Now that I have my new hands free pumping bra in the mail, I have a few minutes to myself (pumping counts as my personal time now) to share E's birth story. This will be long as fuck.
Monday, January 12th
9:30 AM: Monday started out like every other Monday during the past month. I woke up and headed into my OB's office for my weekly check-up. I was 39 weeks 1 day. I'd been ~90% effaced and 3 cm dilated for weeks and had been using Evening Primrose Oil for one week, so I was hoping for a bit of progress. Nothing. Everything was the same. My doctor again said that I was looking great, that baby was low and ready to go and that she didn't expect to see me for my next appointment. We did schedule a 40 week check-up and an NST just in case. My favorite nurse recommended that we continue to take long walks and have sex.
8:00 PM - 12:00 AM: So we did. About five minutes later, I started feeling period-like cramps that I was pretty sure were coming in waves. I just laid in bed quietly for a little bit before saying anything to Seth. Around 10:00, I told Seth that I was having contractions and that we should start timing them. I was really anxious about A) making sure it wasn't a false alarm and B) making sure we got to the hospital in time to get the antibiotics for the GBS. Once I figured out how to time them correctly, I realized they were coming every 4 minutes and lasting one minute. I called my mom in Philly and she insisted that I go to the hospital immediately. I decided to take a shower instead - I wanted to be as fresh as possible during L&D - but once I was in there I felt like the contractions were really coming more quickly and getting stronger. I hurried up and told Seth that we needed to leave right away. We grabbed our bags, kissed our pups good-bye and headed to the hospital!
Tuesday, January 13th
12:30 AM - 1:45 AM: By the time we got into triage, the contractions were getting stronger and I couldn't talk through them, but I managed. I remember staring at a yellow sign and just breathing through them quietly. The whole time this was happening, Seth was watching the monitor. Every time a contraction would start, his face would light up and he'd tell me that another one was coming. No shit. Part of me wanted to punch his smiling face, but mostly I just laughed. We're scientists - we love data. I knew I'd be doing the same thing if our positions were reversed. When the triage nurse finally gave me the most painful pelvic exam I have ever experienced (I was 100% sure that I wanted an epidural at this point), I was still about 90% effaced but dilated 5 cm. We were admitted and sent to a labor room!
2:00 - 6:00 AM: In the labor room, my contractions got really bad. The only thing that helped was holding on to Seth and rocking back and forth. Soon they started drawing my blood and prepping me for the epidural and I actually started to doze off which was awesome. Next came the epidural. This was by far my least favorite part of the whole experience. It is a really weird feeling. You just shouldn't feel pressure in your spine like that. It freaked me the fuck out (they need to invent an epidural for an epidural) . Luckily, they were able to get it in okay and soon I was happy and ready to get some sleep. Which I sort of did. My blood pressure was measured every 15 minutes and I had to go on an oxygen mask for most of the night (turns out E didn't like me being on my left side), but I did get some rest. Seth slept great.
6:00 AM: The nurses came in and checked me - I was only at 7 cm! WTF. It had been four hours since my last check. They told me that my doctor, Dr. F, would be in around 8:00 to check me again and decide what we were going to do. By the way, my doctor only delivers on Tuesdays. I was so pumped that I went into labor on the one day that she would actually be there. It really worked out perfectly.
8:00 AM: Dr. F arrived and it's the same story - I was only dilated 7 cm. I can't remember what we did at this point. More waiting I think. More ice chips. The most delicious ice chips I had ever tasted.
9:00 AM: My parents arrived! They got on a 7:00 AM flight expecting to have a grandson when they landed in Florida, but that's not what happened. I'm so glad that they made it here in time. It was really nice to have them there. They were able to hang out in my room with us for awhile. Epidurals are awesome. It was like I wasn't in labor at all.
9:45 AM: Dr. F checked me again and told me that I was at 9 cm and she broke my water. We also arranged my bed so that I was sitting up in order to get the baby to move down so more. My doctor said she wanted me to hang out in that position for a few hours so that when it was time to push, the baby would just come right out. She told me that she'd be back at noon, but if I felt like I was "holding in a giant shit", I should tell the nurses so they could let her know that it was time. Yes, those were her exact words. If you know me at all, you know that I couldn't have found a more perfect doctor for me.
11:30 AM: I sent my parents to go get something to eat and around 12:00 Dr. F popped in to see how I was doing. I told her I didn't feel any different, but she decided to check me before she went to pick up her daughter (another IVF baby). Thank God she did. She said I was at 10 cm and ready to go. The next thing I know, she's calling the nurse back in and they're rearranging my bed and getting me into position to push. Despite being in labor for over 12 hours, it all seemed like it happened so fast!
12:00 PM: This next part was so much better than I ever expected it would be. It was just Seth, my doctor, a nurse and a nursing student in the room with me. My doctor had Seth and the nurse each hold one of my legs (Seth didn't expect that - I think he was pretty nervous at this point!). She actually sat in bed with me and started coaching me on how to push. We were going to push for 3 sets of 10 seconds at each contraction. We did two practice rounds before getting started. It took me two or three tries to get the hang of it, but within five minutes Seth and my doctor were telling me that they could see the baby's head (I didn't want to look). Seth was awesome. If he was still nervous, he didn't show it. He kept telling me what a great job I was doing and kept me calm and motivated. After another two or three rounds of pushing, Seth told me that the baby was almost out, that we were so close!
12:20 PM: All of a sudden, Dr. F told me to put my hands "in the middle". I had no idea what the fuck she meant, so finally someone grabbed my hands and I felt something kind of warm and squishy and Dr. F told me to pull my baby out. What?? I wasn't expecting that either. But I did it and I'm glad that I did. I reached down, grabbed under his arms and pulled my little E out into the world. This is when I finally opened my eyes. I took one look at him and started laughing and crying and reaching for him. He was perfect. He was everything I always imagined. He was mine.
They laid E on my chest for a few minutes which was amazing. They had to take him away for a bit to do some more suctioning because he was coughing a lot. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. They brought him back briefly, but had to take him away again because my doctor was stitching up a minor tear (not even close to as bad as I had imagined) and then they had to deal with some extra bleeding. They gave me a shot to help with that and then Dr. F had to stick her hand up my vag and dig around a bit, but eventually they got it under control.
The whole time this was going on, I just wanted to hold E so badly. It felt like forever before they brought him back even though it was probably more like 10 minutes. Finally, we were ready for each other and we got to spend more skin-to-skin time together and we started breastfeeding (more on that later). It was amazing. I can't even describe the happiness, the relief, the disbelief that I felt seeing and holding my son for the first time. I don't want to ever forget that feeling. The other thing that I don't ever want to forget is the look on Seth's face when he saw his son for the first time and they way he followed him around the room. He kept looking back at me and I know he was thinking the same thing as me - He's real, he's perfect, he's mine.
So that's how little E was born. I feel like I had the perfect labor and delivery experience for me and I'm very grateful for that because I know that so often things don't work out that way. I know how lucky I am to have had such a wonderful experience and to have such a healthy little boy. I'm trying to focus on that during the rough moments - and there have been TONS of rough moments during these first two weeks. That will be the topic my next post...Hell Week.