Saturday, July 16, 2011

Born this way... (Part 1)

One year ago on this date was the beginning of a 22-hour long story with the best ending known to man.
I've heard and read some absolutely beautiful birth stories (I've also heard and read some not-so-beautiful, why the hell would you tell me that birth stories as well.)  This birth story will be mostly in the vein of all things written on this blog: humorous, informational, and littered with curse words.  This is also not the birth story of an au naturale (read: I got an epidural and I freaking LOVED IT) child birth, so if that sort of thing bothers you, maybe it isn't the birth story for you. 

Natural child birth is something I never honestly intended to do as I was completely sure I would be one of the small percent of women who actually died in child birth. I was sure the the pain would kill me even with an epidural as my pain tolerance doesn't really go any higher than that of a paper cut.  (No, that's a lie.  Paper cuts SUCK.)  I also was electively induced because my OB was on call the weekend after my due date and both of us thought it would be better to have a "no surprises" delivery where she would most certainly be the doctor there.  And I loved that too.  So, consider this my disclaimer as you read this story:  I like pain meds. I relish in the medical advances that made it virtually painless for me to shove something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon.

Honestly, I just wanted a place to write down the events of that day while I still can remember it and I can't think of a better place to do it.  I'm getting by with a little help from my friend Twitter (bolded lines throughout the post) because, yes - I live-tweeted the birth of my son.  Nothing crazy and TMI-ish, but lots of funny details that I am so happy to have while I write this story down.  I gained some followers that day (it was a Friday and I made it to just about everyone's #ff list - my 15 minutes of Internet fame) and the tweets gave me something else to focus on other than the lofty task at hand.

Also, I can warn you that this will probably be my longest post to date.  But, I will do my best to make it enjoyable for everyone...and probably break it into two parts.

I don't have any big plans for my birth story.  I don't plan to share it with my son (weird) or even with other mothers (unless they happen to read this blog) because it really is different for everyone.  Mostly, I want you all to know that I was once so scared of child birth that I have pretty much decided to never have kids, but the end result of 40 weeks of fear was one of the most wonderful and awesome days of my life.  As the 40 week mark came hurtling towards me, I was scared, not excited for my son's birth day.  I adored every minute of being pregnant (okay, not entirely true, I hated every morning for the first 20 weeks and some of the afternoons too) but, in the end, I really did not want it to be over.  One, because like I said - I was so sure childbirth was going to kill me and two because I realized the night before I was induced that I was content for the first time in my life and I just didn't need any changes for the first time. Still, I have to say, it was one of the most amazing experiences in my life.  Nothing and I mean nothing about my child birth experience made me never want to do it again.  I came out feeling like nothing short of a rock star, and I had a sweet little rock star baby to show for it.

5:12 am.  We got the call.  Here we go.

So, on my 39 week visit, my OB had me scheduled for induction on the Friday morning following my due date.  The night before was so surreal to me.  I actually cried (partially because I was so scared), but also because I knew that life was about to change forever.  I told my husband the thing about feeling content in my life and not needing change.  It wasn't that I regretted my decision to become a mother at all.  It was just that I suddenly realized what a change we were going to have in our lives.  The way it works at the hospital where I was induced is that you get scheduled for a chunk of time and they just call you when/if they have time in between the other scheduled/not scheduled births.  My hospital is known in this area as the "Baby Factory" because they are one of the best prenatal/neonatal hospitals in the country.  We're talking 8000 births a year.  That's 22 a day on average.  So, I personally thought I would be getting the call late in the morning.  I didn't even bother setting an alarm.  That was wrong.  We got the call and the nurse asked how quickly we could get there.  I answered, "In 26 minutes" because I'm crazy and timed our last trip there and because I was so excited, I wasn't thinking about the fact that I'd need to shower and eat before we got there.  She said, "Okay, well we'll see you in about 30 minutes then."  Wait.  What?  My husband and I went crazy getting our house together as quickly as possible.  I showered and dressed.  I even put on makeup. We left the house and I realized I hadn't had anything to eat.  And I was about to give birth.  Some sustenance was probably necessary.  Since it was too late to do anything nutritious, we hit up "the golden arches" and my last real meal before becoming a mother was a Sausage McMuffin.  We'll just call this my first parenting fail and move on.

I couldn't even begin to tell you my thoughts on my way to the hospital.  It was just surreal.  I think my mind was just blank.  I don't really recall anything about that trip.  I don't even really remember parking or taking the elevator to L&D.  But, before I knew it I was filling out a simple form and being led to the room where I would become a mommy.

One last baby bump pictures - as you can see, it is TIME! (7:34 am)

6:38.  In the room.  In the gown.  These things are God awful.

So, once we were settled in, my first nurse took a brief medical history (including asking me what I had for breakfast, which I shamefully told her then silently prayed she wouldn't let CPS take my baby from me.)  I had elected to donate my cord blood, so they had to do a blood draw from me first.  Enter: two nurses, neither of whom could possibly have been older than 25.  Here's the thing about me - I like young doctors and old nurses.  I do not trust young nurses, fresh out of nursing school.  This is has always been true.  But that morning it was with good reason, because it sure was a fun watching this newbie try to find a vein on me.  Even more fun when I noticed her hands were shaking as she did it.  Especially since I am naturally endowed with large veins and I have never had any problems giving blood.  She made me so nervous, I actually started feeling like I was going to faint.  And I almost did.  She finally got the IV started, took the blood samples she needed, and left the room.  I never saw either of these two nurses again throughout the birth.  Thank. God.  (Also, I would find out later that these women didn't properly label or store the blood - as in, they just left it sitting in the room.  So, I had to get another blood draw.  Which was no big deal because my L&D nurse ended up doing it and she was amazing.)

Over the ugliness of the gown.  Almost passed out when they drew the blood.  Hate IVs. (7:07 am)

The L&D nurse who was assigned to me got off at 7:00 or 7:30 am, so she really wasn't with me very long.  She, along with the resident doctor, came in to get me started.  The resident was full of energy and announced she was at the beginning of her second consecutive 24 hour shift.  The nurse later rolled her eyes at me and called the resident "a trip" and we both joked about needing some of her energy.  I remember feeling embarrassed because I couldn't remember the resident doctor's name because she said it so fast and I was still feeling a little woozy from the IV stick.  The nurse & doctor checked me (which hurt a lot, I can't lie) and they both agreed I wasn't very far along at all.  I think one of them said "You're a 2...barely."  The doctor did another ultrasound and said to us "We like to do an ultrasound first because we get really embarrassed when we induce a breech."  They had the ultrasound screen turned away from me, but my husband could see it.  She even traced the path of the spine to the head so he could see exactly what she was looking at.  I remember I didn't even care that I couldn't see the screen because I knew I'd be seeing my baby in a matter of hours.

I remember they made me drink some juice because they thought the baby's heart rate was low.  I remember thinking it was the same heart rate it had always been in the appointments so I wasn't worried.  Plus, I thought some juice might make me feel better since I wasn't completely sure I wasn't going to pass out.  I was really scared at that moment.  The stupid IV hurt me and that's just a small needle.  They simply checked me like all of my other doctor's appointments and it hurt like the devil.  I was certain I was going to die from the pain of everything yet to come.  (Do you sense a pattern?  For me: child birth=mommy death.  Okay.  Understand that this is what I was thinking every moment between now and the end.)  Basically, if I would have been offered an epidural at this point, I would have happily accepted.  No joke.

After we knew the baby was in position, the resident said she was going to order Pitocin.  We were interrupted by a nursing instructor with a student in tow.  I knew that our hospital was a teaching hospital and that I could expect some students to be in on the action.  I personally don't care about them observing the process at all.  I work as a health care professional and without my clinical experience in college, I don't know how I would have ever learned.  HOWEVER.  I don't need no rookies touching my va-jay.  So, I already was equipped to explain that I didn't want ANYONE other than licensed, experienced medical professionals down there.  So when the nursing instructor asked me if it was okay to have a student present, I told her, "Yes, but I don't want her like...checking me or anything."  The resident jumped in and said, "Oh, yeah, we would never let that happen."  I remember thinking it was uncomfortable that the student was in there and we were having this conversation in front of her. 

Fortunately, for some reason I can't remember, the student and the instructor left and the instructor returned soon afterwards without the nursing student.  Again, she asked if it would be okay to have her student observe.  I repeated my one and only rule (students+vajay=roundhouse to the face) and she replied "Oh yeah, we don't do that, but we might have them like...cath you or whatever after you have your epidural."  I laughed at her thinking she was making a joke and was met with a blank stare.  She wasn't kidding.  This one of the funniest moments of the whole childbirth experience to me.  This woman thought that although it wasn't okay with me for her student to even look at my...stuff...that it would be okay  Stop it.

Seriously was just asked if it was okay for a nursing student to cath me after my epidural.  "Don't worry you won't feel it." Fuck. No. (7:58 am)

Despite all of this?  Allowing the nursing student to be present (though making sure she was kept at least arm's length away) ended up being a good decision because she basically became the official popsicle and juice fetcher all day long.  Amazing.

Baby is moving like crazy.  He must know he's getting kicked out. (8:10 am)

The new nurse came in with the Pitocin.  I liked her.  Her name was Karen.  She was an older lady (finally, a GROWN UP) and she had some spunk to her, but overall she was just a no-nonsense person.  I was glad to have her.

Pitocin is started.  First contraction report soon. #thisisgoingtosuck (8:23 am)

My husband and I made some phone calls and basically just hung out.  Nothing was happening.  We played cards.  I drank juice.  I learned quickly that it was going to be a pain in the butt to get up every time I had to pee because I had to be unhooked and drag the IV pole with me into the bathroom.  I kind of wanted to stop it with the juice, but it was the only thing keeping me from being hungry.  So, we just had several annoying trips to the bathroom.  I know this is where some people might think I'm listing reasons why births in a hospital are annoying. I'm not.  I would never have even considered it any other way (as I like most medical procedures to be performed know...doctors.)  And I gotta tell you, I wouldn't have traded the treatment I got at this hospital in particular for any place in the world.  This nurse never seemed annoyed to help me to the bathroom all of those times.  Plus I enjoyed being able to hear the little whirr whirr whirr of my baby's heart for the entire experience - even if it meant having to be hooked to my bed the whole time.  It was worth it.

"I thiiiiiink I'm having a contraction."  They don't hurt yet.  They have to hurt for a full hour before I get an epidural. #fuck (9:25 am)

Did you know that's the rule?  An hour of painful contractions PLUS cervical change (doesn't matter from what to what) before you can get an epidural.  Thank GOD, they didn't hurt yet.

Nurse tells me I definitely just had a contraction.  It didn't hurt.  Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. (10:13 am)

I'm pretty sure we were still playing cards at this point.  I was annoyed by the anticlimactic-ness of getting induced.  I thought I would magically just be...having a baby.  That is so not how it is.

It's a good thing movies make it seem like this goes by really fast.  Otherwise, all movies about pregnancy would SUCK. (10:30 am)

It's true.  It isn't anything like the movies.  And daytime TV is really boring.
Plus.  I was starving.  My husband was nice enough to only have a muffin for breakfast in front of me.  This would only last for a few more minutes.

Growling stomach is way more painful than contractions. (11:02 am)

Throughout the morning, when the nurse would check in on me, she would ask for my pain on a scale of 1-10.  Being the person I am, I of course I had to make it funny.  I even pulled this up for my mom and my husband to see in case I decided to start referring to that pain scale to switch things up as well.

Had a contraction while the nurse was in the room.  She asked if it hurt, I replied, "This blood pressure cuff hurts more." (11:12 am)

Actually recognizing contractions now.  They still aren't uncomfortable, but at least now I know what to expect. (11:27 am)

You know...looking back.  I still don't know exactly what those early contractions felt like.  I know I had some Braxton Hick's contractions at different times throughout my pregnancy, but these were different.  They didn't hurt.  My baby bump would just get really hard and seize up, but not in a painful way.  That's really hard to explain to someone who hasn't had a baby - i.e. my husband.  My husband, who was probably bored out of his mind (though he never said it since he wasn't allowed to say the word "bored" for the entire day...that, or the word "gross") went down to get something to eat since my mom was going to come up for a bit and sit with me.  He brought the pizza back and that's when I really realized how hungry I was.

Rating scale (1-10): Contractions - 1.  Husband eating pizza in front of me - 12. (11:33 am)

Given my obvious discomfort from being hungry, the nurse offered me all of the options for being on a clear liquid diet for the day.  They were:

  • Coke
  • Sprite
  • Diet Coke
  • Juice
  • Water
  • Ice chips
  • Broth (Chicken OR Vegetable)
  • Jello - except the hospital was having some sort of "Jello shortage" so that one was out. Wow. Thanks.
Wow.  I can have Chicken Broth if I want.  Delicious. #iwantjimmyjohns (11:53 am)

I told her I would probably want some chicken broth later on.  She suggested a popsicle since it would help to "chew something."  True.  Things were getting boring.  We had long ago abandoned our card game since it was such a pain to clean it all up for me to get unhooked to go to the bathroom and come back.  My husband was clearly bored (though he never did use that word, God love him) and he decided to take a nap.  The nurse gave him "the good chair" which was one that reclined and was softer than the one in the room.  My husband assured me that it still sucked a lot, but that didn't stop him from dozing for a bit.

Here's my support system :) (1:26 pm)

Definitely having contractions now and I can tell when they happen.  Still can't describe them as painful. (12:48 pm)

I finally gave in and decided to "eat" something.

Hospital chicken broth.  Like Ramen Noodles without the noodles.  Or the flavor.  Or the will to live. (1:27 pm)

The broth actually did help me perk up a bit.  Despite the obvious snark in my tweet, I really did feel better.  I even had a lovely cherry popsicle for dessert.  I was amazed at how un-hungry I was given that I was totally a bottomless pit throughout my entire pregnancy.

Knocking your own IV pain rating: Eleven million.  Holy shit balls. (1:43 pm)

Husband is throwing a fit bc he accidentally got an oatmeal cookie instead of chocolate chip.  I am going to rip his balls off. #blamethebaby (1:46 pm)

The above was definitely funniest part of the entire birthing process.  I laughed so hard when my husband realized what he was doing.  (Also, the "blame the baby" hashtag was invented by my good friend Paige any time I had a snarky tweet that was obviously only snarky because I can be a raging B sometimes was pregnant.  Let's put it this way, he's about to turn 1 and I'm still #blamingthebaby.)

Experiencing some legit discomfort (I hesitate to call it pain.)  Not looking forward to this intensifying at all.  (3:31 pm)

I think I had one little contraction while I was in the bathroom.  It hurt, but it wasn't horrible.  It made my husband so excited because he wanted things to get on the move, but then he began to beg me to go for walks and use the bathroom over and over again to see if it would yield more contractions.  If he had any idea how much that first little one hurt, he would have never suggested this to me.  And he would have understood why I gave him a look like I wanted to kill him when he did suggest it.

Okay, I promised no TMI tweets, but what that doctor just did to me hurt.  A lot. (4:06 pm)

So, to explain (and get a little TMI, skip this part if you'd like) a new resident (the peppy one from before got relieved from her 48 hour shift) came with orders from my doctor (here comes the TMI part) to attempt to manually break my water to get things moving along.  Wanna know how they do that, non-moms?  Google it.  Then have some nightmares.  You're welcome.

So yeah, it sucked a lot.  And, to make matters worse it didn't work.  The first attempt at doing this was the most painful part of my entire L&D and it was awful because my husband really didn't know what to do (nor was there anything he could do...he even actually said the word "Stop" in middle of what they were doing because he couldn't handle seeing me in so much pain.)  I was worried about him being worried about me being hurt and the combination of that and the fact that I was progressing so slowly made it an impossible task because I could. not. relax.  They decided they would try again later, but didn't say when they would do so.  The thought and pain of all of this scared. the. bajesus. out of me.  I did NOT want them to try again and I just wanted it to happen naturally.  I literally tried to will myself into having contractions so they would give me an epidural before they tried again.

So, at this point, knowing that I was still progressing at the pace of a snail, my husband decided to go home and feed/check on the cat. I remember he told me he had left Animal Planet on for the cat so that he "wouldn't be lonely" and I remember thinking that this man was going to be an amazing father.

The nurse on duty with me said she was pretty sure our baby wasn't going to arrive on her shift and so we knew he had a little bit of time to pop home.  A new nurse came on duty and as much as I loved the nurse who had been with me all day (Karen)...I loved the new one (Sherry) even more.  She was FANTASTIC.

A lot of time passed in between tweets.  This is probably because my aunt and cousin showed up to drop a present off for me and the baby.  But, they were worried they were going to see some action, so they tried to just drop it off and leave.  For some reason, they were encouraged to come in (where absolutely NO action was going on).  Their visit was a hysterical comedy of errors.  My cousin was so afraid she would see blood or hear screaming or something (I'm telling you, movies make this whole process out to be something that it isn't).  She was CRACKING me up.  Which was really good.  I desperately needed to relax and they did exactly that for me.  At one point, someone went into a supply closet connected to my room and dropped something and my cousin jumped a foot.  My aunt told me stories from both of her childbirths (which were successful and uneventful) and it helped me feel even more relaxed.  Not too long after they arrived, a nurse showed up with the resident doctor again saying that they were ready to try to break my water again.

My first thought was panic because my husband wasn't there.  But my mom was there and offered to stay.  My aunt and cousin kissed and hugged me goodbye so we could try again.  The doctor and nurse urged me to just relax and breathe.  I tried.  They told me again.  I tried again.  It hurt again.  So then I just took a big breath and started counting my breaths in and out and staring up at the ceiling.  I felt myself completely relax and that's when they were finally successful.  I think I actually said "Yay!" or something after it happened.  I know.  I'm a freak.  I really think that it helped not to have my husband there for this part.  He was an amazing birth coach (as you'll find out soon), but he was really nervous to see me go through this.  And my nerves fed off of his nerves and so on and so on.  So, I called him (or texted him) and he told me he was literally getting back in the car to come back to the hospital.  I don't think he honestly was sad he missed it, but he apologized over for not being there for me.  It was good to have my mom in the room so I didn't feel so alone and I was glad things might start to actually pick up the pace.  And did it ever.

Have tried unsucessfully to put makeup on three times.  Contractions are legit.  My baby probably won't care that I'm not wearing mascara. (7:09 pm)

I can't honestly remember when the contractions actually started.  I didn't tweet it.  But, once it happened, it really happened.  It felt like they were almost immediately only 2 minutes apart.  For those unfamiliar with what that means - you time contractions from the beginning of one contraction to the beginning of the next one.  Contractions last anywhere from 60-90 seconds in length.  Mine were lasting pretty close to 60 seconds.  Did you do that math?  That means I would have a contraction.  It would last about a minute.  Then I wouldn't have an entire minute to relax before I had another one starting again.  Yeah.  OUCH.  So, immediately, we were calling the nurse to let her know I was ready for my epidural the minute they would give it to me.  I had some idea that after the contractions started that I would be waiting a while for anestheisology to get to me.  Turns out, it would take an hour and fifteen minutes for them to get to me.  Thank GOD I paid attention to the pain management portion of my child birth class.  So, to those who are banking on their epidurals - listen up, the natural pain managment methods are necessary AND they do help.  A little.  I still wanted my epidural.  But, I didn't kill someone in the process of waiting for it.  Win/win.

So, the anesthesiologist got there and he had the driest/stoic personality I have ever met.  Which is probably good.  I like it when people who stick hollow needles into my spine aren't high strung.  He got me set up on the edge of the bed.  I was experiencing so much pain that it almost didn't occur to me to be nervous until the exact moment when I felt him start to give me the injection to numb the site.  My husband stood in front of me and held my hands while I buried my face in his chest.  He helped me do some visualization (of our cat bouncing around and chasing after his ball).  IT TOTALLY WORKED.  I relaxed so much.  So much that I started having another raging contraction.  I told the doctor to stop and he said, "No, let's just do it while you're focused on the contraction."  That was smart.  I was so caught up in the pain of contraction that I barely even noticed when he inserted the epidural - well, I could feel it, and it was a little weird and uncomfortable - but that lasted about 3 seconds before the pain was just...gone.  Instantly.

Remember how I said this post wasn't going to be one for the natural childbirth crowd?  (I know, you read that like...hours ago, but I said it.)  Well, I'm about to tell you why.

Moms who haven't done this yet?  Get the epidural.  No, I'm kidding - do whatever feels right for you and for your baby and whatever is consitent with your belief system.  And then?  GET A BIG FAT EPIDURAL.  I'm sorry I can't help it.  I loooooooved my epidural so so so sosososo much.  That contraction I had while getting the epidural?  WAS. THE. LAST. PAIN. I. FELT.  My entire child birth experience from there on out was (and I'm serious about this):  PAIN. FREE.  I finally relaxed for real.  I suddenly was able to enjoy the process.  Enjoy the momentous thing that was about to happen to me.  To us.  To our family.  To our entire life.  Every little bit of fear completely left me until all that way left was something that I felt like I was born to do, and that was to have this child.  And it wasn't going to kill me at all.

Still with me?  I can't believe it.  More to come in Part 2.


  1. The first most important rule of vaginal labor is: TAKE DRUGS. The second most important rule of labor is: TAKE DRUGS. Not only should you take the drugs, but you should take them the second they are offered to you. God put someone on this planet smart enough to invent the epidural. Say a quick thank you to the big man above for being so generous and order yourself one up. There is no reason to go through any pain. I didn’t and the most painful part of my entire birthing experience was getting the IV. Thank you, Jesus.

  2. I was induced as well. As soon as I couldn't handle the pain of contractions (and this is from someone who has a high pain tolerance) I asked for an epidural. It definitely helped me to relax and enjoy the rest of the process. It wasn't even the most painful part of the day.

  3. @ Julie - Amen.

    @ Superstitions - Relaxing and enjoying the process is a benefit no one tells you about prior to child birth. All I could think about was "ouchouchouchouchouch" but as soon as I got that magical elixir, all I could think was "babybabybabybabybabybaby!!!"

  4. This really made me laugh! I love birth stories. They are all so different and yet, oddly similar. Drugs, wait, wait, wait, sperm donors surprise you in amazing ways, baby!
    I'm looking forward to part 2.

  5. This completely cracked me up and was completely sweet at the same time. But, many your "baby factory" doesn't give epidurals early? I had mine right off the bat...barely a hard contraction with either of my boys = heaven :).

    And I agree...two of my best days ever. And loving the occasional pictures.

    On to part 2...

  6. @Lynn - "Sperm donors" HILARIOUS.

    @Dawn - Apparently, the baby factory hates me. I have a friend who got hers only a little while after arriving. Is it maybe different because I was induced? I don't know. Were you induced?

    I knew you'd like the pics :) Not the best quality because most of them were taken with my BlackBerry...but, it helped break things up a bit!


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