One week ago today, Jeff and I went to Darrah and Matt's wedding.
I was feeling mighty pregnant and consequently, mighty uncomfortable, but I'm SO glad I was able to go. I'm often referred to, half jokingly as "Heart of Stone" by my close friends. This is not because I'm uncaring (I hope) but because it takes a lot to make me cry. But when I saw D walking down the aisle, I started bawling like a baby - or at least like a woman about to have a baby. Of all "the girls" I'm the only one married so this was really the first wedding I've attended where I felt such a connection to the bride. Part of me thinks that my body was just holding on to this baby long enough to attend, because at 2am that night (technically Sunday), my water broke.
I was up to use the bathroom and while standing at the sink, my water broke. It wasn't the dramatic event I'd been expecting, so I just stood there for a moment, confused. I'd honestly started to think I'd be pregnant forever. Then there was another little leak. So I walked back into the bedroom to tell Jeff and while I spoke into the dark, "Um, I think my water just broke." It happened a third time. Nothing major, but unmistakable leaking. Within 10 minutes, I started having contractions. We called the doctor and they asked me to come in. So at 3am or so, we entered triage with our hospital bag and birthing ball in hand. After a quick (and painful) exam, they declared that my water had NOT broken, but they were able to tell that I was having contractions every 5-7 minutes and that the baby sounded healthy. I felt indignant that they doubted my water-breaking story, and I most certainly wasn't buying the version they preferred - that essentially, I'd wet my pants.
So they didn't admit us, and we had to do the walk of shame back to the car, carrying the bag and ball in a much less hopeful manner than we'd left the car. They DID, however send me home with some pH Strips to use on any further fluid I might leak, saying that the strips would turn dark blue if touched to amniotic fluid. They said to call again if my water broke "for real" or when my contractions got stronger.
We got home at 4am and immediately, I found the underwear I'd been wearing when I thought my water had broken and pressed the pH strip against it. It turned dark blue right away. Validated! Still, we went back to bed to relax a bit and waited as my contractions got stronger. By 6am, they were regular enough to start tracking more carefully and by 8am, I was ready to call the hospital again. When I explained the pH strip re-test and told them my contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart, they said to come back. I remember saying, "Are you sure? I don't want to get sent home again!" The pain with the contractions was bad at that point, but definitely bearable. But she wanted me back for another check. So back to the hospital we went.
We got there around 9am and being more cautious this time, we left the ball and bag in the car. Triage had us walk for another hour or two, so we paced the halls and limped around the block until noon to keep stimulating contractions. Ironically, the "hugging pose" that we were so bad at during labor class was exactly the right thing during real labor. We'd be walking around with me holding Jeff's elbow, and then I'd feel a contraction mounting. I'd mutter, "Okay, here it comes..." and we would sort of hug, and he would press my face into his chest really hard while I huffed and puffed like crazy. Truthfully, it was exhilarating at this stage. There was a lot of pain, but we were finally doing it! We were having a baby!
At noon, we were officially admitted and things progressed very quickly from there. By 3pm or so, I was 6cm dilated and 100% effaced. The pain was bad, but I was still moving around and breathing through everything pretty well. In fact, it almost seemed too easy compared to the writhing and screaming I'd imagined. But shortly after that, I got nervous about the pain getting worse - our nurse Kirsten said that things were going to start moving faster now that I'd entered active labor and I was worried about waiting too long for an epidural. I think we got the epidural around 3:30 and after that, my contractions got incredibly hard, long and close together. I went from 6 to 9cm dilated in an hour. When the head nurse rushed in at one point to say that she'd been monitoring my contractions from the nurse's station and told Kirsten (my nurse) to turn off the Pitocin, my nurse exclaimed "She's not ON Pitocin - can you believe it?" Apparently my contractions were off the charts in length and coming very close together - it was at that moment that I was so grateful for the epidural I'd had just an hour earlier. I could feel the pressure of the contractions, but not the pain. Unfortunately, a few of the really big contractions started to impact Edie's heart rate and this is when the panic started for me. I went on oxygen to help, and it worked - her heart rate bounced back.
Pushing started within two hours of the epidural and by then the numbness from the epidural had worn off quite a bit and I was able to feel the contractions at what I'd guess was 60% strength and definitely felt the urge to push. I decided not to opt for a "refill" on my epidural so that I could push easier. I pushed for about an hour or so when Edie's heart rate started dipping again with each contraction (one contraction was over 4 minutes long!). I started to panic a bit about the heart rate and you could tell Kirsten was getting uncomfortable too. She called the doctor in who suggested that if we wanted to just get on with things, she could use forceps to pull the head down to crowning, then I could push her the rest of the way out myself. I'd brought the baby way down with my hour of pushing, but this would just ease the stress on the baby by speeding up the whole process. We agreed. So she used forceps (which I'd always pictured as looking like salad tongs with holes in the middle, but actually look like giant shoe horns). She got them around the head and asked me for one push to bring the baby to crown. Except my one push actually pushed her head all the way out, which I think caught everyone off guard, including the doctor. With just one more push, the rest of her came FLYING out. I can't explain how surreal it felt. Jeff, who was focusing (per my request) on my face and not my nether regions couldn't help but gasp and look as she came out. Within seconds she went from flailing hands and legs in between my own legs to being whisked onto my chest where they wiped her down and she commenced screaming bloody murder while staring wide eyed into my eyes. For the second time in 24 hours, self proclaimed Heart of Stone sobbed like a baby.
So there you have it. Edie's birth story. There is of course more and many of you (particularly the ladies out there thinking about babies in the next year or so) would like more specifics, but I think I'd rather save the gory details for another time. Let's just say that they had to stitch me up from here to there because of the tearing, and how no one really tells you how much delivering the placenta hurts and that Percocet and witch hazel have become close friends of mine this week. But given all of that, even the tears I've recently started shedding on occasion over my lack of milk supply? They are all worth being able to look down in my lap right now and see my daughter's chubby face look up at me as she sleeps propped up on her boppy.
And without embarrassing Jeff too much, can I just say that I don't think Edie and I could ask for better? He is the best. To hear him cooing to Edie while he peddles her legs and changes her diapers? Just typing that made me cry a little. Heart of Stone seems to have disappeared along with my ability to poop without massive quantities of stool softeners. Sorry, that was gross. But this post was just getting too sticky sweet. Something had to be done.