Or, A Hard Day's Night
On Wednesday (9/22/10) I woke up with the nasty-named mucus plug still making its way out, only the nighttime cramps had produced the beginning of the bloody show. I didn't think it meant much, but I called my OB nurse hotline for a professional opinion. She agreed it was the baby cork and told me to go to L&D if it continued and became copious and/or clear (aka, amniotic fluid). So. I carried on with work and prepared for my 2PM "knowledge transfer" meeting to transition project work to my backup. I was planning to start my leave the following Monday.
And then. Just before I started the meeting, contractions began in earnest. Real ones. About 10 minutes apart. So I soldiered on and conducted the teleconference, pausing now and again to breathe through a contraction. That was seven shades of awesome. When I hung up at 3PM, I called KB to tell him I was packing my hospital bag and that he might want to consider maybe possibly perhaps coming home a smidge early since I thought we ought to go the hospital. Oh, and my supposed ute stopper/bloody show had turned to clear mini-gushes. Sweet. KB got home around 4-ish as I was throwing the last few things in my hospital bag, we packed up some things for the dog to drop her off at the kennel on our way, and off we went. And p.s. having contractions in the car SUCKS. If you can manage to have someone airlift you or be carried on a soft bed atop the shoulders of eunuchs or something, do it.
While in the car, we continued timing contractions to find that they were now 4-5 minutes apart and lasting 1 minute each. Perfect. I had ridden out the early stage of labor at home without much ado and felt pretty proud of that. We checked into OB triage at 5:30PM and waited. And waited. Contractions were now 3 minutes apart and STRONG. The midwife came to check on me and they confirmed I had a slow amniotic leak, even though they could see the bag o'waters with an internal exam (and here's some simple math for you: active labor + dilated and effaced + speculum exam + pelvic exam = excruciating pain => want to punch midwife in the face). I was dilated to 4 cm and 75% effaced. And I thought, naively, AWESOME. I will have this baby soon! Right. As in, no time soon.
So I was moved to an L&D room and asked if I wanted an epidural. Yes, please. The contractions were now about 1-2 minutes apart, and STRONG, and pain relief sounded pretty good. I had just put in a full day of work while laboring, goddammit. The anesthesiologist came within about half an hour and, three pokes later, I had a warm fuzzy feeling take the place of contractions. Oh, hells yes. I bathed in this miraculous relief for about an hour when they came back to break my water. Done. Then we continued waiting, the blissful numbness joined by fentanyl itchiness (crackhead Tyrone-style scratching ensued). Around 10PM or so, I was checked and was....wait for it....a 5. A mutherfucking 5. I had only progressed by 1 cm in all that time, even with my water broken. And so....
Pitocin. Dammit. I was hoping to progress on my own, but since we suspected my water had been leaking slowly all day (and possibly the night before), we were "on the clock" to get labor started and finished before infection became a worry. They were running three different antibiotics into my iv just to be on the safe side (also, my dirty whore vag tested positive for group B strep). The lower doses of pit didn't bother me much. The pressure of contractions increased, but I was still pretty comfortable. And then. We hit a higher dose that, like flipping a switch, sent contractions into rolling mode accompanied shortly by a desire to push (it feels like you need to shit an 8 lb turd, for your reference). I was in a physical tug-of-war between breathing through these constant overlapping and intense contractions and holding back the desire to push (since I didn't know whether I would tear myself a new asshole if I did, and still had a foley catheter in place that would surely destroy my future of urinary continence if too much pressure was applied). After who-knows-how-long of this, I told KB he had better get a nurse in here NOW because she was either going to turn the pit down or get an OB to check me and see if we were ready to push. Or find me a kitten to kick in the nuts. Something. Fortunately, I was checked about 20 minutes later and was fully dilated and ready to rumble. Fucking pitocin, man. It's brutal but effective.
And all I can say about being told you are fully dilated and ready to push is, don't get your hopes up that this means it's really time for anything to happen. At all. I got this news around 11:45PM or so, and we didn't have the table o'instruments and OB "team" (my doctor, a resident, and a third year med student -- don't get me started on this, as I was NOT thrilled to have a newbie staring down the barrel of my poor exhausted cooch, although he was helpful with holding up my left leg when called upon) assembled until 1AM. No one is in a hurry but YOU. So we started pushing a little after 1AM, and this went on for over an hour. At about this point, I had given up hope of ever having any shred of dignity ever again (having your vagina on display to a room full of people with your legs in the air, and knowing full well you are shitting while you are pushing, takes care of that, no problemo). I could tell how close we were (or weren't, as was the case) by how often my OB poked his head in the room. Not often. The resident even left for long periods of time. And then. Around 2AM, KB took a peek and everyone could see the tiniest patch of baby head. Just a little bit. I declined a mirror view since I worried that in my tired and weary state, it would just discourage me that that was ALL you could see. After each attempt at pushing, I collapsed and declared I was done. DONE. Can't do any more. Seriously. And then another contraction came and I pushed again. And again. At some point, the med student started some conversation with KB (practicing his bedside manner, I suppose, or just trying to distract himself from the contorted bleeding and pooing horror show in front of him). I said to them, sort of sternly, HEY! I hate to break up your party but I'm ready to try and push this baby out again. And so I kept pushing, with a room full of people cheering me on (each of them had a catch phrase: push!push!push!, you've got this!, get angry at it! -- that last one was the least effective, and frankly sort of bewildering).
And then. At 2:34 AM, Jackson was born. His head being delivered wasn't the least bit painful, or even that uncomfortable -- I had to be told it had happened. Getting the rest of his wee little body out was a different story. He was apparently turned slightly to the side, so his shoulders were stuck. What felt like eighty pairs of hands applied an insane amount of counter-pressure to my ladybits to try to create more space for him to be delivered and this led to the longest minute of my life. The OB and his crew were barking orders at me and each other, and I had no idea what anybody was saying, but I kept trying to push and yelled at them to STOP applying so much pressure JESUS CHRIST PLEASE, and then as soon as I thought I would pass out or die from the pressure, he was plopped on my chest and heaving and beautiful and I didn't care about anything else anymore. The baby was here. And pink. And crying.
I asked no one in particular whether I was holding a boy or a girl, and the OB said to KB, well, Dad, which is it? KB leaned over me (baby was facing the other way), lifted his leg like a newborn puppy, and announced rather proudly, it's a boy!
And then I was poked and prodded to deliver the placenta, stitched up (grade 2 tear, not that bad, already healing nicely), and given my son to hold. KB and I were completely stunned, in awe, exhausted, and in love with this little creature. He was, and is, perfect.
I can't quite believe he's here. I totally can't believe I delivered a baby. But he is. And I did. And I will never stop being grateful to the universe for this little boy. My little boy. My son.
And that is how Jackson Elliot, named for his Grandpa Jack, came into the world. Which is officially now a better place.