It’s been (almost) a week since McLovin was born, give or take a few hours. It’s strange to think that we haven’t even reached his due date yet – he wasn’t due until Monday the 28th. So really he could still be inside my belly right now, but I’m so much happier that he is here. I look at him and can’t believe he was actually inside of me. Now he is his own little person out in this world with us and my belly has shrunk and it’s hard to believe, looking back at my pictures, that it was as big as it was just a week ago.
So now here is his birth story, and sorry that it is long-winded but I’m doing this just as much for me and my memories because I don’t want to forget anything!
Last Wednesday started out much like every other recent Wednesday – The Husband and I woke up early to head to our hospital for an MFM appointment with Dr. T. We stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way and during the 40 minute drive I insisted on listening to old school rap/hip-hop and joked that I wanted McLovin to be a “gangsta country boy” as we listened to Snoop Dogg and Dr.Dre.
We arrived for our appointment, which was a biophysical profile, but noticed this time it took a bit longer to see all the movements. We got them all in, but the prior week’s scan went really quickly and this time I had to move from side to side, drink water and try to wake him up. The sonographer didn’t seem too worried and said that Dr. A, not Dr. T, would be seeing us because Dr. T had something come up and wouldn’t be in until late morning. We had met with Dr. A once before so we knew him, but obviously didn’t have the relationship with him. Dr. A came in and told us baby looked great with a strong heartbeat but then asked me if I had been leaking fluids. I had noticed some slight increase, but thought it was part of the “normal” increase in discharge that we’re told to expect. And McLovin was still kicking away, and the week prior everything looked perfect, so I didn’t think much of it. Dr. A told us that my fluid levels were low (they like to see a 5 or above, mine were at 4.1) and then “I think it’s time to get the baby out now.”
He could see we were obviously surprised and shocked, so he started the measurements again and explained everything he was seeing to us. He was very thorough and answered all of our questions. His concern was that with low fluids, there isn’t much space or anywhere for the umbilical cord to move to, so McLovin could step on it or grab it and it had nowhere to “float away” to and it could end very badly if that happened. And given that I was 38+2, early full term, McLovin had developed enough that he could do well outside at that point. And we weren’t sure exactly why the fluids were low – if it was the placenta beginning to give out, or if I had sprung some sort of leak (my words).
By this point I had started to feel anxiety – first, I didn’t want anything to be wrong with McLovin and didn’t want him to be at risk. Also, Dr. A was basically saying that I’d be walking across the hall to be admitted that morning and be induced that day as they had open rooms on the L+D unit. They would induce me with Pitocin, and this had never been discussed with Dr. F or Dr. T as everything had been going great up until that point. Induction wasn’t even on our radar. Although our car seat was installed we had none of our bags with us, as we had just been expecting a routine scan. So my mind was jumping all around. I asked if I could go home to get our bags and say goodbye to the dog – Dr. A said he wanted me to do a NST first, and then have the OB (Dr. J) who was covering for Dr. F’s practice check in with me and she could make the decision as to whether or not I could go home for a few hours and come back.
Needless to say when they took my blood pressure it was through the roof. E, my genetic counselor, visited with me to try and calm me down a bit and all the staff was so nice and reassuring as they tried to keep my anxiety at bay, but I had three readings that were sky high. The OB came in to see me and she wanted to do an internal exam – at that point they realized I was 3 cm dilated already. I hadn’t been feeling any contractions that morning, but in fact I went to my weekly acupuncture appointment the evening before and remember feeling some tightness during my session but chalked it up to Braxton Hicks. Well, based on the fact that I couldn’t get my blood pressure lowered and I was already at 3 cm the OB said she didn’t want me to go home – mostly due to my blood pressure. I cried. This wasn’t how I thought it would be, and I desperately wanted to see my dog. If I had known that morning that it would be the last time I would be with her, just the three of us, I would have given her so much more love. Instead of a perfunctory kiss and a “See you in a little bit, be good!”
So, across the hall we went to labor and delivery. The Husband was going to leave after I was admitted to go get our bags, and I made list of last minute items I hadn’t packed yet because I was still using them at home. Once he left around 11:00AM the nurse was hooking up my IV and I was ordering lunch and watching TV. She asked about my “birth plan” (didn’t have one) and my requests for pain management (no meds please!) By that time I had come to grips with the situation and my blood pressure lowered considerably and was in the normal range after this point. They started the Pitocin around noon, I ate my grilled cheese with bacon, and then took a little nap because The Husband hadn’t returned yet. Not only was he getting our bags but was bringing the dog to his parents house as they were going to watch her for us while we were in the hospital. He didn’t return until about 2PM. In the interim Dr. T and E visited with me to see how I was doing, as did one of the midwives. At that point it was just mild, menstrualblike cramps. When I was wondering out loud how I could be 3 cm dilated at 38 weeks and not realize it and have no contractions Dr. T reminded me that, although this was my first birth experience, I didn’t have a “virgin cervix” due to the three D&E’s I had – particularly the procedure at 19 weeks. They were wonderful, as always, and assured me that although this wasn’t part of the plan and nobody saw this coming, it was a good thing that I was coming in weekly and that we caught it so that we could be in the best possible position to make sure McLovin arrived healthy and safely.
Things seemed to progress slowly at first, we had a change of nurse at 3PM. Our new nurse, who was with us through the birth, was very sweet and that night was her first shift back from her own maternity leave. The first change I noticed was an onset of stronger cramping – the same feeling I would get before “Aunt Flo” arrived. I also noticed spotting when I went to the bathroom. I did start to feel hungry at about 6:30PM, but I also started to have bouts of nausea as well and skipped dinner because I couldn’t decide if I was going to puke or not. I was able to get up and walk around throughout the day, although stuck to the IV so I had to wheel it around with me, so I didn’t feel trapped, and I was watching some Curb on my iPad too. I did not start to experience any significant discomfort or “pain” until around 7:30PM, which was right after my mother arrived. I started using the peanut yoga ball which helped, and The Husband would use some acupressure/shoulder massage when I felt contractions coming on. I also kept feeling like I had to go to the bathroom a lot, and I actually felt very comfortable sitting on the toilet, or in a similar position, throughout contractions. I did a lot of visualization and focused on my breathing during this time – visualizing what my body was doing and trying to be “open” to the process to encourage things along. Keeping my jaw loose (I could feel myself clenching and consciously had to remind myself to unclench.) It was really quite manageable.
The OB had been in sometime after 8:00PM to check my progress, and I was 7 cm dilated and in active labor. Around 9:15PM things started to get real, and I started having much stronger contractions. I was back in the bed, and suddenly I heard a POP and felt a gush. I shouted “MY EFFING WATER JUST BROKE!” and then immediately the pain intensified. As soon as that happened it all changed and no amount of visualization seemed to help me focus. I had also packed a framed picture of the dog to use as a focal point but that didn’t work to focus me either. The pressure had increased exponentially and the contractions started coming stronger. The nurse confirmed my water broke and asked what I was feeling, and at that point I was telling her I was feeling strong urges to push and almost couldn’t control it. She went to get the doctor, and Dr. J did a quick check and said I was fully dilated and I could push if I wanted. Multiple other nurses came in to help set things up and then I realized it was really happening, and happening now.
I pushed for around an hour, and at the time it felt like the longest hour of my life. For the first 30 minutes I struggled – I wasn’t getting the timing right with pushing and breathing and contractions. I kept telling them I felt like I couldn’t breathe. When I would feel a contraction coming I would state “ITS HAPPENING” and brace myself. The nurses coached me through it, and got me some cold face cloths to help me feel more comfortable, but it was a really tough time at first during the pushing. While I was living it the pressure felt so intense, and although I’ve read some people call it “orgasmic” there was nothing orgasmic about it to me. I was almost brought to tears a couple of times. And, I was also afraid and wasn’t giving it my all while pushing, I was definitely holding back. The pressure was so intense and I felt like my body could not handle it and there was the whole fear of the unknown type of thing. I was afraid to push – the pain was radiating down my legs. One of the nurses would tell me to take a big deep breath when it was coming on, like I was going underwater, and hold it when I pushed. Between contractions I would close my eyes in relief and felt like I could almost fall asleep, until I started to feel another coming. They offered me a mirror, because I was getting discouraged and saying “This isn’t working” and they thought if I had a mirror and could see the progress it would encourage me. My response – “I DON’T WANT TO SEE THAT!” Eventually I got the hang of the pushing and timing and some of my fears subsided. I would get two pushes out of a contraction. I don’t know what exactly triggered me to get it together, but once I decided I was going to do this and get it done I became much more determined. The Husband of was by my side, but didn’t want to watch the birth – the only time they looked was when they said they could see his head and hair. After that he stayed put up by the head of the bed. There was plenty of cussing and some not so pretty dialogue, but eventually at 10:33PM McLovin was born. The relief was IMMEDIATE. I could feel his head come out, and said “OH MY GOD IS THAT HIS HEAD?” then his shoulders, then the rest of him slipped out. One of the nurses had told me the best way to end the pain was to give strong pushes – and sure enough, once I gave the strong pushes and he was out it just stopped. I was crying once I heard him cry, but no tears came out. Just my body crying. My legs were shaking, like nothing I had experienced before. The nurses said it was the adrenaline.
We did skin to skin for over an hour, and The Husband is very squeamish and did not cut the cord. So my mother did – honestly in the throes of the intense labor I forgot she was even there. Originally my plan was for her to be there during the early and active labor and leave for the actual birth, but I forgot all about that when it got too intense. Dr. J delivered the placenta, and I also needed a few stitches for a “very small tear.” I asked her “Haven’t I been through enough down there?!? I need a break!” After an hour or so he was weighed and measured in the room with us. I was starving so one of the nurses got me a large turkey sub from the hospital’s mini cafe. I was also able to get up and go the bathroom with the help of one of the nurses.
One of the memories I have is of The Husband’s choice in television. The room had a flat screen TV mounted on the wall, and my view was straight on. Evidently there was a Duck Dynasty marathon on, and one of the visions I have is of that on the TV above the doctor’s head as I was pushing. Ugh.
In the end, although this coming about 12 days early was a surprise and I wasn’t anticipating being induced The Husband reminds me that we have what I/we wanted – a vaginal birth, no epidural, and most importantly a healthy baby boy. I always thought it was a cliche when others said this, but I’m already forgetting the labor pain – I remember that it happened and can picture it but I feel very far removed from it and now it pales in comparison to everything else. And I can’t speak highly enough of the nurses who knew what I wanted and encouraged me and supported me even when I thought I couldn’t do it.
I really can’t believe tomorrow we will be celebrating our first Thanksgiving as a family of three. I can’t wait to watch Christmas Vacation with him in my arms. I don’t know where we are going to celebrate although we are supposed to spend it with The Husband’s family this year (we rotate years between his parents and my mother), or if I even want to go anywhere at all. I think I’d be just as happy staying in with my little man and watching football just the three of us (and the pets, of course.)