Several friends on facebook have asked, “So.... how was your labor??? How are you feeling?”
Labor was...well, laborious! :P
I actually started having contractions Saturday night and [we now know it was just] a super vivid dream about my water breaking when I was using the bathroom in the middle of the night so we went to the hospital and basically did a dry run of arriving in the early morning and checking in and waiting. They sent us home at the time we’d normally be getting up for Sunday School. I did so many loads of laundry and dishes by the time Wed evening came around, and of course no matter what I did, I could not sleep-- not for any measureable length of time anyway.
I was scheduled to be induced at 41 weeks and when we arrived Thursday morning, 9/22/11, at 4:45am, I was again having some pretty big contractions. However, after one and a half hours but getting nowhere, they started the Pitocin. I had been hoping to have a natural labor and delivery, but with induction came the Pitocin and with it continuously being increased, I thought “I’m glad I did a little more research on how much epidurals have changed and gotten better over the years and how it affects the baby less than the IV pain medications and how I can be “completely there” and not possibly feeling a little “loopy” as I might on the IV meds.” About 4 hours after starting the Pitocin, though my contractions were spikingly high, I still didn’t seem to be progressing much as far as dilation goes, so after they told me it could be another hour before the anesthesiologist came (& I knew you can’t move while getting an epidural) I did say yes. He came within 15 minutes but it took 45 minutes because he had to stick me 5 times! When he left, my nurse said "I’ve never seen that Dr. have to do more than one stick on a patient before." Way to make me feel better, lady! I’ve had back problems since high school; I know my lower spine often is compressed—like a spring coiled too tightly that needs to be stretched and it's only gotten worse with pregnancy, so I know that the compressed area between vertebrae is what made mine so difficult. Anyway, my lower back hurt (not “just sore”) the ENTIRE time, and was still hurting until after I came home from the hospital Saturday afternoon. Jessica Pietsek had arrived just after I agreed to the epidural and she stayed until she had to leave to teach a class in the afternoon. Virginia arrived around 11- something in the morning, after my Phenergren had started for the nausea and headache I got due to the epidural.
My legs (and actually whole body but legs felt the worst) immediately started swelling, feeling at first like the funny tingling sensation your tongue gets when the dentist numbs your gums and your tongue touches the spot. Then my feet felt like they were losing circulation although everyone said they were actually hot. After that, they just felt like huge water-soaked dead logs that made me feel panicky because I couldn’t move them—which kept me flat on my back except my head was tilted up—most uncomfortable position I’ve EVER been in for long—I couldn’t lower the bed flat as they would have allowed because it hurt my chest and I couldn’t breathe right, but the nurse couldn’t seem to understand I needed something for my lower back or to be propped up closer against the angled part of the bed. She also informed me I needed an oxygen mask “for the baby” AS she placed it on me and began pinching it around my nose.
I have ALWAYS had a problem with things around my face especially my nose/mouth area due to my allergy problems and history of occurrences (several choking ones, some allergic reactions) where I literally could not breathe. This little green plastic thing with no cut-outs was being forced over my nose and mouth with no advance notice and with the state I was already in, made my body go into panic mode even as my brain totally understood what she was saying. I began crying, which only made the whole breathing thing worse! Anyway, several minutes later she finally let me take it off but warned “if the baby needs it, it goes back on.” It took 3 times for her to understand I didn’t have a problem with understanding the reason for wearing the mask—but I wanted to be the one to put it over my nose and mouth so I knew when it was coming and how it would feel. It never could stay positioned right so I could take the deep breath and hold it as I pushed as the nurse instructed me, but I ended up wearing that awful oxygen mask until she was delivered :/ This also meant Virginia became my translator when others couldn’t understand me under the mask—I remember one episode in particular: Cramp! Cramp! Leg! Left! and several times asking for ice chips.
When it was time to push (about 3pm), the nurse kept turning down the epidural until it was off—for the last one and a half hours-- in order for me to "feel enough" to push correctly. My legs were so huge and heavy, and I was already so exhausted [and thirsty!] I couldn’t get my arms around them; I needed Jay and Virginia to help me bring them closer to me as I pushed. Another technique was me pulling a towel from the nurse like the weirdest form of tug-of-war. At one point she asked me which way I’d like to try on the next contraction. I said, “I guess the towel (although I didn’t like it and my sore hands kept slipping as she gave me the wet end- how fair was that when she had rubber gloves already?).” She said, “so, you feel like you do better with the towel?” My response made everyone else laugh: “No, but you say I do… [& I Want This Baby OUT!!!]”
Everyone kept talking about seeing her head and so much hair and how close she was. At one point Jay was so excited and wanted to encourage me that he wheeled the stand-up mirror so I could see Makaela too. What I saw was AWFUL—no wonder it was so painful! In the middle of everything, I saw a super-swollen, still-too-small, pointy-oval hole for a dark-haired head (and body) to come out of. This pushing thing was taking sooo long and so much out of me and when I saw myself, she seemed farther in than I had been thinking from the way it felt and how they’d been talking. I was afraid if she didn't come soon, they were going to say “the baby's in distress” and I would need an emergency C-section. It happened to my aunt, but it didn't happen to me, thankfully!
I delivered Makaela at 5:25pm, with the biggest inward sigh of relief ever; I had several small internal tears. I was still in SOOO much pain from cramping/clots, swollen body parts, almost unbearable back pain, then the nausea came back as they pulled me more upright, so then I had most painful mini-vomiting episodes ever! I felt so bad that in my pain I knew I shouldn’t even think about holding Makaela (afraid I was too weak) and trying to nurse (afraid I was too tense and sore everywhere). At first, Virginia protested to holding her before I did, but it made me want to cry to admit I didn’t feel like I could yet but I wanted Makaela to be in family arms, not a cold hospital tub of a nursery bed, so Jay and Virginia took turns holding her and taking photos while the Dr. stitched me up and gave me oral pain meds then IV pain meds. Jessica Pietsek arrived after everything was cleaned; she had a rosebud in a vase and gave me a side hug over the bed.
Then I held Makaela for the first time (about 6:50pm)! After a minute of staring at her, I tried nursing on the left side. It took only one try for her to latch on correctly (she did great that first night, but the next 3 nights and days were a different story)!
Taryn Smith had brought a note, a Dr Pepper, an almond snickers, and Reese's while I was pushing (they told her my room number and she knocked before someone in my room told her I couldn’t have visitors yet). The kitchen apparently closes at 6pm so I was rushed to order a meal; then, they convinced me to eat the Reese's for a photo op. The Porches, then the Delaneys arrived while we were still in the L and D room. They didn’t get to see her outside of the nursery however because the nurses kept saying she was too cold and needed to be under the warming lights. Everyone left as a nurse came twox to do some "checks" on me. Jay got a phone call saying “Bath time!” so he left to go watch and get the footprints in her baby book. Joel, Ashley and Jackson Wood met Jay by the nursery and took pictures.
Mom called at 9pm, as we were transferring to the maternity ward, room 4718. I called her back once we were settled. I didn’t see Makaela again until 11:45pm, then I fed her and Jay changed her diaper and re-swaddled her. He did this several times tonight, sleeping very lightly. I was so proud of him and realized I would have needed to call a nurse in to do this several times that night had he not been there. J Her eyes kept closing but she fought sleep. She gagged once after eating and as all newborns, she had the shallowest breathing but she would also stop and then gasp. Needless to say, I stayed up watching, but I did nod off a few times while trying to read and respond to everyone’s texts and facebook messages while Jay slept. I figured I’d have my turn during the day. They took Makaela at 6am to the nursery with all the babies to check their vitals and for the Pediatric Drs to make their rounds. They didn't bring her back until 9am, so I got a couple hours of sleep and my breakfast.