It was a balmy day for December - in the 50's and 60's in western New York! Brad recommended that I take a walk to see if that would jump-start labor. I had wanted to get out anyway, so I did a long, brisk loop around the neighborhood and went on with my day.
That afternoon, my friend, Kelly, took me to my nonstress test appointment, at which the doctors continued to make sure that our little one was thriving. All was well, so Kelly took me home. I felt extra tired, and laid down on the couch to rest a while before Brad came home from work. I had planned a simple meal of burritos for that evening, hoping that spicy food, too, might encourage Baby to come.
However, I never got to making dinner! As I stood up from the couch, I stretched to ease the pain in my sore lower back, and my water broke. Talk about a mess! I made it to the bathroom, called my doctor to confirm, texted Brad, and waited for him to come home.
In the meantime, I washed the dishes and made a sack lunch with extra snacks for Brad to enjoy during the delivery process. I felt that, surely, our baby would be born tonight! I even remembered to pack chocolate for the nurses to snack on as we waited for Baby.
We arrived at the hospital at 7pm, and waited a little while to confirm that, indeed, my water had broken and that labor was in progress. Once that was done, we were officially admitted, and we moved to room 1105 to have our baby! They put up a little blue sign on our door: "stork at work!"
We spent the first couple of hours walking the halls as I worked through contractions. I sipped apple juice and cranberry juice, and enjoyed using the birthing ball for a while, closing my eyes and breathing slowly through each wave of pain. Brad held my hands, helped me stay covered in the hospital gown, and continually told me I was doing a good job.
In the wee hours of the night, it was finally time to get the epidural put in. The nurse and Brad helped me to get up and use the bathroom...and I leaked the rest of the amniotic fluid all the way to the bathroom. It was embarrassing and messy! Our nurse did so well at just taking things as they came, and cleaned up right away.
I initially felt some relief with the epidural, but it only numbed my right side, leaving my left side in pain. For about a half hour, I felt better, but the pain began to increase. The nurses and doctors had trouble tracking Baby's heartbeat, and decided to use an internal monitor. I was starting to lose my courage and got progressively delirious. I remember it being reassuring to hear Baby's heartbeat on the monitor, and I remember gripping the handrail of the bed through contractions. I know I asked for a C section more than once, saying that I just wanted this baby out. Brad stepped in and took over as my voice, asking questions about medications, procedures, pain relief, and everything. He remembered how much I really didn't want to have major surgery, and did everything he could to be sure I didn't have to! I vaguely remember them trying to give me a dose of Pitocin to speed up labor, and that I didn't react well. Brad says I was having contractions right on top of each other, with no relief. That sounds about right to me. It was so very painful.
Sometime in the morning, the nurses and doctors realized that the epidural had only been inserted skin-deep, which is why I wasn't feeling any relief. They decided to re-do the epidural, this time with a different anesthesiologist. She was so careful (which felt like beyond slow) and was so upset at the previous doctor's work. I could barely function - trying to stay still, contracting, hunched over a pillow and grabbing the hands of the TWO nurses they had assigned to me. Brad couldn't be in the room because of the sterile nature of the procedure.
Immediately after the epidural was in correctly, I felt relief. I fell asleep for the first real sleep I'd had all night, and woke up at about 2pm to sunshine and the announcement that I was fully dilated. What?!!
Evidently, I had been having continued contractions that were effective, making it time to push. I couldn't feel a thing, not even pressure. It was a serious gift to me to have relief like that. The nurses had to tell me each time I began to contract, so that I could start pushing. It's a good thing that I've practiced Pilates and can isolate different abdominal muscle groups, because I may not have been able to push well, otherwise!
An hour and 39 minutes later, baby Joshua was born! We discovered that the reason his heartbeat had been so unstable was that his umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck three times. It's a miracle that he was alright. The delivery doctor said that he had an exceptionally long cord. I had to have an episiotomy - and by that time, I had begun to be able to feel what was going on. Thankful for local anesthesia. As soon as Joshua was born, they whisked him over to a warming table, since he didn't cry right away. They checked him over, and he reportedly proved that his little bowels were working properly.
He did begin to cry, and soon, he was wrapped up and in my arms. Brad and I both shed a few tears over him - somehow shocked, in awe, relieved, grateful, and afraid all at the same time.
Minutes later, everything was cleaned up, our parents arrived, and everyone took turns holding our little miracle.
The nurses helped me to the bathroom for the first time since late the night before, and I finally got to put my own clothes back on - a pair of maternity workout pants and a long pink sleeveless top. I was surprised that my feet, hands, and face were so swollen! I didn't know how much fluid they had given me.
And I was so hungry! It felt like forever until dinner was to come, and a nurse brought me a cold turkey sandwich. When dinner finally arrived, I ate all of that, too! Our parents bought DiBella's subs for dinner and ate there in the room with us.
What a blur of a day! And so, suddenly, we became parents. And our hearts are fuller than ever.