September 14, 2009

The Birthin' Story, Part One

When I went into my 36 week appointment a couple of weeks ago, I had prepared myself for the news that after she examed me, she'd say everything was on track and that I had 4 more weeks to go. My pregnancy has been so normal and textbook, and I had no reason to expect anything other than that...Even though I was very ready to not be pregnant anymore. That cute little belly bump had gotten very big and hadn't dropped yet. I couldn't breath. I couldn't get comfortable. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't wait to meet the baby who'd been lodged under my ribs for months.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that I was already 2cm dilated and 50% effaced. My doctor predicted that the baby was already at 7.5 lbs, and that if he hung out until his due date, I might have a 9 lb baby. *gulp* I knew, and many people reminded me, that I could walk around with those numbers for weeks and it didn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things. I was still excited and hopeful that maybe I'd get to be one of the lucky ones who delivers early.

I spent the next week finishing up little (inane, unnecessary) projects that were of utmost importance to my nesting brain and monitoring every little pang and cramp that I felt (or imagined I felt). When my 37 week appointment came around the next Wednesday, I talked myself out of expecting any progress to have been made. And for the most part, everything checked out the exact same. I was 3cm dilated, but everything else measured normal. I was seen by a different doctor than normal, and it felt like his exam was a little...aggressive. He also had the personality of a rock. But as he finished up, he made the bold proclamation that I was definitely going to go early, and he predicted within the next 10 days. I thought he was being cruel to give me such information. I just knew he'd jinxed me into a 42 week pregnancy.

And yet, I still passed along the information to Travis and family. I repacked the hospital bag, took pictures of my belly to see if I could tell if I'd dropped or not, and I anxiously monitored the post-exam cramping I had. Cramping that lasted for at least 6 hrs longer than it had the week before, but still disappointedly came to an end around 5 PM that night. So, I took the dog for a long walk, took a hot shower, and resigned myself to being pregnant forever.

(As an aside, TV has been crappy all summer. I don't remember what we watched last summer, maybe because I worked with teenagers and they had control of the remote, but either way, TV has royally sucked all summer. So, with that disclaimer, I will admit to the following events...) I was watching Crash Course when my water broke later that night. I watched some neurotic couple intentionally flip their car over to see how far they could slide, and it made me laugh. And with that little laugh, I felt a pop and gush and was certain I'd just peed on myself. However, after I realized I had no control over it and that every time I stood up, it kept happening, the butterflies took flight in my stomach. This was it.

Since I wasn't having regular contractions, I knew I was in for a long night. I'd heard many times that once your water breaks, they want you to have the baby within 24 hrs. The doctor made us come into the hospital to get checked out, but I was certain of what had happened. We took our time, packed up our things, got Henry squared away, took a couple of deep breaths, and away we went.

We arrived at the hospital in downtown Charlotte around 11, Wednesday night. Once I'd been admitted and it had been confirmed that my water had indeed broken, I got hooked up to the monitors for a little while. The contractions were almost non-existant, so they sent us to walk the halls for a couple of hours. At this point, it's almost 2AM and we are both exhausted. My contractions started but were inconsistent and weak. So, they gave me an Ambien and told me to sleep. They were going to start the induction at 5:30 if nothing else happened.

I slept hard and before I knew it, they were coming in to start the IV. I'd heard some rough things about Pitocin, but I wasn't having contractions at all at this point and I knew the clock was ticking.

Throughout the morning, my contractions got stronger and closer together, but were still not enough to get things moving. My numbers stayed the same during most of the morning, which was very discouraging. I wasn't comfortable enough to sleep, and I hated being tied down to the IV poll. Around 2, my doctor came back in to check my progress, which was the same it had been. However, she discovered a forebag, which she ruptured, and cranked up the Pitocin again. And after that...whoa, boy. Things got going good. Within the hour, I was begging for the epidural.

(A note about natural childbirth-I'd never made any plans to have a completely natural childbirth. My goal had been to not do narcotics, but to see how long I could make it without getting an epidural. I really hated the idea of being stuck in bed for hours and I was nervous about having the catheter in for a long time. I had a great fear about ripping it out by moving around. After my short time of hard labor, I have a new appreciation for women who can mentally tough out labor without meds. I wasn't mentally or physically prepared for what it was going to be like and I am grateful for having the option to not feel it.)

The epidural, while a wonder in the end, was quite the ordeal to get done. I got to be one of those lucky women whose epidural doesn't work the first time. My left leg went numb, but not my right leg, nor did the pain from the contractions abate at all. So, now I'm stuck in bed and I'm having these hard contractions, all the while, they are trying to fix the epidural. In the end and an hour later, I had a second catheter put in. This one worked.

Finally, after hours, I got a break. I rolled onto my side to take a nap and sent Travis off to get some food. This would be my last hour of calm for days. If only I had known.

To be continued...

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