As of tomorrow, I will have been a Mom for three whole weeks.
Three weeks ago, Log and I took our friend, Kant out to dinner for her 40th birthday. She chose Fogo de Chao, which was great because we love that place. And so we ate, like the carnivores we are. Top of the food chain! By the end of dinner, I thought my water had broke, so we all went to the hospital so I could get checked out.
Turns out, my water had not broken. And those pains I started feeling? Just cramps. The docs checked me out, announced I was dilated to 3, then sent me home with instructions to drink lots of water, do a lot of walking (to alleviate the cramps), and call if something more interesting happens…like actual labor. We got home around 11:30pm. I was supremely disappointed. Log is convinced that I am not going to deliver before our scheduled induction for the following Thursday.
We went to bed, and around midnight, I started having stronger “cramps”. I got zero sleep that night because I kept having “cramps”. Sometimes, Log would wake up (when I was more noisy and whiny) and rub my back. By morning, my “cramps” were roughly 30 minutes apart.
So, I spent the morning laying in bed, occasionally making a trip to the bathroom, which was also uncomfortable. My “cramps” getting stronger, and closer together. I called one of my close friends, who is a doula, and she thought my “cramps” sounded more like contractions (which I thought the whole time). I called the OB triage desk and explained recent events, and the nurse told me to come in.
We arrive at the hospital at 3pm, and I am whisked away to the OB floor from the ER because the ER wants nothing to do with pregnant ladies. Back into triage, into the same bed I occupied the night before. Am exam reveals that I am now dilated to a 6, and I am in active labor. Would I like an epidural?
Does a bear shit in the woods??
Back in the day, when I was a newly minted pregnant lady, and reading about all the crap you can read about in terms of labor and birth, I thought I would just hold off on an epidural unless I absolutely had to have one. That was before I actually experienced the joy of back labor. Now, I’m not a candyass when it comes to pain. I’ve had numerous knee surgeries. For lack of a better phrase, I have a high pain threshold. That being said, back labor had me almost begging for death. The description is beyond words. When a contraction would hit, I could not form complete thoughts, much less complete sentences. Instead, I started thinking in colors, and my brain went to pristine white. Another thing is that you hear a lot of women say, “You forget the pain.” You know what? Those women can piss off. I will never forget how bad that hurt, for the rest of my days.
An hour or so into triage, and I am finally taken back onto the floor to my own room. It’s a newly renovated delivery room. ACME hospital redid all the delivery rooms, and they are very posh. Flat screen television (which I never turned on). Big, spacious shower (which I never used). Fancy crown molding and aesthetically pleasing decor (which I never admired). Like birthing your baby at the Marriott. More on this later.
So, I am as settled into my birthing room as much as I can be, and three anesthesiologists waltz in sometime later. And by sometime, I mean almost 2 hours later. I don’t know what the hell took them so long. Did they not hear me screaming from the hallway?? Did they not want to get the epidural in quickly so I would shut up?? Anyway, Larry, Darryl, and Darrel arrive and educate me all about the epidural. Larry is apparently the more experienced of the three, and he assigns the lesser experienced Darryl to actually put in the epidural. Darrel apparently is just observing. The nurse decides to check my cervix before they start, and I am now dilated to an 8. Contractions are roughly 4 minutes apart.
I am made to sit on the side of the bed for the epidural, and am told to relax. Apparently, Larry has never experienced contractions before, because if he did, he would know better than to tell a laboring woman to “relax”. Larry will never know how close he came to dying that day. Meanwhile, I am trying to power through as Darryl fumbles his way around my spinal column. Towards then end, I get a contraction that comes with the overwhelming need to push. Just as Darryl finishes, I announce this new development to the nurse, who has me lay on my back again for another cervical check. Now dilated to 10. For those not familiar with cervical dilation…the chart doesn’t go to 11. In layman’s terms, my normally mini-donut-sized cervix is stretched to the size of a bagel.
But Lil G has not dropped into position for her birthday, and I am propped up into what I call the Pretty Princess Chair position. Meanwhile, I’m pushing my epidural button like it’s Raid Night in World of Warcraft. In minutes, I can no longer feel anything below the waist. Then, I realize that I’m hungry, and I am given food. All the sugar free strawberry jello I could possibly want! I’d been jonesing for an orange popsicle, but they apparently ran out. Log also takes this time to relax. My Mom stops by.
About 7:35pm, my OB doctor shows up to deliver my daughter. My cervix is open for business, but the Pretty Princess Chair position did not encourage Lil G to move down the line. It is announced that I am going to do some “practice pushing” to 1) Practice pushing and 2) Maybe help Lil G drop some. I am put on my back, feet in stirrups, and I push. Lil G drops two stations. Practice pushing is officially over.
My OB assumes her place front and center. Log is to my right. Mom is sitting off to the side in the cheerleading section. Word gets out, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry show up in my room. I had said no students so this wouldn’t happen, but instead I get everyone else who is not a student. At this point, half of Kansas City now knows if the carpet matches the drapes because they are all in the birthing room.
And so the real pushing starts. In 7 contractions, and however many pushes I can get within those 7 contractions, Lil G makes her big debut. A faint little cry, and she is whisked away to the waiting gaggle of nurses in the corner. I would have liked immediate baby-on-chest placement, but that didn’t happen. I tell Log to follow the baby and not let her out of his sight. Meanwhile, I am directed for the equally exciting placenta delivery. Oooohhh.
Finally, I get to hold my baby. My tiny, wiggly, baby. The thing that has made me miserable and bloated for the last month of my pregnancy, made manifest. I stare at her in stunned silence. This beautiful creature, that is part me, part my husband, is now here. My Mommy-Baby time is brief, because they take Lil G away to do some more newborn stuff.
Remember that part about birthing in a Marriott. Well, about that…
I don’t know how other hospitals do it. Some hospitals, where their labor and delivery is their cash cow, has really pulled out all the stops. Whirlpool tubs. Family areas in the birthing room. Giving birth at those places is like going to a spa, but in the end you get maybe an episiotomy and an infant to take home. I have heard that some do it the same way as ACME Hospital…which is not a spa experience. I birthed in Posh Room, and the minute I could walk (albeit with assistance), I was plopped in a wheelchair and wheeled to the other end of the unit, which sadly had not been updated, to a basic hospital room. If you were lucky, you got a rocking chair in your room. Talk about Bait and Switch! They had a fold-out for the Dad to sleep in, but it was akin to sleeping on a concrete block, so I sent Log home to sleep in a comfy bed.
Two days later, I was discharged from ACME Hospital, but not before watching their education videos for new parents that were filmed in the 80’s and targeting parents with an IQ of bread. One video was about SIDS, which is what any parent wants to watch. A video of approximately 10 minutes. The first 8 minutes featuring bad violin music and families talking about their SIDS experience, the last minute and a half from the “expert”, telling me to always put the baby on her back. One of the other video was something called Purple Cry. The general idea, spaced in a 15 minute video, is this: Babies cry, don’t shake them. Very informative, assholes!
All the articles and classes and unsolicited advice could not prepare me for everything I have felt since that day. There’s a lot of information out there for new parents, the learning curve cannot be imagined. Even the experts can agree on the same thing whether it’s breastfeeding, or which diapers to use. Log and I have just decided to do what is right for us and for Lil G.