I found myself saying/typing that quite a bit on Friday. So here's the story of how The Freckle, our internal baby, became Eleanor Quinn, our external baby. First, the pictures, because that's the important part, right?
|8 lbs 7 oz, 20" long|
So, Thursday I took some suggestions from the Internet and drank some castor oil. Mixed in Diet Coke. I also had 3 cups of red raspberry leaf tea. I told J that I'd done some "kickstart your own labor from the comfort of your own home" stuff and if everything goes well we might have a baby on Friday. Did either of those things actually tip the scale so I could go into labor? I will never know, but there's my loose, anecdotal evidence.
Because go into labor I did. I had been worried for most of the third trimester that I would be completely clueless about going in to labor, I wouldn't recognize contractions or know when my water broke. Turns out there was no reason to worry. I had classic "monthly cramps" style contractions at first, which of course didn't stop me from second guessing myself. Neither did it stop me from taking a shower, just in case, you know? I wanted to start fresh. Then I went to bed for a couple of hours, and when I got up for my typical mid-night bathroom break, I noticed that the light was still on in the living room. Surely my husband, who knew that he would be either going to work at the relatively-wee hours of the morning as per usual or with me to the hospital, wouldn't still be awake at 2:30 in the morning? Oh, surely he was. He curled up on the couch and was asleep 15 minutes later just as I was Googling "how do I know if my water has broken*?" In this case, Dr. Google was very helpful and informative. I started timing contractions, watched an episode of Grimm, french braided my hair, changed clothes and put on some make-up. By then, I'd reached the magical number of contractions between 3-5 minutes apart for an hour. So I woke J up to tell him I was going to call the doctor and he should get ready to go. We left the house at about 5:45 and were admitted to Labor & Delivery shortly after 6 am on Friday, April 6th where, if everything goes well, we would have a baby before the day was done.
Because my water had in fact broken all on its own, the proverbial clock was ticking, so after determining that the contractions were the right amount of time apart, they switched me to a different kind of monitor to see how strong the contractions were. I had felt that they were only mild up to that point. Nothing I couldn't get through with just a little bit of focus and some breathing. Well, the new fancy monitor confirmed that they were consistent, but not strong enough to get the job done. So, the "as naturally as possible" portion of our birth plan now included Pitocin to keep the ball rolling. At 7 am, I started at a dose of 2 of whatever measurement Pitocin comes in these days.
After 3 hours, I was up to a dose of 8 units and I was tired. I wasn't handling the stronger contractions as well, but I was hopeful that I was at least moving things along. When the nurse checked, she told me I'd made minimal progress. Progress enough to keep going, but they were going to need to up the dosage, and it was looking to be a long day--probably 8 more hours if everything goes well. The decision to get an epidural was a hard one for me, but it was the right decision to make. As the day progressed, that became more and more evident. So, with drugs keeping me from feeling the increasingly stronger and more violent contractions, the day continued. Because I wasn't in pain, I didn't mind having some visitors. It was a nice distraction from the fact that I was doing some of the hardest sitting on my butt that I've ever done in my life.
By 5pm, I'd made it to the halfway mark. Everything looked good and Dr. H** said that if everything goes well I should be able to move on to the pushing phase by 10pm and we'd have a baby before midnight.
Not to spoil the surprise, but everything did not go well. Nothing really went wrong, but some things just didn't work out the way we hoped. Even though the contractions stayed strong, and Freckle's heart rate stayed in the acceptable zone, and my blood pressure was still awesome and my temperature was steady, progress slowed down. Freckle just wasn't moving down. I stayed on track for the first two hours, slowed down to half speed the next two hours, and inched along for an hour after that. By midnight, I'd made no progress at all in 2 hours. I was still 2 cm away from being able to push. I'd been having contractions for almost 22 hours. I was tired and discouraged.
That's when we (J & I) had the hard conversation with Dr. H. She told us we could keep trying. She was confident that both the baby & I were handling things well enough to keep going and even though we were approaching 24 hrs since my water had broken, there was no sign of infection so she would be perfectly willing to let us keep trying. She was encouraging and supportive, but she was also honest. She said that in her opinion all the waiting wasn't going to get us any closer to a baby. She recommended a c-section.
J told me later that when she said it my face sort of crumpled. I will admit that it was my absolute least favorite option for having a baby. It still fell within our "as naturally as possible" plan, because sometimes intervention is what makes birth possible, but it was low on the totem pole. Not only that, but c-section after a long labor was somehow worse. All that work, and still a surgery. Yet, when Dr. H checked me at midnight, I knew. I had held on to hope all the way until the end. I got sick to my stomach right before that last check, and I said "That's a good sign, right?" remembering something from our Lamaze class, and Dr. H was very positive about it (maybe the only time anyone can feel positively about puke). She confirmed that it was often a sign that the pushing part was very near. Then she started to check and I just knew. I knew before she looked down and said a bad word, then excused herself for swearing, which, honestly, wasn't even a bother to me. It sort of made me feel like she really was on my team, you know? She wanted things to go well just as much as I did.
It didn't take long for J & I to decide to go ahead and have the surgery. At that moment, it felt right. Not what we wanted, not what we'd "planned" or hoped, but right. Then everything was a blur of J getting handed a bag of paper scrubs & being wheeled into the O.R. (where "I still haven't found what I'm looking for" by U2 was playing--a good sign I thought. An appropriate song by one of my favorite bands). There was more anesthesia and I fell asleep while they finished doing whatever it is they needed to do before the surgery began. J came in, looking dapper in his blue scrubs. I think I told him he was pretty when he sat down next to me. I was a little out of it.
Then, just a few minutes later, Dr. H is saying, "Oh my God, she's HUGE!" I was suddenly worried that all estimates had been off and instead of an 8-8 1/2 lb baby we were well into what I call "Welch territory" where babies don't come any smaller than 9 lbs. Jeremy went to go watch our little girl get cleaned up while I lay on the table feeling them move stuff around and finish things up. He did come back to tell me that she was 8lb 7oz, which wasn't nearly big enough to qualify as "huge" in my head, but you know, it's pound larger than the average newborn. I'm still not sure what the official reason for the "failure to progress" was, even after talking to the doctor. She never really dropped far enough to move things along. She was possibly turned the wrong way. Her head was very large and may have been too big for my pelvis. Honestly, once the decision to do it was made, the "why" mattered a lot less to me.
At some point, Dr. H mentioned to the other doctor, or a nurse, or someone (other than me) that her brother (I think, maybe husband?) worked in the "Wine & Spirits business." So of course, then I had to butt in to tell them that my brother was a Sommelier and we got to talking about what kind of wine we liked best, and I may or may not have said that I would gladly shank a nun for a glass of shiraz.
The rest of the story is pretty anti-climactic. Jeremy went with the baby, who we were both pretty sure was going to be Eleanor, to the nursery but wanted to get a good look at her once she was clean and not screaming at the top of her lungs. I got stitched up and taken to recovery where I started to shake as some stupid side effect of the anesthesia. They gave me Demerol to stop the shaking, which made me loopy and then sleepy. When I woke up, we moved up to our postpartum room and I got to meet my little girl. Ok, so that only sounds anti-climactic when you write it. It was pretty much the best part of my day.
I'll tell you all about her, but first, I'm going to go nap.
*the grammatical phrasing of that stumped me for a while. I'm going to blame lack of sleep, ok?
**Not my usual doctor because even though it was a Friday, and thus a normal business day, it was in fact Good Friday, which also happens to be the first day of Passover, so my doctor was out of the office to spend time with her family. No big deal, the doctor-on-call was really great too. Actually, I've now met 3 of the 4 doctors in the practice (an all lady doctor practice too, by the by) and liked them all.