, as they hooked me to IVs and monitors, they kept throwing questions at me. Do you have any allergies? What is your blood type? that took all of my effort to answer. At one point they asked me to roll onto my back. I never want to feel pain like that again. I can't even describe what I felt.

A side note here: I always wondered what it would be like to go through labor naturally, even though my experience with an epidural with the other two went just fine. I toyed with the idea, but truly thought I wouldn't be able to handle it and I shouldn't get my hopes up.

Now we were at a point where there was no turning back. The staff told me I was 8cm dilated. There was no time for drugs to kick in, even if I wanted them. I didn't have the time or effort to digest that. Staff people kept telling me how to breathe.

It's funny, the things you think in these moments, even while feeling halfway delirious with pain. I remember trying to breathe and feeling like I wanted to push and then thinking about how all of this seemed very much like a TV-sitcom kind of birth, as if I were some sort of cliché. Images of Family Ties and Growing Pains "very special episodes" momentarily popped in my head for a moment, and if I hadn't hurt so darned much I would have smiled. Apparently I watched way too much television as a kid.

In the haziness I learned the doctor hadn't arrived and some on-call resident would deliver the baby. "Don't push yet!" they were yelling to me. At some point Dan had come back in the room. There was activity all over the place but I have no idea what people were doing. People told me to push and not push. I tried to comply from my loopy land of lots of pain.

And then, she was here. All seven pounds, 12 ounces and 21 inches of her. Chloe Grace arrived at 6:59 a.m. We had checked into the hospital at 6:30.

It goes without saying that suddenly, I felt MUCH better. And better still a few minutes later when they let me hold her, and she looked up at me with a rather quizzical look on her face.

A few minutes later, the kids came in. The nurse looking after them had let them eat cake for breakfast. Now they had a new sister. Talk about a good morning.

We are all very much in love, even if our girl does not like to be put down and does not like to sleep alone. Sleep? What's that, anyway?

Lesson learned here: don't always trust the "experts." Don't trust books and your friends' stories. Listen to your body and by all means, get to the hospital unless you feel like becoming one of those six o'clock news stories about giving birth on the side of the highway. And just because something happened one way once or more than once does not in any way mean it will happen that way again. That's not just a birth lesson. That's an everyday life lesson.


Emily Murphy said...

Heheh, oh Deb, you poor thing but you did it! And Chloe is beautiful! Congratulations sister!

Unknown said...

Oh wow, you are Wonder Woman! I loved reading your birth story. Reminded me so very much of when I had Benjy. (My husband advised the nurse to stand back when she explained to me that it was too late for drugs.) Chloe Grace is just beautiful. Blessings to your family.

Deenie said...

Congrats to you and your family. I sincerely wish you all the very best!
1/2 hr? That IS cutting it close. *whew*

SuzGriffin04 said...

WOW DEB! You go girl!!!!! So proud of you. You are a ROCK STAR. And Chloe is just so incredibly sweet. Congratulations. Let me know what I can do for you. xoxo

Christine said...

Wow Deb!! I guess you got that med free birth after all and you ROCKED it!! What an incredible story and a beautiful little baby to show for it. Enjoy her :)

Unknown said...

what a story. She is beautifully peaceful. Glad that everyone got through this adventure well.

truthinlove said...

Fantastic to read! Great job, Mama! She is a doll!