Elijah & Haven went to Grammie & Grampa's for the night. We gave them lots of kisses and repeated "New Baby is coming in the morning!!!!" All of us were excited. Eric and I cleaned the house. That probably involved mostly Eric cleaning and me waddling around.
I could not sleep that night. The baby was moving like crazy. I kept thinking, "I am so anxious; I cannot even sleep! This is not good. I'll be a basketcase for the delivery. I have to sleep!" 3:30 AM finally came. We got out of bed to get ready for the big day. I shaved my legs, like all good post-term pregnant women do before they go into the hospital. While I lay in the bathtub, I did some cursory Leopold's on myself. "That is a head!" I thought, confirming what I had felt in my half-asleep state in the bed. "I'm probably just making it up" I thought. I did say something to Eric, though. (Do you remember, Eric? Like "I think the baby might have flipped." or something?)
I, apparently, tried to pose like a model in the hospital parking lot.
As we walked through Labor and Delivery, I heard the beeping of many monitors. I saw women laying quietly flat on their backs, waiting to have their babies. Family members were dosing by the bedside or eating their own snacks. I started to feel a little sick to my stomach. For the first time I thought, "Oh, yeah. This is why I wanted to have a homebirth." With this pregnancy I had not really thought through the pros and cons of delivery methods. I did that with Haven; I had no need to rehash the decision. (Not to mention, I was burdened with other thoughts at the time.) Walking down that hallway made me suddenly realize how different this would be from Haven's birth, and how similar it might be to Elijah's birth. I thought, "Well. If we ever have another baby, I'll remember this feeling and know that I want to have my baby at home."
We got checked in. My nurse smelled of nicotine. Dr. Trabue came in. "How's that baby this morning?" "Head down," I replied. "Really? Well let's take a look." A quick ultrasound revealed that this baby had flipped. Turned. Of her own volition, without any voodoo methods, less than twelve hours before she would be forced to come.
"Well, do you want to go home?" Dr. Trabue asked. I just stared at him. This - this turning at 40 and 3 - was not an option I had considered. "You aren't a prisoner here, you know. You can do whatever you want." I just stared at him some more.
This is the point at which I wonder "what if....". What if I had just waited to see if my baby would flip unassisted? What if I had trusted my own assessment and had Susie come to the house that morning? Would she have flipped back to breech position? What if....
Eric, rational thinking man that he is, graciously reminded me of the plan. I remember feeling so overwhelmed and numb, knowing that there was no way I could think through more options and make a good decision. I was a little stuck on "My baby isn't breech anymore!"
We stayed in the hospital and began an induction. Everyone induces differently; the first step in my induction was to break my water. With all my fluid, we were praying that my cord would not prolapse (come out before the baby). As long as the baby floated right on top of my cervix before the cord floated down there, this should be a fairly routine induction.
The nurse and I weren't exactly bonding. I didn't really want to bond with her, truthfully. She just served as a constant reminder of things I don't like about childbirth. I kept reminding myself that it wasn't her fault, but I'm sure I was also giving her irritated looks all morning. Irritation was not what I was feeling; I was mostly sad. Sad I hadn't embraced this pregnancy. Sad that God kept being SO NICE to me even though my attitude had been so terrible. Sad that my baby would be born under much intervention. Sad that only now was I really starting to feel for my baby.
We prepped for rupturing my membranes. "You might want to put a few more chucks pads under me. I really have a lot of fluid." I suggested to the nurse. She was clearly irritated. "I already have a chucks pad and a towel down there." "OK." I thought. I smiled and kind of laughed to myself. I'm sure she was irritated at my suggestion, but she should have appreciated the warning. My water was broken despite a closed, thick, and high cervix. I have no idea how he was able to do that. I almost backed myself completely off the bed.
Amniotic fluid slowly poured out. The first gush was manageable. The next gush went all over the bed, up my back, and started dripping onto the floor. Every three minutes or so after that I had to say, "I'm sorry. I'm going to need another chucks pad." It was really a ridiculous amount of fluid. The nurse just pursed her lips and kept changing the bed. I refused the urge to remind her of my warning. After about twenty minutes or so, I looked down at my belly. "Eric! Look at this! It looks like I already had the baby! I mean, look at how small my belly is! Can you believe it?"
Susie had arrived sometime before the rupture occurred. I wasn't sure if she was going to be there or not, but I was so thankful for her presence.
Pitocin started. Contractions started. I was quite emotional, not due to pain - just due to...everything I've written about in these last five posts. I was overwhelmed. The tears were good. The contractions were good. I breathed through them just fine. They hurt, but I felt totally in control. The nurse was eager to up my pitocin at least every 20 minutes so things moved along fairly quickly. I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes when the nurse came in again. That was when I got irritated. Unfortunately she left the room before I could address her behavior. My contractions are completely adequate! You do not need to keep increasing my pitocin! At least give me a chance to progress at this dosage, you jerk! I was so mad.
Ever since midwifery school, I have always said, "If I ever have to get pitocin, I will get an epidural." Going into this induction I just knew I would get an epidural. That had been my mantra; no need to rethink it now. I asked Susie when she thought I should get my epidural. She started talking to me about how I was doing awesome and might not need one. Eric wasn't saying anything, as if he didn't know that I was planning on having an epidural.
"I feel like there is some kind of expectation in this room that I am not going to get an epidural. I do not have that expectation of myself. I am not trying to go unmedicated. I will not be disappointed in myself. I have pitocin. An epidural is what you do when you get pitocin." After that little speech, everyone seemed to understand. ~;-)
My epidural with Elijah had been super horrible. As in, it didn't work plus it left me with a spinal headache. I was a little nervous about this 2nd try. Susie advised I get the epidural while I was still totally in control (save emotionally), so that I could better assist the anesthesiologist. I agreed. We made sure that the anesthesiologist was, in fact, a doctor and not a student.
The epidural was started after much reassurance. Then..."Hmmm. What's this? It isn't flushing. I'm going to have to..." You have got to be kidding me. Seriously? My epidural has a problem. "Wow. You must really just have the worst luck. I can't believe this is happening to you." Well, I could believe it. Eventually all that got worked out and I kept laboring.
Laboring? Really? I didn't feel anything. I just felt tired. I wanted to take a nap, but I felt that certainly that was an inappropriate thing to do when delivery is imminent. The nurse kept me on my back, but was only slightly annoyed when I would switch from side to side. I think she must have just been releaved I got an epidural.
Eric, Susie, and I chatted. It was a fun time. I mostly listened. Suddenly, "Ummm. Wow. I am really about to poop or this baby is coming." I was so shocked at how much it felt like I was about to poop. I've told that to lots of people, "Call me if it feels like you are about to poop.", and I've heard lots of people say it, but oh.my.goodness. That is exactly what it feels like. Susie said, "Oh. OK. Well, let's just see what happens with the next contraction." Sage advice. I wish we had done that through a few more contractions.
"Nope. Baby is definitely coming. Can you guys check down there? I mean, something is really coming out." It was such a weird sensation. There was no pain. I could not figure out what to do with the feelings. Haven's delivery had been so intense, so painful. Now I was just hyper-aware of all kinds of sensations.
We buzzed for the nurse. She didn't come so Susie gloved up. Suddenly, I had this overwhelming desire to have Susie catch my baby. I was hoping they would all stay chatting at the front desk and let my child come into the world quietly. It almost happened that way.
The nurse ran in, controlled yet frantic. The room filled. Dr. Trabue rushed in, glanced at the monitor, and said "How long has this been going on?" Eric tried to tell him something. The baby's heart rate looked a little off. Everyone was freaking out. I was just kept trying to figure out what was going on. "My baby is coming out, so certainly they can't be freaking out about the heart rate. The heart rate always looks crappy right at the end. So, what are they talking about?"
All the sudden huge hands were all up in my business. A baby was pulled out of me. I didn't do anything. I didn't feel anything. I was holding my baby.
"What did we have?" "A girl!" Eric said. "What?" I replied, distressingly confused. "A girl." I looked at Susie on the other side of the bed. "What?" "It's true. I saw it too. I can't believe it either." We had a little girl. A what? I could not believe it. (And, I didn't really believe it for several weeks. I kept thinking of her as a little boy. If she was ever wearing a yellow outfit, I would even refer to her as "he." It became a necessity for me to keep a bow on her little head.)
Polly Jane Graves was born September 28th, 2010, at 2:13 PM. She weighed in at a whopping 8 pounds and 11 ounces. She was 20 3/4 inches tall.
God is good. (Have you heard His steadfast love, faithfulness, and sustaining grace in this story?) I loved my little Polly Jane right away. There didn't really seem to be a transition period - either in the hospital or at home. She just fit. She just was. And she was wonderful. Won.der.ful. I was amazed at how much God enabled me to love her. I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed "God, thank you for giving me a gift for which I did not ask. Thank you for blessing me!"
That night we announced Polly Jane's birth via facebook and this blog.
That, my friends, is the end of this birth story. It started with warring, struggle, and anguish. It ended with rejoicing, thanksgiving, and a little girl. I can shout Psalm 92:4
"For You, O Lord, have made me glad by your work.
At the works of Your hands, I sing for joy."
My Superstar midwife, Susie: