Day 5 ~ First Brush with Precipitous Birth
For weeks, Daddy had been randomly asking me why I wasn’t in labor yet. He was excited to meet the baby, but with him, excitement rarely looks like excitement. He bumps the heckling banter-factor and impatiently but playfully pokes fun at whatever it is he is excited about. He watched me closely at our anniversary dinner on the Seattle Waterfront, enjoying his meal and hoping that I would tell him we needed to head to the hospital to have a baby. Heavily pregnant and more than ready to get things started, I can say it was also my wish to have a first-anniversary dinner-turned-baby’s-birthday, but it came and went with no labor action.
I waited two more days before the pop and gush happened. I bolted up from my bed, where I had been stretched out in the late afternoon, waiting for something resembling labor to rustle up, calling various friends on the brick cell phone I used all through college to pass the time. I called to the other room that my water had broken and it was baby time. He sprang up and I waddled my way out of the room. None of the fluid got on the bed (miraculously), but there was a puddle on the floor, and I left a bit of a trail as I inched to the bathroom, fluid leaking and both of our eyes big. It was finally happening. I was enthralled that the day had arrived, and blissfully naive about what the next few hours would look like.
I called my doctor, and she said to get straight to the hospital, don’t wait. I don’t know if she knew something I didn’t, but I was surprised she was so insistent. I mean, I knew I was going into labor, but I hadn’t had any contractions yet, and I didn’t quite understand what the big deal was. We flurried around, exchanged nervous smiles, and snapped up the bag that had been waiting by the door for weeks, pre-packed with all the things I thought we might need at the hospital, of course, extracted from every checklist I could find in the weeks prior.
We zoomed across town in our little car to the largest hospital in the area. Twenty minutes into the ride, I was not smiling anymore. I stared at the clock on the dashboard and breathed hard. Really hard.
We shuffled through the doors of the hospital and a nice man with badges around his neck whipped a wheelchair around and sat me in it. We arrived in L&D triage a few minutes later. The room was white, several alcoves around a circular nurses’ station, separated by curtains but not all that private. I was connected to a monitor and the nurse tried in vain to collect a sample of the amniotic fluid on a pH paper.
“You’re 3cm dilated,” she says. I had actually been 3cm for a week, so I wasn’t terribly excited to hear that through the contractions that were furrowing my brow and making me more irritated by the minute that they wouldn’t just admit me. They were still trying to decide if I was in labor, because if you are a 23-year-old first-time mom, apparently you don’t know anything.
Ready to swear if I had to, I wanted them to get me to a room, pronto.
When they finally directed us out of triage around 8pm, I couldn’t walk to the room (steps away) on my own. They wanted us to sign papers and put on a gown and settle in, but all I could think was to get myself to the toilet, where I found comfort through the contractions by relaxing my pelvis and rocking back and forth.
For months, I had primed Daddy with all the different techniques I’d read about for labor support measures so he could jump in, but when I was in the thick of things, I couldn’t handle anyone talking to me, touching me, or being too close. I drew intensely inward and had to do this part of it by myself. It was not really a voluntary choice, but the pain and intensity were so consuming that I couldn’t communicate or respond to much, and just waved everyone off.
Later he told me it hurt his feelings that I didn’t involve him more. It was a sorry/not sorry situation. I did feel bad that he felt hurt, but I literally couldn’t do any other thing than what I did at the time. A woman in labor cannot be concerned about other people’s feelings, even if she wants to be. Sorry, dads.
Labor was furiously intense. I spent an hour in that bathroom groaning and swaying with an unsnapped hospital gown (I couldn’t get it all the way on) before they coaxed me out to a birth ball at the end of the hospital bed. I wasn’t totally happy to be on the ball, but I couldn’t move anywhere, so I dealt with it.
I was comforted by the monitor, and Daddy took to announcing when a contraction had peaked and was on the descent. Finally, a job I would let him do. We kept at that for a little bit. Around 9:30, two and a half hours into labor with my first baby, I was deep in my own world, eyes squeezed shut, shoulders up to my ears to get through the contractions that were coming every 2 minutes with barely a breath in between.
Everyone in the room (my mom had arrived, a nurse was there) spoke in hushed whispers. I heard the nurse say, “She probably has 4-6 more hours of this,” and my spirit broke at that moment. I could NOT do this for four more hours, I knew it. I blurted out that I needed an epidural. NOW. The anesthesiologist came soon after, stuck me a few different times while I hunkered over during unbearable contractions, and I was blissfully free of pain within minutes after that.
I lay on my back, oxygen mask over my nose and mouth, free of the excruciating pain I’d been in knots about only minutes ago. Within ten minutes of the epidural, I started grunting and involuntarily pushing the baby out. I couldn’t stop it. They urged me to try and wait for the doctor (who whipped into the room about that time), but it was go-time.
With a full-bore epidural on board, I did not feel the pain (or the tearing I had so desperately feared). The doc said I could do it. I could push my baby out. Put my legs here. Tuck my chin. Bear down with the counting. Twenty minutes and there she was; my sweet wonder child with a little nose smashed to the side, born in a wild 3.5 hours from the spontaneous rupture.
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17