Today marks a momentous occasion, perhaps even one that will someday be earmarked in history. Annie turns 3 years old today. She can prove it to you by putting her thumb and pinkie together to make the sign for 3. She is precious to me, this one. A gift that keeps on giving.
Some of you already know of our infertility issues. So I’ll skip all that. Instead, today, I’m finally telling the birth story. The good, the bad, the funny and the really extremely annoying bits.
On Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, I headed to the doctor’s office, thinking I’d be getting a dose of P-gel to help get things rolling. I was in the last half of week 39, and my doctor wanted to ensure he would be delivering me, so he wanted to move things along.
I get to his office, he checks, and I’m still closed shut. They send us to labor and delivery in the hospital (luckily it was next door) to get the gel. Um…no one told me this. I still had work to do at the office. Ah, well. A little later the doctor shows up, inserts the p-gel, and tells me that I might go into labor tonight, but not to come in until my water breaks. Whatever, dude. I live 40 minutes away. We’re coming in.
We go home, I feel a few twinges, but then it’s over. Wednesday, Jan. 19, we head back to the doctor’s office. He checks again, and still closed shut. What can I say? If I’m not in the mood…. He sends us back to L&D for another dose, only this time he says he wants me to stay a couple of hours, walk around a lot, and let them check me before I leave. If you’ve ever been in a hospital, then you know that when a doctor or nurse says, “I’ll be right back,” they don’t mean it.
Nothing really happens, so when the doc comes to check he says, “Be here tomorrow at 6 a.m. You’re going to have a baby.” Alrighty then. Guess I better pack that overnight bag.
Thomas, Auntgee and I arrive at the hospital at 6ish. I’m never exactly on time. What were they going to do? Send me back home? They take us to the room and give all the pertinent instructions. I should mention here that I ran extremely hot during my first pregnancy. We had the A/C running in winter (which my husband loved). So the first thing I did was tell them to turn on the air. And get me a fan!
I was only about 1 cm dilated, so a little after 7, they break my water and get the Pitocin pumping. Or maybe it was the other way around. They told me it could be 12 hours or more before anything happened, so to just get comfortable. Less than an hour later, I’m having contractions. Big ones, according to the monitor. A little bit after that, I’m past the point of no return. The nurse comes to check, and I’m 4cm dilated. “Oh, I think you’re ready for the epidural.” You think????
Just one problem. Apparently January 20th was a very good day for babies, so there are 3 to 4 women ahead of me to get their epidurals. Say whaaa??? I should mention here that the only “coaching” I’d had for how to get through labor was movies and TV. You know, “Breathe! hee-hee-hoooo” Or something like that. And it kinda works. Like aspirin works for a compound fracture.
I can’t really keep track of time at this point. I remember begging the nurse to remove my catheter, telling her that I’d rather pee on myself than deal with the pain. I remember squeezing my husband’s hand. I remember agreeing to let the nurse put some kind of pain killer (well, softener is more like it) in my IV while I waited for the epidural. I remember that it made me loopy, but not more comfortable.
Eventually, the world’s crankiest anesthesiologist showed up. Other people said that, too, it wasn’t just the loopy pregnant lady. I should mention here that I have mild scoliosis. My spine kind of looks like a question mark. I should also mention that this apparently makes it difficult to put needles in my spine, because my bones are extra hard (or some such thing), and it’s like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack to find one good entry point.
So world’s crankiest epidural guy bitches and complains his way through this, leaving a double digit total of needle marks on my back. Thomas said it looked like a pin cushion. The epidural guy got angry at me because I wasn’t being helpful, but a drunk person usually isn’t helpful when given directions, right? He finally got it in, but when I said, “My leg is burning and going numb,” he said, “Oops!” and quickly pulled it out. Sigh….
He then said, very sternly, “This is the last time I’m going to try, and then you’re just going to have to live with it.” That got my attention. I mustered up my brain best I could, sat as tall as I could (with Thomas holding me up, of course), and prayed and prayed and prayed. He finally got it in there. And it was glorious. Then he adds, oh so casually, “You’re so far along, there won’t be time for another dose. So you’ll feel some pain when it wears off.”
What the what????
The next couple of hours passed pleasantly. I read in bed, while Thomas and Auntgee occasionally entertained me or left the room to attend to business. Somewhere around 3pm, they announce that I’m ready. A flurry of activity begins. I should mention here that I am a big sweat-er. Like, I sweat out of every possible pore of my body. My hands and fingers sweat. My toes will sweat if it’s hot enough. The doctor made me turn the A/C and fans off because he didn’t want the baby to be cold. Okay, then.
The one thing I wasn’t prepared for: so many damned instructions at just the moment you really can’t deal with them. Push with your heels – hold on to your thighs – lift your butt – put your chin on your chest – don’t breathe – don’t yell – act like you’re having a bowel movement – no! no! you’re doing it wrong.
It was like a combination of a personal trainer and dance instructor, and they really, really don’t like you. The thing is, the tape came off the IV and the IV slid right on out. My husband got blood on his shoes to prove it. They put it back in, re-taped it, and a minute or two later, with even more sweat pouring, it comes right back on out. I think they tried one more time to no avail.
They put the IV further down on my arm. Same result. They put the IV on my other hand. Same. Further down on that arm. Same. They put it in my thigh. Same. Did I mention I sweat a lot? They would re-tape me during breaks from pushing, but at one point, the doctor got so frustrated, he just sat down and waited. Then finally said, “She can make it without the antibiotics!” And away we went!
I either really sucked at pushing, or, as I cried to my sister over and over, “Why won’t she come out? Why doesn’t she want to come out?” I spent a lot of time yell-grunting, then profusely apologizing to the nurses. Annie finally started crowning, and the doctor said, “Look at all that hair!” At first I was offended (personal hygiene is hard for a pregnant woman!) but then I realized he meant the baby. I should mention that Annie had a full head of hair when she arrived. He tried to use the forceps, but they kept slipping off her head due to her glorious mane.
Once her head came out, it was only a minute or two more, and I noticed Thomas had tears in his eyes. “Is everything okay?” I asked, slightly panicked. “Yes,” he said. “It’s just the most disgusting and emotional thing I’ve ever witnessed.” I cried.
And then there she was. The most beautiful creature I’d ever seen. She cried a little, but then was just looking around, checking out this crazy world she had just joined. I got to hold her a few minutes before they took her to check her vitals. Then the part that no one tells you: you get to birth another baby by pushing out the placenta. Since I still wasn’t coordinated enough to follow instructions, the nurses pushed on my belly. Now that’s a way to have some fun. Egad.
I made my sister follow the baby to the nursery to make sure nobody switched her with someone else’s baby, but the truth was, she was the only baby with that much hair, so there wasn’t much chance of losing track of her. I cried because my mom wasn’t there to hold my hand during it all. I cried when they moved me to the bathroom. I cried when they put me in the tub to wash off. I cried as Thomas rubbed my back. I cried as I tried to stand up and get out of the tub. I just cried. I already missed her being safely tucked in my belly.
Happy Birthday, baby, and here’s to many more.