Part 1: Labor & Delivery
I rolled over in bed about 1:30am and immediately knew my water broke. (Well, either that or I suddenly lost complete and utter control of my bladder.) At that moment, I knew the $65 we spent on a waterproof mattress pad cover was well worth it (even though it was originally purchased for accidental spills or pet accidents). It was a gushing sensation like I had read about—kind of cool, actually—until the gushing didn’t stop. :)) Well, it stopped momentarily as I got up out of bed, turned the light on, and announced loudly (but calmly) to Tom that my water broke. I think he asked if I was sure, and I think I told him to “listen” as the fluid ran down my legs and actually puddled on the rug in dripping sounds. I am pretty sure he told me it sounded gross. B)
I was not having any contractions, so I wasn’t that worried about getting right to the hospital. Besides, it was so early in the morning, and I was so tired, that all I wanted to do was shower and get back into bed to try and get more sleep—knowing if I went to the hospital, I would surely not be getting much—if any—sleep. So while I showered and cleaned up, Tom changed the sheets. I then laid back down on a towel and attempted to get to sleep.
Ha. Fat chance.
I was trying to remember all that I had read about when the water breaks—like how long I could go or how soon I had to get to the hospital. And I was thinking “I still haven’t packed my bag!” (I thought I still had at least a good week or two—or maybe more—left, as a lot of sources I read said first-timers could go longer than the due date.) And of course I was still leaking. So much for it being one big gush.
So I finally got up around 4:30 and took another shower, started gathering stuff for my bag, and got out my pregnancy books to see what they said about water breaking (I had read everything at least once, but apparently couldn’t remember anything). Turns out, I needed to call the doctor, as it is not recommended to go more than a few hours after your water breaks. So I ate a bagel (I was starving) and called the doctor’s answering service about 5:30. She called back within a few minutes and told me that yes, I needed to go to the hospital. She was actually scheduled for some surgeries at that hospital, so she would check in on me later in the day.
I went to wake up Tom and told him we had to get moving. I finished packing my bag and we were off, and I was checking into the hospital about 7am. I called my mom from the lobby to tell her and she said she had a few things to get done, but would be on her way as soon as she could be. Ironically, she had just been there that weekend… Sometime in here, Tom made calls to his mom and I think I called my dad (or did Tom?)—you think you will remember all the tiny details but you don’t. :no: Tom also called his office to let them know he wouldn’t be in.
Once on the mother and baby floor, I was admitted quickly and was put in an exam room so they could check the fluid (to make sure my water really did break—you just never know), do some blood work, and begin monitoring my nonexistent contractions. It was actually quite relaxing, as I just got to lay in a bed…and try not to think too hard about what was coming up. (For the record, years ago when I thought about the prospect of having kids, the birth was the thing that scared me the most and was a major deterrent to having a baby. This time around, I had barely even given it a second thought and wasn’t worried about it at all. I have no idea why the change in thought.)
Around 9am, they moved me to a private labor and delivery suite and hooked me up to more monitoring equipment and an IV (prepping for the Pitocin because I still wasn’t having any contractions). Again, this was nice and relaxing—the calm before the storm, as it were. We had brought the ipod so I could listen to some relaxing spa-type music (lots of Enya) so that was comforting. Tom pretty much just sat there with me, waiting. Unfortunately, I was hungry, but couldn’t eat anything…and wouldn’t be able to eat anything until after the delivery. Tom was hungry so grabbed lunch from the cafeteria, and I have to say at that point, a sandwich never smelled so good.
They started the Pitocin about 10am, and sometime thereafter (not sure exactly when) I started having minor contractions…mostly just like menstrual cramps. A little irritating and uncomfortable, but nothing major. Of course, as time wore on and more drugs entered my system, the contractions got worse and worse. I might have been a little bit of a wuss, because I never normally get cramps anyway, so the cramping was probably more bothersome than it might have been for someone else. When my pain level got to about a 5 or 6, I said it was time for the epidural. It was about this time (1pm) that my mom arrived.
Now, I know an epidural is NOT fun and is indeed painful. But I was in NO WAY prepared for just how painful it really was. I am convinced, however, that it was partially the fault of the anesthesiologist who had NO bedside manner and who, I think, was ignoring the fact that I was actually IN LABOR. Meaning I was trying to get on my side and curl up into a ball and I was trying to stay still… but you try staying perfectly still DURING A CONTRACTION. And he kept getting mad at me! I could hear him grumbling behind me about how I had to stay still and how I was not making this easy for him and how this was a very delicate procedure. I just wanted to say NO SHIT, REALLY?!?! He eventually backed away from me and basically said to a nurse “She’s not listening to me. Get her into the position I need.” >:XX
Thinking back (after the entire course of events), I think I may have needed more pain medication—I don’t think the initial shot of (lidocaine?) was enough to numb me and I felt absolutely everything he was doing. I was literally SCREAMING in pain while he was poking me. So overall I thought he was an ass and that was honestly the worst part of the entire delivery. (Yes, I will get to the actual pains of delivery—which were HORRIBLE—but I expected that pain. I did not expect the same level of pain for the epidural, so I think it was much worse.)
The contractions continued to get stronger—and while I could still feel them, at least the epidural muted the gut-wrenching cramping and the pain was more easily tolerable. Still not fun, but not too bad. I tried to rest during this time between contractions, while Tom and my mom tried to keep me comfortable and feed me ice chips. Since we took no birthing classes, I was on my own for breathing, although the nurses gave me some techniques to try which were helpful.
All during this time, the nurses kept checking me to see how close I was to delivering—and it was usually one small centimeter at a time. The doctor also arrived around this time (5ish) and inserted a fetal monitor (yes, inserted—stuck it to the baby’s head) because they were having a tough time getting the external monitor to pick up the necessary info. They also eventually inserted a catheter (OH MY GOD, NOT FUN—it ranked up there close to the epidural).
The contractions were getting closer together—and more painful—and I really felt I wanted to push. The nurses assured me that I wanted to hold out on pushing as long as possible, because once you started pushing, you were committed to the delivery—and they also assured me that as soon as I started pushing, I would want to go back to breathing through a contraction. I couldn’t believe that, as it felt like the baby was on its way out with each contraction and it felt like I was doing everything I could to keep it in.
But they were right.
I finally started pushing about 6pm—and oh the pain. Breathing sounded like a much better option, LOL, but there was no going back. Tom was holding one leg and either a nurse or my mom was holding the other. It was very hard to try to remember how to push—and they would keep telling me “Your face is red, you aren’t pushing correctly. Push with your butt, not your face. Don’t arch your back, push your butt down towards the bed.” The nurse had to tell me each time because I couldn’t remember, and it is harder than you think to push with your butt (like you are trying to poop) instead of from your chest or face. Everyone assured me I was doing great and the baby was moving (they could see the monitor cord moving) but of course it all felt the same to me—like I was doing all this work and nothing was happening. Then after one good push they told me they could see the top of his head—and he had dark hair and lots of it. I couldn’t believe they could see that, so I gave my mom permission to take ONE PICTURE to show me. (I have never been terribly modest, but when you are in labor, ALL modesty goes right out the window because you are concentrating on so much else. The president could have walked in and I wouldn’t have cared.) The picture looks kind of alien-y and I had to have them point out which small part was his head, but damn if you couldn’t see his hairy little melon!
And then my acid reflux acted up. From what, you’re probably wondering, as I hadn’t had anything to eat except ice chips since 4:30 that morning. Well, the only thing I can think of is that one batch of ice chips had cherry flavoring in it… So anyway, just imagine being in labor and needing to throw up. Trying to get into a sitting position and trying to throw up into a tiny bowl. Dry heaving. Then actually throwing up. Twas not fun. But of course I felt MUCH better afterwards.
Pushing went on for what seemed like F-O-R-E-V-E-R and then the contractions started to diminish. For who knows what reason, they had turned down the Pitocin!?!? So they turned it back up, and eventually the contractions got harder and stronger again, and it was back to pushing. And I will not lie: it was painful. It was THE hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, and I knew it would only get worse when the baby was actually ready to be delivered. During a contraction, you might be able to get in 1-3 pushes. You are tired after the first push, but then you have to find the strength to push another time or two. (Unless, of course, you are superwoman and have the strength to push continually for the duration of the contraction…which I was not.)
I was just beginning to think the labor would go on forever when they told me that I was very close and the next contraction might be it. They were also tempting me with food, because I was STARVING and I knew Tom had made me a turkey sandwich and they told me I could eat it as soon as I delivered. So on the next contraction, I gave it my all…and in one sudden gush I felt the most extreme pain of my life, followed by [momentary] sweet relief as the head emerged. In that instant I thought two things: 1) Why don’t they just pull him out the rest of the way? and as soon as I realized that obviously wasn’t going to happen…2) I could rest before the next contraction and pushing him out the rest of the way. Except the doctor was saying KEEP PUSHING, YOU’RE ALMOST THERE! Oh man, I had to keep pushing for that second and third time to push the rest of him out! Now, THIS was THE most painful minute of my life. I didn’t want to be one of those screaming-during-labor women, but I was. During this last contraction, pushing out the body, I screamed. A few times. (Tom assured me later I wasn’t THAT bad.) And then the same extreme pain as he came out, followed by the oh-so-amazing relief of the stretching and pressure being over. Just like that.
And then Owen was on my stomach and Tom was cutting the cord and then Owen was in my arms and it was all VERY surreal. (No, I didn’t cry. I think I was too exhausted.) I just held him and looked at him for a few minutes and then they whisked him off to the other side of the room to clean him up and do the newborn tests (his APGAR was 9 for those who are curious—I had to dig to find the information, as apparently most new moms have no clue and never ask, so they never thought to tell me).
Then, of course, all the happiness wears off for a bit as you realize you aren’t done. The doctor still has to deliver the placenta, take care of the cord, and stitch you up. XX( Delivering the placenta is harder than you’d think, because your contractions are done so there is nothing to help you push it out—you have to do it on your own. And it felt just like you might imagine it would feel—a wet squishy thing squirting out of you. Interestingly, the cord drove me insane. I could feel it hanging there and it was…tickling me…to such an extent that it was very uncomfortable. I was amazed at all that I could still feel, and I was positive the epidural had completely worn off (in fact, I believe I asked them to pump up the dosage during the delivery and they refused). Then the doc started stitching me up (I only needed two or three—apparently I was quite lucky) and I was practically crawling up the bed trying to get away from her. I told her it was VERY painful and I could feel everything. You could tell she didn’t really believe me, and asked exactly what I could feel. I told her “I can feel you touching raw skin and I can feel you stitching me up.” She was amazed, and gave me another shot of lidocaine. (She said later she hardly ever sees anyone that needs two shots…so maybe I do have some resistance to pain medication, and maybe the epidural hadn’t really worn off, it just wasn’t strong enough for me. It might also explain why the original epidural shot was so painful—the numbing shot he gave me wasn’t enough.)
Then they cleaned me up (again, made a little difficult because I was very ticklish—I finally told them to stop being gentle and just do it—and it was better) and brought the baby back to me. And somewhere soon thereafter I was eating my sandwich.
Anyway, it turns out I was only in labor for about an hour and a half. I started pushing about 6pm and he was born at 7:34pm. So, a very good (and quick) first birth. YAY?! :P He weighed 7 lbs. 1 oz. and was 19″ long. He had all 10 fingers and 10 toes, and they were all loooong fingers and toes at that. He had a whole head full of hair. And he was the cutest thing I think I have ever seen. We had been worried about having an ugly baby—because, let’s face it, not all newborns are cute. And we were fully prepared to say we had an ugly baby. But damn if he wasn’t SOOOOO CUTE!! The most impressive thing was Tom coming up to me and saying “You know what? He’s cuter than Maggie!” And if you know Tom at all, that’s a major statement, seeing as how much he LOVES his dog.
After a few hours of rest and a quick instruction on bathing him, it was off to the other side of the unit to our recovery suite…where the official birth story will pick up with part 2.
Part 2: Recovery
Part 2 isn’t nearly as exciting as Part 1. (And beware, there is some TMI stuff.)
After about two hours of recuperation in the labor and delivery room, it was off to the other side of the wing to the mother and baby rooms. By this time it was about 10pm. It was nice to get into our own room, but it was bizarre to be alone. With a baby. EEK! 88|
Oh wait, first.
My lesson in going to the bathroom.
As if the whole birth process wasn’t bad/disgusting/painful enough…now I had to deal with wearing diapers (basically) and having to complete a whole process each time I went to the bathroom. I knew there would be bleeding, and I knew there would be pain. I just didn’t realize the extent of either. I was floored when the nurse walked me through what I needed to do each time I had to use the bathroom.
First, I had to toss the blood-drenched pad/ice pack…which sounds easy enough, but is actually harder than it sounds because it generally either falls in the toilet or on the floor. Ugh. (I am sure I could have paged a nurse to come deal with it, but really, I couldn’t bring myself to do that.) So you either had to fish the big sopping wad out of the toilet or pick it up off the floor—and then deal with the blood drops/puddles all over so you didn’t step in it and/or drag it all over. (Again, I probably could have called a nurse, but…)
Second, now that you are on the toilet and have dealt with the pad—although, well, it might still be in the toilet, because if you had to pee bad enough, do you really think you were going to take the time to dig it out of the toilet before you peed? And really, what difference does a little pee make, since you’re dealing with a bloody pad anyway? I mean really. So let’s just assume you are now peeing. And it’s painful. At least for the first time or two—it feels like peeing with a urinary tract infection. On top of it feeling like someone kicked you square in the hoo-ha. And just the pressure of sitting there makes you cringe.
Third. Okay, now that we’ve peed and (let’s just assume) taken care of the pad, it’s time to clean and prep. You get a peri bottle (tiny squeeze bottle) that you are supposed to squirt at yourself to cleanse and rinse…which sounds easy enough…but…okay, where to begin? All you really want to do is get back to bed to rest so you want to rush. So you hate to wait for the water to run and run to get warm (luckily I could reach the sink/water faucet from the toilet)…or deal with cool or lukewarm water. If you are in a rush, guess which temperature you use? Even if you think to plan ahead and fill the bottle with hot/warm water…by the time you actually get around to using it, it’s cool/lukewarm anyway… So we’re rinsing and rinsing and…have you ever tried squirting the last bits of something out of a bottle when it’s upside down and at an angle? While trying to hit a specific target, mind you? Not easy. So you usually have to refill the bottle at least once because you get the best pressure that way.
Fourth. Okay, we’re rinsed now, so it’s time for the new pad. And wow are they huge. And hopefully you haven’t thoroughly soaked your disposable underwear and can keep those on for another go-round (otherwise you have to deal with taking them off and putting on a new pair (which is an uncomfortable dance if ever there was one). So let’s assume you have the mesh undies on, a new pad resting on it—oh, wait. Yes. The ice pack.
Five. Hopefully you’ve remembered to bring one in with you. At first, the nurses tell you to page them, and they will bring you one. But I hated calling the nurse every time I wanted to pee, so I finally asked for a bunch, which I then kept in the in-room freezer so I could pee at any time without having to call someone. Awesome, right? (Yes, it’s the little things in life that thrill you at this point.) So now you have to place the ice pack on top of the pad and—
Six, place a few witch hazel wipes on top of the ice pack (for soothing relief on your actual bits!). So, if you’ve been following along, we now have a stack that includes the disposable undies, the gigantoid pad, the ice pack, and the wipes—and now you have to stand up and actually PLACE everything where it needs to be (i.e. make sure the ice pack and wipes hit the area they are meant to) so it’s kind of a game, really, at which you can consider yourself a winner if you’ve placed everything correctly so that you don’t bleed on your gown or the bed (although they have a special blanket on the bed for just that reason).
So there you have it. All that it takes to go pee after you give birth. It’s amazing how good the ice packs feel, though, so really it’s all worth it, but damn those first few trips to the bathroom took a loooong time. And I fished my share of pads (and ice packs!) out of the toilet—hell, I even tried to flush them once in my exhaustion. And remember, you must do this routine each and every time! Even after you get home! The fun! That said, by the time I got home, I was zipping through a bathroom break like a pro.
Okay, so after Bathroom 101 it was time to travel. (They wouldn’t let you move rooms until you had peed at least once.) They swaddled Owen like the cutest little baby burrito ever (I don’t think he would ever be swaddled so proficiently again), handed him to me, and wheeled us to the new room.
Hubby was in charge of schlepping everything else (my suitcase, etc.). We got to the room and it was unbearably hot—something like 84º! The nurse said it did NOT need to be quite so warm, and turned it down to the recommended 71-74º.
Now, this is where it gets hazy, and why I should have written this much sooner than two months after the fact.
Tom stayed for a bit, but he had to check in at work the next morning (in order to check out for his 10 days of leave), so he was going home to sleep. Owen was sleeping and there wasn’t really anything Tom could do for me, so off he went about 11pm. My mom was already home, having gone earlier to let the dog out. It was VERY strange being alone in the room…with my baby. I really would have liked Tom to be there, but really, there was no point.
The nurses and doctors were all very nice, and came in on and off throughout the night to hand over pain pills and stool softeners, to check my stitches, to check on the baby and maybe do a diaper change, and to see if I needed any assistance with breastfeeding (wait, maybe that was the second night, because I do remember Owen sleeping pretty much the entire first night). Yes, babies sleep a lot the first night—they are exhausted, too!
It was amazing how lightly I slept, even though I was so exhausted…every little noise he made woke me up—and his noises were terribly quiet. I did spend a lot of time just looking at him or reaching over to touch him—I was just in complete and total awe. I had a baby. I was alone with a baby. This was my baby. What had I gotten us into? It was also hard to sleep because lights were on—since the nurses had to come in and out, it was required to have one light on. It was a pretty big room, but even one light was enough to brighten the entire room.
Tom and my mom came the next morning and just sat with me. I tried to nap but I wasn’t really THAT sleepy tired—and I wanted to visit with them and see the baby. He was still pretty sleepy, but was up enough for everyone to get a chance at holding him. He had to have blood work done (which he didn’t like at all, although he got over being pricked fairly quickly), he got his hearing tested, and he got a vaccination. A lactation consultant came in and helped with breastfeeding. I think we changed a diaper or two. (It really is a blur at this point, and it was only two months ago!)
Tom did stay with me the second night—and I am sure it wasn’t terribly comfortable for him, since he had to sleep on the couch. Of course, Owen was also awake a bit more this night, so we were up dealing with him. Tom did manage to sleep through more of Owen’s noises than I was, however. I guess mom hearing is much more advanced than dad hearing.
And then it was time for the circumcision. I am not sure what I was expecting, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it would only take like 15 minutes, and I certainly didn’t expect to feel a sense of loss and sadness when they wheeled him out of the room (the first time he had been away from me since he was born), and I certainly didn’t expect to feel the huge pang of guilt when he came back screaming. :'( And I most certainly was not expecting the moments of sheer panic when we needed to change his first post-surgery diaper and he was screaming and the gauze was sticking to him and he had the yucky sticky meconium poop and I was still sore trying to stand up and we couldn’t manage to wrangle the wriggly baby…so I broke down and paged the nurse, who couldn’t even hear me because Owen was screaming so loud. They must have gotten the hint that we needed their presence, because a nurse was there within moments, and she successfully changed the diaper for us. I felt guilty that I couldn’t even manage to change that diaper…but she assured us it was normal—and of course she has done it a million times so she probably could have done it blindfolded.
Then there was more blood work for him (he was jaundiced), some blood work for me (I think), along with the repeated checking of my stitches and the continual handout of drugs. With a constant changing of the guards—I mean nurses.
And then all too soon it was time to go home—talk about a scary proposition! My mom was still there, which was nice, but we still walked in the house and the first thing I jokingly said was “Well, what now? What the hell do we do with this thing?” :>>
And the rest, as they say, is history.