And so, I became a mother of two! *I’m writing this from the hospital, using my phone which is not ideal, but I’m terribly bored and can’t bring myself to go to sleep at 7:00 pm. Phone blogging it is. Some people probably don’t care to know about what went on with my labor and delivery of Baby Grant, but I’m a birth junkie and love reading birth stories, so I want to write his. If this kind of thing isn’t your bag, or if you are not thrilled with my ability to over-share graphic detail, please feel free to run NOW.
Ok, the rest of us shall continue! (*This is how far I got before I fell asleep. The rest of the story has been written over a three week time period. Yeah, two kids…much harder than one kid.)
Monday morning (11/10) I told Mike that “today was probably the day” since I’d had quite a few contractions over night. I felt he should still go to work since there wasn’t any real pattern to them and if things picked up, he’s only five minutes away. He agreed, so I called in to work and decided to time contractions with a phone app I’d uploaded. It wasn’t long before the contractions slowed way down and then stopped. My mom had arrived the Friday before, so her and I cooked and took care of Truman and waited for the action. I had a few painful contractions throughout the day and as the evening went on they got more and more painful, but no closer together. I started timing them again right before I went to bed at 11:00. 26 minutes apart. I closed my eyes and dozed off in between them. After three or so they moved to 16 minutes apart. Three or four contractions later, they changed to 10 minutes apart. I had read to head to the hospital when contractions were 5 minutes apart for an hour or two. Hmm…I probably had a few more hours. I tried to get comfortable and take little naps between, but it is hard falling asleep every ten minutes! I was really uncomfortable but didn’t want to leave too early.
The last thing I wanted was to go to the hospital and be sent home or worse, be put on pitocin. I was induced with Truman and it was 24 hours of really hard labor, cytotec, pitocin, an epidural I hadn’t planned on getting and almost ended in a cesarean section. I wanted to do things my way this time. I really wanted to wait as long as possible to go to the hospital, not have any pain medication, delay cord clamping, have lots of skin to skin time and nurse as soon as possible. (With Truman I did get the skin to skin and was able to breastfeed immediately which I think helped out immensely in our breastfeeding journey.)
So, I had a few contractions that were 10 minutes apart, each lasting about 90 seconds. I got up to use the bathroom and brought my phone with me. I had gotten up right after a contraction ended, so I figured I had ten minutes to pee and have a drink of water before the next one. Three minutes later, I was in the grip of another one. A really big one. One so big, that my heavy breathing and quiet moaning wasn’t enough to get me through it. I let out a loud, deep groan and gripped the wall. This had to be a fluke. But three minutes later, another just like the previous! Where were the five minutes apart contractions? I thought I was supposed to head to the hospital when they were five minutes apart for an hour! They were three minutes apart and lasting for two minutes. I woke Mike up and told him we needed to go – NOW. He jumped up and started throwing on clothes. I changed really quickly, grabbed my bag from the coat rack in the living room and gathered the last minute stuff I needed to bring. I told my Mom we were heading to the hospital and she wished us luck and told us to keep her posted. Mike took everything out to the van and I waited for another contraction to end before I headed out. We left the drive way at 3:00 am exactly.
On the way to the hospital I told Mike that depending on how far along I was, I might want to get an epidural. The pain was intense and I hadn’t slept. I guessed I was about four centimeters dilated and I knew from previous experience how long it can take to get to ten. I was exhausted and I no longer felt like going through this, especially for twelve more hours or something. Mike, being a smart man who would never tell his wife what to do concerning her own body at any time, but especially while in labor, said, “Honey, you do what ever you want to do. If you want the epidural, get it.” (Reason #2384947273 I love my husband.) I had quite a few contractions in the van and during each one I made Mike turn the heat off, and yelled at him to avoid the bumps. Suddenly, Las Vegas had the bumpiest roads in the world! I gritted my teeth and tried to breathe, telling myself the drive wasn’t very long and I had pain free sleep waiting for me at the hospital. My desire for natural childbirth completely left my head.
Since it was 3:00 a.m. we had to come through the emergency room entrance instead of labor and delivery. Mike pulled up and I told him to go in and tell them to bring out a wheelchair, I didn’t think I could walk in. He disappeared inside the doors and I concentrated on breathing through another contraction. I saw a nurse coming towards the door and I jumped out of the van. I got in the wheelchair and Mike took off to park. I had another really intense pain as they were wheeling me through the ER waiting room and let out a wail that made heads spin around. Suddenly, I couldn’t keep myself together. The pain was ridiculous and felt almost constant! There was no time to gather my head in between, I couldn’t focus on breathing. Instead of taking me right to labor and delivery, they decided to take my temperature, blood pressure, ask me a zillion questions about my health history, ask if I’d been to Africa recently and then asked if I’d pre-registered. I had, and all of the answers to the other questions were in my record already. I was losing patience and losing my head. As I screamed across the triage area, “PLEASE GIVE ME DRUGS!” I think they finally decided I was seriously in labor and they might want to get me to the Women’s Center since the other patients were looking nervous. It was 3:25 when they sent me to labor and delivery.
I was not calm. I was not quiet. I felt like a wild thing. The poor guy stuck with wheeling me down the hall must have thought he was going to have to deliver the baby himself, because he was running. He apologized for the wheelchair not having foot rests, which actually really does suck. I had to hold my feet straight out in front of me while having the fastest wheelchair ride ever. Mike was left in the dust. He was saddled with a pillow, my bag and his bag and Mr. Nurse was sprinting me down the hall at break neck speed with no thought to how my husband was going to find me. He took me into the triage area with a bunch of beds separated by curtains. Mike followed right after, he had managed to keep his eye on me somehow.
Apparently, that night was a popular night to go into labor, and all the labor rooms were full. I didn’t care where I was at that point. I shamelessly begged the first person I saw for drugs. She was a little Filipina woman who laughed and told me to get the gown on and get into bed so they could check me. Mike helped me undress and put the lovely hospital gown on. I climbed into the bed as the first nurse came back with another nurse. She was stern looking and as I loudly got through another contraction, she told me she wanted to check me. I said no problem, I just wanted an epidural. She checked me and said I was 6 centimeters. I was surprised! I had assumed I’d be just a few centimeters dilated and expected to be in labor for a long time still. The nurse told me they had to order blood work before I could have an epidural to make sure my blood would clot. I told her to please do it and hurry. She laughed and said she already put the order in and I had to calm down and be patient. Yeah right Lady, I thought as another contraction made me howl like a crazy person. They got my IV placed and hooked up the fetal monitor to listen to baby’s heart beat. They asked me all of the same stupid questions that they asked me in the ER! I asked who was on call and was happy to hear it was Dr. Ivie. She is not my normal doctor but I had seen her once and really liked her. The nurse asked if I could walk across the hall to a labor room that had opened up, and I said I thought I could. We waited for another contraction, walked across the hall and by the time I got into that bed, I felt like I had to push. I screamed. Really loudly. I remember thinking that there was no way that sound came out of me. My body felt like it was turning inside out. I screamed, “I’m pushing!” And the nurse said to wait and she would check me. I frantically begged for the blood work and told her I couldn’t do this anymore and I needed the epidural RIGHT NOW! She checked me and said, “Listen, you are 8 centimeters. You cannot push. You could lacerate your cervix and then you could hemorrhage. You need to get yourself under control! Breathe through the contractions and stay in control of yourself instead of screaming. Screaming makes the pain worse.” She was kind of mean, but it was exactly what I needed. I asked where the anesthesiologist was. Just then the blood work guy came in and drew blood. Whew! Now I could get the epidural! The nurse left the room and I focused on breathing and remaining calm. Mike held my hand and stayed quiet while I continued laboring. Breathing and staying in control actually did help! I had to focus really hard and tell myself that the pain was almost over and just when I thought I couldn’t handle one more second, it was. I had a minute or two of rest between contractions and was getting into kind of a groove. There were nurses bringing stuff into the room, a table with instruments, the bassinet with warming lights that they put the baby in, all kinds of furniture was coming in! The nurse came back in and I asked where my epidural was. She told me that the anesthesiologist said he would do it but I had to hold completely still and it didn’t seem like I’d be able to do that. “I can do it! I promise!” I could see it all over her face that I wasn’t going to get the epidural. I was probably too far gone when I walked in the door, come to think of it. I was trying to convince her when another contraction made my entire body tense and push. “I’m pushing! I’m sorry, I’m not trying to but I am!” I yelled. She quickly checked me again and said, “Let’s get Dr. Ivie. Right now.” I asked, “Am I at 10?” She looked a little apprehensive and then smiled and said, “Just a tiny bit of cervix left.” I was suddenly so excited and so happy I didn’t care about the epidural. Dr. Ivie came in and said hi to everyone and checked me. She said I was complete, broke my water and told me I could push with the next contraction.
Mike held my leg and I pushed as hard as I could. It felt so much better than laying there breathing! I felt like every time I pushed the pain went away. I didn’t wait for another contraction, I just kept pushing. I was motivated and wanted my baby out! I would take a breath and go right back at it. Everyone was cheering me on, and then Mike said, “He has hair!” Knowing that he could see his head made me push even harder. Dr. Ivie told me to hold on, and push half as hard as I just pushed. She didn’t want me to tear. I pushed a little bit and felt intense burning. I had heard women talk about the “ring of fire” and now I completely understood what they were talking about. I pushed again and felt his head come through. Dr. Ivie said to give one more hard push and I felt his body leave mine. It was 4:20 on November 11, my Grandma Burdick’s birthday and Veterans Day. I looked down as she handed me a perfect, though very purple little boy.
We asked her to delay clamping the cord and she said no problem. We rubbed our new babe and talked to him, marvelling in all of his perfect little features. He was still really purple and the nurse wanted to give him a little oxygen. Dr. Ivie said the cord had stopped pulsing so she had Mike cut it, and the nurse took Grant over to the warmer. Dr. Ivie was working on me, delivering the placenta and checking out the damage. She said there was a shallow tear and was trying to see if she could avoid stitching it. I took this time to apologize to my nurse who laughed and said I did great. Dr. Ivie said I was the textbook example of what natural labor should be and thanked me for not kicking her in the face. (Apparently, that happens to her a lot during unmedicated births!) I felt so proud of myself and so in awe that I not only had another beautiful baby boy, but that I had gotten the type of labor I had always wanted. I survived childbirth without medication and though I know everyone says you “don’t get a medal for doing it without drugs,” I felt like I’d won the Gold. Grant was pinking up nicely and Dr. Ivie decided to put in a few stitches since the bleeding wasn’t stopping. While she stitched, we learned that Grant weighed 7 pounds 12 ounces and was 20 inches long. Everyone was so excited about his red hair! His apgar scores were 7 and 8.
The nurse brought me the baby and had me tuck him against my chest for skin to skin time. She said not to nurse just yet since he was still having a little difficulty breathing. He was rooting immediately and found his thumb, sucking like his life depended on it. Dr. Ivie said goodbye and we thanked her and the nurse took Grant back and gave him a bath while the nurses changed my bedding and got me cleaned up. They had me use the bathroom and set me up with sexy mesh underwear and what I like to call a dinosaur pad. (Seriously, they are enormous!) After I was all comfy, it was ok to try nursing. Grant latched on immediately and nursed for a few minutes before falling asleep. They moved us to a recovery room while Mike went outside to make phone calls and I settled into bed and snuggled my new little bundle. I was exhausted and flooded with adrenaline at the same time. It all seemed surreal! The nurses I had in recovery commented on three things: Grant’s red hair, how fast my labor and delivery went, and the fact that I didn’t have an epidural. We were the talk of labor and delivery!
We got to leave the hospital the next morning. I was in a hurry to get home and see Truman since he wasn’t allowed to visit us in the hospital. That was the longest I’d been away from him and I missed him immensely. The pediatrician cleared Grant for release and the on call OB cleared me with strict instructions to take iron supplements for anemia and to get on reliable birth control. (I thought that was weird. Almost like he was against having more than two kids or something.) He said if we did choose to have another, I needed to leave for the hospital as soon as I knew labor had begun to avoid delivering in the car. Then, we were out the door and on our way home, ready for life as a family of four.