I’ve been chipping away at this for the past month or so. Each time I’ve started typing, G wakes up and I’d rather cuddle and play with her than continue writing. You might want to brew a cup of coffee, and get a snack, because this bad boy is looooooong. But, just like Julie, I’m writing this for myself, and for G, so I don’t care!
October 4th was my due date, and I was very happy about that. October is my favorite month, so welcoming my little pumpkin during the month chock full of pumpkins would be perfect.
In August I started prepping for the new school year, mapping out 5 weeks worth of plans so a sub could walk in at any time and take over. As summer came to a close and the school year began I started to think I was going to deliver early. This was mainly due to the stress of the new school year, and my physical discomfort (think 90+ temps w/no ac in my building).
And then I realized there was a full moon on September 30th, and I became convinced I would go into labor on the 30th. This pleased my Aunt Karen, because the 30th is her birthday and she really wanted to share it with her grand-niece. At my 39-week appointment my midwife told me I was 70% effaced, dilated to 1cm, and baby was between 0 and -1. She thought I had another week, and I told her this baby was going to be here by Monday because of the full moon. She chuckled, and said that might happen, but she would be out of town at a conference this weekend so to try to wait. I didn’t really want to deliver over the weekend, as my bestie from college Ali, (my doula), wouldn’t arrive in Spokane until Wednesday.
Saturday morning I set out on one last nesting task: make a yellow changing pad cover. I had scoured the Internet and stores in town to find the right shade, but came up short. So with the help of pinterest I whipped up my masterpiece, haha, and with that the nursery was finished.
I informed the hubs we needed to go out to dinner and a movie because it was our last weekend. We went to The Onion and had to sit in the bar because it was homecoming and it was slammed. And man, homecoming dresses are way trashy these days! We spent dinner pointing out what our daughter would NOT be wearing to homecoming, and giving the stink eye to people who were giving me the stink eye for sitting in the bar. Yes, I’m very pregnant, but I’m drinking root beer, get over it!
We walked outside at 7:18 p.m., which was the exact moment the moon was at its fullest, so I snapped an instagram pic and wondered if the old wives tale would come true. We opted to rent a movie instead of going to the movies because I didn’t want to have to get up and pee 8 times during the middle of it. After the movie we went to bed, and I was a little disappointed that contractions hadn’t started.
During the night I woke up multiple times to pee, and the back pain that I’d been having all week started to get worse. Around 7 a.m. I was awake, but not in the mood to actually get up. At 7:20 a.m. I heard a POP sound in my lower abdomen, followed by what sounded like gas bubbles. I got up to pee, and thought my water might have broken, but wasn’t sure. So I went back to bed and waited. I told Tim my back was killing me, and by 8 a.m. I had 3 contractions, but I couldn’t tell if they were real or just more Braxton hicks. So I told Tim I thought my water might have broken, but not to get excited because I wasn’t sure. I got up to pee again and was met with a huge gush of water. Then I yelled that my water had definitely broken as I ran to the bathroom. Tim got up and started frantically cleaning the kitchen, knowing I’d want to come home to a clean house, haha.
I, on the other hand, called my mom and our birth photog to let them know my water broke, texted Ali to let her know she’d be doula-ing from afar, and I jumped in the shower. I took my time; blow drying my hair, doing my make up, and tracking my contractions on my iPhone. There was no rhyme or reason to them, coming every 5 minutes, 8 minutes, 2 minutes, etc. and lasting for varied amounts of time. They were varying in intensity too, some stronger than others, but all in all they were pretty mild. I wasn’t in a rush to get to the hospital, knowing this was pretty normal for early labor. Tim made me a protein shake with banana and blueberries, because I knew I’d need some protein to get me through however many hours were ahead of me. My plan was to labor as long as possible at home, but then Tim got worried after consulting Dr. Google, and decided we needed to call the hospital. When he told them my water had broken they said we needed to come in. So much for being in a relaxing environment! I had Tim request a “view room,” for us, (facing downtown instead of other hospital buildings), and I’m pretty sure the nurse thought I was going to be a handful.
We arrived at the hospital at 9:45 a.m., and at that point I was glad we came in when we did. My contractions were getting much stronger and coming very frequently, so sitting in a car for 15 minutes would have been very uncomfortable later on. After signing in they tested to make sure my water had actually broken, it had, and got me into a birthing room. It was not a view room. I could see empty view rooms, and was totally bummed, but the night before they had been completely full so most of the rooms hadn’t been cleaned yet. Boo!
After getting into the room I was strapped into the monitoring devices and asked a ton of questions to confirm all of the pre-registration information I’d called in a week prior. My nurses, Renee and Stella, were great at making me feel at ease. Renee asked me what my pain tolerance was like and Stella playfully slapped her and said not to ask me that because my birth plan asked not to ask my pain scale. Then Renee, Stella, Tim and I had a discussion about the nuances of language and how asking my tolerance was different than asking my current level of pain, but that it was implied she really wanted to know where I was on the pain scale #nerdalert. I told her I had a very low pain tolerance and my hope was to go natural as long as I could, I was not opposed to an epidural, but I didn’t want anyone to ask or suggest any pain meds to me. Renee checked me and I was 100% effaced and only dilated to 1 cm. I told her I might have cervical scar tissue due to a LEEP procedure in 2009. She checked, and I did, so she broke it up (which was not fun at all), and I got to a 2.
After the 20 minutes of required monitoring I was able to get up and move around. I spent the next hour or so laboring on the yoga ball, rocking my hips back and forth, leaning over the bed, and breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. But contractions were getting worse, specifically in my back. Yes, I was having the dreaded back labor. The anesthesiologist stopped by to explain how an epidural worked and let me know just to let the nursing staff know if I changed my mind and wanted one. The on-call doctor also stopped by to introduce himself. My midwife was still out of town, and the new midwife on staff wasn’t credentialed at the hospital yet. I was pretty disappointed, and part of me wanted to labor over 24 hours so my midwife could deliver.
Tim’s mom, and sister Kimberly, arrived around this time too. They brought cupcakes (I asked my mother-in-law to bring some for the nursing staff, because it was my daughter’ birth day!), and my bed buddy. (A bed buddy is a rice pack you can heat up in the microwave – I wanted it instead of my heating pad because it didn’t need to be plugged in).
At the next round of monitoring, which was excruciating to sit through, my contractions were coming every 2 minutes, lasting 70-90 seconds; I opted to try to Jacuzzi tub. I was still only dilated to a 2, which was a bummer. I was sure that all of these strong & close together contractions were doing something. I told Tim I didn’t know how much longer I could do this. I also met the nurse who would be with me all day, Ginger. I was sad Renee and Stella were not my nurses, because I liked them so much, but Ginger turned out to be pretty great too.
I thought the Jacuzzi tub would be glorious. Unfortunately it just made my back labor worse! The counter-pressure on my back was too much, so I turned off the jets, but that didn’t help either. I stayed in the tub maybe 20 or 30 minutes before I told Tim I wanted the epidural. The contractions were coming too strong, too fast, and the back labor didn’t go away between them. Throughout all of this Tim and Ali had been texting, and she was giving him advice for how to help me. He attempted to make me laugh/take my mind away from it all by telling me that the Chargers were winning. My response was not appropriate, but I’d probably have the same response even if I weren’t in labor. I hate football. The contractions kept getting worse, and I was feeling like I was definitely going to vomit. Tim and I had a code-word for if I was really serious about wanting the epidural: cacao. This is funny if you watch Portlandia. If you don’t, it has no meaning (and you should watch it, it is hilarious). So Tim said, “you didn’t say the code word, are you sure you want the epidural.” My response? “CACAO, F* OFF!” Umm, yes, I was serious.
He went to the hallway to tell the nursing staff, and within 15 minutes the anesthesiologist and Ginger were in the room setting up. The only problem was that I couldn’t get out of the tub because the contractions were lasting longer than before, and each time I tried to stand up my legs crumbled underneath me. After a few minutes Tim was able to half-carry me out of the tub and to the bed. Ginger asked if I would be able to sit still long enough for the anesthesiologist to insert the epidural and I said I’d have to. She again asked if I thought I’d be able to or if I wanted some meds to help. A major contraction happened during this small time frame and I told her I needed the meds to help, there was no way I could sit still long enough. So she inserted some fentanyl into my IV and within seconds I was able to breathe and sit still. Although it did make me very loopy, and Ginger had psychedelic looking Danskos on, which made me even loopier!
The anesthesiologist attempted one spot in my back, but it sent electric like shocks down my left leg, similar to the sciatic nerve pain I experienced during my pregnancy. So she had to choose a new spot, which took a while. Meanwhile the fentanyl started to wear off, and I was getting very anxious for the epidural to get in there and do its job! Ginger checked me again, and I was still at a 2. By 1 p.m. the epidural kicked in and I was able to breathe and relax. But not being in pain allowed me to realize how starving I was. Ginger told me I should try to sleep if I could, since we didn’t know how long I would be laboring and I’d want my energy for pushing. I attempted to sleep, but it was bright and I was starving, so sleep didn’t come.
A short while later my mom arrived and Ali texted Tim to tell him he needed to eat a real meal. Tim had his sister, Kimberly, run out to get him lunch and I told him he had to eat it in the waiting room. At this point I was freezing! My mom had the nurses bring me a blanket, which must have just come out of the dryer because it was so warm. But it didn’t keep me warm for long, and soon I was shivering. So they brought me two more blankets, and my mom put my fuzzy socks on.
At 3 Ginger checked me again and I was dilated to a 9! Tim called our birth photog to let her know it was time to come, and I was a little stressed because she normally comes when mamas are at a 6, and she had a 45 minute drive. What if she didn’t make it in time! I asked Kimberly if she’d step in to photograph the birth if our photog didn’t make it, and she agreed. After a bit of chatting, I asked everyone to leave the room so Tim and I could be alone.
Laura, our birth photog, arrived around 3:45, and I was still laboring down, so I was worried for no reason. She took some shots of Tim and I, and chatted with us for a while. I just remember thinking, when will it be time to push? I’m ready now, can’t she come now!?! I mentioned how starving I was and she said she could bring me a mocktail of cranberry juice and Sprite. Unfortunately this combo made my heartburn flare up, so she brought me some Mylanta around 5p.m. when it was time to check me again. I was at a 10! But not quite ready to push yet, darn! The next 44 minutes seemed to take forever; I was so close to meeting my little girl, but couldn’t push yet. Tim got my mom from the waiting room so she could help when it was time to push.
At 5:44 I started pushing. My contractions had been pretty consistent, still coming every 2 minutes and lasting at least 70 seconds. But as soon as I started the push they slowed down to 8 minutes apart. After 45 minutes of this Ginger suggested a small dose pitocin to get the contractions back to where they’d been. I agreed and soon we were ready to rock’n’roll. The anesthesiologist also reduced my epidural from a 10 to a 5 so I would be able to feel the urge to push.
And then I started pushing, and pushing, and pushing, and I wasn’t getting anywhere. I hadn’t really prepared for the act of pushing. I kind of assumed that with the epidural it wouldn’t be too bad. Let me tell you, pushing is HARD! Her body was stretched out, with her feet in my ribs, so each time I curled forward to push I felt like I was crushing her little leg and it was very painful. Ginger kept telling me I was pushing perfectly, and I was making great progress, but I didn’t believe her. I kept thinking she’d be here by now if I were making great progress! She also told me my baby had a full head of hair!
Ginger asked if I’d like to use the mirror, and I did. It really helped! I could see exactly what a “good push” looked like. But after a while I was getting frustrated because I was just staring at her head and she wasn’t going anywhere! The on-call doctor had come in a few times to check my progress, and now he was here for good. So although she didn’t appear to be coming, she was getting close. The doctor did his best to help her move down the canal, but she was posterior, so he couldn’t do what he normally does. He also said I could lightly push in-between contractions to help keep her down, so I did. It was really exhausting. Soon her heart rate was dipping slightly, so they had me use the oxygen mask to help her. I HATED wearing the oxygen mask, and said I was going to rip it off as soon as she came out. I also kept asking the doctor why she wouldn’t just come out!
Now it was 7:15 and Ginger was getting ready for shift change. I didn’t want Ginger to leave! We were so close, and she was so great! She introduced the new nurse to me and told me she’d be off at 7:30 and I started crying! The new nurse wasn’t in scrubs, was wearing a cute outfit, wit huge hoop earrings, and a full face of makeup. All I could think was BABY SNATCHER! But I couldn’t vocalize this because I was so exhausted. The new nurse kicked my mom out of the way for some reason, and took over as the person supporting my left leg. Except she wasn’t supportive! She had limp noodle arms and was not helpful at all! I was so annoyed with her, and wanted to kick her out of the room, but again, I was too exhausted to say anything. Then she got snappy with my birth photog and told her she wasn’t allowed to take pictures during the actual delivery. My photog asked if the policy had changed, and the nurse said it had always been that way. It was a total lie. Videotaping is not allowed during delivery, but I didn’t see, or sign anything that said still photography wasn’t allowed. I wanted to slap her…but again, no energy for that.
Meanwhile, things were really starting to move down there. All sorts of other nurses were coming in the room, getting things ready, and I was thinking, okay, it’s go time! I can do this! She’s finally coming! Shortly after, she was finally here! The doctor put her on my belly, and the nurses kept trying to get me to rub the vernix into her skin with a towel. But I didn’t care, I just wanted to snuggle her, look at her, and have everyone else leave the room!
They asked us if we had a name, and were getting things ready for all of the newborn tests. Genevieve started nursing within 5 minutes of being born, and I think she kept at it for about 20 minutes. She was a nursing champ from the start! We have some really amazing pictures of her first nursing session, where I’m looking down at her, and she’s holding Tim’s finger. I am so glad we hired a birth photographer to capture these special moments.
It was 7:58 p.m. that we became a family of three, and we couldn’t be happier.
To view more birth photos, visit Laura Fifield’s post here!