Seems like the kind of thing one might want to just let fade away into the great forgetting. But in the case that I want to remember or that anyone wants to know these details, here’s the story of how we went from baby on the inside to baby on the outside…
At 37 weeks pregnant, my obstetrician said that I was 1 centimeter dilated and 50% effaced at my weekly appointment. She also said that she guessed that the baby would come early. But then my 38 week appointment came with no change. Nothing at the 39 week. I never made it to the 40 week appointment.
Monday, May 30 — 39 weeks — Memorial Day I started maternity leave this week.
Monday, June 6 — 40 weeks — Due Date
David went to work. I stayed at home and did whatever it was I was doing in the time of pre-baby.
In bed on Monday night, I started feeling paranoid that I hadn’t felt the baby move in a while. So after David had fallen asleep, I drank some more water and lay awake waiting and seeing. She did eventually show some signs of life and I also started to feel some feelings that I thought might be a contraction, but without knowing what that felt like, didn’t really know for sure. It was late then, after 1 am, and I went to sleep. But each time I got up to go to the bathroom, I had another feeling that felt like it might be a contraction.
Tuesday, June 7 — 40 weeks, 1 day
I told David in the morning that I thought I might be having contractions, but I wasn’t really sure. He didn’t go into San Francisco to his office, but decided to work from home, instead. Around midday, I asked him if he could take a break to put up some framed artwork in the baby’s room, because I had a very urgent desire to get that room into a state of finished. 2 pm
We had a visit with our dog trainer, during which I had a few of the feelings that I was getting more and more sure were probably contractions. But they were minor enough that I could hold up a conversation about dog behavior.
The feelings were getting more and more feely. Somewhen around this time, I’d guess things changed from “early labor” to “active labor.” 4:43 pm is when I recorded a contraction in a contraction-tracking-app for the first time.
I tell David that I think this is definitely a thing and it’s time to take the dogs over to their walker’s house, where they’ll be staying for the birthing times.
Contractions are regularly around a 45 seconds long. Sometimes more, sometimes less. They definitely don’t feel good. I feel a little nauseated during contractions, so I don’t eat any dinner when David does. But I am drinking lots of water.
Contractions are happening more frequently and regularly. Averaging 5 or 6 minutes apart. The pain is getting pretty good. I do the breathing things that they taught us. Breathing is rubbish. I try some different positions. Some make it much worse. Sitting and leaning forward seems to be the position of least suck. Jiggling my knees up and down helps a little to just get through it.
We watch The Bachelorette. Chad is pretty great.
I keep asking David if he thinks it might be time to go to the hospital and he keeps saying that we should wait. They drilled it into us in our birthing class that we needed to wait until contractions were consistently a minute long and four minutes apart, for at least an hour. If we wait until then, then the cervix should be 6 centimeters dilated and we’d be admitted to the hospital. Less than that and they’d send us home.
It seems impossible to imagine that it could continue in this way. In fact, that it would still continue to get worse.
I’m running essential oils in the diffuser. We’re watching tv and I’m timing contractions. I don’t want David to do anything or say anything, but I sure am glad that he’s there.
We finally decide to leave to head to the hospital. As we’re parking, I tell David that I’m pretty sure I can’t make it without drugs and that I’m already feeling like a failure for giving in.
We get checked into the hospital. Sitting there in the hallway, while David was talking to the admin lady, having contractions.
Going into a triage room. Getting checking out by a nurse there. Only 3 centimeters. But she leaves and talks to the doctor on call and they decide to admit me anyway. More contractions. During a bad one, I throw up several times in a trash can in the triage room. The nurse comes back and I put on a hospital gown. In fact, I think it may have been two hospital gowns—one open in the back and a second open in the front. My clothes are soaking wet from sweat and they get stuffed into a bag that I hand to David, who is managing all of the details of stuff. I shuffle off to a delivery room. I meet our nurse, Courtney, who asks me what my plans are for pain medication. I ask her to tell me about the options again and she gives me the details on the IV opiate and an epidural.
I tell her I’d like to get the IV med. Meanwhile, I’m getting hooked up to some stuff… who knows? A thing on a finger? A blood pressure cuff?
I get the IV and the opiate and it helps a lot. For about 10 minutes. And then I’m calling Courtney back in to say that I want the epidural.
Meanwhile, I’ve started shivering like crazy, uncontrollably, even though I’m actually hot.
I have to get a bag of IV fluid before I can get the epidural, so they get that together. Once it’s finished, the anesthesiologist comes in. He’s tall and sporty and he talks to David about mountain climbing, because David’s wearing a hat from a hiking company that he took a trip with.
I throw up some more while he’s in the room. Into several of the plastic baggy things that nurse informed David was there specifically for vomiting.
I keep having contractions and I worry about trying to hold still while he’s stabbing my spine. He comments “she’s just not getting a break, is she?” Because they seem to be happening non-stop.
Wednesday, June 8 — 40 weeks, 2 days
The epidural has been administered. It wasn’t so terrible. The little numbing shot was pretty unpleasant. But otherwise not so bad. And it doesn’t take long before I can wiggle my feet around, but I can’t lift my legs. And the contractions pretty much go away. I’m attached to tubes and cuffs and measuring devices all over and I am basically paralyzed, so I’m definitely bed bound. Everyone leaves. David passes out on the little couch.
I doze off, but wake up every 15 minutes when the blood pressure cuff that I have to wear kicks into gear and squeezes the ever loving shit out of my arm.
I feel a burst, like a pricked balloon and a release, like I just peed a tremendous volume. I assume that my water’s broke and call David. But he’s really passed out and doesn’t wake up. So I call Courtney the nurse and she comes back in to confirm that yes, my water’s broke and she checks and my cervix is now 8 centimeters dilated. They change my sheets and maybe my gown, too, and I can’t move, so she does this by heaving me around while I try to hold myself off to one side or another with my arms clutching onto the railings of the bed.
And then there’s a bunch of drama because the baby’s heart beat has dropped dramatically and 4 or 5 new people come in and do a lot of bustling about and they put an oxygen mask on me and I can’t really hear over that except for a nurse who is saying something like “breathe in that oxygen for your baby.”
I’m sure that this means I’ll be hustled off for an emergency c-section.
But whatever the alarm is goes away. And then they just want me to get all the way to 10 centimeters. I get turned over on to one side, which I can’t do myself because I can’t move. And then a little bit later, I get turned over on to the other side.
I ask about getting another dose of the epidural, which I can do myself just by pressing a button. She says that I can do it and wants to know if I’m having pain. I’m not, but I’m pretty terrified that the pain might come back, so I press it and take another hit.
They decide that I’m fully dilated at some point and the doctor comes in. I ask about trying to sit up and move into a more upright position. We learned in the birthing class that the beds can be arranged so they’re a bit like a chair, so you can birth in a sitting position, even with an epidural. But no one seems to think this is a good idea and they leave me lying down, just like on TV.
Then with no fanfare, they just decide that on the next contraction, I’ll start pushing.
With Courtney holding up my left knee and David on my right, I start pushing. I take a deep breath, lift up my head and push, like pushing out a poop. Then I stop, take a deep breath and do it again. Maybe a third time, all within that first contraction. It makes me out of breath, maybe because I’m holding it or because it’s exerting. But it doesn’t hurt.
I keep doing it when they tell me to. After a few times, I recognize that there is a deep down feeling that coincides with when they say that I’m having a contraction.
Everyone seems very cheerful and says that I’m doing a great job. I don’t really understand what’s great about what I’m doing, but it seems encouraging.
A few more pushes and they can see the top of a hairy head. I can see David looking. I tell him that he shouldn’t, that it’s gross. But he keeps looking anyway. I don’t really understand how much baby is out. But in between contractions, everything just stops and there’s idle chit chat. I have a strange awareness of lying there, with a baby hanging out of my vagina, in a room full of people, just casually hanging around. I crack some kind of joke.
After 24 minutes, it’s over. The baby comes out. I can feel the sensation of it, but no pain. They put her on my chest and David and I both start crying. Ugly crying, I think.
There are a million people in the room doing stuff. There’s a nurse who attempts to stick the baby on a boob, but I don’t think she really does any nursing.
I can feel the placenta come out.
There’s been a little tearing. 2nd degree laceration, she says. The doctor’s down there doing things, putting in some stitches and that kind of stings.
They take the baby at some point and wipe her off a bit and clean her hair. There’s a lot of hair. They weigh her. 8 pounds 4 ounces. They give her back to me. Her eyes are puffy and tightly shut. She sleeps.
We wait for the epidural to wear off and I’m escorted to the bathroom, where I manage to leave a horror scene of blood and gore after peeing.
And then we get wheeled away to another room for our two-night stay in the post-partem wing. Which isn’t a particularly interesting part of the story (if any of it was at all). We are stunned and sleepy, all of us.
After all of that. Hours and hours. Months and months. Years and years, even. Here she is. Our daughter, Winifred Mary Pickavance, joined our family at 7:04 am on Wednesday morning, June 8, 2016.