My pregnancy was super easy and uneventful with Emily. I had quit my job because we were moving 2 hours away, but then Jerry got sent away for work, and I didn't want to be 2 hours away from my doctor and family, and alone in an as yet unfurnished house... so I just stayed with my mom for the remaining 6 months of my pregnancy. I loafed around, shopped, and ate like I was never going to eat again. I gained about 70 pounds total.
This was my first baby, so I still thought that the due date was pretty much the date the baby would come. For some reason, I thought I would have her earlier. I had little pains and weird feelings for the few weeks before my due date and though "this is actually happening!" Yeah, no. My due date (Saturday, July 3) came and went. I went to the doctor on Thursday, July 8 (I think) and asked when they would induce me. They did a non-stress test (which they didn't tell me I'd be doing so I hadn't had anything to eat and Emily wasn't moving at all, but then they gave me a Coke and she started jumping all around), and told me to go home and if nothing had happened by Sunday, to go into the hospital to start induction. Well I was really hoping they would have sent me that day and waiting three more days just seemed like an eternity. It was hot and I had been so freaking uncomfortable - my legs and feet were swollen to the point of being unrecognizable as human appendages (my brother-in-law, Stan, called me Happy Feet. Hilarious). Friday night, we went to the local carnival with Sara & Stan and I mused at how in three days I would have a baby. Ha... Ha...Uh Huh.
Fast forward through the longest weekend of my life, in which Jerry and I tried everything (you know...) to naturally begin labor. Sunday afternoon, I got all my stuff ready (yeah right, this neurotic planner had everything ready for a month) and we headed into the hospital for "cervical ripening" (you're welcome). They checked me in and made me put on a hospital gown first thing... I thought it would be like A Baby Story and I'd get to wear my yoga pants and tank top until I pushed but they were like, "no put this paper-like gown on and like it." Then the doctor came in and placed the Cervadil (I didn't look at it but apparently it's a tampon-like thing that is supposed to thin the cervix). And I say "supposed to" because, for me, it didn't work. I spent an agonizing and sleepless night listening to the monitor. Emily's heart rate kept going up and down and it was freaking me out. They said it was normal and to just ignore it. Mmmmk. Finally around 2am the nurse came in and turned the volume all the way down and I got a little bit of sleep. I was more excited than nervous, I think.
Around 6am the next morning (Monday, July 12), they removed the Cervadil and we all had a laugh (not really) at how much of a waste of time that had been, and then the show really got on the road. A geriatric nurse (I'm gonna go ahead and put her right around 85) came in and tried to start my IV with a drinking straw. She tried and tried while I was trying not to cry or punch her in the face, then she finally tried the other hand with a smaller needle. I had a nice hole in my left hand and every time the blood pressure cuff started (every 15-30 minutes when you're in labor) it felt like blood was spurting out of the top of both my hands.
Finally, grandma got my IV figured out and they started the Pitocin drip. I was all "ha ha this is great, aren't we having so much fun" and getting mad at my sister for eating a sub in front of me when I couldn't eat a thing...and then shit got real. The contractions were coming regularly and they were very strong. But I wasn't progressing. My cervix was dilating soooo slowly. Finally the contractions got so bad that I asked for the epidural (for some reason I wanted to wait as long as I could because I thought it would wear off). Well, I waited about two hours too long. I was shaking so bad during the epidural placement that I was almost certain the anesthesiologist was going to paralyze me by accident. Jerry stood in front of me and I tried to stay still. The anesthesiologist was actually amazing and did a great job. About thirty minutes after the epidural was started, I was feeling awesome. Then I got bored. I tried napping and every once in a while the doc would come in and check my cervix. Monday evening and it was only dilated about 5cm. Emily's heart rate was dropping a little during each contraction, but I guess not enough to worry the doctors.
Then they broke my water and there was no water. So they called the NICU and told them we would need a respiratory person to come down at delivery to make sure her lungs were ok. For some reason I wasn't worried this whole time.
Finally, around midnight, the doc came in and said I was only 7cm dilated and said when she came back the next time, we might have to talk C-section. I really didn't want a C-section, but at that point, I just wanted Emily out and healthy. So as I'm mentally preparing myself to be cut open, something happened down below. All of a sudden, I looked at my mom and said "I think I need to push." She told me to hold on so that she could get the nurse in the room. (Most of the nurses there were ladies I had known most of my life, since my mom had worked in, and been manager of, Labor & Delivery there for about 30 years)
So Lori (the most amazing L&D nurse ever) comes in, followed by the doc (who I didn't care for during office visits but proved amazing on D day) and they broke the bed down for delivery and brought in a mirror so I could see. They put an oxygen mask on me, which was annoying as hell, but they said it was for the baby, not me. After about three push cycles (maybe 45 minutes all told), Emily's head was out and the doc was telling me to stop pushing. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck three times (THREE TIMES). Everyone seemed calm and although somewhere in the back of my mind I was a little concerned, I just couldn't get over how freaking perfect she was. For some reason, right before delivery, I had worried that she would be ugly--I don't know why. But when I looked at her I just couldn't believe how beautiful she was. And oh thank god she was out of me.
Jerry didn't get to cut the cord in the traditional sense, since the doctor had to cut it off her neck first, you know, so that she'd be able to breathe. But she left a length for him to cut for ceremonial purposes (which he could have cared less about, but was a champ and did it anyway). She didn't cry right away (which for some reason also didn't worry me), but then she started wailing - and pooping. She pooped the entire time they were cleaning, weighing & warming her. She was born at 2:10am on Tuesday, July 13, 2010. Jerry said that the lucky 7 cancelled out the unlucky 13. Not crazy about her birthday sometimes falling on Friday the 13th, but what are you gonna do? She weighed 7lbs 14.5 oz and was 21 inches long. Jerry always leaves off the 1/2 ounce of her weight because his OCD likes the 7/14/21 stats better.
They asked me if I wanted a Pepsi and although it was warm and mostly flat, it was so effing good. I was shaking from shock, I guess, and they said the sugar would be good for me. Afterbirth delivered and 2nd degree tear stitched, we chilled out in the delivery room for a couple hours and then headed over to the Mother/Baby unit. I had to be wheeled over in the bed because my epidural was so awesome I still couldn't feel my legs after all that time. And I was worried it would wear off...
When a new mother & baby come through the doors of the recovery unit, they play Brahm's lullaby over the PA system. It was so sweet and I remember grinning like a complete idiot and being so proud of my perfect little girl.
After we were all settled, I was talking to my mom about the delivery. A couple of my nurses from delivery came over to check on me (I got the VIP treatment because of my mom) and they said how great I did pushing. I felt like some kind of Olympic athlete/rock star. Then my mom told me how worried she had been during the delivery because Emily's heart rate kept dropping and when she came out she was purple. She said it was the hardest thing she ever had to do to not let her face betray her worry so as not to frighten me. It worked - I didn't feel scared at all (you know, except that my baby would be ugly) the entire time, but it freaked me out when she told me how concerned she had been. But Emily was fine - the respiratory doc had checked her over and said that she was perfect. (I later learned during my second pregnancy that the lack of amniotic fluid at my "water breaking" could have been due to her head position blocking its exit; but since I was 10 days past due, it was still a concern.)
I wanted to stay in the hospital forever. That hospital still had a nursery (most hospitals are doing away with them now in favor of having mom & baby together 24/7 from day one), but the first night, I was all "if I can't do this here, I won't be able to do it at home either". So I kept her in the room with us that first night. Wellllll nobody slept. We were attempting to breastfeed, but she had a horrible latch (later learned was due to her tongue-tie) and everything just seemed so hard. The second night, she went to the nursery and I actually got some sleep. They came in every two hours and had me try to nurse her, then took her back to the nursery. It was kind of awesome. I didn't want to leave. But on Friday, we went home (well, to my mom's house). I was a crazy mess. But it was all typical first-time mom stuff (I know that now, but I distinctly remember hugging my mom and crying and saying I can't do it, I don't know how to do it). Saturday was my sister's baby shower. You read that right. I hosted (well, mostly co-hosted) a baby shower four days after giving birth. Ca-razy. It sucked because I missed 75% of it sitting on my dad's bed trying to nurse Emily. We were just so new at it and could not get our shit together... I think Sara still had a good shower--I hope she did anyway.
|Getting dressed up for Aunt Sara's "BabyQ"|
Finally, Monday morning, it was time for me to pack up the rest of my stuff and head to our new house. Jerry had been working hard getting everything ready for us to move in (he had been staying in the house since he had already started working up there). Mom followed behind me so that she could come up and help for a few days. I remember being so tired, being terrified that I was going to fall asleep behind the wheel. It was so weird to have this tiny baby in the seat behind me. I kept looking back over my shoulder to make sure she was still breathing. I remember asking my mom "how do you go to sleep?" as in, how do you allow yourself to sleep, knowing that if something happened to them, you might not wake up in time (or might not be able to do anything about it at all). She said it was a huge leap of faith--and it was the biggest one I have ever taken.
We got settled in our new house and I don't recall much of Emily's first weeks. I do remember not wanting people to visit (I didn't feel like myself at all and I just couldn't understand how people went on with their lives while my life seemed to be completely out of whack). I know now that it was sleep deprivation and lack of medication. Mama needs her crazy pills. So eventually (after only ten days), I decided that a fed baby and a happy/mentally stable mommy was more important than breastfeeding, and I quit. I still live with the guilt of that, but I know that I did the right thing for me. I never had any thoughts of harming her or myself, but I cried every single day and mostly over the most ridiculous stuff. I didn't want her to grow up (something I still struggle with), I was resentful of (what I thought was) my life being taken away, I was panicked that I was doing it wrong. I cried because I worried about the fact that I didn't feel like I loved her enough. It took me a long time to get back to where I felt like myself again.
But here we are, three years (and another baby) later, and I could not be more in love with my first baby, my big girl. I am so proud of her. I'm so in awe of her. I can't believe that I created her and that I get to be in her life forever. I am so lucky.