21 Days: A Birth Story
Warning: I’m going to be talking about birth in this post. I will try to keep it relatively clean, but birth is messy. If you are squeamish, or you just don’t want to know this stuff about me, I would skip the words and just look at the pictures (those are safe, promise).
March 2, Friday night, just around midnight, I was startled awake. Was that my water breaking? I’m no stranger to peeing myself a little bit in the middle of the night. It was a fairly regular occurrence during my entire pregnancy – second pregnancies are even more glamourous than the first! – and not something that ever really bothered me. This was…different. Since I had my water broken at the hospital with Lorelei, I wasn’t sure what to expect so after using the bathroom I went back to bed, thinking I would just wait and see. A few minutes later, I was up again. No. That was definitely not just me peeing myself. I stood in the bathroom as a small puddle of pinkish liquid formed on the floor. It wasn’t much, but it was enough.
I cleaned up. Brian went to work, calling our friends over to watch Lorelei, changing the sheets. I pulled on some clothes and got out a ratty old gray towel to sit on while we waited. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to eat once I checked into the hospital, I shoved handfuls of pecans into my mouth while we waited.
I waddled back into Pregnancy Assessment – having spent the night before there for contractions that lasted all day but then mysteriously went away – and hoped that I wasn’t wrong about it as they checked me in again. Then I waited. I wasn’t having any strong contractions, so it was actually kind of nice to just sit there and joke around with Brian (poop is hilarious until it happens to you). The nurse couldn’t get a good sample to actually see if my water had broken so I had to wait for the on call doctor to come by and check me with a speculum. Not fun. While I waited for her to return, my water really, really broke. There was the huge gush of liquid that the movies make you think you’re going to have.
Still no real contractions.
I was checked in and sent down the hall to Labor and Delivery. I was on the clock. I was given two hours for my contractions to show up and some progress to be made. If nothing had happened at the end of those two hours, my labor was going to be augmented with Pitocin. Two hours went by. Still nothing. So, Pitocin it was.
It took awhile for it to kick in. They started me off and a very low dose of it and upped it every twenty minutes. Brian and I watched Dr Who. I was starting to finally feel something by the time Brian went off to get himself a little breakfast but I was optimistic enough to ask the nurse if maybe we could go for a walk when he got back. That never happened. It was shift change and we got a new nurse. By the time Brian had returned from his breakfast excursion, she was getting everything set up and I was starting to be in a lot of pain. I went from Oh that’s kinda uncomfortable to Holy shit that fucking hurts.
Let me pause and say here that I went into this hoping for a drug free birth. Or at least, one where I didn’t have an epidural. I was delivering in a hospital and I know that they have rules once your water breaks, so I was prepared for the possibility of Pitocin much as I didn’t want it.
So…Sometime that morning. Six o’clock? Seven? Things really got going. I was having lots of contractions and they were extremely strong and extremely painful (thanks Pitocin!) At this point, details get a little fuzzy. I sat up in bed, my legs crossed for awhile. That got uncomfortable so I sat on the birthing ball next to the bed for awhile. That got uncomfortable so it was back to sitting in bed. I was trying but I started to feel like I had hit a wall. My tolerance for pain had been reached. I kept telling Brian, “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” Around 9:30, I got an epidural. Do you know what is worse than contractions? Trying to sit still through them while someone sticks a needle in your back.
Much like with Lorelei, shortly after they had finished administering the epidural, I was ready to push. Unlike with Lorelei, however, I only pushed a few times. None of this two hours of pushing nonsense this time. At 10:36, little Amélie Sophia came into the world. All of seven pounds, fourteen ounces. And then we were a family of four.
It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t what I wanted. There were things working against me. But, look what I got. In the end it doesn’t matter.