I think it is only appropriate to start this post by stating that when I was in the last phase of labor, as in, pushing the baby out, I made a comment that has made my mother chuckle ever since. I said, "I can't believe I'm going to have a baby!" It's not as if I didn't know. Obviously Joe and I had been trying to get pregnant the year before and I pretty much knew right away when I became knocked up. However, throughout the whole pregnancy I could never seem to wrap my head around the idea of my life changing forever.
I feel like I was really blessed during my pregnancy. I didn't have any morning sickness, very little heartburn, and the swelling didn't set in until the last six weeks. He kicked a lot, my weight gain was 32 lbs., and I loved being pregnant. Even after I passed my due date, it still wasn't that hard to go to work every day (although it was a little more difficult the day before I delivered). With each passing month I because more and more curious at what my little bundle of joy would look like? How was he going to act? Would he be colicky? How tired was I really going to feel? And of course, how bad will labor really be? Labor. The big unknown. I read a lot of birth stories online. I was fascinated by how different every one's experiences were. I only wished for a short labor with manageable pain. Wouldn't that be nice?
I decided I was going to continue to teach up until the day I delivered. Of course, all my students would ask, "what are you going to do if your water breaks in class?" Or, "what if you started labor while at work?" And I would always reply that I would just leave and go to the hospital. I reminded them that most people do not have a baby that quick, so I figured I would be able to make it to the hospital. Each day that passed after my due date, the kids would say that couldn't believe that I was still there. I had a feeling that the baby would be late, but four days after my due date I was anxious to go to my appointment to see if my body had made any progress. In fact, that Tuesday I was feeling a lot more uncomfortable. I didn't want to work the next day. I didn't sleep well and my body hurt. I guess I was hoping that was a sign that I was closer to delivery. However, the doctor burst my bubble when he said, "the cervix is still closed." No progress. So we made an appointment for three days later (a week from my due date) for an ultrasound and talked about the option of induction if the baby was another week late....ugh, I might have to feel this uncomfortable for another week? That made me cranky. I kept telling Joe that I was not going to go to work the next day if I felt this uncomfortable, because I needed the rest.
I went to bed early that night, trying to get the courage to make it another day of work, but I woke up around midnight feeling contractions. I figured it was just braxton hicks, but I found it very difficult to go back to sleep. After about an hour of discomfort I started to keep track of the time. They were happening regularly, but they were not at consistent times. Oh, and I cannot forget to mention that I constantly had to go to the bathroom. I guess that is a good thing, because I really didn't want to poop while I was pushing my baby out and after going about ten times that night, I think I got it all out of my system! Around 3 am I decided to take a warm bath. Joe woke up and asked how I was feeling. The pain was bearable, but it felt like this might be the real thing. I couldn't believe that possibly I was going into labor. I was going to have this baby soon, within the next few days. I could just tell. Around 4am I tried to get back to sleep, and I think I might have gotten about an hour of rest, but by 5 am I was up and in pain once again. This time I figured it might feel better if I tried to walk around, but with it being dark outside still, I found myself doing laps around the house. Joe woke up again around 5:30 and I told him to call into work, because I knew we were going to the hospital. At this point the contractions were stronger, but still inconsistent in times. Mostly they averaged around 8 minutes apart.
This is when I called my mom. I wanted her to be there for the delivery and although I still wasn't positive I was in labor I knew it was going to happen within the next day or so. It was a five hour drive for her to get here and we told her that we would call if we headed to the hospital. Then at 6am I called the long-term substitute and told him that I would not be in school and that I thought I was in labor. Now it was just a waiting game and the pain was getting worse in my back. That's right, I was experiencing back labor and it was feeling worse with each contraction. Joe was trying to keep track of the contractions and I think I frustrated him, because I didn't tell him when the contractions started, instead I would just try to breathe through them. At this point contractions were getting closer together at 6 minutes apart. There were times I was keeling over with the pain and I told Joe to start getting things together for the hospital. I took a shower, not knowing when I was going to take another one. Around 8 am I was in so much pain I wanted to go the the hospital. Joe was freaking out because we had taken the car seat out of the car and kept asking me how to reinstall it while I was having contractions. I kept thinking there was no way I could take through the pain! Finally I yelled at him that he had two days to figure it out and it was not necessary right now since I just wanted to go to the hospital.
Unfortunately when we arrived at the hospital the midwife checked me out and told me I was only 1 centimeter dilated! That was it. All that pain and I was only 1 centimeter dilated. I was asked to walk around the hospital for two hours and then see where I was at then. So I did, but the baby kept pushing into my sciatic nerve so it was very painful. After two hours I was only two centimeters, so not much progress. The midwife suggested that we go home so I could try to eat and walk around some more. I tried this, but I could barely stomach any food and walking was once again difficult with the baby pushing on my nerve in my left leg. By 3pm it was time to head back to the hospital. I was in some serious pain, but after a check at the hospital I was only 4 centimeters. At least I was finally in active labor. I was ready for drugs. I wanted to be a strong person who didn't need any drugs, but I couldn't handle the pain. An hour later the anesthesiologist arrived and gave me the heavenly epidural. It didn't take long for the pain to disappear, but it also brought on some problems.
I found out that my blood pressure went down which then affected the baby's heart rate. A doctor came in and more drugs were administered. It all happened sort of quietly, and I felt fine the whole time. Except that I was numb from the chest down. I didn't like being so numb. Thankfully I found out that it was going to wear down a bit. I was also requiring a bunch of IV bags of fluid. Apparently I had dehydrated myself from all the trips to the bathroom the night before and I had thrown up about four times! I think that didn't help when it came to the epidural. Fortunately the medical team were able to get everything under control. I'm glad too, because after the doctor left the midwife told me that they thought I was going to have to have a c-section. I'm so glad that did not happen.
Since everything was stabilized they decided to give me the epidural drip, but I found that it was only taking effect on one side of my body. So I started to feel the full force of the contractions once again. It was painful, I was frustrated, and tired. Why did this have to happen to me? I should have just avoided the epidural to begin with. After two hours of my whining and experiencing severe pain another anesthesiologist came into my room and tried to fix the problem. He gave me another shot of the epidural. I felt heavenly and I was finally able to relax. This time, even though my blood pressure went down and the baby's heart rate went up, I was determined to sleep. I figured they would be able to fix the problem once again. I was just going to trust the medical staff and allow my body to relax since I did not know how long it was going to last. This was probably the best thing I did for myself, since it allowed me to dilate even more. I went from 5 centimeters to 8.5 centimeters within an hour. I knew I was closer to the end and that made me happy.
Fortunately the medical team was able to fix all the epidural complications again with another drug so I did not have to have a c-section. I'm so glad now that I did not have to go down that road. Of course at the time of severe pain I kept saying, "I don't want to do this anymore!" "I'll take the c-section!" And everyone just said, "you don't have a choice, you have to finish it now." Because my body did not take well to the drugs I was told that I would not receive any more and once it wore off that was it. I could be experiencing the final pain of this labor, but that was okay, because I didn't want to harm the baby. Fortunately for me, within an hour I started to feel the need to push. Although I was only at 9 centimeters, the midwife helped me out. Each time I contracted she would try pushing against my cervix. This was the trick I needed and within twenty minutes I was ready to start pushing.
Finally, I was going to see my child. I was going to have a baby. I would be a mother. This was something that I have wanted to do for almost ten years. I couldn't wait to experience this new stage in my life. It was really going to happen. All I had to do was push the baby out. And when they say you have a desire to push, they are right. You don't even think about pain at that point, because all you can think about is bearing down and pushing. I still felt a little of the epidural, so I was able to feel every sensation, but with muted pain. And I pushed. I used every muscle in my body to push. I gripped the sides of the bed and pushed. It took about an hour. In between contractions I would take deep breaths and relax. I kept my eyes closed, but I would listen to my mom, my husband, and the midwife carry on a casual conversation. It was so easy for them! Every once and a while they would look at me and if I opened my eyes they would say, "you are doing so good." To be honest, this felt like the easiest part of labor and since it was the end I knew I could handle it. So I just kept pushing.
Finally with four big pushes he arrived, all purple and slimy. He was put on my stomach and it took a while for him to cry, but he did a faint cry. I couldn't believe I had a son. The nurse worked to clean him up, while Joe and my mom looked over her shoulder. The midwife kept prodding and poking me to finish up the delivery process. I just wanted to see my baby again. Since he swallowed some meconium (his first bowel movement in the womb) he was brought back to the nursery. I was only able to give him a kiss and was told they would bring him to my room as soon as possible. It took the rest of the night for me to find out that he would not be coming to my room. He would need to stay in the nursery. Luckily, Joe and I were able to make our way to the nursery the next morning and visit him. I loved him. I wanted him to be get better. I just wanted to hold him. Jack Muir was my baby. My responsibility. My future. I gave birth to him. Even now, three weeks later I think, this was the bundle of joy in my body. What a miracle to have this new life and I can't wait to experience every moment I can with him.