This post may get a little lengthy. Apologies in advance. If you aren't into blood, sweat, and tears (or a little TMI), move along...
I'm sure as you are all aware, my official due date was Thursday, January 30th. But the Mama-Declared due date was Sunday, February 2nd. (I looked back through my posts to see if I actually wrote down that I thought that date was my due date (due to my calculations), but I couldn't find it.) Thursday came and went, as did Friday. There was no change, still very pregnant and very uncomfortable.
Now on Friday, I started eating my pineapple. I'm a super firm believer (now especially) in the power of pineapple. Pineapple contains bromelain which is an enzyme that is said to soften the cervix. My theory on the whole thing is -- it's only going to work if your body is prepared and ready meaning if your body has started the process (i.e. pineapple isn't going to induce labor in someone who is 0cm dilated and 0% effaced). I was 3cm dilated and 50% effaced on Thursday. So Friday I ate some pineapple. During my trips to the loo in the wee hours of Saturday morning, I was seeing signs that my cervix was softening further. That continued throughout the day on Saturday. I thought that I was right on track for my Sunday birth with my own doctor.
Saturday morning, E, his mother, Finn & I went out to breakfast as well as did a little shopping. By late afternoon, we headed back home and were doing some odds & ends around the house. I thought that I may had had a contraction here or there early in the day, but I couldn't tell when it would start or end -- only that in the middle of it, I felt a little crampy. At 3:45pm, I felt my first contraction. I sat perfectly still until the next one came, which was about 13 minutes later. And then another one, 13-15 minutes after that. I told E about them and we sat around. I wasn't concerned as these kind of contractions I had with Finn for 17 hours. I told E that when it got to the point where I couldn't talk through them, that's when we needed to be concerned.
I decided that I wanted to see if I could slow them down. So I left Finn with E and his mother and went upstairs to take a shower. I figured that it was early enough into the labor that I might be able to deter them (ha!) and they said that a hot shower could slow them down if it was false labor. So I took a long hot shower. I proceeded to blow-dry my hair and get my make-up on -- you know, just in case I would be taking photos with a new baby before my next shower. In my mind, I was thinking that I wouldn't want to shower the following morning when I thought I would be going to the hospital. The shower didn't stop them, so I started to time them. When I began timing them, they were 11 minutes apart.
Finn was pretty scared of Baby Brother to start out with... Tears came when I had to take him to feed him.
At 7:30pm, the Iowa basketball game was on. I watched the first half of the game with E & his mother (contractions were about 8-10 minutes apart and completely bearable) and after half-time, I took Finn up to put her to our bed. We had decided that we were going to let Finn sleep with us that evening, you know, just in case. E's mother would have a difficult time trying to lift the big girl into her crib, so we thought that by sleeping in our bed, Finn would be able to get up and down without Mary having to lift her. I put her to sleep (for the last time and just me & her -- and I can't say that I didn't cry just a little, knowing that things would be different the next night). She wouldn't fall asleep right away and I ended up staying up in our bed for basically the rest of the game. I came downstairs to finish watching the last minute or so and at that time, the contractions had moved to 6.5-7 minutes apart. I started not being able to talk through them and E & his mother could tell when I started to have a contraction. I remember with Finn's birth and arriving at the hospital, screaming through my contractions -- in the car, in the hallway, and in the labor and delivery room. Then I also remember the nurse who told me basically that I needed to shut my yap and breath through the contractions. She forced me into breathing techniques and I couldn't believe how much better I could manage the contractions. So I started my breathing techniques (first, just deep stomach rhythmic breathes and then throwing in some shallow breathes when the pain was severely uncomfortable).
Holding hands for the first time (through Mama)
The first "hug"
Baby Brother in your belly?
At 9:53pm, with contraction being 6.5 minutes apart and my contraction pain level being medium (on a scale of very mild, mild, medium, strong & very strong), I made the call that we should consider heading to the hospital. I figured that if they made us walk the halls a little bit, at least we were there. So I called my doctor's office to let them know we were going to head to the hospital.
I felt so silly, telling the answering service (& then the on-call doctor who I didn't know) -- "Ummmm, yeah, we are heading to the hospital because my contractions are 6+ minutes apart, but I went really quickly the first time." But I did. The answering service said that they were getting quite a few calls, so I would be having company down there. When I spoke with the on-call doctor, I could hear a little doubt in her voice. I told her that I would rather be early to the party than late this time (ha!).
You can see that she warmed up to him after an hour or so.
I remember telling E that I felt dumb going down this early on the beginning of the 10 minute ride down to the hospital. I didn't feel like I was in true labor as I was handling these contractions quite well, though occasionally one of them would be pretty painful. I was so convinced that we had plenty of time that I told E that he could park the car in the garage and I would walk in with him. He didn't listen and dropped me off at the door. I took the time to call my mom, leaving a message telling her we were at the hospital and I was going to go have a baby. The time was 10:26pm. My contractions had gotten to be about 4.5 minutes apart.
E wheeled me up to L&D (only after I tried to walk myself, but E told me I was being foolish -- L&D was about a quarter mile away on the back side of the hospital). Once we arrived there, it seemed to take forever to check in. And I was getting super annoyed with everyone that was asking -- "So, what are you doing here?" Every single time, my response was "I'm here to have a baby." Duh. So we get checked in and E wheels me to Triage Room #6. The triage nurse was in absolutely NO HURRY. I told her that I had my first baby really fast and that I wanted to make sure that I get an epidural. She told me "no problem" and left us for about 10 minutes, so I could get changed into my hospital gown. I was so anxious that I asked E to go and check to see where she was.
First family photo
When she got back to the triage room, the contractions were at 3.5 minutes. She had a TON of questions to ask, which I was getting really annoyed by. I know that I told her a couple of times that I really wanted my epidural and asked her to call the anesthesiologist. But I had to be checked first -- and the nurse didn't appear to be in any sort of hurry. There was a clock on the wall that I kept glancing at each time a new contraction would start and the contractions started to get really really intense. I was squeezing E's hand as hard as I could and trying desperately to breathe through them. My breathes were getting harder and louder as the intensity of the contractions kicked up a notch. With each glance at the clock, I started to realize that my contractions were coming every 2 minutes.... Uh, oh... And this is where things start to move really fast and get a little fuzzy for me.
The midwife finally came in to check me at 11:05pm. As she checked me, she started to smile really wide and said "You're not getting an epidural. Give me a high-five! Girl, you got this! We are at 10cm! Let's have this baby right here right now!" Did she just want to give me a high-five? I said no, I wanted my drugs and pleaded with them to call the anesthesiologist. The midwife said that I didn't need the epidural. I had already done the hard work by getting fully dilated. She told me that we were going to have this baby right now! She then proceeded to massage my belly and told me that the baby was only 7.5 pounds, that I should have no problem having this baby without an epidural. Again, I pleaded with them to call for the drugs -- I didn't want to have this baby without drugs. She repeated that I had already done the hard work and that I would have this baby right there. E finally cut her off and told her that she had to stop talking like that, that she was scaring me and that I really wanted my epidural, so they needed to call for the epidural.
Daddy brought in a drop of Guinness to officially welcome Fish to the Irish
The nurse began my IV to begin the process to an epidural, but we found out that the anesthesiologist was currently in the OR with an emergency C-section and that there was one other lady in front of me for an epidural. They rush me into an L&D room (L&D #2) and I remember apologizing for being a bitch, but that I really needed an epidural. I kept asking if the anesthesiologist would be in the L&D room. The triage nurse wheels me in and they ask me to scoot over onto the delivery bed. For some reason, that request blew my mind. I looked at them and asked how I was going to be able to get over onto the bed (which was literally touching side-to-side to the triage bed). I got onto the bed and the on-call doctor came in. She checked me again and said that she could break my water and we could have this baby right now. I requested drugs. She said that they were backed up and they couldn't give me an ETA on when they would get here. I know that we repeated this conversation at least 3-5 times. I asked for other drugs to take the edge off the contractions. I can't remember exactly what the nurses said (something about it making the baby sleepy), but they dissuaded me from getting one of those. I also remember E trying to reach one of the spotlights hanging from the ceiling (meant for delivery) to help a short nurse who couldn't reach it and though he was only 3 feet away from the bed, I felt like he had left the room. I immediately said "I need him! Where are you going?!?!?!? Come back here!" as a contraction came over me and I desperately needed his hand to make it through the contraction. One of the nurses asked if I had the urge to push, which at that time I didn't.
Finally, the on-call OB said to me that she would respect my wishes, but that if she broke my water, I could push out the baby and then I could rest. They also told me that there was no ETA on the anesthesiologist -- that it could be an hour before he gets there. E (the only level headed one out of the two of us) said, "Let's do this. Jamie, let's just have this baby." I asked the on-call OB where the baby was (i.e. what station he was at). She said that bag of water was bulging that he was at a +1. I couldn't remember what that meant so I asked her if it meant that he was below my pubic bone. She said yes. I knew that meant that I had only 3cm to push him before he was crowning. I was completely terrified, but knew that I couldn't turn back now. So, I gave the go-ahead to break my water and have the baby without any medication of any kind. The room turned on its head with preparation for the arrival of Fish.
In that instant of my giving the go-ahead, I began a contraction that ended with a strong urge to push. I told the room that I was pushing and the on-call OB broke my water as I pushed. As I felt all the water gushing out, E said "Oh, my gosh!" I immediately thought that something was wrong and asked him what he saw. I didn't really get a chance to get a response (later I found out it was because there has been a lot of water that came out and it came out in such a rush that it had practically covered the OB's arm as she didn't pull away quick enough) as the nurses were putting me in the right position for pushing and another contraction hit.
The nurses told me multiple times that I had to push my legs up and out to the far side of my chest (the whole knees to your ears deal), but I remember it hurting too much to do that. I told them that I couldn't and they said that I could. They told me that I needed to tuck my chin to my chest and push through my chin -- again, I felt that that was something that I couldn't do. All I wanted to do was lower my legs and close them together against the pain (obviously I couldn't do THAT). During the contractions, I pushed with all my might and I let out some seriously scary noises --- scary LOUD noises. It seemed like the contractions were almost back to back at that point and the resting period felt like it was only 15-20 seconds. I felt severe pain in places that I didn't realize that I would have and kept telling them so during the short resting breaks (that was the OB stretching things out to make room for his big head). I also remember asking E if he could see him yet after the first full pushing contraction as the nurses had said that he was right there. E said that he couldn't see him yet. The second contraction brought about the crowning. The third contraction, his head came out. And the fourth was the final push -- Fish was born!
All the nurses congratulated me and told me that I did a wonderful job. But the real congratulations didn't come until they weighed him. Weighing in at 9 lbs 6 oz and at 22 inches long, all the nurses kept telling me how amazing I was and that I would have some serious bragging rights in having an unmedicated birth with a nine & half pound baby.
I ended with a second-degree tear (which I got local lidocaine and some nubain to take the sewing-up). That nubain is a serious trip. I started cursing like a sailor -- every other work was f'ing this or f'ing that. E even asked what was up with all the f-bombs. I also had to take a drug test (as did Fish) upon getting up from the labor bed. I guess some law requires women who arrive at the hospital and have their baby super-fast to get drug tested due to the fact that cocaine causes quick deliveries! Fish and I passed with flying colors. Fish also had to get tested for diabetes because of his size, which he also passed with flying colors. We were released from the hospital after 36 hours. Due to the fact that I had him before midnight, those 32 minutes count as a full day.
My OB was on-call the following day and he stopped in to see me (which was really wonderful) and he told me that my reaction to having the baby unmedicated and having a complete mental break was totally normal. That if you are prepared to have drugs and ended up not being able to, it can put serious doubts in your head that you could do it. But he was really happy that everything went okay and that we were both healthy. I ended our conversation telling him that I had Fish in four pushes -- that I didn't have to push six times. He laughed. (During my 39 week appointment, he had told me that Fish was going to be big and that I was going to have to prepare for a lot more pushing than the four pushes I had with Finn. My response to him at the time was "So, six pushes, then? I can totally do six pushes.") While in postpartum, everyone commented on how big of a baby he was. In fact, the first thing the pediatrician said upon seeing him was "Wow, look at the mitts on this guy!" I guess he has big hands.
But we are home now, trying to struggle through a new routine. My next post will be about Finn's reaction to baby brother and how we are coping as a family of four.