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Thursday, August 05, 2010Birth Story
My daughter's birth was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I am so fortunate that we had a good labor and delivery; that everyone was healthy and we could enjoy this remarkable time.
We had gotten far in our pregnancy and were visiting the doctor every week. We saw the doc on Tuesday who told us that he was concerned that the baby was not progressing towards labor. She was just too comfortable in the womb! He commented that he thought she may deliver late (expected due date was July 25th) but that she would definitely be delivered before he went on vacation, July 29th. I was bummed by this news, as I was really getting uncomfortable (my feet looked like balloons!) and wanted to meet the little peanut.
That Friday was uneventful; I had gotten some unfortunate news that a job I had interviewed for had hired someone else. I had texted my mom the news early in the day but didn't hear back from her until early evening. (This is when the uneventful day turned around...) She sent me a photo message reply saying that my day could be worse - the photo was of my dad in the hospital! Panicked, I tried to get in touch with her and my dad - although nobody answered. An hour later, I found out that my dad had been admitted to the hospital for internal bleeding and that his stomach had been in pain for the better part of the last three days. GREAT. The doctors were going to run tests and try to find the problem. I was scared, nervous, and wanted answers.
Blair was on his way home when all of this was going on but wasn't checking his phone. By the time he got home, I was a mess. It was about 8:00pm. Half an hour later, I was on the phone with my brother telling him what I knew about dad. My brother was in San Diego with his wife, celebrating their second wedding anniversary. He was calm about the situation and calmed me down, too. Or so I thought.
At about 9:00pm, Blair and I were eating dinner and I started to feel light pain in my pelvis. I thought it was a different type of Braxton-Hicks as I had been feeling weird pains and contractions for over a month. I chalked everything up to the uncomfortable-ness of pregnancy. We didn't think much of it until they got stronger and more annoying. Blair started keeping count of the contractions and timing them at 9:30pm but some were 20 minutes apart, while others were 10 minutes apart. Our Lamaze class had told us that we would be in labor for a while and to wait until contractions were four minutes apart, lasting one minute long and going for an hour. Still, this couldn't be labor as I was only feeling pain in my pelvis. I had no back pain, I had not seen any mucus plug or bloody show and my water had not broken. Thus, I figured it was false labor.
My pain continued through the night. Blair and I tried our breathing techniques that we learned in Lamaze. I took a shower to relax. I walked around the condo to help ease the pain - always ending up on all fours when the pain really got bad. At about midnight, I sent Blair to bed as he was falling asleep on the sofa and was annoying me -- everything was annoying me and I didn't want to be the bitchy wife.
Thank goodness for the Internet and Facebook. I kept checking websites about false labor versus the real thing. Each time, I concluded it was false labor - REAL labor was supposed to have so much more to it. I updated my status on Facebook saying, "Up and walking around the house with false labor pains. Anyone with me?" It was fun because a couple of my friends responded and made me laugh - it was a GREAT distraction from the pain. Even better, though, was that a friend from Lamaze class was up with her one-month old son. She immediately sent me a text asking about my pain and symptoms. She was wonderful to talk with and encouraged me to wake up Blair and go to the hospital. The worst that could happen would be that we were sent home. So, at 1:30AM, I called to Blair from downstairs and told him that I thought we should go to the hospital. It took us nearly 45 minutes to get ourselves together and get out the door. (The dog was totally confused!) By the time we left, my pain was soooo great and awful. I had a hard time making it down our front steps and to the garage. By the time we made it to the car, I was ready to fly down the freeway. But, oh... fate has a funny sense of humor. When Blair backed the car out of the garage, we both noticed it was driving weird. He got out and announced that we had to switch the cars as we had a flat tire! So, he helped me into the BMW Z3 and unloaded/loaded all our bags into the trunk of his car. I had nowhere to stretch when the pain got bad so I was practically in his lap! I told him to drive fast but that drive to the hospital seemed like it took longer than most days.
Upon arrival, Blair helped me get out of the car. That was as far as I could go. Luckily, there were a couple of guys hanging around outside and offered to go get a nurse. Someone soon arrived with a wheelchair and as she wheeled me in, I remember saying "If this is false labor, just cut the baby out - I can't go through this again!" The guys sitting outside roared with laughter and I started to feel more in control of my body again. We were admitted and I was soon checked by the maternity ward nurse. I was four centimeters dilated.
You can imagine my surprise when we found out that I was already at four! Our Lamaze instructor advised us to wait until five centimeters before having an epidural. I was excited because a lot of the hard-work had already been done! But the contractions were still coming, fast and furious. I requested the epidural and Blair went off to make phone calls. He was great about being by my side but also keeping everyone else in the loop. Blair updated Facebook and called the soon-to-be grandparents. ...I was bummed because I knew my dad was in the hospital and that my parents would not be able to come to the hospital for this special time. I was further bummed that my brother was in San Diego. But at least our good friends, Robby and Melissa, would be there. That made me happy; even if it meant that they were in the waiting room at 4:00AM.
The epidural wasn't as bad as I had expected and soon after, I was in a numb state. Getting the epidural was the BEST decision that I ever made! Labor progressed but I couldn't feel it. I even got a few minutes of shut-eye every now and then. I made it to ten centimeters and thought they would whisk me away to the delivery room... but no... There was no room that was available for me, so we had to wait. Plus, my water had not broken so we could hang out for a while. This was weird to me, as I thought that as soon as you get to ten, you push! Guess not!
When we finally got wheeled into the delivery room, Blair and I were really excited. The on-call doctor came in to break my water - which he had to work on for a little while as my bag was "tough". The nurse that was with me (Lorraine) coached me on what was going to happen during the pushing phase. Blair asked questions and I tried to remember everything I had read about effacement, dilation, stations, and more. The baby needed to descend down the birth canal so I knew I had my work cut-out for me. Pushing into an area that is numb is a bit weird, but we tried. Lorraine was on my right and Blair was on my left. They were great coaches and helped me each time. I pushed for about 45 minutes until Lorraine suggested that I take a break and have a rest. So, we rested for nearly an hour (I slept!). When things got started again, they really progressed much slower. My contractions had slowed - before they were coming every two or three minutes but now were at five or ten minutes apart. The doctor ordered Pitocin to speed things up. After that, things moved quickly. The pushing was constant and more people started coming into the room. Unfortunately, I had to have an episiotome to reduce the amount of tearing. That sucked, but the doctor thoroughly explained everything to me and Blair so that we could make the decision on our own. Although I was REALLY AGAINST it, the episiotome made sense and probably "saved" the goods down there.
After 17 hours of labor, at 2:10pm, our daughter, Morgan was born. It was beautiful - SHE was beautiful. I had watched her descend a few times during the pushing (Blair held a mirror for me). It was amazing to see her head come down and to see my body going through this natural miracle. Everything about birth is truly AWESOME.
Blair managed to capture a few seconds of these precious moments on video (thank you, iPhone). We were both crying with joy and feeling love like we never felt before. He stayed with her as the doctors cleaned her and monitored her. I was on the table, oblivious to my after-birth and the stitching up process. They put her in my arms for a few minutes and I've never felt anything so small fill my heart with such big love. We were a family and we were all doing well.
Morgan had to be taken for a few hours of observation and the few days following her birth were a little scary - but we managed to get through it and everyone is doing GREAT! She is a beautiful and healthy little girl and Blair and I are very proud parents.
I could definitely do this again. I even said something to that effect during labor - before the epidural. It wasn't as bad as all those movies made it out to be and I'm glad that I had educated myself enough to know what was going on. I felt totally in control of the experience and feel very fortunate that we had good people around us giving us the care we needed. I can only hope that future pregnancies and deliveries go as well.