Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's been one week

One week ago today, I was laying in a hospital room, recovering from -- and reveling in -- the birth of my son.
He is perfect.
A million different emotions bubbled through my brain as I lay, mostly immobile, in my bed. I have been asked to share my birth story here, so if that kind of thing grosses you out or bores you to tears, please click away. Because this ain't going to be pretty.

*** Last chance to turn back! ***

April 15, I awoke just after midnight feeling crampy and like I needed to move my bowels (if you're still reading, and this bothers you, I implore you to stop, because it will get worse). I got up and did just that, thinking I would tease my friend her cooking made me sick. Except, then I woke again about once an hour the rest of the night, feeling the same way but without the same results.

About 5 a.m., I propped myself up in bed and put in my ear buds to listen to an audio book for a while. The cramps had not let up and had only settled all the deeper into my lower back. I started watching the clock and noticed the "cramps" (as I was now thinking of them) were intensifying about every 10 to 15 minutes.

At 6 a.m., I woke the S.O. and told him I was in labor. Much to my delight, the S.O. reacted in typical sit-com father mode. He jumped out of bed, still mostly asleep, asking, "What do we need to do?!?" I told him he needed to relax, in fact, he could go back to sleep for a while, because it was early but I might need him soon. He did calm down, but he got up and finished some last minute things for work.

By about 7:30 a.m., I was in some pretty serious pain, so we called the OB Triage at the hospital where I would be delivering. The nurse I spoke to was calm and helpful. Because I had my regular weekly appointment with my OB at 10:30 that morning, the nurse told me my goal was to make it to that appointment, so my doc could assess me. The nurse told me to take some Tylenol and a warm bath. She said it wouldn't relieve the pain by any means, but it would relax me and take the edge off. By this point that edge was pretty damn sharp.
Waiting for my doctor's appointment
I took her advice, downed two extra-strength Tylenol and drew a warm bath. The S.O. sat next to me and talked to me about random stuff, and the time of my doctor's appointment came pretty quickly.

My OB confirmed that I was indeed in labor -- dilated to 4 cm -- and could go to the hospital whenever I wanted to. At this point, I still thought I would go home and go for a walk or sit on my stability ball or do some other movements to ease labor. We stopped on the way to get the S.O. some lunch. As he sat at the kitchen table, trying to enjoy said lunch, I sat on the stability ball in the living room. Sitting on the ball felt like someone had stabbed me in the back. People say that all the time, but this pain was so sharp and so strong that I had to go down on my knees whimpering. The S.O. would get two bites of his cheeseburger before I would call him back to me to put counter-pressure on my spine. It helped but I was in real pain now -- all of it concentrated in my lower back and none of it what I had at all expected from contractions.

I made the S.O. finish his lunch and gather any last minute supplies, and we made the 10-minute trip to the hospital. We used the free valet parking and the S.O. sent for a wheelchair. I wanted to walk but gave in because I could barely make it to the bench 5 feet away. I clutched my pillow as the S.O. wheeled me in to the elevator then down the hall to labor and delivery. I got into a gown and waited for the OB Triage nurse to assess me. It was about 12:30 p.m. April 15, and I was 6 cm dilated. My contractions were still about 10 minutes apart, but every other one was followed at two minutes by an aftershock (as we called them). The S.O. was still applying counter-pressure and telling me what a good job I was doing. The pain was awful and still not what I thought it would be. Where were the "menstrual-like cramps" I'd been told I would have. Where was that early labor feeling of euphoria I'd read about. We'd skipped right to the mind-blowing, blinding pain of the stereotypical labor depicted by television and the movies.

All thoughts of walking around to progress labor were gone. I could barely stand let alone walk. The S.O. was already getting a little tired from having to massage my back almost constantly. So, when they asked about pain medications -- despite my earlier desire to avoid them -- I said yes, please and now, please.

I felt a little like a failure and a lot like a wimp and began making excuses for why I needed the drugs. The S.O. admitted to being a bit disappointed that all the skills he'd practiced in our birth class would not be put to use (they still were) but assured me I wasn't a wimp or a failure. And every woman who knew I was in back labor told me it was the absolute worse. The anesthesiologist said it's extremely hard to relieve, too.
Stuck in bed, but where else was I going to go?
But the drugs worked -- for a while. I continued to progress at about 1 cm per hour and the back pain would increase until it was almost as bad as before the drugs. I would get a bolus of the medication and the pains would ease for a while before spiking again an hour or so later.

In the meantime, the doctor came to see me. She's my regular OB's partner and was just as wonderful. She did an exam and broke my water. She told me I was fully dilated. She also told me Baby was "sunny side up," meaning his face was pointed toward my front and his spine was laying along my spine. Which accounted for the back pain. It also meant he wasn't coming out easily. After much pain and struggling, the doctor got Baby to turn to the side. However, after a few contractions, he turned back and I had some swelling and went back to about 8 cm.

I received more drugs, including pitocin to help move labor along and more waiting. The anesthesiologist was finally able to get the pain under control so I sent the S.O. to the couch for a nap, and I dozed, as well, between nurses checking vital signs and administering oxygen.
Childbirth may be beautiful, but my look in the hospital, not so much
When the doctor came back in, she said Baby was still facing up but we could push him out that way. It would just be harder and take longer. She said there was a possibility of a C-section but we would push first

The S.O. and I had a short discussion about a C-section, deciding that we just wanted a healthy baby and it didn't really matter how he got here. Still, there was a part of me that hoped if I got psyched up to have a C-section, the doc would come back in and tell us I'd be able to push him out.

When the doctor came back in, she did say it was time to push. However, she said we'd try pushing for about an hour, then see where Baby was and make a decision. With the S.O. helping me hold up one leg (which, by now, was completely numb and felt like holding up a piece of wood) and the labor nurse helping me hold the other, I pushed and pushed and pushed through each contraction. Thanks to my new best friend, the anesthesiologist, the doctor had to watch the monitor and tell me when a contraction was coming and when I needed to push.

I also had lost track of time so I don't know exactly how long I pushed, but after 30 or 40 minutes or so of pushing the doctor said Baby hadn't moved down to where he needed to be. She gave us the option of trying to push for another 30 minutes to see if Baby would move down then. But her professional opinion was that he would not move because he hadn't yet. Her concerns were that I and Baby would be worn out and would still have to go through a C-section. The S.O. and I decided to go ahead with the C-section.

I signed papers and the S.O. got prepped.
What all the new daddies are wearing this spring
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared. The only surgery I've ever had was when I was 19 and had my wisdom teeth removed. This is nothing like that. Being rolled into the bright, sterile room without the S.O. by my side didn't help matters. Once they had me on the table and prepped, he was allowed in. He sat next to me behind the curtain, but it wasn't long before he asked, "Can I stand up and watch?"

"Do you want to watch?" I asked. Obviously, he did. He stood up and looked over the curtain, fascinated. He started to give me a blow-by-blow account of the surgery, but I asked him not to. Someday, I will be OK with hearing more about having my guts laid out, but right now, I'd rather just believe it was a clean and easy process and voila! Here's Milo!

They took Milo to a warming table where the S.O. trimmed the cord, then they brought him over for me to see. Milo was naked and squirming and crying and beautiful. Once he was cleaned and covered, I got to have a closer look.

I couldn't -- can't -- believe how perfect he is.
After, I lay in the delivery room shivering. Hormones and endorphins and lots of other things contributed to me feeling like I was freezing to death. They covered me with warmed blankets and took me to recovery. Meanwhile, the S.O. went with the nurses to weigh Milo. 
He was 7 pounds, 4 1/2 ounces at birth.
After I could wiggle my toes, I was transferred to my room, where I got to spend time with the S.O. (when I wasn't drifting off to sleep from all the drugs). It was about 5 a.m. -- almost 24 hours after I told the S.O. we were having a baby. My mood was good. Despite my exhaustion, I was able to get up soon after and have my I.V. and catheter removed.

I soon began feeding Milo and bonding with him. Also, I got all the Jello I could eat.
Can you tell how much I love him?
I really didn't want a C-section and I really don't recommend them. I'm still sore. Still taking pain meds and still exhausted from the surgery on top of taking care of a newborn. But it was worth it. No matter how he got here, he's here. It's amazing.

It's been one week, and it's already hard to remember life without him.


  1. Happy week birthday, Milo! I'm so happy that you make your mom and dad so happy. (P.S. You're adorable.)

  2. Oh! This blog post actually put tears in my eyes. What a beautiful story to a wonderful miracle. :) I'm glad everything went well. Little Milo is as precious as precious can be. Congratulations to you all!

  3. This made me tear up. :) And hey, now you have a horror story to freak out any pregnant friends!

  4. It's a great story, Pam. No matter how hard and unimaginable it all turned out to really be, WOW, what a DREAM! We love you, Milo!