4 years ago today I gave birth to a little girl, and my life irrevocably (and admittedly a little cheesily in this sentence) changed forever. She was a wonderful baby and is a wonderful child, and I remember her birth through a bit of a haze and the blur that has been my life with her. The years have a way of altering memory though, and with that in mind I give you the He says/She says version of her birth. Elizabeth is very much a daddy’s girl, and I thought it would entertain me (and someday entertain her as well) to see what he remembers of the momentous day we became parents to more than cats. Male readers, now is your chance to run away quickly…
We'll start with my version because I naturally have the better memory and will be able to give more details. Heh heh heh.
I remember that I was convinced, as all pregnant women are, for weeks before Elizabeth’s birth that I was about to go into labor immediately. This was encouraged by my OB who kept saying that she was certain that there was no way I was going to make it to term (and also, during her very uncomfortable pelvic examinations, that if I couldn’t handle an exam there was no way I was going to handle labor well, and I might as well schedule my c-section. Yes, she was lacking a certain sensitivity that I would have preferred.). Despite feeling that I might go into labor at the office at any moment, I had planned to work right up until I gave birth, so I had no plans for rest scheduled. About a week before my due date my hands and face started to swell, and my friend C convinced me to go to the doctor who determined that rest was definitely in order and I went down to half days at work.
My due date (9/9/05) came and went, even though I was dilated 2 centimeters at that point, with no more action than the violent Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been experiencing for months. I went in for my normal weekly appointment on 9/14 and spent some time hooked up to the monitors because I was Braxton-Hicks-ing so hard they thought maybe I was in labor. Those contractions didn’t hurt, but they were very uncomfortable and made my belly rock hard. The monitoring showed no productive contractions, the exam showed no progress other than a little more effacement, but since I was almost a week overdue they threw in an ultrasound, and that’s when things started to get exciting. My amniotic fluid was getting problematically low. I was sent to the OB assistant’s office to schedule an immediate induction so fast that I don’t remember the part where I presumably got back into my clothes. This was around 10 in the morning, and they wanted me to start my induction around 2. But there was a snag in the fact that the hospital I had pre-registered at was full of laboring women and couldn’t take me. They were able to schedule me at the next closest hospital, but not until 8pm at night.
So I ended up with some time to go back to work, tell them my leave was starting immediately, pack up my stuff, and head home, make sure I had everything I wanted in the suitcase I had been carrying around with me for a couple weeks, and go have dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack with my in-laws, who were in town for the birth. I had the Dungeness. It was amazing. During dinner, I started to feel a little unwell, and started to feel more unwell the closer we got to the hospital. Not in a contracty sort of way, but not like myself either. We arrived and I went to check in, only to discover that this hospital, too, was full of laboring women. And they couldn’t take me. Even with an appointment. Not that they’d bothered to call me and tell me this. They told me to call in the morning and they “would see” what they could do. Well, due the urgency of the situation as it had been relayed to me, and my advanced state of pregnancy, I got a little hysterical. Still, they cold-heartedly told me they were sorry and to call in the morning. Instead I called my doctor’s office and spoke to someone who spoke to the doctor, and they were able to arrange for me to go to a third hospital. One that was even farther away from my house, but I wasn’t picky at that point.
We went there, the check in process was smooth, I did all my paperwork, got into a gown and hooked up to monitors and settled in for the night. Originally they had planned to start the induction process that afternoon-evening, but by the time I was settled into the hospital it was 9:30 at night and it wasn’t going to happen. So the next morning, at 6:30, after spending a surprisingly comfortable night in the room, with David nearby on the fold out bed, they put in an IV and started me right on Pitocin since I had dilated to 3 centimeters over night, but wasn’t feeling any contractions.
For the next couple of hours I just hung out. My friend C had lent me the latest Harry Potter book (I think it was Half Blood Prince at that time), so I read for a while and David watched TV. There was nothing more than the occasional mild cramp, and it was lovely. Around 8:30 they came to check me, saw no progression, and broke my water. That’s when things started to pick up. It didn’t get bad for a while though. I walked around the halls of the maternity ward (with my IV pole and mother and sometimes husband accompanying me) and sat on a birthing ball, and (my favorite) rocked in the room’s glider. My in-laws came to the hospital at some point and would periodically pop in to see how I was doing. I had a wonderful nurse named Peggy, and she encouraged me to move around, and would show David where to put counter-pressure on my back. I started to transition around noon (I was progressing quite nicely), and that’s when I started to get unhappy.
I was one of those first time moms who wants to do everything as natural as possible (and was also deathly afraid of the thought of an epidural needle), so I was trying to hold out on the epidural (yes, I was a fool). But all the rocking and techniques I was using were not making a dent any more. They gave me a shot of Nubain or some kind of narcotic, and that didn’t help with the pain at all, but made me pass out between contractions. So it would be like PAIN, blissful dream, sudden waking into PAIN! I believe it was at that point that I was done with trying to make it through any further. Dr. Mike, beautiful Dr. Mike, came in to give me the epidural. There had been some concern that with my scoliosis I wouldn’t be able to have an epidural if I wanted one because there might not be enough space at the right point in my spine. It turned out there was plenty of space, and I was so determined to have the misery END that I did not move (and barely breathed) for three solid contractions so he could get me settled. You really don’t notice any pain from the needle after having experienced transitional contractions. Almost immediately I started to feel more human. I may have told Dr. Mike that I loved him.
I stopped feeling the excruciating pain, and started feeling excruciating pressure like I needed to push. The only thing I can compare the sensations to is like your lower half is trying to throw up. Still though, that was a lot more pleasant than the pain, so I laid there as requested and concentrated on relaxing and not pushing. In another hour (sometime after 1pm) I was ready to go. My nurse had me do practice pushes with her for a while and then called the doctor on duty that day, and my in-laws came in. Pushing was hard work. Really hard work, but not physically painful. In the hindsight of having experienced pushing without pain-relief with Lilli, an epidural is a beautiful thing. David held one of my legs, my mother held the other. David did a better job, because my mother, who has not given birth herself, was so fascinated with what was going on down there that she kept wandering away with my leg. Everyone (David, my mom, my in-laws, 3 nurses and the doctor) kept yelling for me to push. I didn’t appreciate that much. In all, I pushed for an hour (I believe that at one point the doctor told me to “push harder”, and I yelled “I AM pushing harder!”, but that was the only unpleasant thing I said to anyone the whole day), and then, at 2:38 pm, out came my Elizabeth Rose. It was the strangest feeling I have ever had. She was 6 pounds 8 ounces and 18.5 inches long.
The first thing I thought when I saw her was “Oh there you are!” It was like we’d known each other forever and had just been apart for a while. The big shock of her delivery was that she had come out face up (posterior), instead of face down (anterior) like she was supposed to, which explained why I had to work so hard to get her to come out, and also explains my back labor. I remember two other things about the moments right after her birth. The first thing was that all the attention suddenly shifted from me to my baby, so that when I asked for water, several times, loudly, the only person who heard me was the doctor. And he only heard me because I had torn during her exit, and he was busy sewing me back up. Without lidocaine, since he apparently didn’t realize that my epidural had already worn off, and I was too distracted by the baby to tell him. That’s the other thing I remember. Eeeeeeeeeeeee. Not a good time.
There’s not much I remember, it’s all largely a blur. However, there are 2 distinct events I do remember.
The first is the fact that Rachel was coping with the pain, but at some point she decided she had done enough coping. The narcotic took the edge off, but it was still pretty painful. Then I remember the anesthesiologist administering that big does of painkiller to her spine, whatever that’s called.
When the doctor asked how she was feeling she said: “my toes feel tingly. Tingly, tingly tingly.” I admit I laughed.
The second, much more vivid memory, was the moment of Elizabeth’s birth. I was on one side, holding a leg, and Rachel’s mother was on the other side, holding her other leg. I remember Rachel pushing and pushing. I remember seeing what I thought was Elizabeth’s head in the…..open area down there….
I admit I was suddenly concerned. That thing was only (I thought) the size of a small apple. I was thinking “oh geez, she’s really underdeveloped!” And then Rachel gave another push and GLOMPH out erupts this massive head from this tiny opening! (Apparently I had only been viewing the top of a small part of her head) It was very disconcerting, to say the least.
But it was also an incredibly emotional moment for me and dihydrogen oxide ran freely from my eyes. I also think I was locking my knees up till then because the whole moment combined with that new smell…..I felt very nauseated and had to lie down briefly. I realize this makes it sounds like I was somehow doing all the work, but this is just from my vantage point, remember.
Now, some of the things she mentions about me on her blog….let’s just say she embellishes some of the stories about me. I’d tell my side of the story, but she’d probably just censor it out. >.>
HAH! I embellish nothing. He just doesn't like the truth!
This is what I actually wrote about her birth that evening. It’s not long or particularly detailed, but I was confined to the limits of the baby books. Yes books. I had one for the pregnancy and one for the new baby for both girls. I am indeed one of those annoying mothers who fills them out. It's part of my love of journaling.
Anyway, from the pregnancy journal:
What my labor was like: Amazingly painful, but relatively quick. When they started the Pitocin it wasn't too bad at first, but after Dr. F. broke my water things started to get painful. I tolerated it well for a while, but then started begging for meds. I got an IV narcotic (which apparently made me act funny), and I guess it slightly took the edge off, or at least allowed me to rest between contractions. It barely held me over until Dr. Mike came in to evaluate me for an epidural. Despite my Scoliosis, he was able to start an epidural which took the pain away. It didn't take the extreme pressure (apparently that was back labor), and Elizabeth was facing up when she arrived after a good hour of pushing. Not a big baby, but OWWWWW!
What I said when I saw my baby: Something along the lines of "She's out?"
What my partner said when the baby was born: "There she is!" And then got all teary.
No one ever told me that: it would feel like it did. I really had no concept.
How I'm handling the responsibility of caring for this tiny person: Pretty well. She is good natured and quite portable.
From her baby book:
How we welcomed you into the world: Grandma B and Daddy were the labor coaches, the breathed with Mommy and held her legs while she pushed. Nana A helped as needed and Grandpa A observed. All the nurses, the relatives and the doctor got very excited when you came out.
Cute things you did: They tell me you pooped right away. You were blue when you came out but you pinked up quickly.
Thoughts on the day of your birth: I can't believe you came out of me! It hurt a lot, but it was worth it. You are amazingly pretty. You aren't funny looking at all. You have such soft skin and hair. I'm hoping your hair will be curly like your daddy's. I also hope you get his eyelashes. So far you don't have many, but there's time. You have very strong looking thigh muscles. I think you have your Daddy's legs. I'm glad you look like me though, I don't know any other blood relatives. Your daddy cried after you were born. He also got light headed and had to sit down. We love you! 9/15/05.
In 2009, that hasn't changed. Plus I got the curly hair and eyelashes I wanted.
Happy 4th birthday Elizabeth!