I don’t want to be induced—I hear that it’s extra painful.
But here I am at the doctor on a Monday morning for tests; it’s four days past my due date, so the doctor wants to make sure all is well with the baby.
Last night was not cool—I started having light contractions in bed. This is it! I thought. But, nope, they faded away and I fell asleep, only to wake up disappointed (i.e., not in labor, and still on track to be induced Wednesday). Ugh.
This pregnancy—my first—has been a dream so far.
Sure, I dealt with the mild nausea and and a hopelessly sleepy first trimester, but I stayed active by running and lifting weights, and I actually felt really good the whole time.
At the doc, we rock the tests, and he tells me I’m three centimeters dilated. Not bad! That must’ve been what last night was all about. Still, I’m anxious for when this thing is going to get going.
My doc tells me that if I go into labor tonight, he won’t be able to deliver me—he has tickets to the Cubs game and they’re in the playoffs…fair enough, I guess.
That entire day I keep getting Braxton Hicks—a.k.a. fake contractions. I’ve gotten these off and on during pregnancy and they’re never painful. Really, they only make me have to pee.
But they’re becoming more frequent and stronger. Still, I can go about my day—walk my dog, call my mom—and deal with them, no problem. Given the false alarm last night, I’m sure I’m not in labor.
Fast-forward to 10 p.m.
I go to bed, and a half hour later, contractions start again. This time, I time them on my app. The doc says they need to be in the classic 5-1-1 pattern (five minutes apart, lasting one minute long, for one hour) in order to go to the hospital. They’re all over the place, so obviously this isn’t it.
Fifteen minutes later, I find that lying down and breathing through the contractions is so not working anymore. I get up to pace around the bedroom…then the living room where my husband is watching TV. The next contraction hits like such a strong wave I drop to the ground. On the next one, I’m crawling on my hands and knees and making moaning animal-like noises.
My husband obviously knows that I’m in labor, and he’s up and packing his hospital bag (which only includes a nice bottle of Scotch and glasses; this is how he’s going to celebrate the birth of our boy).
But I still don’t believe it—my contractions are not in a nice pattern, they’re all over the place. Some come quick but last only 30 seconds. Some have a big lag time but last more than a minute. WTF. I heard that the way to tell if labor pains are real is to hop in a warm bath. If they subside, it’s a false alarm. So, into the bath I go.
They ask me to rate my pain. I say seven only because I’ve never been stabbed or been a victim of a shark attack.
Yeah, the water isn’t helping. In the tub, I text my best friend Jaime. She tells me to get my ass to the hospital. (She’s a mom; she knows.)
I tell hubs to take a quick shower, and I call my doc in between contractions using my chipper phone voice (not my moaning-contraction voice). Despite suggesting I go to the hospital, she later tells me my bright tone threw her off.
BELLA BABY PHOTOGRAPHY
The people at the front desk aren’t phased by my moaning—or my vomit.
We get to the hospital around midnight. I get out of the car and fall onto my knees on the pavement. Another contraction. The waiting room is empty, fortunately, because I’m throwing up in their garbage cans and mooing like a cow through contractions.
The hospital staff isn’t phased—I guess they see this all day anyway. I thought I’d be self-conscious, but really, I could care less. All I care about are these contractions, which feel like a meat grinder has gotten ahold of my stomach.
In triage—the room you wait in before going to labor and delivery—the nurse tells me I’m dilated to 4.5 centimeters. With the pain that I’m in, I was sure I was going to be much further. The nurse asks me if I want an epidural. I want to hug her: YES!
I get up to the room and they waste no time prepping me for the epidural—it’s almost 2 a.m. by now. The needle is long and scary, but nothing could be worse than the searing, ripping-my-insides-apart pain I’m currently in. Give me that needle in my back.
They ask me to rate my pain. I say seven only because I’ve never been stabbed or been a victim of a shark attack, which I assume to be worse. But really, it’s a nine at least. But after they insert the epidural, my pain immediately crashes to a zero. In fact, I’ve never felt more relaxed in my life.
I’m now seven centimeters dilated. They break my water using some sort of tool. It’s like a gush, but again, I can’t really feel anything.
Post-epidural, things are almost spa-like.
The lights are low and it’s super quiet—everything is great. That is, until the cadre of medical personnel come in to see what my lady bits are up to. TBH, the entire hospital could see me naked right now and I wouldn’t care. I tell my hubs to get his blanket and pillow from the car because we could be here for a while.
The on-call doctor comes in—she’s the only one that I hadn’t met from my ob-gyn practice. She seems lovely, and really, I’d settle for anyone delivering me at this point. I just don’t care.
Soon, I start to feel pressure. The anesthesiologist had told me that I’d have to continue hitting the button to deliver more pain medication (there’s a block to prevent you from overdosing), and I’d have to stay on top of it, otherwise it could wear off.
I frantically start pressing the button, but the pressure remains.
BELLA BABY PHOTOGRAPHY
‘You can’t be ready yet.’
I tell the doctor about the pressure and she says, “oh, you can’t be ready yet.” But when she checks me, I’m fully dilated. We’re going to push.
The nurses give me a brief tutorial on how to push. I realize that I’m not quite prepared for this labor thing. Too late now. Just so you know, pushing can take a couple hours, I warn my husband.
The first set of pushes goes well. At least, I think so; I can’t feel squat. “Oh, you’re not going to take two hours,” the doctor says. One more push and I hear that the head is out. The next push gets our baby boy out into the world. It’s just about 4:30 a.m., after six hours of labor.
He is healthy, thriving, and crying. Then, they put him on my chest. Problem is, the labor went so fast—and pushing even faster—that both my husband and I had no time to process that we were actually going to have a baby. My shock squelches any chance I had to get emotional.
Then, there’s the fact that my son looks like a baby version of my father-in-law.
Still, the little dude is perfection.
Having a newborn is absolutely blissful—but, ugh, that first poop
Recovering from birth is something, let me tell you. I have a second-degree tear, which isn’t bad, all things considered. The first postpartum poop is frightening and perhaps even worse than labor. Oh, and wearing industrial-sized pads with gauze undies is not a blast.
Also, I feel, well, empty. My belly is still there but the little nugget who used to kick me all the time is not. Of course, now he’s outside, which is even more wonderful, but I still felt a sense of loss.
I think you try to be as prepared as possible, but it’s okay if you have no idea how you’re going to make it through the contractions, or how you’re going to parent after.
Because, as I discovered, it all works out.
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