Seriously, though, Emily's arrival began on the night of Sunday, September 29, when I observed an auspicious sign that labor could be imminent. I'll leave off from describing what that sign might've been, but if you're a female you can probably figure it out for yourself.
After Sunday I was on high alert all day Monday for more signs of labor, though that didn't stop me from going to gym and using the elliptical. Actually, my Dad called me while I was on the elliptical and told me that I was crazy and that my water could break at any moment. It didn't. Nothing happened all day Monday, but on Monday night, at exactly 12:57 a.m. I started having contractions. Nothing terrible, really, but enough to keep me awake and enough to let me know that things were starting to happen for me and my "bundle."
I did not go to the gym on Tuesday, as things were definitely intensifying. The contractions were coming pretty regularly, though I could still watch episodes of Teen Mom 3 in between them:-) On Tuesday night they were really picking up and coming anywhere from every 3-10 minutes. David was starting to get pretty nervous about the prospect of delivering the baby in the car on the way to the hospital, but I still felt like it was too early to head to the hospital. Our friend Chris came over to arrange a drop off of my car for the friend who would be dog/housesitting for us, and I remember telling him and David that I couldn't be too close to having the baby if I could still talk (though with difficulty) through the contractions.
Despite my gut feeling that labor was still in the early stage, around ten p.m., when the contractions were every 3-5 minutes apart, David convinced me to go to the hospital. Of course, when we got there they told us exactly what I'd dreaded: I was 90% effaced but only 1 cm dilated. They offered me a few choices, including a morphine drip (WTF? Did I mention I'm pregnant?), some Ambien to help me sleep at home or at the hospital, or just a ticket out of the hospital. We stayed there for an hour or two and tried to sleep, though after two hours and no further dilation I prodded David to take me back home so I could at least try to sleep in my own bed.
I didn't take the morphine or the Ambien, but I did take two Tylenol and tried, with little success, to sleep. Needless to say I was tired by the time Wednesday rolled around, which was particularly unfortunate since it was clear on Wednesday that I was entering active labor. I could no longer watch Teen Mom 3 in between or during contractions, and spent most of the day in my bathtub, where the contractions were barely bearable if I could spray hot water on my back and belly during them.
Around four p.m., however, I was beginning to feel like I couldn't make it another night at home without knowing if things were progressing or not. And, given the hospital debacle from the previous night, I knew that I didn't want to be going to the hospital in the middle of the night unless I was sure things were progressing. So, I asked David to call my OB/GYN to see if I could come immediately to her office to be checked. And so we made another trip down to town, though this time I was in considerably more distress.
I was so grateful that my Dr. stayed late to check me, and even more grateful when she told me that I was four cm dilated and should head over to labor and delivery. According to her, I'd have a baby by two or three a.m. at the latest. Whew! Seriously, I nearly cried with relief; if the pain I was experiencing was still pre-labor then I was not going to make it through the real thing.
Over at the hospital I was still kind of in denial about really being in labor. Even now, it's still so surreal. We called our doula, Ranelle, and she met us there around seven p.m. My labor and delivery nurse, Lucy, introduced herself and we kinda just hunkered down and started working through the contractions. At the beginning I was mostly standing over the hospital bed, breathing and swaying back and forth during contractions.
Sometime around eight p.m. my parents came by and into the room to see how things were going and to say hello. I was worried about this because I knew it would upset my Dad, who didn't want me to suffer and who really pushed me to have an epidural. As expected, when I started to feel a contraction coming on and began deep breathing, I heard him say something to the effect of "Jesus Christ." Mind you, I was not screaming uncontrollably or crying or anything, but I guess being the only girl means that my Dad really doesn't like seeing me in pain. In fact, he actually asked the doctor on call about "spinal options," to which the nurse Lucy replied, "For your epidural, sir?"
After that, my parents left so the doctor could examine me again, at which point I was dilated to a six. Y.E.S.! That really gave me confidence that labor wasn't going to last forever and that I could handle it. My plan was for an unmedicated birth but to be honest I had been scared out of my mind that I wouldn't be able to handle the pain once things really got started.
After hearing that I was a six, I decided to get into the jacuzzi tub, since that had helped so much at home. I labored in the tub for a few hours, turning on the jets when a contraction hit and eating little energy chews while trying to drink lots of water. Getting out of the tub sucked; every time I had to pee I would stand up to get out of the tub and within thirty seconds a contraction would hit. It was amazing, actually, how helpful the water was. Whenever the nurse came in to check Emily's heart rate (which she needed to do during and after contractions), I'd just stand up to incite a contraction. Of course, as soon as it started I would immediate drop into the tub, where the pain was much less.
Ranelle and David were really helpful while I was in the tub. They gave me energy chews, encouraged me to drink water, put cool wash cloths on my neck and face, and just generally told me I was doing really well. Things were getting pretty intense and we all figured I was going through the transition phase, which is where you dilate from 7-10 centimeters and become ready to push.
Sadly, however, after a few hours--at around eleven p.m.,--nurse Lucy came in, checked me, and told me I was still at a six. According to her, I could either take pitocin to speed up and intensify labor, or I could have them break my water with a crochet hook. (Yes, a medical crochet hook, but a crochet hook nonetheless.) This was undoubtedly the most difficult part of the entire labor. Really. I don't know if I've ever felt so scared or so alone. I had been laboring for so long and really felt as though I couldn't take much more. I couldn't believe that my options were the kind of interventions that I had worked for so long and so hard to avoid. I knew that David and Ranelle were there to support me, but at that moment I felt very keenly that it was only me and my body that were ultimately going to experience this birth one way or another.
Once the nurse left us to discuss our options, David and Ranelle quickly discussed another option, namely, getting out of the tub and changing positions to encourage Emily to drop into my pelvis and encourage further dilation. She was tilted slightly to one side, which was preventing the full weight of her body from pressing on the cervix and opening it more.
Given that I had just received news that I found literally soul-crushing, I said, "Um, I think there is another option, i.e. an epidural, and I'd like that please." If Ranelle hadn't been there, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what would've happened. Luckily, Ranelle calmly and evenly told me that if I did have an epidural I'd be immediately confined to the bed, which would make it even more difficult for Emily to drop and more likely that labor would stop progressing and I'd be at risk for a C-Section. Since my number one goal was to avoid a C-Section, this really gave me pause, and after that I agreed to get out of the tub and get into some positions that Ranelle thought would push Emily down.
So we did that. For about an hour. And it sucked. I did lunges. I did cat/cow stretches. I layed on my left side and just got through every contraction until I felt something wet on my legs. It was my water breaking, of course, and at that point the nurse came back to check me and declared that I was at a nine! I was pretty pumped but also knew that I would likely have at least two hours of pushing once I finally got to a ten.
At that point we went back into the bathroom, where I labored for another hour or so. By that time I had started bearing down during contractions, but since no one told me that I was at a ten I didn't think I was anywhere near pushing. What I didn't know, however, is that I was actually already at ten centimeters, but Ranelle, David, and the nurse had decided that it would be most effective if I let my body push on its own for a bit instead of having me use all my energy right away. So, after a number of contractions in the bathroom where I was unknowingly "pushing," they got me out of the bathroom and into the hospital bed, where they let me in on the secret. Of course I was glad to be near the end, but I may have called them "Fuckers" for not telling me that I was already pushing. In retrospect I guess I should've figured it out when, in the bathroom, I had reached down and was pretty sure I could feel Emily's head. (TMI?!!)
Since I had already done a lot of pushing--unbeknownst to me--the pushing stage went pretty quick. More nurses came in, along with the doctor, who suited up in full scrub gear and replied with a stern "No" when David asked to catch the baby. Ha. Actually, she looked at him like he was nuts for asking. (And she also played with her hands the way Mr. Burns from The Simpsons does in between contractions. She looked like a mad doctor concocting an evil plan.)
I pushed for probably four or five contractions before Emily finally arrived at 4:24 a.m. Some women say that pushing was really satisfying and less painful, but I'm afraid that just isn't true, particularly when the baby is just about to come out. In addition, women often say that once the baby is out they feel nothing because of all the oxytocin and baby love, but again, that was not true in my case. Because my labor had been so long the doctor was concerned that my uterus wouldn't be strong enough to contract and stop all the bleeding, so she had the nurse mash on my stomach and uterus. That might not sound painful, but trust me, that was no belly massage, especially when you consider that at the same time the doctor was stitching up the second-degree tear I had. (TMI now?) (BTW, David and I have since decided that it would've been hilarious if he had slipped the doctor twenty bucks and made some comment about making my "bizness" even "better." Does everyone understand that I'm using euphemisms here?)
I'm not really sure where Emily was during all of this. I think she was on my chest but really the whole thing is a blur. I do remember having her placed on my chest and thinking that she was slimy, squirmy, and weird looking. I also thought that some blood above her eye was a red birth mark, and I'm embarrassed to say that I was kind of bothered by the thought that she'd have a big red birthmark on her face. (I'm so vain, I know.)
Contrary to what he stated prior to the birth, David did tear up when Emily came out. As for me, I can't say that I immediately felt all the love in the world flooding my body. I quickly developed a strong, instinctive protective sense for Emily, but that amazing sense of love has only slowly developed as she and I have grown to know each other. I suspect that it will only continue as she gets older and develops more since, let's face it, newborns are kind of sleeping, eating, and diaper-dirtying machines that don't exactly "give" a lot when it comes to emotional bonding.
As for my thoughts on the birth, I think it went perfectly. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I wanted an epidural after finding out that I hadn't progressed after laboring in the bath tub, and I'm really proud that I was still able to have the unmedicated birth that I wanted. I haven't given it much thought since the birth since I've been so busy, but I think that having that kind of birth did exactly what I wanted it to, namely, gave me a little bit of extra confidence to start this journey as a mom with the knowledge that I am strong enough and capable enough to be a mom. (Since, admittedly, motherhood didn't and hasn't exactly seemed like the most natural fit for me.)
And that's pretty much it for now. More regular programming soon, I hope. In the meantime, share what you've been up to in the comments! (It's reassuring for me to know that the world has continued despite my entire absence from it.)
Except, P.S. here are a few Emily pictures...I promise I won't go overboard in this department but here she is looking a bit bigger and older since her debut photo.
|"Why does my Mom cry so much at night?" (Haha, no seriously.)|
|"I get whatever I want as long as I cry."|
|Emily is bound to be a rockstar with that mohawk.|