Saturday, February 6, 2010
Birth Story - Part 3. The Final Frontier.
Quick review (But lets be clear: If you haven't read the first two installments, it doesn't matter because they are grammatically challenged, long winded, and only really make sense to me).
So, to recap:
Election day 2008 (this birth story is quite dated as my son is over a year old now!), contractions, loss of "mommy plug", no baby, frantic crib shopping, adventures in getting locked out of the house in the middle of the night, weary put-upon husband, people telling me I look fat, lots of pizza, lots of peeing, water breaking in the bed which is perceived as more peeing by the put upon husband, emergency room Nurse who believes in me & wins my lifelong love and loyalty, and now we're all caught up.
At this point, I'm surrounded by all the books I forgot to read over the last 7 months (because I was busy eating and keeping my baby ALIVE through constant nourishment, thank you). I'm thumbing through them looking for information on how to tell if your water broke. They all say, like, duh - it's not that hard to figure out. But I don't know a lot of people who feel really smart and full of common sense in the third trimester. Cause your brain is too preoccupied with, 'What the blippety blip is going on INSIDE OF ME, DEAR GOD?!!!!!?'
Brent decides to humor me and we get in the car, leak leak leak, all the way to the hospital. We pack 'lightly' as I am halfway convinced I will be sent home immediately.
The hospital does 4 amniotic fluid tests on me, each one coming back negative. (As in, it's not amniotic fluid, (it must be PEE!) and my water has NOT broken)
"Hmm" the Doctor says.
"It really appears that your water HAS broken."
He stares down at his shoes, a shy damp from the puddled floor beneath my feet.
I stare at the ceiling of the hospital room. I'm lying on the crinkly white paper, holding Brent's hand, feeling humiliated. There are three people in a room trying to decide if we are all soaked in pee, or baby fluid.
"Yeah. So, what's happening here, am I just peeing continuously right now or.....?"
Doctor, "Well, the microscope is not picking up on any fern like images, which amniotic fluid resembles under the lens."
"Maybe my amniotic fluid looks more like a flower?"
The ultra sound is wheeled in to "take a peek" and sure enough, PLENTY OF AMNIOTIC FLUID STILL PACKED IN THERE!
"Well, this is just great. I'm going to have to go into work tomorrow then, because apparently I'm not in labor. I'll just put a tarp in my cubicle. No problem." This, along with the flower comment, is just my inner monologue, as I'm concentrating on my contractions which are growing stronger. I've also decided I'm not on speaking terms with anyone in the room, except the Nurse who rolls her eyes every time the Doctor leaves the room to take a test strip to his microscope. "Honey, I don't think you are going anywhere."
Drip, drip. "Thank you for believing me." I say, thinking of the old cliche that a woman's intuition is always right. I'm almost a mother. I know my baby is coming.
"Yep, yep. Here it is!" The Doctor charges into the room, with an 'I knew it!' look on his face, he's holding the test strip in the air. "Amniotic fluid!"
Time out for a quick prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for making me right and Brent wrong. I love my husband. But I knew I was not PEEING!
Brent and I stare at each other. It sinks in. We are not going home. The next time we go home, it will be with our baby. We are about to become parents. Any silly competitive teasing about who was right fades away. Our eyes lock. We exchange nervous smiles. We feel like kids.
"What's going to happen now?" he asks the Nurse.
"Well, we recalculated her due date (apparently they can do that?!) and it looks like she is 35 1/2 weeks along, not 34, so she can stay here. Otherwise we would have to transfer her to another hospital where they have a more intensive preemie unit."
I had not really believed my baby was going to be premature. I thought he would be late. He was coming more than 4 weeks early. My experience at 5 months, having my appendix removed, had been so painful and frightening, and now it was all coming back to me.
"Can I have my epidural now?"
The Doctor says I can have it anytime, now that my water has already broken. I break into song. (In my head, like before, with the flower comment) Think Wizard of Oz: Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
"Let's get you settled first."
We get checked into a labor and delivery room. It's about 1 am. We're told to try to get some sleep. My contractions are steady through the night, I pace the room. I try to shower to soothe the pain. I draw pictures of needles on the wet shower stall. I talk to my future epidural: "How are you? I'm fine. I love you. Please come to see me soon."
I check on my husband. He's snoring fitfully on a uncomfortable bed/bench that is up against the wall. I look at the clock. 5 am. More contractions. I am so tough, I think, I must be like 5 inches dilated. Or centimeters, or metric kilometers, whatever. I'm superwoman. Where is my epidural?
Around 7 am everyone comes to life. I'm texting everyone I know. Brent's on the phone with our families. They tell me I'm 1/2 centimeter dilated. I ask for narcotics.
"Just until, you know, the epidural. When is that happening again? I was told anytime I wanted, I could have it. I'm not anti-epidural. I don't believe in natural childbirth. I think it's self hatred. I think it's martyrdom. I think it's ridiculous. I know I live in Portland and I'm Liberal so you think I don't want drugs, but that is not the case. I can give you a few different midwives phone numbers who I have pissed off that can attest to this. Can I see your badge?"
My darling husband, "Sweetie, why don't we make it a goal to wait until 3 centimeters before the epidural?"
I have to stop typing now because there are no words to describe the rage I felt at that moment.
"We? We? Why don't we.........................???????????????????????????????????????"
"Okay, never mind, nope, just an idea, let's get the epidural. Whatever YOU need sweetie, I SUPPORT."
For the record, I could not have gotten through any contractions without him, I would hold onto him, ask him to help me breathe, and in slow motion, we would get through it together. No one else could have helped me get through that pain. Still, we? We?
By noon, I had done the tub, the walking, the peeing in the bed pan while strapped to the bed (let's not get into that part). I had 12 straight hours of contractions and 3 centimeters to show for it.
Needle time. Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Bye bye contractions.
Peace. No pain. Love. More inward singing. I called everyone, "How you doing? I'm in labor. Feels good. Can't complain."
I watched my contractions dance up and down on the monitor. After a few hours I sent my sister to find the nurse, "Tell them the pain is coming back."
"Is it?" she asks.
"No, but if we want to get through birth PAIN FREE I'll need another round, because after this wears off, it may be too late to get another -- and then I will feel pain. Which is the opposite of my goal." (I set the goals around here, see?) This is MY BIRTH PLAN Y'ALL! Your welcome for saying it. (I warned you, end of post two, look it up).
A minute later, 9 centimeters. Husband has ran home to 'clean' and pack a real hospital bag so the baby will have, like, clothes or something to come home in.
He makes it back just in time.
I push real hard. I feel the sensation of a squirmy hot dog coming out. No pain. I'm cheating child birth. Will I get in trouble? I stare at the Nurse. Will she yell at me? I'm not thinking straight. Is there a baby coming out of me? Brent and I look at each other, and in the sappiest moment known to mankind, I feel like we are one.
The magic of my birth story is this: Through all of it, I had never felt so connected to my husband in the eight years we had been together. The bond we felt as we became parents was surreal. Our world was the same, our minds and hearts crashed into each other, like a Dave Matthews song.
Never in my life had I shared a moment so completely with someone else. No one had told me about this. We were shaking, and so scared. Our whole life was about to change, all control was gone. We were at the mercy of the next moment. That moment was too big to understand, to feel, to comprehend. All I knew as they put my baby on my chest was that the magnitude of what was happening would not be fully realized for years. The love that was about to grow between me and Jackson had only just begun, what would it feel like when he was one? Two? Ten? Twenty years old and beyond? I couldn't grasp it fully.
I only knew that it was a love that was going to break me. What other kind of love is there between a mother and child? No other kind of love. A love that has no beginning and no end.