As you may or may not know, our daughter was born February 19. I thought I'd share some of the (less gory) details of her birth day here on the blog. Be warned though, it's still not for the faint-of-heart (ie. men). I do have a non-edited version. For those of you interested in reading that, you can contact me. On Thursday morning, February 17,we had an appointment for an ultrasound at the hospital. It showed a 7 lb., 10 oz. baby girl. I was excited to have the sex of the baby reaffirmed, because we were given probably hundreds of baby girl clothes, all of which had their tags removed and had been washed!
Thursday night and into Friday morning, I started to feel cramps. They were coming about every hour, but not very intense, so I wasn’t sure what was going on.
At my doctor’s appointment Friday morning, the doctor said it was unlikely that I would be going into labor any time soon (presumably because it was still over a week from my due date and I’m a first timer), but he said “who knows.” Well, I felt like he should! He never even checked me to see if I was effaced or dilated.
I went home and the contractions faded and seemed to stop by a little after noon. Then around 3pm, they started again and were a bit more painful. I decided to start timing them. They were coming approximately every hour, but soon became much more frequent. By 4:30, I texted Ryan and said perhaps he should come home because they were coming every 4-6 minutes, but I didn’t think it would be a while yet because they were not very intense. I don’t think he even noticed the last part, because he dropped everything and left work to come home. It was the first time I saw him anxious!
The contractions continued every 4-6 minutes and gradually became more painful. We finally decided to call my parents and ask them to come and get Hugo just in case we had to leave for the hospital that night. When they came, my mom wanted to stay long enough for me to get a contraction. I felt like I was the evening’s entertainment! It wasn’t long before people watching was no longer a concern!
I didn’t want to leave for the hospital yet, although Ryan was impatient to do so. I said I’d rather sit and watch “Community”. So we watched, the contractions getting so bad that we would have to pause and I’d have to get on my hands and knees to be able to bear them. I finally called the doctor and, as it was after hours, the doctor had to call me back. Of course, it was the doctor that I least liked in the practice! He asked all the usual questions, which I answered and then said, “Well, do you want to go to the hospital?” I didn’t know! I said, “I want to do whatever I should be doing!” “Well, do you want to go, or do you want to stay home a bit longer?” I finally said I’d stay home and asked how much longer I should give it. He said about an hour and see how the contractions were at that point. So we turned on “The Office”, but about halfway through, the pains were so bad I decided to call the doctor again. I told him the contractions were very intense, so he said we should go. (I think Ryan was relieved. He probably hadn’t been enjoying “Community” or “The Office” very much, anyway.)
Once at the hospital, I changed into a gown and was checked out. Three cm dilated! They asked if I’d be wanting an epidural and I said yes, eventually. So I labored a couple more hours and said I’d want it soon, but wanted to know how far along I was first. Only 4cm... Several hours of intense pain for 1cm? Yes, I was ready for an epidural. Plus, I had started vomiting from the pain and nausea.
The epidural was more painful than I expected, but at least I didn’t have to look. They asked Ryan to leave the room, because they couldn’t take care of him fainting while they were working on me!
With the epidural in place, I could finally sleep. It was around 1am at that point. Ryan slept for a while, too. Around 4am, they checked me again and I was only at 5cm! At that point, I stopped feeling guilty for getting the epidural earlier than I wanted, because I wouldn’t have gotten any sleep for the past several hours and it only got me one more centimeter.
After sleeping on and off, I began to feel the pain coming back around 9am. They checked me and found I was at 7cm! This is the “transition” phase, and supposedly the most painful of all contractions. I was afraid of really feeling the pain and I thought that if it had taken me so long to get the past 3cm, it could take that many hours to get the final three, so I asked for a booster to the epidural... big mistake.
The pain was completely gone and I was ready to sleep some more, but around 10am they checked me again, and I was ready to start pushing! Well, I could push and push, but really had no idea if I was doing anything down there. After about an hour, we took a break to see if the booster would wear off a bit so I could feel more of an urge to push. Eventually, it did, but not nearly enough. I was making no progress and they began to get worried about the baby’s heart rate. I was also running a fever. After a lot of deliberation, I told them to turn off the epidural, hoping to get her out before it completely wore off.
Soon the contraction pain came back, not too painful, but enough to know when to push, so we started again. Still no progress, so we waited even more. Finally, the pain intensified and pushing worked a bit more. The nurses could tell she had a head full of hair!
By noon, the pain was horrifying and I hadn’t made any more progress. I was exhausted already, so my pushes weren’t useful. The doctor came in and said the baby was positioned a little badly, which is why my back pain was so bad. He started to turn her with every contraction, but even the turning was horrible, horrible pain. I also began to get a charlie horse in my right thigh, so grabbing my legs and crunching up got that much worse! Ryan was massaging my leg between each contraction, but it didn’t help much. He kept trying to encourage me to keep going, but I would look at him with tears in my eyes and beg him to let me stop. He began to tear up as well, because he knew he couldn’t do anything for me and he felt so badly. His tears helped to spur me on a bit, but it still wasn’t enough.
Finally, I asked for my mom to come in. (At this point, you don’t care that everyone can see everything!) I told her in tears that they had to turn my epidural off. My eyes were swollen from all the pushing, so I could hardly turn them to look at her.
I was sobbing, and begging the nurses for pain medication and they kept refusing me, telling me she wouldn’t come out if I couldn’t feel the contractions. I started begging the doctor for another way. I told them I couldn’t go on any longer. What felt like crowds of nurses came in to start cheering me on! But I was sobbing and pleading and groaning so much that I hardly noticed. It’s amazing how my entire personality changed! Normally, I am very inhibited, but under those circumstances, inhibitions no longer mattered!
I kept asking how much progress I had made and kept hearing that I'd made virtually none. I kept asking how much longer it would take, but no one would give me any guesses. Finally, after what felt like hours and hours, the doctor said if I could give them good, productive pushes, she would be out by 1:40. That was all I needed: a deadline! Later I said even if they had been lying to me, I needed to have something to work towards, because it felt like nothing was happening!
I began to push hard, even though I thought I had before. They let me move to my right side, which helped a bit with the charlie horses. Soon, the contractions were only seconds apart and people began to prepare for the baby. That helped me keep going! I heard Ryan exclaiming about the head (I don’t think I’d ever heard him more excited or amazed) and before I knew it, Audrey Elizabeth had arrived, weighing 6 lb, 15 oz. It was 1:41pm.
It was extremely emotional and I couldn’t hold back the tears. There was a sense of pride and accomplishment, and also unreality. How could this little person be the one that was in me for so long? How could I love her so much, but still feel like she was a little stranger? It was all very surreal.
Even now, I can’t look at her without feeling such a surge of love and unbelief. I can only hope to be the kind of mother that she deserves.
First family photo (me with very swollen face!)