For background, you can read about what happened Monday the 27th when I spent a few hours in the hospital for observation, thinking that my water had broken. The docs told me it hadn’t, so we went on our way. We resume our story the next day, May 28th…
The First Sleepless Night (and Daytime)
When we got home Monday night, the goal was pretty much to go straight to bed to get as much sleep as possible. That was a great notion, but I continued to feel not so hot. Beside the usual pelvic pain I’d been feeling for weeks (and the 30 pounds on my midsection, which made rolling over in bed reallly difficult), I continued to have the same sensations that had led me to believe my water had broken that afternoon in the first place. By 4:30 I’d had enough, so I got up and rested in an upright position on the couch before heading to school. Fortunately, it was a really light day – only 2 meetings, then a huge gap of time before my regular appointment with my doctor. Still, it kept feeling like my water had broken and was continuing to break – not fun. I was getting pretty frustrated, if this was the way I’d be feeling for the rest of the pregnancy, however long that might be.
The Doctor’s Appointment
I got about 60 pages into my book while waiting for my appointment, then went back for the usual song and dance. Weight was down about half a pound, which was a little surprising to me (since supposedly, my water had NOT broken). When my doctor heard about the night before, she ran another test to see whether my water had broken or not. Test indicated that it had NOT broken, but that I might have a slight infection, so she wrote me a prescription and was about to send me on my way.
Then she decided we should do a quick ultrasound just to double check fluid levels around the baby. The night before, the resident at the hospital calculated that my amniotic fluid levels were at 11 (she said between 5 and 25 would be okay).
My doctor calculated that the amniotic fluid levels were now 3.8. “What are your plans for today? Ready to have this baby?” She told me I should go ahead and go to the hospital. “Is it okay if I run home, let the dog out, and let my husband meet me to drive over?” Sure, no problem. Long story short: even though the tests hadn’t indicated I was leaking amniotic fluid, it looked pretty certain that the tests were wrong. That can happen.
I got in the car and called The Spouse from the parking lot. “So, I need you to meet me at home to take me to the hospital.” I filled him in, and he agreed to meet me at home, where we figured we’d take the dog for a quick walk, grab our stuff, then grab some food on our way to the hospital.
In which we apparently freak the doc out…
When I’d asked my doctor if I could go home to let the dog out first and meet up with The Spouse, I really did think we’d be at the hospital within 2 hours. Somehow, that turned into about 3 hours; I left her office at 4 and checked in at the hospital at 7. We were calm, cool and collected – the visit the night before had given us a sense of what to expect, so we felt good.
It wasn’t until Thursday that my doctor told me that she had been freaking out a little bit because it took me so long to get to the hospital. “Where is she? Doesn’t she understand there’s no fluid around her baby?” Doc hadn’t wanted to freak us out….so we hadn’t. In hindsight, it all worked out well. I absolutely would’ve gotten there sooner if we’d had any indication, but I think being calm in the process worked to our advantage, too.
The Second Sleepless Night
My goal for many months had been as natural (or as intervention-free) of a birth experience as possible. Mostly, this meant that I was going to try to get through labor without an epidural or narcotics. On the one hand, I have a really high pain tolerance. On the other, I’ve had many surgeries, and I know how my body feels under anesthetic. I kinda got attached to the idea of trying to work through the pain and feel everything as it came and went, to keep a good sense of what my body was doing.
Ultimately, however, I wanted him to arrive in the best shape possible. Elective induction? That didn’t interest me. But medically necessary induction due to lack of amniotic fluid? No problem. Hook me up to the pitocin!
All in all, I spent 13 hours in labor. I was having contractions when I arrived at the hospital, but I didn’t register them as contractions. They were either not as clockwork as you’d expect, or they were – generally speaking – too mild. They stayed this way until midnight (about 3 hours after the pitocin got started). Frankly, if labor had progressed at home, I never would have recognized any of these as contractions.
A little after midnight, the contractions changed and became more intense (and more regular). “THAT is what a contraction feels like!” I remarked to The Spouse at one point. But by 3:30 a.m., things really hadn’t progressed much, except in the pain department. I’d come into the hospital at 2 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced; at 3:30 in the morning, I was 3 centimeters and perhaps 90% effaced.
Through it all, The Spouse was great. I spent some time rocking in bed from side to side to try to deal with pain; I spent maybe an hour on the birth ball before realizing I was too exhausted to keep myself upright. And after the first few painful contractions, we both realized that I needed space, not hands-on support. From then on, The Spouse played coach from his resting spot on the couch, reminding me to breathe as I worked through each contraction. Honestly, that worked really, really well. I just needed space and breathing room (literally) – and his presence in the background.
By 5 a.m., things were REALLY intense, and I could tell that the contractions were changing – the baby had clearly gotten a lot lower and I presumed we were much closer to delivery. Of course, feeling the urge to push every time I got a contraction also underscored that theory.
At this point, the only meds I’d had were penicillin and pitocin, plus something for nausea. I remember thinking with each contraction, “What if I got an epidural? Should I do that?” And then I’d remind myself that I was getting closer and closer to delivery and I could wait.
By 6 or 6:30 in the morning, they were ready to check my progress. Honestly, if things hadn’t changed at that point, I probably would have requested the epidural; I was feeling exhausted and the pain was getting very, very intense. The nurse took a look, though, and was shocked: I’d gone from 3 centimeters at 3:30 a.m. to a “conservative” 8.5 to 9 centimeters. It was pretty clear why I was feeling the urge to push.
At 7, a new team of nurses came in, and they told me the doctor was on her way. For the next half-hour or so, everyone got very focused on trying to help me fight the urge to push. That was getting harder and harder with every contraction and I had a bad feeling this baby was just going to push himself out before the doctor could even arrive.
Happily, the doctor (one of my physician’s partners in the practice) arrived in time. They raised the bed up, put things in position, and everything really got rolling. I had no idea how much equipment would end up in a labor/delivery room – instruments everywhere, huge table full of things, you name it! It seemed funny, too, to have the bed elevated up so high.
But let me tell you in no uncertain terms: there is NOTHING funny about pushing, or the intense pain that comes with it. I wasn’t sure what to expect – I’d heard about the “ring of fire” just before the head emerges, but it was not as short-lived a sensation as I would have thought (or hoped). I also didn’t know how LONG to expect; the night before, our first nurse had indicated doctor doesn’t usually show up until an hour and a half into pushing, so I figured it would be awhile.
I got lucky: I pushed for 26 minutes before the baby was born. All told, I spent 13 hours in labor from start to finish, and made it through without the epidural or narcotics. (We watched the video of the baby’s birth yesterday; the nurses and doctor were so impressed at the non-epidural birth. The doctor even said, “You kinda make me want to become a hippie midwife!”)
But you don’t care about that. What YOU want to know is all about Andrew.
Andrew formally arrived at 8:04 a.m. on Wednesday, May 29th. Totally healthy and doing well all around.
He spent his first 45 minutes or so bonding with Dad while the doctor finished working with me; this seems to have worked to great advantage, as Andrew loves the feel of Dad’s fleece pullover and it was a lifesaver in the middle of the first night at home yesterday.
Our two days in the hospital went smoothly, but we were thrilled to get home yesterday. Since then, we’ve learned that the dog is not only okay with the baby….but somehow feels that baby is HIS baby to take care of (and he seems to worry that we humans aren’t taking care of baby properly).
We’ve only just begun the Summer of Andrew. More stories to come.