Note: This post has been in progress for quite awhile. But with 2 weeks distance, here it is...
It feels trivial to write about the details of a birth. I mean, she's here and that's all that matters. How it went down has absolutely no bearing on who she is or will be. I had one singular goal when it came to childbirth and that was to eventually arrive home healthy, happy, and with a healthy baby in tow. I had no "birth plan." I had no preconceived notions about how things would go down. I didn't think we would arrive at the hospital in a panic, that Rykert would push me in a wheelchair at a running pace through the hallways while I did rhythmic breathing like in a movie. Nor was I looking for some kind of specific "experience". My preference was to avoid a c-section, if possible. But otherwise my "plan" was to take the advice of the experts, and go with the flow. So trivial or not, I know that at some point I'll want to remember (what I can) of how it went down. I've tried to clean it up and have left some particularly personal and/or graphic details out to preserve what is left of my dignity.
The weekend before she was born, my family was in town to celebrate my nieces' and sister's birthdays. I was honestly feeling pretty good for being 40+ weeks pregnant, and worried that I might be the first woman to be pregnant forever. All weekend, she was super active rolling and kicking. I was a bit uncomfortable because she was resting so low, but otherwise I was feeling pretty good. Her movement was significantly more active than previously in my pregnancy, and I remember even asking my sister if increased fetal movement was something to worry about.
On Monday morning, I woke up to my alarm with every intention of going to work at least for a portion of the day. I got up and started my morning routine but quickly realized that I hadn't felt her move for quite awhile. Rykert and I tried gentle jostling of my belly, some caffeine, orange juice, cold water, laying on my side, sitting up, but nothing. So we headed to Labor & Delivery, slightly concerned, for monitoring. Once we arrived, I was hooked up to the monitors and it was immediately clear that her heart was beating strong. So we sat. And sat. They did a Bio-Physical Profile ultrasound looking for certain distinct movements within a certain period, and unfortunately, didn't see what they were looking for. So we sat again, and they retested. Again, only a couple of movements. I was starting to get panicky.
At this point, a cadre of doctors and residents told us that we couldn't go home so we had 2 options: (1) sit and retest or (2) begin the induction process. Since I was over 40 weeks, they feared that the placenta may be starting to fail, and recommended that we proceed with the induction. However, they advised that it was likely going to be a very long process. Because my body appeared to be nowhere near ready to deliver, I would likely need 2 doses of a certain drug (Cervidil) each lasting 12 hours. Once that was complete, we would proceed with Pitocin to get the contractions going. By all accounts it could be up to 3 days before we would have a baby. I wasn't happy, but knew that sitting in the hospital being constantly monitored was the best place to be just in case. So we settled in. I sent Rykert home to get my knitting and a few other supplies. My sister, who works in the NICU next door, stopped in on her way to work, and we laughed at the ridiculously bad ultrasound picture from earlier that day. My doctor came in on rounds and reiterated that it was likely going to be a very long process. I settled in for a long few days and tried to break it down into 12 hours increments to make it seem more manageable.
An hour or two after beginning the Cervidil, I started to feel strong cramps, and was told that was completely normal. I signed the consent forms for an epidural (and whatever pain drugs they could give me) for when the time came. When the shift changed and a new group of doctors came around, they reiterated that it would be wise to take something to get a good nights sleep to rest up for the next day's active labor. My nurse said it again and again. Rykert even joked that they were really pushing the Ambien around there. Finally around 10 I agreed to take Ambien to get a good night's sleep. I told the nurse that I rarely take anything for sleep and am really susceptible to sleep inducing drugs. I have to take Benadryl or Nyquil while in bed because it knocks me out so quickly. They gave me 2 Ambien. This seemed like a lot at the time, and I questioned the dosage. But believing that nothing would be happening for quite awhile and wanting to be well-rested for the big show the next day, I took it.
Somewhere around midnight (maybe?), I started getting in and out of bed feeling a strong desire to use the bathroom. Each time, Rykert would have to help me unhook all of the monitors and then hook them back up. As soon as I got back in bed, I'd need to get back out. I could feel that both Rykert and the nurse were getting annoyed with me. So I laid down and began to feel these rhythmic waves of pretty intense, but indescribable, pain. In my Ambien fog, I wasn't sure what was going on. I woke Rykert up and asked him to look at the monitors to see if it was registering a contraction. Nothing. So I just hung on to the side rail on the bed and held on through each. One of my irrational fears throughout my pregnancy was that I wouldn't know what real contractions felt like, and apparently it was not irrational after all. My regular OB thinks that I just must have an incredibly high pain tolerance. A little over 2 weeks ago, I think I would have disagreed with her.
Finally, around 2:00 a.m. I got out of bed and my water broke in a gush. At least I thought it was my water breaking, but I couldn't be sure. I woke Rykert up and he called the nurse. The back and forth to the bathroom continued a few more times. During one of the trips I felt head her crowning. I think I screamed or cried or panicked or something.
This is where things get really, really hazy. Rykert got me back into bed. The nurse called for the doctors and a team rushed in and the lights came on. I asked for drugs. I was told no. So with pure adrenalin I told them that I was ready to push, and with just a few pushes out she came. I remember seeing her. I remember hearing them ask Rykert if he wanted to cut the cord. I remember asking that someone please page my sister in the NICU. I remember seeing her in the warmer across the room.
I remember my sister walking in after getting the page she receives for all new deliveries and saying, "What the hell happened?"
I remember holding her for the first time.
My sister and Rykert took some pictures and notified our families. Rykert went with Scout to the nursery. I was sitting on the bed in a stupor, thanks to the Ambien. At everyone's suggestion, based on my drug-induced state, I went to sleep for a bit.
I woke up a little bit later, looked around at the cleaned up room and Rykert on the couch, and I honestly, for a brief moment, wasn't sure if it had really happened or not. But it did. I was honestly a bit disoriented for another day or so.
I suppose that I could wish that things had gone down differently (and I do), but that also seems trivial at this point. She's here. She's healthy. She's Scout. And I may be a wee bit biased, but I'd say she's absolutely perfect.
That's the cleaned up, less dramatic version of events. I'm told that the Ambien haze is probably allowing me to forget the parts that are utterly clinical and forgettable, because even without an epidural, I don't really remember much pain.
By later that day, my delivery had become quite the story among the the doctors and nurses, because they kept saying that deliveries like mine "never" happen. It's interesting to me that I had such a wonderfully boring pregnancy. My body handled being pregnant better than I imagined, and I had no issues. And then out of nowhere, I have this utterly atypical delivery. I think she was just ready to meet us, and there was nothing going to stop her. Perhaps she has her mother's impatience, and wasn't about to wait 36 hours to make her arrival, and instead arrived in just a few hours time.
She's 2 weeks old now, and she's doing fantastic. She's well over her birth weight, eating like a champ, sleeping at night a reasonable amount, and basically teaching us a thing or two about what we don't know. We're still trying to find our stride and develop some rhythm to our new life, but we're getting there. We can't stop looking at her.
You'll have to excuse me if the blog goes a bit silent for a little while...