I ended up being induced. We arrived early at the hospital and had one hell of a time figuring out where to park. Once we tackled that obstacle, we took the long, last walk to Labor and Delivery as a childless couple. It’s so weird how you don’t really think about that stuff until it’s immediately before you. I really, truly had no idea what I was in for.
The L&D rooms were huge and nice, with a giant window that overlooked the nearby ghetto, haha. We made many jokes at its expense. We watched the sun set while we waited on someone to come in and begin the process. I sat in my awkward hospital gown, completely oblivious to what I was about to endure. I was nervous and a little scared. Hospitals make me nervous–I’ve never been hospitalized before, nor had I ever had an IV or anything of the sort before. The husband has a bit of PTSD involving hospitals because of his childhood leukemia… but he was a trooper. He hung out on the vinyl couch, equipped with his laptop and 3DS.
I remember watching bad TV when someone finally came in. It wasn’t my nurse, but someone who was assisting her. There would be a shift change around 7:30, so these weren’t the nurses I’d be dealing with primarily. For that, I was grateful. The one who did my IV exploded a vein in my forearm and then did a shoddy job of putting it in the top of my finger. I’m ghostly pale and I have amazing veins–every phlebotomist has told me this! So, there was no excuse for her error. She commented on me “being a bleeder.” Well, yeah. That tends to happen…
And so it began. The shift changed and a nice, friendly nurse and resident came in. They explained what Cervadil was and that since I was past due, it was very likely that it would break my water and get this show on the road. It was uncomfortable, but no unbearable. Contractions hadn’t started when my husband left, as my insistence, to go eat some food (his last meal!) and get the proper charger for his laptop. While he was gone, the contractions had started, but I was managing.
They’d really ramped up by 2am. I was still walking around and able to leave the bed. I’d coaxed the husband into having a nap. I was grunting a bit with every contraction, but they were still pretty far apart–ten minutes or so. I watched the monitors fastidiously. I’m impatient. I remember having a very strong sensation that I needed to pee, so I padded to the bathroom, IV in toe. What happened next… was not exactly pee. It was a tidal wave. I shook a little. I remember returning to my bed and getting hit with an even more intense contraction. I felt a lot of pressure down below. I remember calling to my husband, a plaintive little cry. He came to my side, groggy and disoriented. I told him what had happened and he insisted I call a nurse. She checked me and another huge gush hit. It was 3am and my water had broke. I was officially in labor. The nurse set about removing the Cervadil (I still had four hours to go of it.)
The next few hours were intense. Contractions ramped up, coming every five minutes and then every four minutes. I went from zero effacement and 1cm dilation to 50% effacement and 6cm dilated. I stalled around 7 or 8am. The pain became intense. Another shift change happened and I was introduced to the nurse that would not only help me deliver my baby, but also be an amazing helper to the whole process. She told me she wouldn’t push the epidural and for that, I was thankful. I finally gave in and had some Stadol so I could sleep. It was amazing. The husband remarked that I was out of it. I didn’t even care. I wanted more, but they wouldn’t do it. They kept pushing pitocin. The nurse was reticent, knowing my desire for a natural delivery. Everyone else was skeptical except the nurse and my husband–they were my biggest supporters. Natural delivery didn’t happen in this hospital, at least not a voluntary one.
The contractions got really intense. I finally broke down around 10am and got the Pitocin. That’s when things got hairy. I spent the next few hours practicing every pain technique I could, but none of them prepared me for this. The husband was at my side, feeding me ice chips, giving me a cold compress on my head (I was burning up with each contraction), and putting pressure on my lower back. I was having back labor. Great.
There were a few times I stumbled. Where I questioned my resolve. Where I looked at my poor, tired husband and felt horrible for putting him through this. I wanted sleep so bad, I wanted him to sleep. I didn’t want to labor forever and lose my awesome nurse. They kept checking me and progress was slow, slow, slow… they ramped up my pitocin twice. I thought I was going to die. I remember doing all manner of positions, gripping the bed like a woman gone wild, and grunting like some sort of base animal. I finally got the urge to push around 2:30. I warned them, my body wants to push, call my doctor. They told me I wasn’t in the right station yet, I had one more to go, and that my contractions weren’t perfect yet. I said toss that, I can’t NOT push, I have to. I already was. And so they called my doctor.
The prognosis wasn’t great. They said we’d try pushing and see if she’d descend. They put me into the epidural delivery position–flat on my back, legs raised and assisted by nurses, feet against stirrups. I tried pushing for an hour, no luck. My doctor came back and checked me. By this time, I’d acquired quite the following. Several med students, another doctor (from the hospital), and other nurses had gathered around to watch the natural delivery happen. My doctor mentioned “c-section” and we both tensed visibly. No. I was not doing one. My resolve steeled, I said, “can I try a different birthing position?”
They looked at me like I was crazy. Then they looked among one another. I got: “well, yeah… I mean, we’ve never had it happen, I mean there’s always the epidural and numbness. What do you want to do?”
My husband suggested bringing the bar. I remembered it being mentioned in my birthing class. Only two people knew what I meant. They were from the “old” beds. A nurse scrambled off to locate it while I shed any dignity I had left and got on my hands and knees. I labored like that until they brought the bar. Once it was attached, we did a few more sets and then finally got our positioning right. I ended up gripping the bar while my awesome nurse and husband helped me in an assisted crunch. The other doctor (female) assisted me with where to push and helped guide the baby out while someone ran to fetch my doctor again.
An hour later, Evangeline was born. I remember them ushering me on, telling me to keep going. She got caught on my pelvic bone. Her huge head didn’t want to navigate it. They guided her out. They said if I reached down, I could touch her hair. I said hell no! Someone asked me if I wanted the mirror, to which I hastily replied, “does anyone ever want the mirror?!” A med student laughed and said, “sometimes, I guess.” To which I said only: “well, then, they’re mad.”
There was one instant where I slightly barked at the husband to bring me ice chips in the middle of a contraction. I realized how it sounded and apologized for being demanding. Everyone stopped what they were doing and said, “did you just apologize to him while you’re in labor?!” My doctor peeked up at me, looking quite shocked, “how are you talking during this contraction?” I could talk during them and while pushing, too.
I had the room laughing during and after my delivery. I remember only when she crowned and nothing else. It was a pain unlike anything else and for a moment, I faltered. I cried out for the first time. Their voices ushered me on. I tuned them out and heard the frantic heartbeat on the monitor. She was in distress. I’d heard them discussing it between my last two contractions. I focused on that and I pushed. I thought I was only pushing out the head. I was wrong.
When they sat her down on me, I was shocked. I just stared and gasped and said ridiculous things like, “what? Where did this come from? You said we were only doing the head! That’s an entire baby!” I just stared and stared at her, completely awestruck at this awkward, very pale, very messy little human. They cleaned her and warmed her, putting her against my chest. She pooped on me. I didn’t even notice. I just stared while everyone congratulated me and told me how amazing I’d done and how impressed they were. For many of them, it was their first time witnessing a natural birth.
I glanced at my husband and he was crying. I didn’t cry, I was just so shocked, adrenaline running through me. Soon, Eva was whisked away to the other side of the room where she was surrounded by a pediatrician and his students. I was left with the two doctors sewing me up. I felt it all, despite their local anesthesia. I had also felt him cut me towards the end. I asked what the damage was. He told me a second degree natural tear and that he’d cut slightly past that. When it was all said and done, it amended it to more like a third degree tear and I heard them discussing how I’d ruptured an artery inside. Great. I’d pooped the entire time during labor, too. Sigh. Dignity was a foreign concept at this point.
I harangued my doctor all the while, telling him that with all that stitching, he’d best make it look good down there. I remember telling him that he was supposed to be a pro, how’d he let me tear so badly? My alertness and fast tongue were apparently uncommon. I deal best with stress and adverse situations with humor or sarcasm, so yeah.
When I held Eva again, she was cleaned up, but still pale. I remember looking at my husband and saying, “look at her perfect little finger nails! She has my hands.” And I commented on her “sweet little face” looking exactly like it had in the ultrasound.
They took her away after an hour. The husband followed dutifully after them to the nursery and I was left to try and recover. I’d apparently left quite a bit of blood on the floor. My awesome nurse insisted I take something for the pain and then had to run off to an emergency down the hallway. I spent the time alone texting family and staring at the meal they’d brought me. I hadn’t slept in a day and I hadn’t eaten in almost that much time, either. I wasn’t hungry and while I wasn’t tired, my body was exhausted.
The nurse had insisted that if I felt up to it, I was welcome to take a shower… but only with her assistance or my husband’s. She warned me gravely against doing it on my own. When the husband came back, I got a shower. It was difficult–I was weak and he had to help me wash my hair–but in the end, I felt a hell of a lot better. There was a lot of blood. I don’t know how he managed, but I’m grateful that he did. His knees were on fire from kneeling on the chair next to me, so I insisted that he let me run the hot water over them.
We got moved to the mother and baby room. Unfortunately, we didn’t get one of the fancy new ones, as they’d had a lot of babies born and were full up after me. When they brought Eva in, it still hadn’t really sunk in. I was a mother. We were parents.
The poor husband was beat. I coerced him into going to sleep after he binge ate Arby’s. He went out around 8:30 with his shoes still on. I remember changing Eva’s first diaper and then removing his shoes and covering him up. He only had this uncomfortable, tiny chair that pulled out into an awkward, narrow bed. He slept for around thirteen hours while I couldn’t seem to get my body to rest at all!
She came out 7lbs and 9oz, measuring at 21.5 inches! Such a sweet little face. It really does look so much like the ultrasound. She also got a lot of pigment, too, once she got warm. She isn’t cursed with my pasty complexion, but instead seems to favor her father or my Spanish grandma. She’s got a pretty, more olive-like tone. I love it. She also was born with a lot of hair, yay!