It was a Tuesday. I had a huge round belly and an aching back. I could barely walk without needing to sit and rest and was spending most of my days in the pool at our apartment complex. The water was the only thing that gave my swollen body relief from the extra weight and pressure. I impatiently waited for some sign that this baby was on his way.
I'd been to my grandmother's a day or two earlier and we'd had taco casserole for dinner. She sent some leftovers home with me and, after my morning swim, I decided it would make a good lunch. It was around 1pm. It was hot that day, as it is almost every day in August in the Sacramento Valley. I flipped through the few channels that we got on our cable-less television while I ate my lunch, but there was nothing good on. I was glad that there wasn't a whole lot of food.. I couldn't eat much these days and generally started to feel full around the 3rd or 4th bite. I was 5 days past my due date.
I got up from the couch and put my plate in the sink.. thought for a moment about doing the dishes and decided to save them for later.. opting to check my email instead. I sat there at the computer, bored.. and sleepy. As I sat there, my stomach started to hurt. I went to the bathroom, then layed down.. then went to the bathroom, then layed down.. then went to the bathroom.. sheesh! How much could there be in there? I was starting to worry I might poop out a baby! Maybe taco casserole not such a great idea?
Around three my stomach settled down and I started to doze off on the bed.. I started to cramp. I thought back to the conversation I had with my mother a few days before..
Me: I'm a little worried about the pain.. What does it feel like?
Mom: Oh, you'll be fine.. It's like a really.. really, really, really bad period..
Mom: Yeah.. and I know your periods were just as painful as mine.. it's the same feeling, just.. intensified.
Me: Oh.. ok. I can deal with that.
If it hadn't been for that conversation, I might not have known I was in labor. Mainly because this pain wasn't coming and going like contractions are supposed to.. it just.. HURT.
After about 45min I thought, 'Well, I guess this isn't going to go away.. I'll call J.'
M: I think I'm in labor.
J: REALLY? Awesome. I'm on my way home!
M: Well, you probably don't need to rush.. I'm sure we've got some time.
J: Are you kidding?.. I'm coming now.
Ok. Next, call mom..
Me: I think I'm in labor..
Mom: What do you mean 'you think'?
Me: Well.. I have the right kind of pain.. it's just not coming and going like I assume contractions would..
Mom: Hmm.. well, that's definitely something.. but, it sounds like we have some time.. I have some things I need to finish up today.. you want me to finish first and come later? or come now for a while and then come back here later and then join you for the birth?
Me: um... why don't you come now..
By the time I got off the phone, I'd had a couple of discernible contractions.. and finally felt convinced that this was really it. The first one came.. followed by another 20min later.. followed by another 15min later.. followed by another 12min later.. followed by another 10 min later.. followed by another 7min later.. Crap! Where are they?? Is it supposed to be like this?? followed by another 5min later.. and another 3min later..
I heard the door open, it was J.
Me: Get the bags.
Me: Get the bags.
J: um.. ok.. are you ok??
Me: We need to go.
J: Already? That fast? are you sure?
J: What about your mom? is she..?
She walked in the door.
Me: We need to go.
Mom: Really? Are you sure?
She looked at me, and proceeded to help J grab the begs and head for the car.
The drive to the hospital was blessedly short. Still, every rock felt like a speed bump. Within about 10-15 min, we arrived. We checked in downstairs and declined the offer of a wheel chair. For the most part, I was fine laboring and walking.. only stopping occasionally to breathe through a contraction.. like the one that came while we were walking from the check-in area to the elevator.
J: Wanna take the stairs?
Me: Ha. Ha.
At this rate.. I'm going to need an epidural for sure.. Damn, this hurts! They showed us to our room upstairs.. I don't remember any of it.. It was a blur and the whole hospital looked foreign to me when they wheeled me around later.. We walked into our room where they handed me a hospital gown and instructed me to use the bathroom and put the gown on, opening in the back. I thought that was odd.. wondering how I would nurse with a back opening hospital gown on.. then I noticed the snaps all down the shoulder.. oh.
I came out of the bathroom and got into the bed.. really starting to feel it. The nurse, Kristy, asked me some basic questions about my labor thus far.. and then announced that it was time to check my cervix and see what kind of progress I'd made (like a teacher checking the progress of your homework.. only more invasive). Kristy was nice. I liked her.
She snapped on that oh so romantic rubber glove and reached up in my girl stuff.. then her face changed to a look of surprise.
K: Well... you seem to be about 9cm dilated and your bag of waters is bulging out. So.. what time did you say your labor started?
Me: About 3.
K: Well.. you'll probably have a baby pretty soon here.. Good news, you won't need an IV.. no time for anything you might need it for! Unless you'd prefer to recieve your pitocin through an IV instead of a shot in the thigh after the birth.
Pitocin?? For what?? What's pitocin again?
Me: Uh.. a shot's fine.
Another nurse came in and announced that my doctor had been called and had said he'd wait until I was closer to delivery.. to call him back when I reached 7-8cm.
K: Well, call him back and let him know that she's already at 9 with membranes bulging and ask if he wants us to break her water.
A few minutes later they came in with the biggest crochet hook I'd ever seen and stuck that up my girl stuff and..
K: giggle Was that a relief?
Me: Yeah.. that relieved a lot of pressure.
K: Well.. that took you down to 8.5cm.. but I'm sure you'll regain it quick.
Then the next contraction came. OUCH. Suddenly they got a lot more intense and the room seemed to be filling quickly with people. My SIL and brother were there, my dad was there, my MIL was there, my grandmother was there.. They'd all come to visit me while I labored and had planned to be waiting either back at home or in the waiting room for the announcement. Not going to be the case. My brother and father gave a quick 'Hello' and then headed for the waiting room. My grandmother and SIL (after asking) took a seat across the room and then my MIL arrived.. and proceeded to intervene, excuse me.. help, in any way she could. J tried to keep her busy getting cold wash cloths for my forehead while he remained at my side, my hand gripping his tightly.. my knuckles as white as his face as he watched the nurses set up the doctor's 'equipment' for the impending birth. I did my best to just breathe through contractions, not wanting to moan and scream.. but soon the nurses accused me of being 'about to hyperventilate' and strapped an oxygen mask on my face. Then my MIL was there at the other side of the bed nearly shouting 'Squeeze my hand, squeeze my hand!' as she grabbed the hand that I was not clinging to my husband with. I shook her free and wondered why she was at my side instead of my mother.. then saw my mother coming back with my next cold washcloth.. Oh hell..
The nurses decided it was time to check my cervix again and found that I was 'complete'.. as if I was 'incomplete' before.. One left the room to check on the status of my doctor, on his way from the other side of the county.
K: You're fully dilated now.. would you like to try pushing?
Me: I could already feel my body starting to bear down and thought that sounded like a good idea.. Sure.
K: Ok, with the next contraction, go ahead and hold in your breath, and bear down and count to ten as you push through your bottom.
The next contraction came and I followed her instructions.. giving it all I could and feeling the relief of this child finally leaving my body..
K: Ok.. well, the baby's crowning.. so we're going to have you just roll onto your side and breathe through your contractions until your doctor gets here.. Good pushing!
What?? You want me to what? Lay on my side?.. with a head between my legs? You've got to be kidding me.. do I really need the doctor??
No, they weren't kidding. They rolled me onto my side, and I did my best not to scream in pain as I breathed (without hyperventilating) through a couple more contractions.
And my doctor arrived. Pulling on his gloves as he walked in the door and took his seat with his head between my knees. On my back once again, with my knees being smooshed up my nose, I pushed again.. and again.. and snip (I though J might pass out..) again.. and again..
And just like that, you made me a mother.
I gasped with relief as they plopped a rather heavy and equally slimy baby boy on my chest. His face grimacing and purple, smooshed and chubby.. his head covered in thick gooey black hair.
'Wow, look at all that hair!'
'Wow, he's a big boy!'
'Oh, he's beautiful!'
Beautiful? Um.. ok.
They rubbed him down with towels and I wondered why they were being so rough with him.. he was already crying and 'pinking up'.. Once he seemed a tad cleaner and they'd had J snip the cord, they took him to the scale to weigh and measure. I saw my father in the doorway, gazing at my son, a look of such pride on his face.. Finally.. I'm going to remember this moment.. it may be the only time I ever see that look..
The baby nurse looked like a member of Hell's Angels.. He removed the towels from my baby and waited for the scale to register..
BN: 9 pounds, 7 ounces.
He pulled at my son's legs and stretched them along the tape measure..
BN: 20.5 inches long.
Nurse with clipboard.. 'What time was he born?'
D: 8:21pm.. as he finished stitching up my nether regions and explained to me that after the episiotomy, I'd torn all the way into my sphincter muscle.. 3rd degree lacerations.
Finally, they wrapped him in a blanket and placed him back on my chest.. He blinked and struggled to find me through the goo they'd smeared on his eyes and I marveled at the fact that such a huge baby had fit in my body.. several times that first night.. I lay there and thought 'He's so BIG. How did that.. fit in there??' I was lucky that there had been no c-sections that evening.. so I was awarded the room they normally reserve for c-section patients.. since I couldn't get out of bed and walk around and my husband needed to stay with me.. You never realize how much you use your sphincter til you rip it..
It was a beautiful night. I think it was the only night that August that it rained. Cool refreshing rain that came and relieved the discomfort of the heat.. just as I was relieved of the discomfort of my full-term pregnancy and the heaviness of carrying my first child.