Don't fret, I'm starting a new blog. It just doesn't seem right to keep The Chronicles going after The Belly has come and gone.. but I digress.
Down to the nitty gritty; labor and delivery.
Nothing went as I had planned, hoped or imagined.
And I think that is the point.
I tried everything to get baby Ray to come on his own. I ate spicy food, I went on a long hike, I watched funny movies, I walked everywhere, I meditated and visualized, I even tried taking black and blue cohosh, we tried "that which got us into this mess in the first place" and nothing worked. I was getting very discouraged and starting to worry that something was wrong. Everyday that went past was one day closer to "The Induction Date" something I had thought would surely not be an issue when I scheduled it at week 39. But the days kept passing...
I was scheduled to be induced at 9:30 am on Tuesday the 27th of May. I woke up early and called the hospital and it turned out that they had a flood of pregnant women and that they'd have to call me back later if there was room. Aha! This is it. Fate, for sure was saying don't worry he's coming. And then nothing... At 2:30 the nurse called back and asked if I wanted to have a baby. I told her I'd be there at 3:00.
There was no frantic run for the car, there was no mad dash back into the house to grab the suitcase, there was none of that. There was me and my husband getting in the car and asking each other if we were ready for this. We arrived at the hospital, pillows and suitcase in tow and made out way to the birthing floor. I was given (an awesome) room with a huge jet tub. There was everything you could need or want. Birthing balls, reclining chairs, a stereo, movies, a tv, a tens unit you name it, they had it. I changed into my gown (why are they so ugly? And always too big?) Then they hooked me up. I was given an IV of saline and pitocin. Then I sat and I waited.
My nurse was very nice and she explained everything in great detail and answered all of my questions, I really liked her. By that evening my doctor came by and checked my cervix, she also stripped my membranes "just a little" without asking. I didn't like that part. She also offered to break my water later that night to "get things going". I was still only 2 cm dilated and barely effaced so I was hesitant to have her break my water so soon. I had read that after the water breaks the contractions are markedly more painful and I still had a long way to go so I asked my nurse's advice and she said to hold off. I was nervous about telling my doctor so my nurse told her instead and backed me up when my doctor started pushing a little harder for me to let her do it. Like I said, I really liked that nurse. My doctor was a little put off at first, but once I explained to her that it wasn't that I didn't want to hurt, but that I thought it was too soon, she agreed to let me start the pitocin again the next day. So at 11:00 pm they turned off the juice and we went to bed. I was frustrated and still without a baby.
The next morning they started me back up at 5:00 am. By about noon I was starting to really feel the contractions (compared to not feeling anything before). I would have my cervix checked regularly and my progress was dismal. Ok, that's a little harsh, but it was s.l.o.w.
Since the pitocin was clearly not working "like a charm" the only thing left to do was break my water. The doctor came in at about 2:30 and with a gush she broke my water. It was the strangest feeling. But a good feeling. The coolest part to me was that it smelled like the ocean. Like saltwater. And being a believer in evolution, I thought it was neat to think that we all have a bit of the sea in us, even to this day.
Well, after that the contractions started to hurt. Then they hurt a little more, I tried getting in the tub, but it was built for big people so it was very hard to relax when I was sliding all around. And I couldn't use the jets because they interfere with the fetal monitors. Which by the way are the most annoying, pain in the butt things. So, so much for that idea. I tried the tens unit, but I think I started it too late and it actually made my contractions hurt worse. Then the contractions really started to hurt. I had to brace myself against the bed and hold my breath and just pray for them to end. So much for "breathing through the contractions". All of my planning and preparing flooded my head ~ "just breath" "relax" "try to become one with the pain" "don't think about the next contraction" "rest in between contractions" ~ My Ass!! The only thing I could think about was dying. I wanted to die. I wanted to throw up and pass out and not hurt anymore. Unfortunately for me, this technique does not actually work so instead, I got myself soo worked up that there was no way I could ever relax again. And I was still only 3 cm dilated.
My husband was wonderful, he said all the right things and just kept telling me I could do it, that I was born to do this... I told him I wanted an epidural.
In retrospect, I realize I went into this pregnancy with a bit of predjudice. I thought a natural birth was a badge of honor and that it was something strong women did and real mothers all went through. I regretfully thought that pain meds were an easy way out.
I underestimated the power of childbirth and I am humbly eating my words.
Sure, I did not have to have an epidural and if I had had this baby at home I would not have had the option, but in my situation, being only 3 cm dilated with no water left to cushion the blows, I couldn't do it. I couldn't take the pain.
And that's ok.
I signed the release form for an epidural shortly after the 16th time I asked Luke to please kill me. I think it was about 3 hours after my water was broken. All I could think about was the quote I had read from the famous doula Ina May Gaskin. She had said that we should feel thankful for all of the advances in medicine. Now, I'm not sure if she meant pain relief drugs or not, but it was a comforting thought at the time.
The epidural was weird.
A big poke in the lower part of your back and then a little pressure here and a little pressure there and Poof! no more pain.
The best I can describe it, was that my legs felt drunk. I could still move them but they were heavy and slow. I asked for the "walking" epidural because I still wanted to feel something and I did, when the pitocin levels got really high I could feel the contractions but they felt more like really bad gas than pain straight from the depths of hell.
So, shift change and I met my new nurse. Shannon. She was the greatest. My birth experience would not have been what it was without her.
My cervix was still very sluggish, I think I was about 4 cm by now. It was getting late and my nurse suggested I get on my hands and knees for a little while to get baby Ray to fall into position. He was facing sideways at the time. I sat like that, in my yoga pose, for about 45 minutes. I wagged my tail and thought good thoughts. When she came back to check my cervix again she said "Oh my gosh! Your at 9.5 cm and fully effaced!!" I didn't believe her at first. I went from 4 cm to 9.5 cm in 45 minutes! All just by wagging my tail.
She had me flip over onto my back and with a few gentle pushes she moved the last little bit of my cervix out of the way. Then she told me to tell her as soon as I felt like I needed to push.
The next few contractions, sure enough, I could feel that pressure but it wasn't very strong. Then it started getting stronger and stronger...
This is my favorite part.
So she calmly told me to push the next time I felt like I needed to and asked my husband if he wanted to help. He said sure, and she told him to put on some gloves.
Not to get too detailed about the whole thing but my husband was right there holding my legs back and guiding the baby's head down. It was a very intimate situation. I felt very safe and well cared for. I would wish that any woman could experience those same feelings.
So we pushed and we pushed and the head started showing and my nurse left and called my doctor.
I secretly wished that I could have delivered the baby before my doctor arrived, but no luck. The little man still didn't want to come out. When my doctor did arrive she let my husband keep helping and I tried and tried for about 3 hours to push that baby past my pubic bone, but I was exhausted and I started falling asleep in between contractions. My doctor quietly suggested that she could use forceps and we could get him out.
I had heard that my doctor was extremely talented with forceps and I was ready to meet my baby. My legs were up in the stirrups and I tried my very hardest one last time to push him out but he wasn't having it. After a little pressure and some slight prodding, she had the forceps in place. I was told to push harder than I have ever pushed before. Now, I didn't actually see this part but my husband said it was pretty amazing. I pushed, man, I pushed harder than I've ever done anything, I pushed with all my might and my husband said that my doctor practically had one leg up on the table pulling with all of her might and then...
There was a head. I reached down and felt it because when else are you going to get to experience that? and it was surreal. For a split second I remember thinking "holy shit, what is that?" Then my doctor told Luke to grab hold and pull the baby out the rest of the way. One more push and Luke gently tugged on the baby. My doctor grabbed his hands and said "No, pull!" and just like that there he was. Ray Keeler Phippen born May 29th at 1:12 am.
My husband said he was really really blue when he came out but I don't remember that. I do remember that the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and I watched them slip it off and then he was there laying on my chest. They cleared out his nose and mouth and I heard him cry for the first time. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. My friend Jenny had told me "just wait until you hear him cry, you'll never forget it" and she was right.
We just layed there for an eternity, looking at each other.
I told him that it was nice to meet him.
One of the strangest things was that my belly literally disappeared. I hadn't really thought about that. The nurse had me feel my uterus, and the books are right, it was about the size of a grapefruit! My doctor delivered the placenta and again, the books are right, I was too busy staring at Ray to even notice. I did ask her to show it to me though, and it was really cool. But I like that kind of stuff... Then she had to give me some stitches. I heard her say "second degree tear" but I still don't know exactly what that means and at the time I didn't care. Another thing the books have right is that I couldn't stop shaking after he was born. My whole body was shivering. They told me it was the drastic change in hormones and a result of all the hard work I had just finished.
And like that they disconnected me from all of the different monitors and drugs.
Our parents came in (and my brother too) and everyone was tears and smiles.
About 3 am a nurse came in and did all of the little things that they do to the baby and I remember thinking, "pay attention, this is important", but I was so tired I kept falling asleep in between her sentences.
Then it was time to move to the recovery room. My blood pressure was all over the place and I couldn't sit up without almost passing out and so I got to be wheeled to the next room.
My recovery room was not so glamorous but it was fine, there was a bed for my husband and a nice big window. My recovery nurses were all great. The next day I still couldn't get up without almost passing out and then I realized that I hadn't eaten anything since lunch the day before, so once I got some food in me things went much smoother.
Now as far as recovery goes. I was so sore. I was sore in places I didn't think would be sore. My legs hurt from being pushed, my arms hurt from pulling. But the strangest of all was that my tailbone hurt the worst. That spot is where you end up "pushing from" and it was so sore.
Walking hurt and sitting hurt. Really, most of the recovery stuff is sort of a blur. I remember the nurses coming in and taking our vitals. I remember the first time I went pee after delivery (what happened to those muscles?). I remember my first shower (top 5 of my life). I remember each and every meal (I was still really hungry). I remember feeling very swollen and puffy. I remember my puppps rash disappeared overnight. I remember breast feeding and Luke changing diapers. I didn't sleep as much as I should have because I couldn't stop looking at Ray. I think I was afraid that if I went to sleep I'd wake up and he wouldn't be real.
Family came and went. The days and nights passed and finally it was time to go home.
It was a very slow walk to the car and a very cautious drive home. And just like everything else, all of the sudden we were here.
With our son.
18 days into it so far and the only thing I can say is that I would gladly do it all over again. This is by far the coolest thing I've ever done. All of the doubt and worry. All of the joys and tears. Every upside down hormonal outburst was well worth what we have in the end.
The road to full recovery has been a little bumpy. We didn't quite get the hang of the whole breast feeding thing in the hospital and mommy ended up with bleeding, sore nipples...
But that's a story for a whole other blog.
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until then, thanks for reading and I'll catch you on the flip side.