At 36 weeks pregnant, I started having contractions.
As I was preparing for bed, I felt these weird pains. I told my husband we had to go to the hospital. After further inspection by the nurse, I was only dilated one centimeter. (Ten centimeters is where you have to be to deliver.) The “inspection” was very painful. Surprise! I used my breathing techniques from singing and yoga more than ever. Little did I know…this was the easy part.
On October 28th, I went in for my weekly ob/gyn checkup. I had been going in weekly since week 29. Now, at 38 weeks, I was hoping I had dilated more.
I had been at 3 centimeters for 2 weeks. My doctor said he wanted me to check in at the hospital at 11:00 p.m. that night. A moment I will never forget. I was so frightened and excited. Then, my husband said, “Should we wait a little longer?” I am certain he could feel the deep glare I was sending him for even considering keeping me in this state for another second. It had been a long 9 weeks of pain and boredom. It was time to get this kid out! The doctor, thankfully, saw my agony and said we were inducing the next day. I love that man.
My sister and mom came to my house, but my daddy was sick and didn’t want to expose the baby to his cold. I appreciated this, but I missed him terribly. Steve and I checked into the hospital that night while my family rested at our house. Another unexpected pain occurred that night: the IV. If they had pushed a large drill bit into my arm it would have felt about the same. It was an engulfing type of pain. I have had numerous IV’s in my life, but this one took them all. I asked the nurse, “I bet a lot of women give you hell about this IV”. She told me that the IV caused her more grief than labor. I can understand. I fought my way through the pain with my handy-dandy breathing technique, and then I thanked God when it was over.
I was to “rest” for the night. They would induce in the morning. Labor beds are MOST uncomfortable. I may have slept for a total of an hour. With my hefty sized belly, back sleeping was out of the picture, and side sleeping was almost impossible. So, I just sat up and waited.
GET THE BOAT!
The morning was slow to arrive. The nurse entered the room at 7:30 a.m. and said they were administering the drug to induce labor. By now, I have forgotten the names of all of the drugs, but at the time, I could have passed pharmacy school. You learn these things when you are pregnant.
The little screen to my right showed the amount and strength of the contractions. At first there were little hills. I felt nothing. Then, taller hills began to cross the screen. I felt little twinges. The doctor came in not long after the nurse and said he was breaking my water. I was scared to death! “Will it hurt?” What in the heck was I thinking? Of course it was going to hurt…I was having a baby and it all hurts! He took this crochet type needle and popped the balloon in my belly. With all of that amniotic fluid, I told him he may want to wear a life jacket. (See THIS BLOG for more explaination.) I was not far off the mark. It felt so gross. It didn’t hurt, but all I wanted to do was go and take a shower.
Once my water was officially broken, the pain really started intensifying. “Do you want something for the pain?” asked the nurse. “Uh huh” is what I said, but my mind was saying, “PLEASE PLEASE!!” My mom, sister, and nephew had arrived by now. Those pain meds hit my system, and the party began. I was having the time of my life. We laughed and laughed. My sister was cracking all kinds of jokes. It was hilarious. My mother-in-law came in to visit, so I straightened up while she was there, but after she left, the party resumed. Was I in pain? Well, yes, but who cared? Life’s a party, right?
There are some pains a little pain pill cannot cover up. About 2:30 is when those pains started coming. “Damn! This hurts!” I grunted. My husband said, “Are you ready for your epidural?” “No. I want to wait a bit longer.” Before I had gotten the word “longer” out, the mother of all contractions hit like a monster truck. “Squeeze my big toe! Steve! Squeeze my big toe!”
I have no idea why I wanted him to squeeze my big toe, but it somehow helped. He was squeezing the tar out of my toe. I’m surprised it didn’t bruise. I breathed and breathed for what seemed like an eternity. Then the pain subsided. This pain was a strange pain I had never felt before. It isn’t something you can describe. It is a full body pain with the epicenter being your lower belly. It isn’t like a punch in the gut or like a stab. It throbs, stabs, punches, and takes over your conscientiousness to the point the true inner soul of your being is as shiny like a new dime. Though it hurt like hell, it somehow felt natural. Quite strange. Those little hills on the screen had begun to develop in to mountains. The tips of the mountains were off the screen at this point. Then, Steve asked, “Are you ready for your epidural?” “I don’t know” I said in a weak whinny voice. My mother, God bless her, said, “Autumn, you need to go ahead and get it.” “Ok, mama” I said, but I really wanted to say, “Mommy, it hurts! Make it stop!”
SHIVERS UP MY SPINE
I was never so happy to see a doctor than when the anesthesiologist entered the room. This was another scary moment. I had just experienced the most awful wonderful pain of my life, and I was scared of a little needle. He put me in the position for the epidural: sitting on the edge of the bed with my spine curved toward him. Steve was sitting in a chair directly in front of me. My mom and sister were behind him. It was simultaneous. “I have a lot of water coming out! I have a lot of water coming out!” I was so concerned that my husband was being covered in amniotic fluid that I didn’t even feel the epidural. It was over. Poor Steve.
“Do I have time to go home and change?” said my sweet husband who stood there drenched from the waist down in my son’s watery life fluid. “NO!” said I in nervous anxiety. “You can’t miss it!” “It’s ok, Autumn. Asher will wait until Steve gets back” mom said. Thank God we had someone with a level head in the room. Steve headed home for a shower and costume change while I laid there waiting with my mom and sister. The pain was gone. Checking on the dilation status stopped hurting. I was sweet. This having a baby business is a piece of cake!
Just when I thought I had it made, it was time for the pushing to begin. It was 5:00 p.m. Asher was not dropping, so there was a lot of pushing to be done. The nurse said, “You are going to have this baby. You are going to push that baby out! No c-sections for you! We have a lot of work to do”. “We?” No, dear heart, “I” had a lot of work to do. You just sit there and count and say push.
Steve had gotten back in plenty of time. They mounted my legs on these crazy contraptions where my knees almost touched my shoulders. The pushing began. “Push, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10” This was the count. Pretty simple, right? Not for Steve. Everyone was counting this way except Steve. His count was, “PUSH, 1, 2, 3, …” I had 3 people counting the right way, and one counting the wrong way. The clutter of sound surrounding me was annoying. Not only could I not feel where to push (a down side to an epidural), but I had this crazy noise confusing the whole process. It went on this way for about 30 minutes before I had enough. “Steve, you are not allowed to count anymore. Allison,” (my sister) “you are in command of my leg and counting!” My mother had one leg, my sister had the other one, and Steve was in the optimal spot for viewing the whole process. My mother, in an attempt to help me, had developed this patting sequence on my inner thigh. I didn’t tell her then, and she is probably only learning this now, but it drove me crazy. I let her do it. At least it helped me feel where to push. Steve took over my leg for a moment, and Allison got into position to see the event unfold. “I see his head, Autumn! He has a head full of hair!” She started crying. Only 4 months earlier, I saw my nephew the same way. This is something for two sisters to share. I will alway treasure it.
After pushing for 2 hours, the world became fuzzy. The ceiling had begun growing these strange bugs that no blinking could remove. I was exhausted, but I was willing to push as long as it took. The whole time I had been asking if the baby’s heartbeat was ok. “Is Asher ok?” I asked when the crowd had silenced and become concerned. “His heartbeat is up.” said the nurse. “Is he ok? Is he ok?”
In walked my doctor. The nurses had been discussing some “lip” in my cervix, and they were saying something about the head turning.
In hindsight, I should have known something bad was about to happen when the doctor rolled up his sleeves. The epidural wasn’t nearly has helpful as it had been. I don’t know if my body was adapting or what, but the pain was returning. Of course, the worse was coming at this very moment. The doctor shoved his hand up to his elbow in me. My butt came off that table and I moaned, “please stop, please stop”. He then pushed the baby back up into me and said, “PUSH”. I did as I was told though a foot in his chin was quite tempting. The love I felt for the man the day before vanished. “We are going to have to take him” said my doctor.
NO MORE FUN AND GAMES
According to the doctor, my pelvis is kind of like a cork screw. I wouldn’t be able to deliver him vaginally. I didn’t care. I was worried. I just wanted them to get the baby out and get him stable. I was also concerned I would die.
I trusted my doctor completely. He is a friend of ours. Actually, he was off that night, and his wife was out of town. He was responsible for his children. I have no idea what he did, but he stayed with me. God bless him. Good man.
As I was being prepped for a c-section, which took about 2 seconds, I began to say my goodbyes. I was in tears. My mom and sister were so calm, but I am sure they were freaking out. My husband had gone to get suited up for the delivery room, and up until the moment I was carted behind the door, I was telling my mom and sister how much I loved them and how scared I was. Looking back, I should have had more composure. Oh well. Composure is not my gift.
The anesthesiologist introduced himself, and again, I was in love. They pumped something into me that was wonderful. The pain was gone. I was in la la land. Wonderful invention…Maybe my favorite besides the toilet.
Can I explain the moment I heard my baby’s first cry? No. I cannot. I was instantly in love. I was so overwhelmed with joy, I just cried and laughed. “Is he ok? Is he ok?” “He is beautiful! He has a head full of hair!” said the nurse.
Steve had gone over to the table where they were checking him out. He had stopped crying, and I kept asking the same question. Steve said, “Autumn, he is fine. He is beautiful!” Then, the nurse brought him over to me to see. The first thing I said was, “He looks like an Eskimo!”. Yeah…and he did. All I wanted to do was hold him and kiss him and look at his fingers and toes and nose and ears and belly. I cried and cried and laughed and laughed. Unbelievable.
Asher had to go into the NICU for a couple of hours because his heart rate and breathing were too high, but he was a healthy little fella. He was born at 7:30 p.m. on October 29, 2009. He weighed 7 pounds, 14 ounces, and was 21 inches long. Yes. 12 hours of labor. Longest day of my life.
I still had work to be done. As my doctor was sewing me up, I asked him to please give me a tummy tuck. He laughed, but denied my request. My mom had taken Steve’s place in the OR, and she thought the whole process was too funny. I was telling the anesthesiologist how much I loved him, I was telling the doctor only God knows what, and the belly was pretty much gone. It was over.
After an hour in recovery, I was wheeled into NICU to see my little fella. He was screaming his head off. Once he heard my voice, he stopped crying and looked over at me. He knew me. The most wonderful feeling in this world is looking into your newborn’s eyes. More love than you can imagine. I knew right then I would die for this baby. No question.
Little did I know, the drama had only just begun. Though Asher was just fine, I was not. The events that unfolded after the delivery were horrible, and to this day, cause PTSD symptoms. But, we will leave that story for next time.
READ the previous blog in the series HERE