To set the stage for our story to begin, the week of my due date I had posted here about being 4+ cm dilated at my checkup early in the week. Dilated! Four centimeters! Me! Can you imagine? Well now you can. You're welcome and I'm so sorry.
It was positive news for sure, so close to the kid's estimated arrival, but I was still quite bummed out. I was in a bad place, guys, a bad bad place. I stayed home from work. I flopped on the couch. The next day was our astrologically astrometrically assigned "due" date and I threw my bad attitude into my purse, sucked it up, and went in to work. BE A MAN, PREGNANT JAMIE. In retrospect that turned out to be a poor decision. By the end of the day I was even more deeply down in the dumps.
Yes yes, I was in a lovely mood. I was considerably cranky about the whole "pregnant" thing at that point, after being nonchalant for so long throughout the rest of incubation. That final countdown week of waiting sent me into a swirling tailspin of teh super crazy.
After work (and what felt like our 5 billionth walk around the neighborhood, walk walk walk walk), I suggested that Jon and I go get some food and go to a movie, a little mini-date night to pass the time and hopefully improve my extreme grouchitude. At some point during the movie someone threw a pair of 3D glasses and hit me in the head. Thrilling play by play! There was also a puppy! In the movie. Wow. Here we go.
I was having contractions throughout, including several very big ones on the way to the theater that made me squinch up my nose and say, hmmmph. They had been coming and going so often that previous week that I thought nothing of it: this was status quo. They would get stronger as soon as we left the house but then not much else would happen. (Can you say prodromal labor, children? I can and will.)
After our date we went home and went to bed. And nothing happened. What a pisser. Wednesday when I woke up I just couldn't bring myself to go into work and face everyone again. It felt weird to stay home though, because what if he didn't come until the week after? Or later? By all accounts he could be weeks late, how many days could I really cut work with a decent excuse if he didn't show?
(Upon reflection this seems awfully silly. I'm sure the people at my office were like MY GOD, GO THE HELL HOME ALREADY. STOP COMING HERE.)
Instead of going to work I set off on a walk with our dogs first thing when I woke up. (In fact, I posted about it in real time, here.) In my mind I looked absolutely ridiculous, a puffy, pregnant marshmallow lady lumbering around with a pack of random dogs.
People talked to me everywhere I went. We walked and walked. And walked. And walked. Finally I gave up and sweated my giant ass home. I called Jon at work and reported that I was having contractions, if you could consider being sweaty and tired contractions, which is to say, NO I AM NOT. And then I sat down to watch tv and continue moping.
...And lo and behold, mid-mope, the contractions started up again with a vengeance. Since my appointment on Monday I fretted and worried, Would I know when it was finally time? What if things progressed too fast? I had contractions all week that were long and close together but these seemed different. Not especially painful but... different. They continued in waves every 3-4 minutes. I pushed myself up off the couch and started pacing around the room.
Around 2 pm I phoned Jon at work again and asked him to head home. He thought I was saying "finish up stuff before you leave and take a long ass time," when really what I meant was "COME HOME NOW." By the time he walked in the door it started to hit me– So uh, yeah. This is happening now.
I paced and he timed. We watched tv. We debated calling the doctor. We sat on the couch and ate oreos. I hadn't showered after my walk so around 4 pm I hopped in to clean myself up. Jon gathered up our bags of things. He was timing with the labormate app. Every time I had a contraction I would yell GO! from the bathroom and then STOP! so he could do the timing while I shaved my legs, because nothing is more important to women in labor than shaving their legs. This is the law.
Since Jon was using the timer I would let him know about each contraction as it happened. GO! or STOP! or NOW! and eventually that turned into "one's coming!" and by the end I was just saying "it's a one" and then, "one!" It turned into our own little code for contractions. Later, at times when I could barely breathe, I would whisper, "one, one, a one..."
After I got cleaned up and re-dressed, we decided it was probably time to actually call my doctor's office instead of just talking about it 42 million times. Maybe decided is the wrong word– I still couldn't confirm that it was really, you know... "IT." We debated some more. We hemmed and we hawed. We called a friend and told them we still hadn't called anyone, who immediately thought we were crazy.
I just wasn't miserable. I felt... fine. Especially in between waves. When I finally did pick up the phone and call, the office was no help at all. They said they would call the hospital and pull my charts for our eminent arrival. I was still frantic that we not go to the hospital too soon. I made Jon wait. And wait. The contractions hung tight at about 4 minutes apart and a minute long. More than an hour later I finally gave in and agreed to go to the car.
We headed off to the hospital, which was luckily only a few minutes drive from our house. I had one contraction in the car, but it didn't seem full strength, half strength at best. We got there, parked, and I slowly waddled up to check in. The drive made the contractions much more irregular and weak. It was hard to time them all of a sudden, which was concerning, but what the hell we were already there so we might as well go inside.
The woman at the triage desk kept trying to get me to sit down in a chair and fill out paperwork, but I really felt like I NEEDED to be standing or walking. I scribbled down whatever she needed and then walked up and down the hall waiting to be "checked" to be sure they weren't going to send us home, which seemed like overkill considering my dilation earlier in the week but was out of our hands.
Riddle me this: what the hell was all that paperwork I "pre-registered" with if I had to fill out more of the exact same forms when I got there? I'm still quite salty about it if you can't tell. "Very important preregistration paperwork they HAD to HAVE three months in advance!" my ass. Salty.
While we were waiting for a triage room, we enjoyed some classic people watching (and laughing), which was a welcome distraction that kept me from really focusing at all on OMG HAVING A BABY NOW. A crowd of teenagers came in wearing oversized t-shirts emblazoned with gangster clowns. A huge family herded in looking for a girl that had been transferred there from another hospital and the nurses sent the whole lot of them to the waiting room. They went to tell them the girl was all settled in her room and they were gone. The whole family just... got up and went somewhere else. Those same people RAN INTO ME when I was pacing in the hall during a contraction. Had I been able to speak I would have said something but I was a little preoccupied with all my important cat pacing.
They called me back into the triage room and hooked me up to the monitors to make sure I was really in labor, and did a cervix check while Jon was stuck out in the hall by his lonesome. 6cm and fully effaced. Definitely in labor, BOOYAH YOUR FACE, PAPERWORK NURSE! The triage nurse was psyched that we were going go for an unmedicated birth and was sad that her shift was ending so she wouldn't get to help. Score one, surprisingly supportive hospital staff.
They asked for our birth plan right off the bat, actually read it with their eyes, and took copies and attached it to everything. Hospital score TWO! How friendly is that, them pretending to care about my feelings!? You go Glen Coco hopsital. The nurse put in my heplock and then we gathered Jon from the hall and walked over to our official birthing suite. She briefed our new "official" labor/delivery nurse, Kelly, on the no drugs bradley deal, and then... there we were:
Here is our very fancy birthing suite. They had two wings, the new one for "uncomplicated" births and the crummy side for overflow. We had our fingers crossed that we would end up on the nice side with the flat panel tv's and ipod hookups and private bathrooms and I was not disappointed. When in pain I will take all the wins I can get.
The fancy room bathroom with fancy shower.
My water broke uh.. right there. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
My water broke uh.. right there. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Kelly, our nurse, said we could do whatever we wanted now that we were checked in. I wanted to keep things progressing, so off we went on a walk. I was determined to get the contractions rolling along again since things had fizzled after our drive. She got me some ice water in a big tub and Jon and I walked around the floor in an endless loop. I had to come back every hour to check in on the monitors. It was at that time we found out that the doctor who would be on call from my enormous OBGYN's office was one of the few I hadn't met before. Because of course she was, because of course that's how those things work.
For the first hour we walked. The walking made the contractions ramp up but they were manageable. We wandered around and I would sometimes have to stop and hold on to the hand rails or stare intensely at a picture. We came back to check in after our first hour and my new-to-me doctor was there for our monitor session.
I was immediately concerned about how I would get along with stranger-doctor. She kept asking me over and over if I thought I was "really in labor," which was obviously deeply unsettling seeing how I was already in the hospital with a line in my arm. Evidently I didn't "look" like I was in active labor. She just kept staring at me and asking about my pain levels, and eventually she gave shrugged and left and we went back to walking.
We walked and paced and walked another hour and came back again to be monitored. The monitoring was the worst part. If I had to stay immobilized on the bed the entire time I can understand why people prefer pain medication. It sucked to be reclined in one place with no way to get my mind off of the pushing and pulling going on in there.
The good news from the monitors was Jude was doing just fine in his earthquakey belly-house. At some point around now Jon called both our families. Since everyone lives out of town we weren't expecting any visitors, but I suppose it's the kind of thing people want to know about.
After that it was Ghosthunters o'clock and I was glad the labor suites had cable because of course Jude would come on the one night a week we normally watched tv (at the time). Babies! The nerve! I bounced on the birth ball and we watched tv. I couldn't seem to get comfortable on the ball and ended up switching to the rocking chair. I stayed there for a few hours and came back to it again near the end of my labor because it became my newest bestest (slimiest) friend.
Too happy looking to be in labor.
(And mmmmmm, so attractively shiny!
Somebody get that girl a goddamn oil-absorbing sheet.)
(And mmmmmm, so attractively shiny!
Somebody get that girl a goddamn oil-absorbing sheet.)
And so it went. I rocked in the chair and time passed. The contractions were getting pretty intense. When we arrived at the hospital we stopped timing them, so I have no idea what their pattern was like, but DUDE, those muscles were WORKING HARD. It's a different kind of feeling, deep and internal. Breath and rock and breath and rock.
Jon sat very patiently near me and waited for "a one" and then reminded me to be calm and breathe. I zoned out for a few hours while we watched roasts on comedy central. At one point Jon dashed out to get some food because he hadn't eaten, and brought back caffeine drinks and gas station snacks from around the corner. I just rocked in my chair by myself, riding out contractions and letting time pass.
I started to feel nauseous and told Jon to warn the nurse right away. She came in and told us where the towels, supplies and a tiny emesis basin were. A few minutes later, oh boo, the vomit. I tried to hit the basin, but oh my god I was vomiting waaaayyy too much vomit for it to contain and ended up overflowing it and getting it all over myself my dress and the floor. I thought to myself, I know that nausea is a sign of transition! But I doubted that I could have gone so far in such a short time. I didn't want to get too excited so I refused to think about it.
Jon and Kelly helped me into the shower. From this point on I was naked, save a few towels and blankets. Hello strangers! Fortunately "naked" was not on my list of concerns anymore, even in my gigantic stretch-marked state. I was deep in the zone.
I stood under the water and leaned forward against the wall. The contractions were rocking right along. I had to wear a plastic bag over my hand so water didn't get in my heplock and I kept fiddling with it, worried that it would get wet. I stood and swayed and Jon stood at the edge of the shower and talked to me. I remember being very concerned that the shower water was getting his shoes wet. My mind was in a million places and I was having trouble concentrating and re-centering myself.
–And then my water popped with a balloon snap and a big flood of liquid. I had the shakes something fierce, and I needed to get the hell out of that shower. Between Jon and the nurse they got me out and wrapped in some towels, and I agreed it was time for a status check.
AND BEHOLD! I was 9 cm! It felt amazing to know that things were actually happening. I was relieved, but I barely had time to think about the news it before shit was rocking and rolling again– and that was when we found out that the nurse had to go call the doctor because she had gone home. Color me displeased.
It was around midnight when I went back to my beloved rocking chair, wrapped in towels. During each contraction I would stand up and throw my arms around Jon's neck and we would sway back and forth and he would remind me to keep using my lungs because I had entirely forgotten how to do that. That went on for a long time. Another hour? More? I genuinely have no idea. I was in my own foggy twilight world. In between contractions I would sleep and then pop up and sway and then back down and sleep. When the doctor finally came back, she and our nurse just sat quietly in the back of the room and watched Jon and I do our thing.
Somewhere along the line things started feeling different when I would stand up during contractions. I had a hard time pinpointing the feeling at first, it just felt stronger. Finally the nurse looked over during a contraction and asked if I was pushing– I put two and two together as to what the feeling was and yes! Yes I was!
They let me continue as I was, standing with Jon in the middle of the room. Sometimes I would push, and then rest, and then maybe push a little, or just let my body push for me. It wasn't the serious kind of pushing, just a toe dipped in testing the waters. I'm amazing at how instinctive things were, it was all happening whether I thought about it or not. I was just along for the ride.
I had been fairly quiet in the beginning, dead silent to be more accurate, but by this time I was vocalizing along with the contractions. After letting me labor down for a while, they suggested we try some different positions to get things moving. The team helped me up onto the bed on all fours and I pushed that way for a hour or so.
Things were getting serious, it hurt more to NOT push than it did to go ahead and push, there was no choice, it was push or nothing. So push and rest, and push and rest. It was tough work and I couldn't feel a lot happening. I was sweating bullets and drinking ice water and working as hard as I could. Jon was up by my head helping me rest in between contractions and letting me grip his hands as necessary.
It was pretty clear at that point that I was starting to get frustrated– and tired. I'm not sure what everyone else in the room was thinking but I know I could tell. The harder I worked it felt like there was no end in sight. The nurse suggested I try side-lying to mix things up. I was so wrapped up in my own body that I was totally unable to think for myself, her gentle direction was like a breath of fresh air. Position changes for the win!
I rested on my left side and held my right knee up and kept on pushing. I suddenly felt much more productive and people started coming in and out of the room, whereas before it had only been my doctor and our single nurse. They brought in the warmer and all kinds of tools and blankets and whatnot. I was hardly aware of it besides a blur on the edge of my vision. It was as if all the supplies suddenly appeared out of nowhere. MOVIE! MAGIC!
Finally, the doctor look up and said she could see his head. She kept repeating that he had no hair! In my fuzzy state I was sad because I thought maybe he would have hair. Seriously that was all I could think about. No hair? No hair?!! Jon held my one leg and I pushed and pushed and at that point screamed and screamed. I occurred to me at the time how I was probably totally alarming everyone else on the floor with all my yowling and in the middle of all of it I laughed inside my head.
With the last few pushes everyone was telling me to go for it and how so very close he was– and then finally he was almost out and it was the worst possible part, not because of the baby but because of whatever the doctor was doing down there with her hand to try to help his face come out. My contractions were slowing down to give me time to rest in between but I wanted to keep going and going and get it over with and it was so frustrating to wait for them to come and everything was running together in a big blur–
And then we found out he was sunny side up. Surprise!
And one more push and he was there.
And they lifted him up and put him on my belly.
And he was so healthy and pink and super awake.
And Jon and I held him and it was so quiet and awesome.
born 9-3-09 at 3:33 am
8lbs, 6 oz · 20 3/4 inches
born 9-3-09 at 3:33 am
8lbs, 6 oz · 20 3/4 inches
Jon got to cut his cord after a few minutes and I delivered the placenta without too much hassle. Jude was curled up on my chest skin to skin under a warm blanket. It was crazy, beyond crazy, that he was really there. I'd like to tell you I cried and got all googly-eyed but you all know that's not my jam. All I kept thinking was, "Oh my god, oh my god, we have a baby. Right THERE."
I was anxious to see if he wanted to nurse so I tried to get him latched on for the first time. He went in for the kill with impressive baby vigor which made me feel like a superstar on top of all the insane endorphins I was already rocking. I could do anything in that moment. For the next few hours I was so wound up I wanted to run around and throw cars through buildings.
I had a very small tear so I got a stitch in the unmentionables. The doctor prepared a local anesthetic and as she went in for the kill my eyes went wild and I clutched the nurse's hand in terror and then we all laughed, because I hadn't even held her hand that tight in labor. Something's just alarming about somebody coming at your lady-parts with a needle, dude, that shit ain't right.
All in all it was about 15 hours, not counting my week+ of prodromal labor. I feel like this isn't a very dramatic story, but well... it wasn't really that dramatic. It happened just the way it was supposed to. The zen baby had a pretty zen birth.
Our stranger-doctor said I should teach a natural birthing class because I did it like a pro, which made me feel pretty, well, super. Maybe they say that to all the new moms, but since he was posterior she seemed shocked I able to push him out with assistance. I didn't realize until afterward that it could have been a big problem, it just wasn't.
I still can't believe we made it unmedicated. GO TEAM! To be honest, I really don't think it was that bad until the very end, and by that time it was way too late for anything to help anyway. There were big bonuses afterward, with how I could walk myself into the bathroom and clean up– and Jude was so awake and just checking things out. I felt "normal" pretty much immediately, though incredibly post-marathon tired.
They put me in a wheel chair and took us to a recovery room after about an hour, once we were all cleaned up. Jon told me later that at one point during the evening he was out by the nurses station and they have big monitors with the status of every patient on them. Every one said either "epidural" or "pitocin" except mine, which said "NATURAL" in big letters. I'm not going to lie guys, it feels completely surreal that we made it and I'm pretty proud.