Actually, nothing special happened the rest of my pregnancy. It was full of swollen feet, doctor's appointments, people constantly asking me if I was in labor, and being so ready to push out this baby already. Let's just skip to the good stuff!
Around 10 pm on a Friday (May 10), I woke up to pee and felt quite a bit of back pain. It didn't phase me until I woke up again 2 hours later and felt that same back pain. I quickly realized the pain was waking me up. I didn't think much of it yet because it was just tightening in my back and not my front. Chris woke up at 3:30 that morning to go to his 5a-1p shift at work. I told him that there was a slight possibility I was in labor and he should warn his boss. I told him to go ahead and go to work though because the pains weren't super painful and they were anywhere from 5-10 minutes apart lasting 30-60 seconds.
By at 8 am (Saturday), my contractions were the same but Chris was too antsy to stay at work any longer and he came home. I was glad of course because I had stuff to do before the big show! He came home and I got dressed and we ran some last minute errands. (It's always fun to tell people you're in labor and see the look on their face.) By the time we were done with errands, I was having to stop what I was doing and concentrate through the contractions which were now around 2 minutes apart, lasting around 1 minute each. Since they were so close, and everyone said once they are 3 minutes apart lasting one minute long you should go to the hospital, we decided it would be best to just do that. My MIL came home from work and started getting stuff around the house ready and we went to triage to get me checked out.
I think it was around noon when we got into triage. I filled out paperwork, answered some questions, changed and got on that stupid uncomfortable "bed". After hooking me up to monitors, Chris came back to be with me. We told my parents and sister what was going on and told them we could keep them informed of the progress but not to come yet since we didn't know how long it would be. My mom, like most moms, didn't listen and said she was on her way to Indy (an hour away from where she lives). Laying in that bed during my back contractions was simply awful. Laying and sitting were terribly painful. They checked me and I was only 3.5 cm and 60% effaced. Basically, I could have been walking around this far along for a month since I never got checked at any of my previous doctor's appointments. I had to be 5 cm to be admitted to L&D. So, they had Chris and I walk the hallways to try to get this baby down farther. We would walk for an hour, stopping so I could have contractions and he could do counter-pressure on my back, and then go back to my triage cubical to get monitored. I did this for probably about 3 hours or so with no progress. I was discharged and told to go home and try to get some sleep and relax and that I could come back when my contractions got worse.
We went home for a while and my mom came back to the house with us. I was glad to have her there. Not only did if give Chris a chance to rest, but I had my mommy with me. A couple hours later, my contractions got obviously more intense and I was starting to vocalize through them.I don't remember who decided, but we went back to the hospital...surely I was farther along now! It hurt so bad! Once we go there, and did the entire check-in process again, they checked me. 3.5 cm and 60% effaced. Are you effing serious? No change. Now I was starting to worry. The midwife offered to give me something to try to help me relax and sleep. (I think it was a small dose of morphine or something like it.) I struggled a lot with this offer. I didn't want drugs but I wasn't progressing and it was making me nervous about being able to keep this up long enough to have the energy to push. After talking about it with Chris, I decided I would take the stupid drugs and try to rest. I told them only the lowest dose possible and once I got it, the contractions dulled enough for me to try to rest a little. I have no idea how long we stayed there. It was probably until around 8 or 9 pm. I got checked finally and the midwife on call gave me 3.5-4 cm and 60% effaced...basically NO CHANGE AGAIN. Now I was getting annoyed!
We went home pretty deflated and I was exhausted and annoyed that my body was not cooperating. I thought I was handling the contractions pretty well though. In the beginning, I would breathe through them, then I started to moan (vocalize) through them, and by the end I was practically yelling through them (we'll get to that later). So, we went home and my mom and sister showed up to help out with counter pressure and whatnot. At some point that night, I took a shower. We ordered a pizza and I hunkered down backwards on my knees in a big comfy chair. (Again, sitting was impossible.) Every 2 minutes someone would run over to me and push on my back to try to relieve some of the pain. Also in between contractions, I was trying to eat to keep my energy up and drink water. Chris tried to go get some sleep eventually, as did my MIL, and my sister went back home. My mom stayed up with me while I also tried to sleep. I laid on the couch and my mom would jump up and do counter pressure when I needed it. Sleeping was almost impossible. As soon as I would doze off, another contraction would hit. They never got closer together, but they did get more painful. I tried a heat pad as well... I don't remember it doing much though.
I lasted until about 3 am (Sunday) when I was finally in so much pain I thought surely it was bad enough now that I was making some progress! I was breathing through my contractions and moaning loudly, but in hindsight, I never truly relaxed through them. Back contractions are no joke! It was impossible for me to do anything but tense up and make noise. We did the drill and the ladies in triage welcomed me back. I was checked at 4 cm (same AGAIN) and had to start walking the halls again. My mom and husband rotated in and out of the room with me and through the hallways while walking. By this time, my back was so bruised from having counter pressure for over 12 hours, I couldn't have anyone touch my back. I was on my own now. Walking the halls, hunching over the rails on the wall, swaying, and trying to not wake these poor girls that were trying to have babies. I was in triage this time for 4 hours alternating between walking the halls, getting monitored, and trying to rest (HA). By 7 am, I was checked and they deemed me a stretchy 5 cm (basically, they could open me up to 5 cm). I was so relieved and happy to finally get a room!
I got discharged from triage with a good luck from those girls and I got wheeled into our birthing room with a tub in the corner. My dad was informed I was finally getting a room and he could come whenever they wanted. The first thing I wanted to do was to get in that shower and see if the water would help. To my dismay, the shower would not get hot! The nurse offered to take me across the floor to the other room but I didn't want to go anywhere by that point. They let me use the shower hose on the tub instead. Unfortunately, I couldn't fill up the tub yet. I had to be at least 7 cm before getting in the tub because once you get it in you can relax so much it stalls your labor (funny how that works). So I got in the tub with no water and Chris ran water over my back. It didn't seem to help much, but I think it was because my knees were hurting from the tub floor. I gave up on that pretty quickly.
The rest of my day was full of hanging out with my husband, mom, mother-in-law, dad, step-mom, and my sister. There could only be 4 people in my room at a time, so they would rotate whenever they needed to leave or whatnot. My MIL brought brownie bites, and my sister brought an Edible Arrangement (she works for them) in for the nursing staff and the triage staff. (Yes, I literally got brownie points from the staff!) I tried to do different positions on the bed, but I ended up just leaning over stuff most of the time. Anything that was remotely close to sitting was near-impossible. I think I got checked 2-3 times throughout the day. I think I only made it to 6 cm by 6 pm. By this time, I was in labor for 36 hours. It was all in my back and I was barely progressing and unable to fully relax through my contractions. We used the Bradley method to a degree (counter pressure, some positions, water, etc) but I've found when you have back labor and you are as tense as I am anyway, letting your body relax is just about impossible. By the evening I was basically yelling through contractions. I wasn't screaming though! It was a low, guttural moan...yell...sound. (At least, that's how I remember it and I'm sticking to that!)
By 7 pm or so, my midwife at the time (not the one I saw throughout my entire pregnancy - I never saw her) sat me down to have "the talk". By this time I was laying on my side in bed because I was so tired of standing. Her, and the rest of the staff that I worked with, knew how badly I wanted to go natural and have a water birth, but they also saw how much I was working and getting nothing in return in terms of progression. The midwife sat on the couch with my mom, Chris was by my side, and my step mom was in there as well. She talked to me about the side effects of the epidural, how it could help, her concerns, etc. The baby was fine this whole time, it was me who was no longer handling things very well. After a small breakdown and some conversations with my family and husband, I broke down and got the epidural. I figured if this is what I needed to do to progress and NOT get a c-section, then so be it. Thankfully, they said they wouldn't put a catheter in me. (I really didn't want this!) I had to wait a little (agonizing) while for the anesthesiologist to arrive. Once she got there, they kicked everyone out and started the creepiest process ever. Knowing that someone is sticking a giant needle and a catheter in your SPINE is pretty much the creepiest feeling ever. It felt WEIRD. I struggled to stay still because it felt so strange and made my back want to spasm. Once they got it in (it was COLD, I felt it go through my body - creepy), I had to lay flat for a certain amount of time to allow the medication to spread evenly throughout my lower half. This sucked. Once the medicine kicked in, I got the shakes really badly. My teeth were chattering, and my entire body was shaking uncontrollably. It freaked my Dad out pretty good. For me, I knew it was a possibility. The 2 times I had surgery and was put under, I woke up with the same crazy shakes. These shakes lasted for a good hour or 2. I couldn't feel my legs and found it pretty amusing (this is me on drugs, all shaking and giggles). I couldn't feel my contractions any more. I could FINALLY (kind of) relax...as much as I could knowing there was a freaking tube coming out of my spine. (I REALLY didn't want an epidural, that's how desperate I was.) After a couple hours of relaxing and trying to sleep, they came in to check me. NO CHANGE. Now I was pissed. What is wrong with my body?! They decided to break my water to see if that would help. Then they said it. Meconium in the fluid. My baby had pooped in utero and now we were on a time frame. Meconium is not good if it's inhaled by the baby. It causes pneumonia and other scary breathing problems. They reassured me that there wasn't much to worry about just yet. They put the NICU team on call for my delivery. I got a little nervous. I asked if I could still have him put on my chest after he was born, if they could do the exam on me still.
They were a bit hesitant but said if he didn't come out crying, they would do the exam on my chest instead of taking him to the incubator...thingy. I asked if I could still let the cord pulse and they said that really just depended on the situation. I was totally okay with that. After another hour or so I was still not progressing. Now came the pitocin talk. I had read so many negative things about epidurals and pitocin. This was going against everything I ever wanted for the birth of my baby. I didn't want him (or myself) to be drugged up. I didn't want him to be forced out by medication, but the meconium put us on a time crunch, and I knew it. I figured since I had the stupid epidural, I had no reason to not get pitocin too since I wasn't progressing on my own. By now it was 10 or 11 pm. Once I got the pitocin, I realized my contractions were on top of each other, I started to feel it after about an hour. I frantically told my nurse. "I feel the contractions!" They started to hurt enough for me to go back to vocalizing. I had to wait another good bit before the anesthesiologist could make in my room. They were super busy that night, as I was the 8th or 9th birth in a 12-hour time period. Once I got a bump in my epidural, I started to feel a tiny bit of pressure. I told the nurse. Then I told her again, and again. She decided it was time to get checked and I was finally complete (!!) but the baby was still high up. They waited another 30 minutes or so for the midwife on call (a man, go figure. Chris wasn't too thrilled about that at first) to show up for me to do some practice pushes....this was it! I kicked everyone out except for Chris and I mentally tried to prepare myself for a long overnight of pushing. (So much for my Mother's Day baby!) I did a few practice pushes to try to coax him down and felt like I wasn't doing anything. (Except pooping on the table - yep that happened and I knew it. Thankfully, I didn't really care and Chris pretended to be oblivious...bless him.) The midwife left for 30 minutes or so but once he came back it was game on!
My nurse was holding one leg and Chris had my other leg. I was so completely numb from the waist down. I literally could not feel a thing! I no longer felt pressure. I didn't feel my baby moving down. Nothing. I didn't want to use the mirror. I decided I wanted to remember my junk how it was before. The first few pushes seemed like nothing was happening. I would break for a minute or so, and then push with all my might. If felt like I was taking the biggest, most painless dump of my life. I had no idea how it was going down there except for Chris's reaction to it all. The more I pushed, the more the midwife coaxed me on and the more frantic and excited Chris sounded. "You're doing great! He's so close! I see his head! You're doing so good!" I remember Chris's excited voice more than anything from that night. It still makes me want to cry thinking of it. He said he didn't want to see the business end of the birth, but he was right up front for the entire thing! After only 20 minutes of pushing, Xander Leon entered the world at 1:17 am on Monday, May 13. He was 8 lbs 3 oz and 20 and 3/4 inches long. Chris cried and after I realized I was already done pushing I said "Holy crap, I just had a baby." Then I cried too.
Xander came out crying, but they still put him on my chest and did all their exams and checks there. Chris got to cut the cord, but we didn't get to let it pulse like I wanted. At that point, I really didn't care. My baby was here, he was okay, and I was no longer pregnant! His eyes were wide open and after he stopped crying he just looked around intently. I felt like I was in a dream world. Is this really happening? Did I seriously just have a baby? While they were checking Xander on my chest, my placenta apparently just fell out because I remember hearing "...and here's the placenta!" Then the midwife asked me, "Do you know my favorite number if tears after a birth?" And I winced, "One?" "None!!!!" Now, I was thrilled. No tears even though I only pushed for 20 minutes. This was one of my biggest fears - tearing and needing stitches because well...no one wants their junk to be ripped open and stitched back in place!(I was told later, that the staff told my family how impressed they were with my knowledge of L&D and mad pushing skillz...nerdy research and lots of practicing pooping for the win!)
|Daddy and Xander hanging out. Note the clock says 3am|
|Xander's first picture! Fresh out of the womb|
After I held him for a while, they wiped him down and let me breastfeed. Xander fed for a good hour and latched on beautifully on the first try. After he was done, my family came in to see Xander for the first time. Everyone was thrilled and thoroughly exhausted, as they had all been hanging out in the hospital since the day before. Our guests didn't stay long. After seeing Xander, they all went home to sleep finally. The nurse finally took him to the little heated bed and gave him his first shots, his first bath, recorded his measurements, and got his footprints. It was over there with Chris and the nurse that he peed and pooped for the first time! Thankfully, most of it was in a blanket but he did pee on some paperwork...whoops! We couldn't take our eyes off of him for a long time...at least until we were so tired we couldn't keep our eyes open. Finally, Chris had to sleep. He slept on the couch and I drifted in and out of sleep, constantly waking up to see Xander across the room still under this warmer bed.
A couple hours later we were taken to our postpartum room across the unit. They played Brahm's lullaby and the nurse said that was for us and I pretty much lost it. I never knew they played that music as the family was going to the postpartum unit. It still makes me want to cry right now. We settled in to our room, my baby in my arms for what was going to be another long night...and week...but this post is long enough already, so that will be my next post!
This entire labor process really paved the way for life showing me how NOT in control of life I am. My birth plan was pretty pointless in the long run. Yes, it helped the nurses know what I wanted, but that's not what Xander wanted. Those 2 days, and the 5 days following truly changed me in more ways than I can even explain. More importantly, they taught me that I will never be in control of my life and what happens, but I think I've taken all the chaos pretty well so far and proven that I am more than capable of handling anything that comes my way.