Now, before I get underway, I know certain people out there are freaked out by childbirth, so I’ll refrain from getting too graphic. If, however, something I say here freaks you out, I AM PREPARED. All you need to do is scroll back up here, and gaze upon…
…this soothing, non-threatening unicorn! I’ve named her Ruffles. She, along with her magical rainbow, and Hair Thursday-worthy Tail of Glory will help you forget all about scary words I may use like “placenta,” “cervix,” and “lady business.”
Without further ado…the birth story!
So, to start off, I am a big, fat liar.
As most of you know, I gave birth on Friday June 20th. If, however, you were one of the many people who, earlier that week, inquired how things were going/when I was giving birth, and I said to you “oh, I have no idea!” I WAS LYING.
Allow me to explain.
J and I had gone to the doctor for a checkup and ultrasound that Tuesday, June 17. At that checkup, my ObGyn reviewed the ultrasounds, and told me the baby was measuring a bit small. Specifically, while I was 39 weeks along, the baby was measuring 36 weeks. I was due the following Monday anyway (June 23), and showing no signs of imminent labor (other than the one centimeter I’d been dilated for over 2 weeks), so he informed us that he wanted to induce me on Friday, June 20th.
Whereupon I nearly shat myself.
Not to say that I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of giving birth already, but the concept of induction scared me, and knowing in advance the exact day I was going to give birth freaked me out a bit. Still, the doctor explained to us that when babies are no longer growing bigger in utero at the end of pregnancy, it’s generally better to get them out, so to speak, so they can thrive. Lacking any formal medical training whatsoever besides what I've gleaned from watching Grey's Anatomy, I decided to take his word for it, and we made a plan for me to be induced Friday morning. J and I decided not to share this news with anyone, since I was nervous as all hell, and didn’t want to field phone calls from friends and loved ones for the duration of the week inquiring about the status of my uterus. (Since I am the worst liar in the world and I HATE having to lie, whenever people asked me about the pregnancy that week, I’d just say “I’m seeing my doctor on Friday, and we’ll see what happens.” See? Not really a lie!)
I went to work the following day (Wednesday), and told my boss that I would be starting maternity leave the next day. I spent Thursday doing numerous self-indulgent things I wouldn’t have a chance to do in the near future, and weeping intermittently from equal parts excitement and nervousness. Oh, and also? Googling everything I could about labor induction.
WHICH WAS SO STUPID.
Never, EVER google any sort of medical procedure mere hours before having it performed. I mean, my god. Granted, I shouldn’t place too much credence in the internet message board comments of people who refer to their condition as “preggnent” but STILL. These bitches were scaring me with their horror stories.
Thursday night was rough. I was still all keyed up and weepy, but I tried to relax and somehow managed to fall asleep. J and I were told to get to the hospital at . It’s such a different experience going to the hospital to have a baby when you’re not actually in labor. I was walking down the same hall that I walked down last time, seeing all the same things, only this time I wasn’t, y’know, cursing and sweating.
I got settled in my room about , and then just sort of…waited. Saved By the Bell was on, so J and I were able to temporarily distract ourselves with the escapades of the gang. Let me tell you, nothing can take your mind off of your impending labor better than Kelly’s moral dilemma about working at “Skeeters” (aka Hooters) instead of the student health center. My doctor arrived, and we started chatting. It turned out he was inducing another girl that morning, as well. I couldn’t help it: I got competitive. I mentally began thinking “Race! Race! Race!” over and over in my head. Around , my doctor broke my water. I will spare you the details of that, and will just say that it’s…uncomfortable, wet and weird, but mercifully quick. At that point, it all sort of hit me. Like there was no turning back, and this baby was coming TODAY. I tried to play it cool with my best Fonzie impression.
Shortly thereafter, my doctor placed me on a pitocin drip to truly get the labor induction going. Pitocin is a drug of the devil which speeds up labor (good!) by bringing on hard, endless contractions, seemingly with no break (bad!). Because it makes the contractions come so quickly, your body truly has no time to recover, and you LOSE THE WILL TO LIVE. I had an awful experience with pitocin the first time around; I’d been given some to speed up my labor, and I’d asked (BEGGED) for an epidural, but it didn’t come until over an hour after of me crying from the pain of the pitocin-induced contractions. I was therefore a bit skittish about getting it again without having an anesthesiologist literally standing next to me with an epidural, but my labor and delivery nurse-who was incredible- swore up and down that I would get the epidural much faster this time, and that the anesthesiologist would be in to administer it by .
The pitocin kicked in, and my labor really got started in earnest. J made some calls to our family, and I started breathing through the pain. The contractions were bad, but they weren’t coming one on top of another so I could at least deal with them. My nurse sat with us, and kept checking printouts from the monitors to make sure that the baby’s heart rate was okay. After about an hour, my doctor came back to check on me. I was three centimeters dilated, but still not effaced at all. I began to wonder about the other girl my doctor had induced, and how far along she was.
I didn’t have to wait too long.
My anesthesiologist arrived at 10 ON THE DOT with my sweet, beautiful epidural, and I tried to refrain from making out with him in all his nerdy, middle-aged glory. It’s truly amazing how excited you can get for someone to jam a ginormous needle full of drugs into your spine. The anesthesiologist was a talker, and he jokingly asked me, “This is your second baby! Why aren’t you further along? The other girl is seven centimeters already!” Damn it! I was totally losing at Birth Wars! As it turned out, though, the other girl was having a baby that was estimated to weigh ELEVEN POUNDS (the nurses were chatty, yo), so I decided not to hate her, and instead, pray for her.
The epidural took effect, and I tried to get some rest. Unfortunately, about a half hour later, the damn thing stopped working on my right side. I could feel EVERYTHING there, and in a way, it was sort of worse than no epidural at all. My nurse ran off to find my anesthesiologist, who tried a few things, but none of them worked. I was in agony. He said that he could redo the whole epidural, but first he wanted to try to inject me with Fentanyl, and to lie on my right side, to have gravity literally pull the drug down towards that side. The Fentanyl—which, I just discovered is “a powerful opioid analgesic with a potency approximately 81 times that of morphine”—miraculously did the trick, and then it was just a waiting game.
My doctor returned to check on me around and I was still three centimeters dilated, but completely effaced by this point, which was somewhat encouraging. It was lunchtime, and although I couldn't eat anything at that point, they brought my meal in case J wanted to have it. People, let me just tell you: There is only one culinary phrase scarier than "hospital food," and that is "kosher hospital food." Sweet merciful crap:
Mmm! Roadkill with a helping of unidentifiable white balls n' gravy? Don't mind if I do!love hyphenated treats!
As for me, I enjoyed a delicious lunch of ice chips and then attempted to sleep.
About an hour later, I turned to J and said, “you know, I know it’s only been an hour, but I feel like I have to push. I’m going to page my nurse.” She came in and checked me out. You're done," she said. “The baby’s head is right here. Three pushes, sweetie, and this kid will be out.”
She dashed off to page my doctor, and another nurse came in, rejoined shortly thereafter by my nurse. Big, bright lights were turned on, and the lower half of my bed was pulled off, and a table of supplies was prepped. My legs were sort of dead from the epidural and the Powerful! Opioid! Analgesic! so the nurses and J had to position them for me. I remember giggling inwardly and thinking it was very Weekend at Bernie’s. (What? Leave me alone, I was all doped up.) My doctor came in, took one look at me and said those 12 little words every laboring woman loves to hear:
“Oh, wow! This kid’s HERE! I may need to do this barehanded!”
Fortunately for everyone, he was able to put on his gown, gloves, and space boot-like shoe covers, and I began to push. My nurse was truly fabulous, and expertly coached my pushing, promising me that if I listened to her and pushed how and when she told me to, I’d avoid an episiotomy (which I did...three cheers for the Wonder Nurse!). Within 5 minutes, I was holding Ella...my baby girl.