September 19, 2013
The dates have returned to the blog. I originally was trying to post with a one-trimester distance from you. Most miscarriages occur in the first three months of a pregnancy, and while I was prepared to share that journey with you, I wasn’t prepared to share it in real time. It never really, truly occurred to me that I would find myself in even greater grief at the end of my pregnancy. That’s something that happens to other people. And yet, here I am.
I’m not sure what the lag will be between writing and posting. I haven’t figured that out yet. There are moments that I think I can bear to share as soon as I write, and there are moments when I don’t think I can bear it. I’ve written before about being in that state where people’s kindness makes one cry. Unlike those instances when I was trying to get pregnant that the last thing I wanted was to be around people being nice to me, I am truly appreciative of the kindness people have shown over the past week. But it still makes me cry. I’ve managed to check Facebook with some regularity. But I’m not sure I’m quite ready for my blog posts to be posts and not just journal entries. They will all be posted eventually. I just can’t say exactly when.
It’s been one week since I went into very active labor. Once it started, it was fast and furious. Brad wasn’t home from work yet when I called Nicki, so it took about an hour for her to get to my place. But that’s okay. While I’d gathered just about everything for the hospital, I hadn’t actually packed my bag yet. I packed in between contractions. And I used my handy iPad app to track those contractions. And they were about three minutes apart. And there was no good position in which to have them. I used to get menstrual cramps that radiated to my back, and I remember commenting to my mom that I could foresee that I would be one of those women who would have back labor. And it turned out I was right. Except all of the recommended positions for coping with back labor? Yeah, they only made it worse.
When Nicki finally arrived, she took one look at the app and announced that it was time for us to go to the hospital. I had another contraction and then agreed with her. She called Heather while I called the hospital. I didn’t have the number for labor and delivery, so I called the main line and was automatically put on hold. Nicki took my phone from me and hung up. With her phone, she called a friend to get the direct line to L&D, and with my phone, she called to let them know we were coming. She said she’d bring the car around to the front, took my bags and ran out while I, between contractions, locked the door and walked very slowly out of the building. She wasn’t there. And then I saw her running around the building. She’d parked at the back, thinking it was the front. (I share this because it took my mom and I a long time to get on the same page as to which side of the building was the front and which was the back.) Nicki told me to stay where I was while she ran back to bring the car around to the actual front of the building. I rested against a carport for that next contraction.
We did not obey the speed limit as we drove to the hospital. In fact, we were pretty sure that if we did get pulled over, we’d be getting a police escort the rest of the way. (Okay, in all honesty, we were kind of looking forward to the drive turning into a sitcom.) Nicki gleefully ignored a no-right-on-red sign at the last turn before the hospital. If the police had decided to stop us at that point, they were just going to have to wait until we’d reached the patient drop-off point at the hospital.
Heather was waiting. She ran inside for a wheelchair while I got out of the car. A very kind gentleman saw that Heather needed an extra hand and offered to take her bag. He rode with us all the way up to the sixth floor. By the time I had signed the paperwork and the charge nurse was ready to take us to a room, Nicki had arrived with my bags and hers. We were taken to room 675, all the way at the end of the hall. The charge nurse apologized that we had to walk so far to get to the room.
I’m not sure if the nurse was surprised at how willingly I stripped off my clothes to put on the hospital gown or not. Ballet dancers aren’t known for being modest… At any rate, I was hooked up to the machine to measure my contractions and the baby’s heart rate. And I really don’t remember much about what else was going on at that point. Blood pressure, pulse ox… I was kind of focused on the contractions. I was dilated to about six, six-and-a-half. They wanted to put in a heplock. I said I have a needle phobia. The midwife, Sue, came in and told me that her one concern was that redheads, especially those of us with lots of freckles on our fair skin, tend to bleed more than others. She wanted to be prepared should I need a transfusion. I asked how much I would feel it once it was in. (I remember my dad’s last pacemaker surgery. He had to have his hand propped on a pillow in a specific way to not feel the IV needle.) They promised that it would be out of the way, and I relented. Nicki later told me that this process took an hour.
Once I was all IV’d, they released me from the monitors. I happily doffed the hospital gown and got in the tub. (Aside: What is up with having telemetry gowns? Wouldn’t a gynecology gown make a little more sense for L&D? Sure, have telemetry gowns available if women want to walk the floor and will be hooked to a telemetry unit, but it just seems like a front-closing gown would make more sense for vaginal checks. And, yes, I do know exactly what type of gown was in the room. I should mention that I once worked at the medical laundry plant that services Kalamazoo.) I tried kneeling/hands-and-knees again when I was getting into the tub. Nope, still made my back hurt more to position that way. I sat cross-legged and sideways, pushing my back against the side of the tub during each contraction. There are handles in the sides of the tub to make sitting up easier. One of them was digging into my upper back. Yes, I did see that it was there when I got into this position. And, no, I didn’t feel it. The pain in my lower back superseded it. You’ll have to ask Nicki and Heather how long I was in the tub. I really have no clue. I do know that I was well into transition by the time I got out.
The positions that were the best were on my side or on my other side. At one point, we tried raising the back of the bed so that I was in a half-kneeling, half-on-my-stomach position. It did not last long because, surprise surprise, it made my back hurt even more. But it did help move things because my water broke shortly thereafter. At another point, I did have to go to the bathroom, and the nurse was out of the room. I ripped the sensors off pretty quickly to get to the bathroom. I contemplated laboring for a bit on the toilet. Yeah, no, sitting up was not my friend.
At some point, I upped my pain level from the seven I’d declared with first asked to a full ten. Nicki told the nurse that me saying I was at ten was a normal person saying they were at 14. If I was at ten, I was really in pain.
It was around 3 am that I started pushing. I wasn’t quite dilated to ten. There was a small bit of cervix that refused to budge. So I pushed. And I pushed. And I pushed. I don’t know how long it took me to push through transition, to finally get the baby’s head past that point. I pushed on my right side. I pushed on my left side. I pushed on my back. Of all of the ridiculous positions, I did best on my back! And the hours (yes, hours) passed, and I pushed. And I was exhausted. And they kept telling me to hold my legs and pull them towards me. And I couldn’t. There were too many things for me to try and do. The baby crowned. And I pushed and pushed and pushed and just couldn’t quite get the head the rest of the way out. Finally I had a nurse holding each leg. Once I just had to focus on pushing and not on positioning, I could do it.
And at 8:21 am, my beautiful baby girl was born.
P.S. And, yes, I threw up during this process. Multiple times.