Friday, October 19, 2012

Better Late Than Never

Lauren Emerson arrived on October 17 at 7:57 p.m. weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces and measuring 21" long. She is perfect. Ten tiny (long) fingers and ten tiny (long toes). A full head of light brown hair that stands up in little peaks all over her itty bitty head. She is a champion nurser already and loves to be snuggled. In fact, she loves snuggling so much that I've gotten roughly 6 hours of sleep since she was born. I'm too nervous and tired to let myself fall asleep with her in my arms, so I've been laying in my hospital bed listening to her squeak, which she does with each breath she exhales, while she's splayed out across my chest.

My appointment last week found me 2cm and 100% effaced at 39 weeks 5 days. My membranes were stripped and I was sent home. Nothing happened. No cramping, no bleeding, no pain. And definitely no labor.

On Monday I was having such significant pain with her movements -- not labor pains, just physical pain -- that I called my OB. When he found out I had been having runs of contractions that never progressed for over four days, he rescheduled my appointment for the following day.

I arrived to my Tuesday appointment and was given another internal -- this time I was 4 cm and told I was very effaced. My membranes were stripped again, although my OB said that there was nothing left to strip, they were all gone. He put an induction on the calendar for Friday, but didn't think I'd make it that far. He told me he didn't even think I'd make it to my Tuesday appointment after our conversation on Monday. And his exact words were "You're 4 sonometers dilated and completely effaced. What the hell is going on up there? This should have happened by now." Back home I went.

On Wednesday morning I woke up with the kids and by 9:30 I was having pretty consistent contractions anywhere from 3-6 minutes apart. I told Joe to get coverage for his afternoon cases and called our sitters to make sure we had extra help if we needed it. At 11 I took the kids to gymnastics. By the middle of their class my contractions were picking up in intensity and I called my OB's office. They scheduled me to come in for 1:30, but told me to go straight to labor and delivery if my water broke or if my contractions got closer together and/or more intense. Since I could still talk/walk/smile through most of my contractions I set about the afternoon with the focus on getting to my afternoon appointment.

We got to the OB's office and I was checked again around 2 p.m. This time I was 6 cm, 90% effaced and at a -2 station. My doctor told me I was on the cusp of labor and since we live 30 minutes away from the hospital it would probably be best to go across the street and get checked in, just in case my labor progressed quickly.

By 3 p.m. I was checked in, gowned up and my IV had been placed. I was checked again and I was found to be 6-7 cm. But I was still laughing and smiling, so they had me walk around the hospital for 90 minutes and then come back to sit on the fetal and contraction monitor. My contractions were consistently 4-5 minutes apart, but they were not increasing in number or intensity. So they sent me back out to walk again. I walked for over an hour and came back to be checked again around 6:30 p.m. I was getting frustrated and pissy. I hadn't eaten since 9 a.m., I was starving. And I felt like I was about to be sent home until my "labor was real" (not something you want to hear at 40 weeks, 3 days).

I had them recheck me and I was stuck at a 6 cm, although the baby had descended to a 0 station. I was given the option of leaving and coming back when labor started or having them break my water. I was striving to have as little medical intervention as possible, but felt like breaking my bag was the best option given my lack of progress. My water was broken and within 10 minutes my labor had become incredibly intense with pain wrapping around my back. I knew then that I did not want to go med-free and in between tears of frustration and pain, I sat and weighed my options with Joe. He went to get my labor and delivery nurse to have her order an epidural. She came back in and told me we just needed to a cervical check before the anesthesiologist was called. At this point it was thirty minutes after my water had been broken...and I had progressed to 9.5 cm and a +1 station. It was at this point that I found out that I was about to have a baby and that there was no time left for an epidural. And I freaked the freak out.

The pain was intense and my contractions were coming on fast and I did not want to do it without drugs. I begged them to call anethesia anyway, I told them a hundred times that I did not want to feel the pain that I was feeling and when all else failed, I cried. And they let me carry on like this for roughly 5 minutes. I never really experienced that "urge to push" but my nurse convinced me that the only way to manage my pain was to push through it and make the baby go away. And so when the contractions came, as much as I didn't want to feel them and I didn't want to hurt, I brought my legs back and I pushed as hard as I could. And it hurt like hell. And I was scared to death.

I kept asking them to tell me how much longer I would need to feel this for, to put a time stamp or a number of contractions on it. I kept hearing "you're so close" and after the fourth time someone said that I told them to "stop bullshitting me and tell me the truth". And that's about the point in my labor where I transitioned from fear to determination. I wanted her out. NOW.

I snipped at the nursing student holding my foot for me, telling her she needed to actually be useful and push my foot back hard. I was pushing for so long that they had to check the baby's fetal heart rate with those annoying hockey puck things in between each contraction. So during my breaks from the pain, they were pushing down on my belly making me hurt and I got so mad. I distinctly remember telling my nurse to stop putting the hockey puck on me. And when she did it for what felt like the seven hundreth time, I said "what is with you and the fucking hockey puck, Fran?" I yelled at my OB for pushing down on the lip of my cervix that hadn't fully opened and then I yelled at him for not pushing on it. I begged him to make it end, to reach in and pull her out. And when all else failed I screamed on the top of my lungs, wild sounds that I didn't even know my body could make.

I'm pretty sure everyone else in labor and delivery called for the anesthesiologist after hearing my birth through the walls. It's too bad I can't make a commission on the increase in epidural sales I helped to affect that night.

After roughly 40 minutes of pushing and what felt like twice as many contractions, I could feel an intense pressure and the unmistakable feel of a body pass through me. But labor had lasted so long that I was sure I had pooped instead and she was still firmly inside me. They kept telling me to open my eyes and look at her, and I didn't believe that it was really over and she was really out and I had really given birth to my baby girl.

I never felt the ring of fire that others talk about, but the pain of her labor was unreal. I didn't think I could do it and I wanted to quit so many times. I would have quit if, at any point in time, I had the choice to do so. As it turns out, Miss Lola was "sunny side up" (head down, face up) which is why I was overdue and my labor kept stalling. I was told afterward that 90% of babies who are sunny side up will turn during labor. I was just in the lucky 10% of deliveries where this did not happen. Had she been head down, face down her head would have created pressure in my cervix as she dropped forcing me into labor. Instead her head acted like a cork that kept me from progressing altogether.

They told me had she presented face down, I would have gone into labor at least a week earlier and I would have only pushed for 10-15 minutes. Face up took me roughly 4 times as long. I broke several hundred blood vessels in my face and neck from bearing down. My lady bits are swollen and angry, but thankfully I didn't tear at all. I did, however, create the world's largest hemorrhoid in the process. A fact that I am deeply disturbed by each time I use the facilities.

I feel like I was hit by a Mac truck, but I think it's just a combination of drained adrenaline, lack of sleep and standard delivery aches and pains. If given the power of hindsight I would have asked for the epidural before I let them break my water. And if I ever deliver another child, which I sincerely doubt will happen, I would personally not elect to go without meds again. I realize every delivery is different and that my experience may have been much more pleasant had she been face down. But that pain and fear is still very palpable for me. Ask me again in a few weeks, and maybe I'll feel more empowered by the experience.

Reese and Ryan came down to meet their baby sister today. And it was everything I thought it would be. Ryan kept pointing to Lola and saying "ba-by" in his silly, grunting voice. He stroked her feet and wrapped his tiny hand, that suddenly looked huge by comparison, around her legs. He patted her head and touched her fingers. And then, like any nearly two year old boy would, he lost interest and began touching every button on every electronic device in my room.

Reese, on the other hand, was completely smitten with this tiny creature that immediately became "my baby". She sat on the bed and happily held her sister. Smiling and laughing and kissing her the whole time. At one point I took Lola out of Reese's arms to sit with both girls on my lap for a picture when I felt the baby being ripped out of my arms. Reese tugged her into her own lap and proceeded to hug her a dozen times, planting kisses all over Lola's little face. She melted my heart today. That little human is amazing.

My tiny peanut and I are discharging in the morning. I thought this stay in the hospital would be a vacation from my normal life. But instead I've found that I'm really tired and I miss my family and the chaos they provide so very much. I'm ready to go home and for us to start our new lives together. We are beyond blessed and I'm so very thankful to have these three beauties in my life.

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