One mom's journey through first time motherhood.
A journal to her son, Tucker, inscribing his birth into this world, the lessons and tricks they learned along way, and what they are not telling you in the prenatal books and classes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

day 0 - the labor story (unsensored and long winded)

I woke up at 11:30 PM on April 21, 2009 with a sharp contraction. I'd been asleep for all of 15 minutes. Having wrestled with sleep the entire night before I should have gone to bed earlier, but I didn't. I had stayed up watching an episode of "I didn't know I was pregnant" about, imagine this, women who went an entire 9 months and didn't know they were pregnant. The absurdity of it would make you stay awake to watch too...

So, 11:30 PM I woke up with a sharp contraction. I'd had contractions before, so at this point I thought nothing of it. I took my routine trip to the bathroom and returned to bed.

At 12:30 PM I woke up with another sharp contraction. Again, I'd had contractions before, but never any that woke me up. Things were started to come together. I went to bathroom again and there it was, the infamous mucus plug. Now, this isn't a tell tale sign of labor (so we learned after I woke up your dad and we Googled it). Labor could still be days from now... so we tried to stay calm and stay at home until the contractions are regular (511: 5 minutes apart, 1 minute in length, for 1 hour) like they tell you to.

Admittedly, I wasn't sure if I was having contractions or just a stomach ache. It sounds silly, but to be sure I spent much of the next hour in the bathroom. I didn't want to be that girl who shows up claiming she's in labor and is sent home with a diagnosis of gas. No one wants to be that girl. When we did finally leave for the the hospital, I definitely went with a clean system.

At some point in my bathroom frequenting, blood arrived. Naturally, as first time preggeroni and soon to be first time parents, we were worried. With less than 48 hours to our scheduled induction and my doctor out of town, we called the practice doctor on call. She woke from her slumber to worry us further... "there isn't supposed to be blood" and suggested we come in to get checked out. Note that once we arrived at the hospital every other doctor would tell us blood IS expected. Regardless, with much anxiety we packed up the car, said good bye to your grandparents, and rushed off to the hospital.

Our fears of running into traffic on the way to the hospital were dashed. At 2:00 AM on a Wednesday, there was not much interest in heading from the western suburbs into Chicago. Before the true labor had even begun we arrived at the hospital, exhausted, in the wee hours of the morning. My moderate contractions were consistently around 5 minutes apart ... a sign of baby to come.

I wish this was the part way I say they rushed us up to labor and delivery and two hours later you were born, but I don't. The hospital monitors did not lie, my contractions were real and regular, but I was only dilated 1 cm. Delivery was likely still a ways off. Instead of sending us home (which I am glad they didn't), we were prescribed to walk around the labor and delivery floor, for TWO HOURS.

I put my shoes on and the walking began. Back and forth around the floor where everyone else was having their babies. I stopped each lap to use the restroom and paused every two to five minutes to deal with my strengthening contractions. All the labor techniques they taught us in class went to the way side. None seemed natural except one - leaning against the wall with your dad rubbing my back (anything to get Brian to rub my back).

Somewhere between 60 to 90 of minutes of walking I just couldn't do it anymore. The labor wasn't too bad, but we were just so tired. Here labor was just beginning and it seemed like we had already been awake for 48 hours. We accepted our failure and resigned to lay down and get some sleep.

Your father passed out in the chair, while I fought off sleep denying contractions every two minutes. At 6:00 AM another women came in for an induction, 6 centimeters dilated and feeling no pain whatsoever. It was spiteful.

Somewhere around 7:00 AM they decided to admit us to labor and delivery. They had toyed with sending us home despite my pain and near state of delusional exhaustion. Thankfully, we our scheduled induction a little more than 32 hours away, we were allowed to proceed with your arrival.

We reached our labor and delivery room around 8:00 AM, on Wednesday, April 24, 2009 (your birthday!). Having already inquired about my epidural, I eagerly awaited meeting the anesthesiologist. I had intended to hold off on the epidural, my ignorance of what it truly felt like, had made me reluctant to have one at all. The thought of not being able to feel or move my legs, to be bed ridden, was terrifying. After 9 hours of contractions and no sleep, I was ready to be bed ridden. With the number of contraptions I was hooked up to anyways, I didn't see myself getting up much anyways.

Somehow or another the anesthesiologist was tied up. Perhaps he was busy with another patient, sleeping, eating, or just passing time, but he certainly wasn't feeling the urgency of the epidural as I was. Each time the nurse came by I'd bug her again. When that didn't work I relied on my nurse call button to remind her to send him by. My pleading seemed futile, but much, much later he arrived on his own accord.

Sometime after 9:00 AM the epidural relief hit me. I suddenly felt relaxed and was finally off to catch up on some lost sleep. Your father rolled out the sleeper chair next to me and we both caught some z's.

My advice to pregnant women: GET THE EPIDURAL. Truth is you can move your legs and, especially in the case of a long labor, it makes everything so much more calm. Here is the calm me, epiduraled up, and taking pictures with my mom's camera.

Your grandparents arrived sometime around noon, despite us still being far from delivery. With a pitocin drip added to speed things up, we were making progress, but still hours away. As the hours slipped by your grandparents were off to have once they are now calling the best pizza they've had (from Renaldi's on Broadway and Diversey) and your dad was off to The Counter for a burger. I ate ice chips ...

By 4 PM we had made little progress. I was still only 3cm dilated. But by 6 PM the attending thought I was dilated to 9 inches. Only to later have the doctor tell me I was closer to 8. Still more waiting...

In the time we were there we made good friends with the anesthesiologist who stopped by several times to laugh at my moaning and provide me more relief. At around 6 or 7 PM though, as you rolled lower in my pelvis and onto my left kidney, the pain became intense again. The epidural did little to comfort me, worrying me that the epidural relief would be non existent by the time you came and the pain would be unbearable (to think I once considered natural child birth). As it didn't seem to be working, I may have overdone it with epidural button... Around 7:45 PM though, we were cleared to start pushing and all pain was forgotten.

They don't really prepare you for delivery in any prenatal books, classes, or movies for that matter. Having seen plenty of baby movies this is what I expected ... the baby is coming, it hurts a lot, I push to help things along, and in a matter of minutes the baby has arrived. Only true in the movies and for really lucky people. We may have prematurely started pushing, but we pushed for TWO HOURS trying to get you out. I'm sure it was a combination of things, the epidural dulling my senses to push, my inexperience with how to push correctly, the exhaustion, or your size that slowed things down.

TWO HOURS. Having been told to stop exercising on my back early in my pregnancy, my abdominal muscles were not up to task for the delivery. Thirty minutes in I was weakening on holding my head and chest up to push you down. That's where your dad really stepped in. Of course he was there all along, but at some point he began lifting my head and back up for me, nearly bending me in half to force you down. The pushing itself was confusing ... I did what I thought was working, but each doctor and nurse would shout different, and conflicting, instructions on how to push.

No one ever told we what labor would feel like, but once you reached the "birth canal", I could actually feel that there was something there I needed the get out. By that point you were becoming tachycardic from the stress. I tried harder. At 9:40 PM, we pushed all 8 pounds 8.9 ounces of you into this world.

This is where your dad and my memories of the labor start to differ. Your dad claims you didn't cry, but from what my tired self remembers, they suctioned your nose and the crying began. Then you pooped (we agree on this part). You were placed on my belly for us to meet and to my surprise you weren't overly red and slimy. Your dad claims the opposite. I think he just hadn't seen enough pictures of how icky newborns can be. He declined the cut the cord, but watched over you as you were whisked away.

There was definitely some heightened concern when you were born over your size. Blood was immediately drawn from your heel for a blood sugar test, indicating diabetes. To our relief you passed this first test and each successive one. You were just a surprisingly big baby (relative to your father and me). We were okay with that.

You scored high on your Apgar as well. 8 initially, and 9 after 5 minutes. We were so proud.

It took some time for them to clean you up and sew me back together. The post delivery tear stitches definitely took some time and possibly hurt worse than the deliver. I believe it to be the case of when you are ready for something to be over - and its not over - makes it hurt that much worse. Perhaps my epidural really was wearing off at this point. I was not prepared for all this post delivery prodding.

Between the stitches and the removal of the blood clots it was another hour before your grandparents were allowed in. They had waited mostly patiently in the waiting room for your arrival. Three hours since they had been kicked out they were finally allowed back in. Grandpa made the obligatory phone calls and grandma admired you up close. Exhausted as the rest of us they headed home shortly thereafter and we transferred to a mom and baby room to find some rest, hopefully.

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