This is the fifth entry in a series describing my journey to motherhood. Click here to read everything leading up to this.
I think that life as a first-time parent is an adjustment for anyone. It was no different for N~ and I (oh, and Sean, too). But we found our groove. As my maternity leave ran out, it became apparent that my parent company wasn’t going to go for my boss’s idea of letting me telecommute (I wrote software manuals for an engineering company–totally could have done most of my job from home), so I resigned my position. At the same time that we were giving up my salary, my husband needed an office manager for his business. So, we did what seemed logical–I filled the job, and N~ came to work with us every day. We loved it, he loved it, and our clients thought that it was pretty cool (we had a lot of jealous working mothers). My father-in-law decided to move his office in with ours, so we had a happy family office.
As I was driving into work one day (when N~ was eight months old), I started to feel kind of “off.” It was close to lunchtime, and I hadn’t eaten anything that day, so I assumed the dizziness I was feeling was because of low blood sugar. I swung through a drive-through, then finished my trip to the office. I sat down at my desk, took a few bites of my salad, and knew it had to be more than hunger. The next thing I knew, I was face-down in my wastebasket–my body rejecting the few bites of salad that had made their way in.
Now, you have to understand, I never puke. I once had a nine-year period where I did not vomit. I have to be deathly ill for it to happen and, at that moment, that about sums up how I was feeling. My father-in-law’s assistant offered to watch N~ for me, and I promptly fell asleep on the floor of an empty office, only waking up to increase the contribution to my wastebasket once or twice more. Sean decided to leave the office early so he could drive me home. As we were going, his father asked me if I might be pregnant. I rolled my eyes and reminded him that we all knew that was impossible.
When we got to the car, Sean admitted that the same thought had crossed his mind.
“Where do you stand, you know, in the month?” he asked me.
I was forced to admit that I was a few days late. I didn’t give it too much thought since it had happened before and, after all, there was no possible way that we could conceive on our own. Even so, Sean insisted that we swing by a drugstore on the way home and buy a pregnancy test. We got home, and I obediently peed on the stick.
OK, no big surprise there. By the next day, I felt fine again. I chalked the vomiting up to some brief stomach bug. That would have been the end of it. Except my period never came.
Two weeks later, I finally agreed with Sean that maybe I should try another test. I waited to do it first thing in the morning. The results were instant–I was pregnant. Standing alone in my bathroom, I had this weird feeling like I was in the middle of a sitcom story line. Like a track of gasps and claps should start playing in the background. After all, the impossible had happened.
The pregnancy itself was pretty normal. The baby grew, I grew, blah blah blah. Based on the experiences of my mother and sister, I knew that I wasn’t all that interested in a lot of medical intervention when I delivered. I chose an OB that practices with Certified Nurse Midwives and enrolled in a hypnobirthing class. I toured the AMAZING birth center attached to our hospital (big rooms with real beds, HUGE jacuzzi bathtubs, even a bread machine to cook a loaf while you labored so you could eat fresh, warm bread after the delivery). I was sold. No question about it, I was going for the natural birth.
Seven days after my due date, a Monday, I woke up about 8:00 am. As I headed to the bathroom, my water broke. And then, well, nothing happened. I went on walks, I paced, I prayed. What I DIDN’T do was contract. After awhile, I called my doctor’s office. They had me come in, confirmed that my water had broken, and informed me that I wasn’t dilated even a tiny bit (and I still wasn’t having contractions). My OB and I had our first tough conversation, where he told me that we needed to induce. I cried. Induction meant that I couldn’t use that beautiful drug free birth center. I would have to be in the hospital, strapped to those idiot monitors. But, given my body’s refusal to cooperate, mixed with the fact that I was positive for group B strep, he felt it was necessary.
I had the receptionist tell the hospital I would come in several hours later (still hopeful something might happen on its own), went home, ate a late lunch, showered, packed, and got to the hospital even later than I had said I would. And still, nothing had happened.
So that was it, around 5:30 Monday evening, they started the pitocin.
In case you have never had the pleasure of being pumped full of pitocin, let me just tell you straight up–the stuff is evil. I’ve never labored without it, so I can’t make an unbiased comparison of the strength of the contractions, but I can tell you that it doesn’t ease you into labor the way mother nature would. I spent the entire night fighting through hard labor, with almost no break between contractions. Despite the coping techniques I learned in my hypnobirthing classes, there were times that I considered getting an epidural. Sean would encourage me and help me refocus when I felt weak. By the next morning, I was at a whole three centimeters.
I won’t go through every detail. Let’s just say I went through more labor, Nubain, some more labor, a long period where I was stuck at a7-8 centimeters (during which my midwife made me push in hopes that it might get me to finish dilating–it didn’t, and a merciful nurse finally got my OB to come in and make her stop), and more labor. 24 hours into my induction (about 34 since my water broke), I was still stuck at about 7-8 centimeters. My OB came in for another tough conversation. He told me that we had three options: 1. Keep doing what we were doing (which he wouldn’t actually do, since he felt it was a lost cause due to my exhaustion; 2. Put in the epidural and go for the c-section (where he felt we were going to end up, anyhow); or 3. Put in the epidural, crank the pitocin way the heck up, and see if I would finish contracting. I chose option three. Within a couple of hours, I was ready to push.
I really don’t remember how long I pushed. I do remember my OB trying multiple times to turn my son, once he realized that he was “sunny-side up.”
Time for tough conversation number three. Basically, he told me, I might be able to get my son out if we kept at it for several hours, but he would come out battered and bruised and my OB didn’t want to do that. I had to agree. I finally consented to the c-section. (Incidentally, I didn’t feel like the hypnobirthing “failed.” I actually felt pretty good about what I accomplished. I had made it through 24 hours on pitocin without an epidural. I truly did everything that I could before accepting the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen how I had wanted.)
The surgery itself was weird. At one point, the assisting intern and my OB were talking about what a good cheese cake the intern’s wife had made at a recent gathering (I didn’t know whether to be glad that they felt that comfortable with what was going on to have such a normal conversation, or if I should be reminding them to focus more on my exposed internal organs). Then, noticing that my eyes were closed, one of them commented that he thought I was asleep. I responded that I was just trying not to concentrate on the smell of burning flesh. They laughed and assured me I didn’t need to worry–that the smell was just me (um, exactly). And my OB remarked about how “tired” my uterus looked (yeah, just think how the rest of me felt at that point).
12:31 Wednesday morning, 31 hours after the start of my induction, 44 hours after my water broke, W~ was born. All 8 lbs 14 oz of him (and yes, he had a big head–still does 🙂 ). He almost had to go into the NICU because he was having problems breathing. Incidentally, this is common among babies born via c-section–the mucus doesn’t get pushed out like it would traveling through the birth canal. He ended up being fine. I got some sleep. A few days later, we were home.
And I began life as the mother of two boys.