I wrote an entry yesterday, too, in case you missed it and feel like reading it.
But this entry is for Grace's birth story. I started out trying to make it fun and interesting to read, but then it got really long, and I got really tired. Please forgive.
I've always found other people's birth stories kind of boring (unless they involved espionage or Jennifer Garner pretending to be an Italian princess to break into a bank vault), but now that I have a kid, I think they're the coolest thing ever. So now I understand why people write them.
36 hours of labor
25 hours of LABOR
14 hours of sweet epidural bliss
So I was really only in bad pain for about 11 hours. Well, 12 if you count the surgery that I wasn't supposed to be able to feel.
Monday (the 29th), contractions started right around the time James left for work. At first they were just like the ones I'd had when I thought I might be in labor a few weeks ago--more intense and tighter than regular old Braxton-Hicks, with some tightness and a little pain stretching around to my back. I went about my business throughout the day, and they very slowly but steadily got worse.
My friend came up to visit for a while with her baby around noon, and they subsided for a few hours. But the ones I did have were far worse than they'd been that morning. She's the one who took that picture of me in the pumpkin shirt. When she left, we'd decided that it was false labor.
The second she pulled away, I had to lie down on the couch to ride out what felt like a ten-minute-long contraction. James got home a little while later and got to hear his wife moan every ten minutes or so, "What's going ooooon? Is this the real thiiiing?" I kept yelling at my womb, "You better not be messing with me, you old bag." Only, instead of "messing", I said something a little less appropriate for a preacher's kid. They were kinda-sorta getting more regular and closer together, but every time it seemed like there was a pattern, they'd suddenly stop for fifteen minutes.
I called like four people, and they all said, "Well, it probably means you're going to go into labor in a few days, but this probably isn't the real thing." My mom and sister both had false starts like this weeks before the real thing. I was discouraged. And angry. And about ready to take a scalpel to myself if she wasn't going to come out soon.
Then six o'clock rolled around, and they suddenly became unbearable. And they were almost all in my back. I spent the next six hours writhing around and yelling. James and I timed them, and they just would.not. hit that magical 5-1-1 (five minutes apart, one minute long, for one hour) pattern the hospital wanted before we showed up. My body is a tease. Finally James had enough and decided to call the hospital anyway. 6-1-4 is good enough, right? Oh, but first I had to shower and shave my legs. Cannot give birth to a baby with all the blood and gore that entails without having nice, clean-shaven legs and silky golden tresses.
I found that instead of yelling, a deep moan in the back of my throat seemed to help the most. So we're in the car, James is calling the hospital and the most immediate family members, and I'm mooing in the seat next to him. I felt like an idiot, but by that point I didn't really care anymore. In between contractions, I put on my makeup (but no mascara). Very important, that was.
Forty minutes later, we arrived at the hospital. The triage nurse was not a raging witch, as I'd been warned some of them can be. She was very, very nice. She had me change into one of those awesome gowns, fixed a monitor on my belly, took my blood pressure. Everything looked great. And then she checked my cervix. 1 cm. I almost wrung that sweet woman's neck right there. She said, "Well, normally I'd send you home right now--" Here I think I emitted a howling wail, and my eyes glowed red, and the flappy thing at the back of my throat started chittering. But I don't really remember. "--but since you live so far away, I really don't want to do that. You might get home and have to come right back, and that's an hour and a half right there. You want to take some laps around the triage wing for a while?" I nodded vigorously. "How about you come back around four? That's an hour and fifteen minutes. Grab a cup from the kitchen, keep drinking water and walking." She gave me another gown to cover my backside, and James and I took off.
That was the most miserable hour of my life. I felt like someone was grabbing my lower back muscles and attempting to rip them away from my spine. My belly hurt, too, but next to the back pain it was nothing. Poor James couldn't do anything right. On one contraction, I'd yell at him because he didn't take my water away from me so I could use both hands to lean on the railing. On the next, HOW DARE YOU TOUCH MY WATER YOU EVIL BASTARD. On the next, WHY AREN'T YOU MASSAGING MY BACK? AND YOU'RE NOT DOING IT RIGHT! The one after that, DON'T TOUCH ME, ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME? But he was amazing. He took it all with patience and understanding. I probably would have ripped my head off, had our roles been reversed. I've never been such a raging *bitch in my life.
*I don't like that word, but it's really the only one that fits here.
Finally, that hour was over, and we went back to triage. I was expecting to still be 1 cm, so I laid back on the table and cringed. I really wanted my childhood stuffed mouse right then (his name is Reepicheep). And then, the magic words! 4 cm! I almost kissed her.
They got me admitted as fast as possible. I wouldn't let them take me in a wheelchair, since I knew it was probably the last time I'd be allowed to walk for a very long time. I mooed my way over to the delivery room and waited for the epidural.
The anesthesiologist was amazing. I was terrified of Needle in Spine, so I clamped down on James's hand, clenched a pillow to my chest, and bent over. Barely felt anything but a little sting. I'm still skeeved out by Needle in Spine, but it's far less frightening to me.
The second that medication hit me, I ordered James to run down the hall and kiss the anesthesiologist. I wanted to marry that man. James refused to do my bidding. Jerk.
And then followed fifteen of the most blissful hours of my life. If you ever have the chance to get an epidural, I recommend you take it. There's nothing like it. Not only did it take away all the pain of the contractions, but it also removed all the hip and stomach and back pain I'd been having for weeks. It was beautiful.
I don't really remember a whole lot of what happened after that, except that sometime in the evening Dr. C checked my cervix again (it's a good thing I was so out of it and happy because this Dr. C is a Hot Old Guy, and there's nothing worse than a hot OB-GYN), and it was 9 cm. Still. Again. For the last two hours. Also, the baby was still sunny side up, despite all his efforts to turn her. The pressure of her head on my cervix and the angle she was at was preventing me from dilating any more.
A miracle could happen, he said, and she might come out vaginally. Since neither the baby nor I was in distress, he was fine with us waiting as long as we wished, but he was advising a c-section. I waited another hour, just in case, then went in for surgery.
Okay. I don't know if it's just because she was so huge and they had to work pretty hard to get her out of me or what, but my c-section was agonizing. It felt like Dr. C was eviscerating me. I had James on one hand, a nurse at my head, stroking my hair (I would really like to know who that was; it was so soothing), another person at my other hand (not sure who), and this really cool anesthesiologist who kept making me laugh even when I was wailing. So I can't complain about the way I was treated. Those people were wonderful. I just wasn't expecting so much pain when I was supposed to only be able to feel some pressure.
But then the pulling and tugging were over, and the baby was out. They briefly held her over the partition so I could see her, then they took her over to suck all the crap out of her nose that normally gets squeezed out during a vaginal birth. Dr. C was still cleaning things out and stitching me up, James left me to go look at the baby, and that's when it was the worst. It was probably just a minute or two, but it felt like twenty.
Then James came back with Grace, and he set her down on the table next to me so our faces were right next to each other, and I didn't feel a thing after that, except a few of the stronger tugs. It was just the two of us.
In the pictures, I can see that she was not that attractive when she first came out--purple, with swollen lips, still covered in some goo--, but at the time I thought she was the most beautiful baby in the world.
They finished up with me, brought us into the recovery room, and stuck me under a heat lamp because I couldn't stop shaking--both because I was cold and because that's one of the aftereffects of the drugs they used on me. They brought her in, and I got to hold her. One of my favorite nurses, Jean, kept me company while she entered stuff into the computer, and James popped in and out between me and our families, who were waiting in a room down the hall. That heat lamp was my best friend. I want one.
I was really disappointed to find out that I'd be switching rooms. I had to go up one floor to the post-op ward or whatever it was, which meant I'd be giving up the nurses I liked so much. But the sixth floor had just as many wonderful ones, so I got over it pretty quickly.
My favorite doctor, Dr. M, stopped by a couple days later just to say hi; he didn't have to check on me or anything. I was pretty impressed by that. But I was most impressed by the nurses. I want to make them all cookies. But I'm an awful baker, so that would less of a thank-you and more of a punishment.
I spent the next four days wishing to go home; I had no idea how good it was in the hospital. They sent us home, and the first few days back were awful. But I've already described that. So I'm going now. I need a nap. I'm getting a cold, and Grace is all snuffly too. She didn't sleep well last night, so neither did I. Ugh.