Tuesday, on a full moon. I had been feeling crampy all day – well, around lunchtime I knew something wasn’t quite right. By the time I got home from work, I knew something had been changing. After a quick run to the store (I even posted about that in my blog!) I was in the bathroom and my water definitely broke. They say some women may not realize it but I was positive.
I called my mother, since Ash was at flag football practice. Ash had chosen not to take his phone; the phone he got specifically so he could be reliable and reachable. I said to him on his way out how it wouldn’t matter if he took it with him! I called his friend, who I knew was with him at the fields, and told him to tell Ash to leave as soon as possible.
Luckily, I had packed my hospital bag this past weekend and it was basically ready, aside from the camera, the birthing ball, and a few other minor last minute items.
We got into the triage waiting area by about 9. I started having minor contractions about 5 minutes apart. They mostly felt like cruddy menstrual cramps but each one lasted only about 20-30 seconds. After triage examined me and saw that I had dilated one centimeter, I was admitted and taken into the labor and delivery room. The good thing about Tallahassee Memorial Hospital is that their womens’ pavilion is awesome and the L&D rooms feel so comfortable; tv, dvd player, rocking chair, Jacuzzi tub and mood lighting.
One of the doctors from my practice came in to talk to me and he evaluated me and whatnot. He was very friendly and reassuring, as I worked through each contraction between our discourse. The nurse got me all set up on the monitors and I labored for about two hours before they got bad enough for me to want to get in the tub. I started shivering really bad at this point and the contractions were becoming more intense. At some point, my recollection becomes a little hazy.
My pain became pretty bad and all the breathing techniques I knew from yoga and childbirth class sort of flew out the window at one point as my body took over on pain management. Somewhere, something took over and my body writhed to work through the contractions. It felt sort of like an out of body experience; I think I shut down for a little there because I knew Ash was there and talking but I cannot really visualize it. I had really bad back labor so the best position for me was lying on my side, straightening like a board each time the wave of abdominal tightening hit me.
I have to say, for all the planning you do for the perfect labor, it all just sort of happens the way it will. At one point, they gave me one of the minor pain meds and that took the edge off for about an hour. It also made me throw up once.
After six hours on my own and dilating a mere two more centimeters, I finally had to give in and request the epidural. I was afraid for many reasons but none of those presented themselves at the time. Before labor, I wanted to go natural because I felt I could – I was capable. And Ash and I had been sold on it being more harm than good. So in a way, I wanted to go without because I didn’t want to let Ash down, as silly as that is. Of course, after he watched me work through such tremendous pain, he was as supportive as he could be when the tech came in and began to administer the epidural. I do remember him being very talkative and soothing. You have to be stone still while he’s inserting the needle and I was amazed at the power of mind and body as I sat there, not moving like I had done for each other painful contraction. I don’t really know how I did it.
Once the medicine flowed through me, I sat and watched the EKG chart my contractions – they looked like ginormous earthquake readings and I couldn’t feel a thing, including my legs. Which I knew happened but was still weirded out by. I felt so good at this point that I had Ash open the blinds and I got to see the sunrise. Ash got a few hours of sleep, I dozed off, and all was well. Ash got up by 6 and went home to shower and take care of the dogs. Meanwhile, I dilated to 10 centimeters and by the time he got back to the room, I was told I could begin pushing.
The thing about the epidural is that it takes away the pain but not all the pressure, so you wait for the contraction to come – and, as my awesome nurse said, “wait for it to bite” – and then you bear down. She kept telling me to push into this one area but it’s not like you can just order your body – which is half numb anyway – to do that. So it’s more like a mental focal point. Once I got the hang of the bearing down/breathing in and out routine, things really progressed. They keep a mirror in the room so you can see what’s going on and I really didn’t want to watch. However, it was actually really helpful because seeing how much he was coming out compelled me to push harder and get the little guy into this world!
Elliot Michael was born Wednesday August 29th at 9:45 AM. He weighed six pounds eight ounces and measured twenty point five inches long. He scored a 7 and 9 on his APGAR.
Ash got to help deliver him – with his bare hands! – and also got to cut the cord. During pregnancy and whenever I watched those baby shows on TV, I never thought I’d want them to thrust my baby on my chest right as he was born but it was – honestly – one of the greatest feelings of my life. Some women worry that they won’t instantly love a new baby but for me, it was love at first sight.
While the nurses cleaned him over across the room – excited new father looking on – the doctor delivered the placenta and gave me one stitch for a minor tear.
I was so very glad it was over and I definitely like him better on the outside than the inside! I spent two days in recovery, sleeping, learning how to breastfeed, taking calls from friends and family, eating pretty good hospital food, and regaining strength. Birthing a baby is a pretty hard task but I’ll tell you what’s harder: the realization that your Whole World Has Changed Forever.
He’s four days old now and I love him more with every touch of tiny toe, every feeding, every glance at the video monitor. Being a mom is going to be wonderful.