Saturday, July 21, 2007

Monday Memories: MG's Birth Story

I wrote this when MG was 6 days old:

Dear Mary Grace,

On Tuesday, August 9, 2005 your dad and I decided to go out for dinner, to "blow the stink off of me" as your great-great-grandma Shank would've said, in spite of the bedrest. I was just sick to death of being in the house. We went to Scotty's and had a huge meal, both of us had cheeseburgers and fries, and milkshakes. We talked about being parents, and how weird it was that we could have you and still be home from the hospital by the weekend (which we were!). I told your Dad that I really felt ready to be a mother, and that I wasn't really scared anymore, just excited. We also decided on what we'd name you if you were a girl (which I have been sure all along that you were), but we still didn't have a boy's name picked out. We had talked about Alexander a lot, William, and Harrison (but we don't love the nickname "Harry"), and Calvin, and a few other names, but none "felt" right.

We went straight home after dinner, and we watched the movie "The Abyss." It finished around midnight, and I fell asleep on the couch. Your Dad was working because he had a big meeting the next day. I woke up around 2 am, and we dragged our feet getting upstairs and ready for bed. I brushed my teeth and washed my face, and laid down in bed. It wasn't long before I felt a really big contraction at 2:36. It sort of felt like a menstrual cramp, only a lot stronger. I went in the bathroom and discovered that I had passed some of the mucus plug, or "show," and I came out to tell your Dad, "I don't think we'll be getting much sleep tonight!"

The first few contractions were no big deal. Your Dad made an Excel spreadsheet to time them - a very engineer thing to do! He was wonderful about helping me stay comfortable, and encouraging me, and generally being very supportive. He rubbed my back for a while, and my feet. He slow danced with me and rubbed my lower back, too, which really helped.

I was really surprised at how hard the contractions were. I figured that I was in the early phase of labor - Stage 1. In the video, the couple went out for lunch and fed the ducks in the park during Stage 1! It was supposed to last for 8 - 12 hours. I was feeling like a wimp, really, because the "easy" part was so hard for me. I thought it might help to get in a bath, so around 4 am I got in the bathtub. That REALLY helped relax me, and made it a lot easier to deal with the contractions. Unfortunately, the water got cold pretty quickly, so I had to get out or freeze. It was a bit of a challenge to get out of the tub, and the instant I did, the contractions started coming fast and furious. I thought I was still in Stage 1, so I was stunned at how much they hurt!

I sort of felt like there were two of me the whole time, there was the physical me that was doing and saying things, and then there was my internal voice that was sort of narrating the whole experience. My physical self, at this point, was screaming, "GO TO THE HOSPITAL!" but my inner voice was saying, "They're just going to send you home. You're still in early labor. Suck it up!" Finally, around 5 am I told your Dad that it was time to go to the hospital. I told him that the contractions were too fast for me to get on top of, and that I was scared. He asked if I was sure, and I said I was, so he started getting everything ready for us to go. He got my hospital bag that I had packed in advance, and he got the cord blood collection kit, and started to get the car seat together. I called your Grandma Denna (I said, "This is not a drill!") at about 5 am. I also sent an e-mail to your Peanut list saying, "Ready or not, here I come!" I went to the bathroom one more time, and sat down at the top of the stairs because he had asked me not to try to go down them by myself. When I sat down, I could feel your head starting to crown. I told your Dad, and he stepped up his preparations. Finally we managed to get the essentials (although we forgot both cameras, and several other things), and to get out the door. I had a contraction on the porch, which the neighbors must have been thrilled about at 5:15 am. I had 4 more in the 8 minutes that it took us to get from home to the hospital. I cussed a lot on the way there, and tried to talk your Dad into running stoplights. He refused, of course. Looking back, I realize that this was Stage 2, or transition, which is supposed to be the hardest part of labor. At the time, though, I still thought I was in the easy "early labor." Looking back, I don't think I got any of the easy labor!

We got to the hospital, and I had a contraction as soon as I got out of the car. There was a nurse reporting for work at the same time that we got there, and she was kind enough to get me a wheelchair. She said to the lady in admitting, "She's in active labor, we need to get her admitted right away!" and the admitting lady said, "I'm with a patient!" in this really crummy voice. My internal narrator said, "You're going to be with THREE patients in a minute if you don't hustle, lady!" but I think I just groaned. Luckily there was another person working in admitting, and she got us checked in and taken upstairs to Labor and Delivery.

I still thought I was in the "easy" part, so I was telling your Dad on the way upstairs that I wanted an epidural. I told him that I had been stupid to ever want natural childbirth. I think he got pretty worried at that point, because I had told him all along not to let me take anything. I think he worried that he was damned if he did, damned if he didn't, as they say.

We got up to the room, which we had been in the Sunday before when we got my blood pressure checked out, strangely enough. The nurse gave me a gown and told me to change in the bathroom, and to go pee into this teensy tiny cup, which I thought was a cruel joke! I dropped my clothes in the middle of the floor, and there they stayed.

The nurse checked me to see how far along we were. She asked me when my water had broken, and I said that it hadn't. Unfortunately, this didn't match what she was feeling, and she kept checking for a long time. Of course, another contraction started, and that part really hurt. I was yelling a lot, begging her to stop, and in the back of my mind the "narrator" was thinking, "If I don't shut up, BJ's going to deck her and get himself kicked out of the hospital... I need to get a hold of myself!" but I just couldn't. Finally, just when I started hoping that he WOULD deck her, she stopped. She said, "You're ready to push!" and my narrator said, "That's a mean joke to play on someone who's in early labor..." I didn't believe that I had gotten to 10 centimeters in only 3 hours! I said, "Really?" and she said, "Yep, you're at 10 and there's just a little more cervix. It's time." So, she told me to hold back my legs and to bear down, and I did and it felt SO good. What a relief to do something productive, after just relaxing through all that pain (or trying to, anyway).

I was hopeful that your Grandma Denna would make it, but I was a little more worried about the doctor. We hadn't called him on the way, in our hurry. So I was thrilled when he walked in. He had been delivering another baby, and just happened to be there. I even managed to joke that we had forgotten to stop at Starbucks and get him a coffee (we had teased about this at previous appointments). I should mention, again, at this point that the whole time your Dad was fabulous. He was so encouraging and so strong. I know now that he was scared, too, but I never would've known it at the time. He was just incredible. I told him later that if I had written him a script, I couldn't have gotten it better than he did all by himself. I would have done it without him if I had to, because I didn't get much choice in the matter, but I can't imagine how terrified and lonely and uncomfortable I would've been. Your Dad went to Florida a couple of weeks ago to see the shuttle launch. We figured that if I went into labor, he'd be able to get back in time. Little did we know... and I'm so glad that it didn't work out that way. I wouldn't have wanted to be alone.

Anyway, back to the action, I was pushing and pushing at this point, about three times for each contraction. Someone had gotten me a wet washcloth for my head, and that was wonderful. Things got really painful when your head came through my cervix, and I got discouraged. Then I heard your Dad say, in a very emotional voice, "Oh, I can see her head, Honey, I can see her hair!" and that was so encouraging. I pushed harder after that. I remember asking the nurse, "How many more?" and she said, "Two or three." I said, "Pushes or contractions?" and she replied "Contractions." I was working SO hard. The room was really cold, but I was sweating buckets. I remember looking up at the mirror and thinking, "There is NO way that this baby is coming out of me, they're going to have to get a knife..." I just couldn't believe what was about to happen. Finally, finally, after 15 minutes at 6:14 am, you were born. I remember the sensation of your head coming out, but I don't remember what it felt like to push the rest of you out, it happened so fast. We've been joking that it was fast because you're rocket powered. Dad calls you his little bottle rocket, because of the squeaky noises that you make.

Dr. Sinnott said, "It's a girl!" He put you on my stomach and you were all legs and arms. I couldn't really focus my eyes on you, probably from fatigue. They only left you there about a minute before they took you over to the other side of the room to clean you up. The nurse stamped your feet onto your birth certificate, and put a stamp on your Dad's hand, too. It stayed there for a couple days, which was cute.

You weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces, and were 19.25 inches long. Your head had been engaged in my pelvis for so long (about a month) that it caused a hemotoma, basically a big goose egg. This is causing jaundice, as your body breaks it down, but it's starting to go away. You had stork bites on the back of your neck. Otherwise, you were perfect. You had really long fingers and toes. We still haven't decided who you look like.

The doctor said that you had your hand up next to your neck, with your fingers on your chin, which caused me to tear a little. While they were cleaning you up, the doctor was cleaning me up. I delivered your placenta (placentas are really gross looking!) a few minutes after they finished putting in the stitches (only 3 or 4). Your Dad stayed with you while they cleaned you up, then they brought you back to me to try to breastfeed and to "bond" for a while. Your Dad decided to go park the car, which was still parked outside the emergency room door. While he was down there, your Grandma Denna arrived. She was pretty disappointed to have missed your birth, but was really excited that I had only been in labor for about three and a half hours, and I had only pushed for 15 minutes. That's twice as fast as I was born.

(There was more here about her first week of life, but I took it out, because we're talking about birth, here...)

I love you, Peanut.



Jen said...

That sounds shockingly familiar. All the way down to the bathtub and the thinking, if this is stage I, just kill me now. How weird.

strwberrryjoy said...

Wow! You posted this on My Claire's actual BIRTHDAY! Great story! I need to post Claire's!

Cate said...

Awesome birth story! It sounds a lot like Iris's birth... not Esther's though (I can't wait to tell you that one! If I haven't told you the clincher about her birth yet, you'll be very'll be fun. We'll have so much to talk about this summer!:)). I love the nickname little bottle rocket.