Sunday, October 14, 2007

Time For A Story

Here's a more detailed version of Anna's birth story.

I was sound asleep when I felt the subtle "pop" down below that reminded me of Ben's "pop." Chris was still at work, as he is every Saturday night. I stayed in bed, not moving, holding my breath in wonder. After about three minutes, I had a sharp contraction that felt more painful than the ones I usually had in bed. When I shifted position to get out of bed to use the restroom, I felt the gush of water that confirmed my suspicion that my membranes had ruptured.

I waddled to the bathroom, fluid leaking slowly down my legs. After spending a minute on the toilet, releasing more of the water, I went slowly into action. I called Chris at work and told him it was "go time." I called my mother to tell her it was Anna's birthday. She needed to be called since she was going to be Ben's childcare during the labor and delivery process.

Since I hadn't taken a shower at all on Saturday, I stripped down and climbed on in, washing quickly and enjoying the warm water through a couple more contractions. Chris came home while I was in there, and boy, was he mad that I was on my feet. I told him to bite me. I said it could be hours before I delivered, and I didn't want to be stinky through that whole ordeal.

While Chris was running around like a headless chicken, packing our still unpacked hospital bag, gathering clothes for me to wear, etc., I dried off and got dressed again, then again since I quickly soaked my pants when the next contraction provided another deluge of fluid. Chris woke up Ben and got him bundled into his jacket and blanket, and we all piled into the car with me sitting on a much-needed towel.

I was contracting every three minutes, and they were quite uncomfortable. I was irritable and snapping at Chris for talking to me while I was concentrating. We live ten minutes from the birthing center, so the trip didn't take long. He got me a wheelchair, and our little family rode the elevator to that wonderful destination where they provide epidurals and drugs.

By the time I got undressed and into bed, my contractions were awful. The first thing I said to my nurse was that I wanted the epidural ordered as soon as possible. She said we'd have to wait for my doctor to get there and she'd have to check my dilation. Soon, I was contracting every two minutes, and I was crying and wailing through each one. The nurse checked me and said she had good news and bad news. The bad news was that there wouldn't be time for an epidural, and the good news was that I was already 8 centimeters dilated. I cried even harder.

Mind you, poor Ben was in the room for this whole thing. He was sitting on the couch on the other side of the room, bundled in his cuddle blanket, watching all the flurry. My mom lives 75 minutes away, but we were expecting hours of labor and time for drugs, so we hadn't arranged any immediate childcare for Ben. That was a mistake. By 2:40, I was screaming with every contraction, begging for drugs over and over again. The nurses took Ben out to the nurses station where he stayed and played catch with them and played happily.

Everything went so quickly, though it felt like an eternity to me at the time. I was on my left side, hanging onto the side rail for dear life while my body put me through the most awful agonies. Chris stayed behind me, massaging my low back as hard as he could. The only time I even felt like talking to him was to hurt him for yelling at me to breathe through the contractions. I couldn't concentrate enough to breathe. I have a low tolerance for pain, and I was in a total panic with how intense "transitioning" was.

Around 3:15, amid the terrible spasms, I felt a sudden burning down below, and my instinct was to crawl out of my body, away from the pain. I screamed, "The baby is coming!," and my nurse told me that it wasn't possible since the doctor wasn't even there yet. I told her I didn't think that would matter, and a whole rush of people came into the room, rushing to get ready. My doctor walked in at that moment and quickly suited up while everybody was yelling at me not to push. I still don't know how women manage not to push in moments like that. My body was acting on its own, and I had no control over it. I did manage to not push really hard, and they did get the bottom of the bed removed, my feet into stirrups and an incredibly quick cervical exam to verify that I was complete.

Five seconds later, another contraction rocked my body, and I pushed with all my might. I took a quick breath and pushed hard again, and in the middle of that push, Anna shot out like a torpedo. There wasn't a delay after the head was delivered where they could suck out her nose and mouth. There wasn't a pause for the next contraction. I felt a rush of pressure and felt her slithering out, all slick and bumpy. The ring of fire people talk about had happened before I had even gotten into position, since I was already crowning when I screamed that she was coming.

She was quickly put in an isolette where they rubbed her and sucked out all the gunk and vigorously handled her until she cried. They kept working on her while my doctor stood in front of me with her gloved fingers in my whacker, massaging me until I had another contraction when I expelled the placenta. They swaddled Anna and let me hold her for a second before they took her to the NICU.

My OB was shocked by the state of my placenta. She said it was what a 41-week placenta should look like. Very calcified and aged. "No wonder you delivered at 34 weeks." She hypothesized that I had probably never implanted very well.

She worked on cleaning me up, and ended up having to put in a row of stitches almost a centimeter long. Since I delivered so quickly, my skin had absolutely no time to stretch, and I ripped right open. Oh well.

After it was all over, I was just in shock as to how quickly everything went. And I was just a little miffed that once again, I probably wouldn't get a lot of respect from my friends about my childbirth experience. With Ben, I wimped out and had an epidural, so that birth didn't count. With Anna, sure it was natural, but it only lasted an hour and a half. :)

My mom arrived about 15 minutes after the birth, much to her shock and sheer surprise. She stayed for about 30 minutes until she and Chris got the go-ahead to see Anna for the first time in the NICU. Ben was wired like a top, and she took him home to wind down and sleep.

So where are things now? Anna was on her CPAP oxygen machine all day, though I went into the NICU often to hold her hand and touch her and marvel over how damn cute she is. Surprisingly dark hair and perfect features. They finally took her off the machine around 6 pm this evening, and they'll let me feed her tonight at 9. I've been pumping all day to get a supply going, and I'm looking forward to getting her to latch on so we can stop washing the darn pump parts.

Ben has visited me a few times when my mom brought over visitors, but he won't be able to see Anna until she's in my room and out of the NICU.

I can hardly wait to hold her close and nuzzle her. I've been beaming all day, happy as a lark and oh so proud. I have a daughter!