Tuesday, April 17, 2012

12 Hours That Changed My Life: Part 1

Wednesday night and Thursday night were Parent-Teacher Conferences.  I sat, 38 nearly 39 weeks pregnant, in the gymnasium with all my colleagues, talking with parents about their students and what they could do to either stay strong or to improve during 4th quarter.  Of course, I wasn't going to be there for 4th quarter, but I still gave the advice anyway.  And, of course, there were many conversations about parenting and having babies.  "Are you ready?" they always asked.  "Well, I'd really like a few days of Spring Break, you know, to have a transition between school and mommy-hood."  Heads nodded in understanding. 

Me about a month before Will's arrival.  Turns out I have no pictures of me after this.
Friday was my day off.  The kick off to Spring Break, there was no school since we'd worked the two previous evenings.  I had two items on my agenda - coffee with a friend who was in town, and a trip to the library.  I knew I probably should do some work for my online class, but I was going to give myself a day off from thinking about school.  After my trip to the library, I considered a stop at Target to buy some baby-is-coming-soon essentials, like a nursing bra, but thought, "no, I'll go tomorrow.  I'm worn out from the week, from getting ready to leave school for the rest of the semester, from being huge.  I'm going to go home and read."  So home I went, and I read. 

It was a small group evening, so husband and I headed over to our friends' house and spent the evening there.  We broke into guys and girls groups to hear prayer requests.  Mine, of course, was primarily for a healthy and safe delivery.  We meet every two weeks as a group, and, with my due date a week away, we were all hoping that by the next small group, I'd have the Peanut.  I joked about wondering if I'd even know when I was in labor.  How are you supposed to know what it feels like when you've never done it?  "Oh, you'll know," was always the response.  They prayed for me and for the Peanut right then and there, and then later the guys and the girls were back together for some Bible study.  Later we all headed home, with well wishes for our delivery and a question on how they would know it was time.  "Oh, Husband will text you - if it says "Autobots, Let's Roll," that means it's time."  (Followed by an explanation of the Transformers.)

It was about 10:45, and Husband and I were sitting on our bed as we unwound for the evening, sharing our thoughts about small group, with him rubbing my back.  Suddenly a sensation I'd never experienced before.

"I'm peeing my pants!" I screeched as I leapt off the bed and raced to the bathroom.  "I think maybe my water just broke..." I announced to Husband as I sat on the toilet, trying to figure out if that was what had happened or not.  Certainly I didn't actually pee my pants, right?  Surely I had more control than that?  But it was so weird, and not what I expected, so could it actually be my water breaking?  And I had expected contractions first.  This wasn't labor, was it? I  felt perfectly normal, except for the whole peeing-of-the-pants thing. 

At the mention of the words "water breaking," Husband was up and throwing things into bags right and left.  We'd talked about what we'd take to the hospital, but we hadn't actually packed yet.  "I'm not even sure this it," I protested.  It didn't matter, he thought.  We needed to go to the hospital to check it out, just in case.  So I changed clothes (obviously) and helped pack the bags for the hospital, "just in case." 

Poor confused Ginny went to her room (her crate), and we got in the truck and drove the less-than-ten minutes to the hospital, it now being about 11:30.  Entering through the ER doors due to the late hour, we told the person at the desk we thought I might be in labor and she pointed us in the direction of the elevators.  When you get to the right floor, you have to ring this little doorbell and wait for admission, since the whole maternity floor is secure.  Once we'd gotten buzzed in, I told the nurse at the station the same thing.  "I think my water may have broken, but I'm not really sure."

We stood there for several minutes, starting to fill out paperwork I thought I'd already filled out at our pre-admit session, just to be told that yes, I had filled that out already, so I could stop.  They took us back to the triage session, told me to urinate in the cup and put the gown on, and then we'd take a look and see what was going on.  "Don't text people yet," I told Husband.  "We're not even sure what's happening." 

Once changed and on the table, the nurse, named Cassie, checked me out.  "Yes, you've ruptured.  You're at about 4 cm dilated," she told us.  "We'll get you checked into your birthing room."   I looked at Husband.  "Okay, now you can send the message."  I called my parents, it now being about midnight.  Both my mom and sister answered, groggy with sleep.  "My water broke and we're at the hospital.  Go back to bed, we'll call when something is really happening."  (As if they could go to sleep, Mom later told me.  But they tried.)

We moved over to my birthing room and decided to try to get some rest.  After all, I hadn't even had one contraction yet.  It took a while to get settled, with Cassie getting me hooked up to all the machines and going over what the process would/could look like for me.  Patiently, calmly, she answered all my questions, and then said she'd be back to check on me in a bit, but to call if I needed anything. 

The sign in our birth room.  We got a kick out of the room number and the date nearly matching.
I think we rested (and I use that term lightly) for about half an hour before the contractions hit, and hit in full force.  Forget easing your way into them, I don't apparently roll that way.  Husband was the man, holding my hand, standing beside me, helping me breathe and trying different positions with me.  After a while, though, I started to panic.  I was exhausted.  I had lost the night's sleep, and I become an emotional disaster area on a normal day when I'm over-tired.  So to be in labor and that tired, well I knew I was in trouble, and though a normally calm-in-stressful-situations person, I was in a panic.  We decided to try an IV medication to take the edge off.  I wouldn't normally, I said.  But it was just that I was so tired, justifying why I was breaking my "no meds" rule.

It helped.  I was able to get some good rest... for maybe 45 minutes.  And then the edge was no longer off, despite the fact that the medication should be working.  I was miserable.  We tried everything, all sorts of positions, breathing.  I could still have an epidural, Cassie thought, although she'd have to see how dilated I was.  Torturous, this thought.  My mom and best friend were pretty anti-epidural, and I really wanted to do this without one.  I didn't want to disappoint them, or myself.  Getting an epidural would be like failing. 

But it was excruciating.  "I can't do this," I kept crying to Husband, even as we were "dancing" trying to ease the pain.  I gave in.  I was 8 cm dilated, so it was now or never.   It was unbearable waiting for the anaesthesologist.  Couldn't he hurry up, I kept thinking.  After an eternity, relief.  It was just nearing 4 in the morning.

I slept.  The blissful, comatose sleep of a woman on drugs.  And at 5, Cassie checked and said we were ready.  So the pushing began.  I couldn't feel my contractions, so I relied on her to tell me when to push.  It wasn't working.  He wasn't progressing.  "Let's take a break and let you labor down for a while," Cassie suggested.  We'd called our family to say we were pushing, because my sister and Husand's family wanted to be in the waiting room when Peanut was born.  My sister came in and fixed my pony tail for me and we chatted.  Everything was just fine, although I told her I was afraid to tell Mom I'd had an epidural.  I didn't want her to be disappointed.  Sister understood, although we both knew Mom would never be disappointed over something like that.  It was more me.   Half an hour later.   Time to try again.  They turned off the epidural, because I needed to be able to feel what was going on.

But I couldn't push right, it seemed.  My first attempt would be great - "yes do that again," Cassie would say.  And I would try, but apparently I wasn't getting it.  All sorts of coaching on what to do, where to push, how to push.  Yet it wasn't working.  Failure again.  Perhaps it was because I'd had the epidural that I was having so much trouble, I thought.  I was ashamed of my weakness.

7 am.  Shift change.  We'd thought, when we were ready to push at 5, that we'd make it with the same nurse.  But no.  Cassie said goodbye, and Jessica came in.  Jessica had me try all sorts of different pushing positions.  Husband was still standing right by me, holding me, helping me, being involved.  He was freezing, had had no sleep either, and nothing to eat.   We were just disaster areas.  The same comments.  "Do it that way again."  A sigh that seemed disappointed when my next push wasn't the same.  Absolute failure, I thought.  I told Jessica so.  "I'm a bit type A here, so this feels like I'm totally failing." 

9 am.  Still pushing.  Progress had been made.  They could see his head occasionally.  Apparently he looked like he had no hair... but of course, it could have all just rubbed off by then.  It was the longest hour of my life.  The clock, right in front of me.  Minutes ticked by so slowly.  Had it really only been five minutes?  It felt like an eternity.  Exhausted.  Freezing.  Hot.  Push, push, push.  I can do another.  I have to keep going.  "Don't fall asleep," said Husband between sets.  "I'm not.... okay, I am totally falling asleep."  The longest hour of my life.  Minutes ticked by so slowly, the clock staring me in the face.  9:05.  9:07.  9:11.  What felt like hours between each minute.  And still, "try it like that again.  No, like you did before. I need you to push like you just did."  Failure, failure, failure.  "Maybe it's the epidural," I thought.  "I shouldn't have had it, I knew it.  I did this."

Read the rest of the story here.


  1. We have such similar first-baby birth stories! I got an epidural at 7 cm with Connor & pushed for three hours. Connor was also "belly-up." Can't wait to read the rest :)

  2. :) Happy. I think it is funny that you were worried about you knowing when he was coming. Because me being all energy and vibe feeling and in touch with the universe, made it easy for me to know. Haha as soon as I woke up I thought about you and then walking to class at 9am with friends I just announced I think Srta just had her baby :) and sure enough the pictures were soon to follow. I love you lots and I know you are and will continue to be an amazing mom :)

  3. That first labor experience is such an unknown. Glad you're writing it all down so you'll remember. How are you doing?

  4. Oh, man, I am on the edge of my seat waiting (impatiently) to read more!!!

  5. That must have been so hard and frustrating. I try to imagine, but I just can't. I am, however, making a mental note to take the clock off the wall! It's a good thing you get to take a sweet baby home with you after all this! Love you!


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