So now that the initial shock of becoming a mother has worn off, I have some reflections.
Giving birth is quite an experience! At 39 weeks, my OB determined that my placenta was on the decline and she didn't feel comfortable letting me carry Lydia too much past 40 weeks. We set an induction date for Tuesday, May24th (I was 40 weeks and 5 days).
This didn't really fit in with my plan of having as natural a birth as possible, but the doc was sure that this was the way, so... We checked in to the hospital and got settled, then they began pumping me full of Pitocin. Yuck. Contractions began after a while but the staff wasn't satisfied with my progress, so they decided to break my water in hopes that it might bring on stronger contractions. That was EXCRUCIATING and exhausting, even though it only took a few seconds. Things began to increase in intensity, but after several hours, they checked to see if I was any more dilated. I was not. I began to get very discouraged... They kept increasing the Pitocin at regular intervals which made my contractions sooo strong, but I did not want any epidural, so I dealt with it.
After I had been in labor all day and in to the late night, we got a nurse who I really clicked with. Her name is Lauren. She was so compassionate and caring, she was definitely in the right profession. When we had initially checked in, we had requested one of the garden tub rooms so I could labor in the water, but they were all occupied. At about midnight, Lauren told us a garden tub room had been vacated and that she was filling the bath for me. We relocated and I got in. The tub was AMAZING. I would recommend laboring in a bath to any expectant mother. The warm water is so soothing to the joints and it makes you feel light and bouyant, which is nice after carrying a baby so long and feeling like you weigh 9,000 pounds.
I got out of the tub after a couple hours, and then I labored for quite a while on the birthing ball, which was also nice b/c it allows your pelvis to spread but takes the pressure off the bones at the same time. Some time around midnight or so, the baby turned over. She was head down, but facing my front now instead of my back, which they call "sunny-side up", and which put me into back labor. Back labor was the worst part of my labor for both me and James. My contractions were a minute apart by now and very strong, and poor James was alternating between pushing on my back as hard as he could to ease my pain and sleeping with his head on my bed when they were not happening.
I had dilated to about 6 cm and then my body started pushing on its own. The pushing isn't supposed to happen until you are fully dilated (10 cm), and this caused my cervix to swell. The pitocin was causing such strong contractions that I couldn't stop the pushing! (I admit though, the pushing felt good. It was a relief after all the hours of build up to that point...)
I finally made it to 9.5 cm at about 6am on the 25th. (We had checked in to the hospital at 7am the day before, so this was getting to be quite drawn out, and up til this point I had elected to have no epidural or any pain meds at all.) I was not progressing past this point, so Lauren and James talked and they decided it would be best for us to get some rest, and told me that I needed to get an epidural. I conceded. The anesthesiologist came in and got me set up, and said that it could take as long as 15 minutes to kick in, but it was literally only about 10 seconds and I didn't feel a thing. I was lucid. It was, admittedly, very nice.
We laid down to rest, and even though my contractions were still happening every minute, I didn't feel a thing. The next nurse came in about 9am and checked me, and I was still at 9.5 cm. She and my OB decided that we should try to push past the last 1/2 cm, and so we got to it. The next thing I remember is them telling me that they were having a difficult time tracking Lydia's heartbeat, and so they checked me again. I was 8 cm. Then I was 7 cm. Then they checked me again and I was 6 cm. She had retracted back up into my uterus! They told us it was time for an emergency C-section. I asked for a couple minutes with James, and we prayed and I cried. This was not at all what I had imagined.
All of a sudden, all these people in scrubs started coming at me, (I think they must have been hiding behind the doors and curtains, just waiting for the cue), they doped me up, painted me with Betadyne (sp?), shaved me, slapped my butt and sent me to the OR. I couldn't feel a thing from my chest down. Poor James barely had time to react, they had him running all over trying to stash his work laptop and all our stuff (we'd been advised to bring everything but the kitchen sink with us to the hospital). From what I understand, he barely made it to the OR before they had to operate.
They put a drape across the top of my belly so we didn't see what was going on. They had my arms out to my sides (like a cross) and weighted down with heat packs. With my carpal tunnel syndrome, they fell asleep quickly. I guess the operating staff don't like to work in silence, so they asked James what kind of Pandora station he thought would be good, and he said Christian Rock or something like that. A few minutes later, as Casting Crowns' Until the Whole World Hears came on, we heard her cry for the first time! It was 10:47am. Everything else is a blur of tears, hormones, and sleep deprivation. I remember them asking me if I wanted to hold her, but my hands were asleep so I said that James should.
As we touched her skin and looked at her perfection for the first time, we cried and cried and cried... What a moment! She was gorgeous, the mostbeautiful thing I'd ever clapped eyes on. I will never forget how seeing my daughter at last just seemed to erase the events of the last day: the pain, the frustration, the horror at hearing that a C-section was necessary. But, as I have said a hundred times since that day, the end result is the same.
Or is it?