The morning of June 18th at 11am I awoke to a feeling of trickling, like I needed to go to the bathroom. I was almost week overdue at this point, and it took a minute for me to realize that this could be my water breaking (I had given up at this point of ever going into labor naturally). I stood up and quickly grabbed the towel I had put next to my bed “just in case” because my water had indeed broken, and the huge gush that came when I stood up proved it!
I decided to take a shower since I knew I would be going into labor shortly. When I got out (still leaking a TON of fluid), I walked down the hall and told my mom my water broke. Eliot was outside in the yard, so I went out to tell him afterwards. I had an appointment with my doctor’s substitute at 1pm, so I decided not to call the doctor but just go to my appointment.
When we went to the appointment, the doctor confirmed my membranes had ruptured (water had broken) and hooked me up to a NST (Non-Stress Test) to see if I was having contractions and how the baby was handling them. Everything looked great, I had contractions about 5 minutes apart and they weren’t too uncomfortable yet. Mom and Eliot could watch the contraction numbers rising on the machine every time I had a contraction… we also watched Shrek as we were there for about 20 minutes and they had it on the TV for someone’s kid. At this point the doc asked me if I wanted to be admitted or go home to labor… I decided to go home and be comfortable.
So we all went home and I had instructions to come in to L&D when the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and stronger (more painful) OR by 11pm if I wasn’t making progress so they could monitor me for infection. I spent the next few hours eating light foods, rocking on my birth ball, watching Shrek 1, 2, and 3, and doing light things around the house.
By 10:30pm, the contractions were stronger but not close enough together… we decided to just go in to L&D. The doctor I had seen earlier was on call at the hospital that night, and, despite the fact that I told the admitting person that the doctor had told L&D I was coming and my membranes had ruptured, she still stuck me in an exam room instead of admitting me, which I thought was strange. When the nurse came in, she couldn’t figure out why I was there, as someone with ruptured membranes for 12 hours is pretty much an automatic “in.” So I was admitted and put in a room… it was a very large and beautiful room with a jacuzzi tub and flat screen TV.
I was still feeling sociable by this point, so after they checked my vital signs and hooked me up to wireless monitors for both the baby and my contractions, I had a turkey sandwich, watched “Say yes to the dress” and “Whose Line is it Anyway” and breathed through my contractions. The doctor discussed putting me on an extremely low dose of pitocin to enhance my contractions to reduce the risk of infection… I agreed it would be the best thing for the baby, and so I was equipped with an IV line (which became a HUGE pain in the bum when it came time to use the bathroom, especially with the other two monitors falling off me at the same time and the gel they used for them getting all over everything!).
After this point, my memory and sense of time gets kind of fuzzy… I remember the contractions getting extremely intense and finding myself moaning to get through them (something I never thought I would do). Rocking on the ball really helped while staying still was TORTURE. They put me in the Jacuzzi tub and the warm water helped some (I really wanted a natural birth going into all of this), but even the water didn’t really make things tolerable. I remember splashing around because the rhythm helped some, and at one point joking to Eliot that I was like Shamu the whale. I could tell by that point that Eliot and my mom were very worried about me and it was my one joke attempting to lighten the mood in between contractions.
I decided shortly after getting out of the tub that I wanted pain meds as I was exhausted (it was 4am or so at that point), shaking violently (apparently that’s normal in labor, even though I’d never heard about it before), nauseous and in extreme pain. The nurse suggested a narcotic through the IV line to take the edge off before deciding on an epidural, but the doctor said I probably should just skip that and go to an epidural if there is a chance I would want one. She said by that point it wouldn’t slow down labor, so I decided that an epidural was best. My mom and Eliot were both very supportive and helped me not feel like a “natural birth” failure.
After what seemed like an eternity of waiting for the anesthesiologist (everyone was saying “just 10 more minutes” or “just three more contractions”), he finally showed up and put the epidural in place while I, in agony, held still for the procedure through contractions. Soon (but not soon enough!) I felt a little numb in my legs and the contractions started to feel more like pressure than pain. The nurse checked me and I was 8 cm (I was shocked!), and after a few hours (minutes? I had no concept of time) of sleep I was 10cm and complete!
The doctor came in and I got ready to push. The doctor had just come from a c-section and looked totally exhausted. After pushing on my back unsuccessfully for 15 minutes or so, the doc gave up on me and let the nurses teach me how to push. When she left, the baby nurse and my nurse turned me on my side and had my push holding my breath and Eliot counting to 10. After 45 minutes of pushing and intense pressure, our little boy, James Sebastian, was born into the world on June 19, 2010 at 7:05am. 7lbs, 8oz, 20 ¼ inches long. Perfect.
He was placed on my tummy and was crying at first, and then he opened his eyes and just looked at me. It was so sweet… I kept saying “He’s so cute!” and Eliot was tearing up. I think the most amazing moment was watching my husband fall in love with his son. We tried breastfeeding a bit but had a hard time latching (we’re doing better now). I just couldn’t believe that little person looking back at me was the same one who had been kicking me for months from the inside. Amazing.
Eliot says lots of things happened to me that I wasn’t even aware of (delivery of the placenta) and lots of stitching up happened too (I was aware of that unfortunately). I was so exhausted and vaguely remember people asking me what I wanted to eat for breakfast and breakfast arriving while Eliot learned how to give James his first bath. I tried to eat some applesauce but couldn’t stomach anything because I was still shaking and totally exhausted. Mom, after holding the baby for a while, decided to go back to our house and get some rest, and then I got some sleep with Eliot and James snoozing away as well. When James woke up crying, Eliot and I realized it was just us in the room… we were parents, and it was our job to figure out what he needed. It was the first time I really felt like a mom.
We had visits from the pediatrician and a lactation consultant before I attempted a shower and we were transferred over to the Mom/baby side. After some confusion about what room we were going to, we settled into our hospital room. It had a beautiful view of the Mackenzie River and grove of old-growth trees. Mom even got a picture of a rainbow from the window on the day James was born.
The next 24 hours included very little sleep and an endless parade of doctors, nurses, CNAs, etc. We had some lovely people taking care of us and had a great stay, but were ready to go home the next day. So they discharged us on the 20th (Father’s Day!!) and, just as I was receiving my discharge instructions, my dad came to visit, a great surprise! He helped us load up everything and we put James in his froggy going home outfit with a stuffed frog nearby that we bought when we found out we were having a boy. They loaded James and me into a wheelchair and we made our way to the car. After loading up the baby and all our stuff, we headed home… now a family of three.
We love every moment with our new son, and, though I am not getting much sleep, I am so in love and it is so worth it. He is gaining weight and eating well, and we are so incredibly blessed to have him in our lives.