Nick's paternal grandma passed away the week before Zachary was born. Nick flew up to Vancouver to attend the services. I stayed back for obvious reasons. I asked him what would happen if I did go into labor while he was away. Throughout the pregnancy, neither one of us rarely talked to my belly. But he did lean over and say to it, "You stay in there until I get back, ok?"
Fast forward to September 26, I stood up from my desk around 9:30pm to go to the bathroom and then drive to the airport to pick up Nick from SFO. Upon standing, there was a noticeable gush. Once I realized I hadn't actually peed my pants, I called Labor & Delivery and told them what happened. I wasn't in any pain and had no contractions. The nurse recommended I lie down for 20 minutes, make sure the baby was still moving, and if there was any trickling when I stood up again, then it was most likely it was the "bag of waters." Assuming that was the case (which it was), then I needed to get my husband to drive me to the hospital. The small glitch in that plan was that Nick was still flying back from Vancouver.
I called my mom. Then I called Rob and Eileen, college friends of Nick, who recently had a similar experience (water breaking/early baby) to get confirmation that what was happening to me was similar to what had happened to her. Robbie offered to go pick up Nick. At first I thought it was burdensome. But then I rationalized that it would be good for Nick to be in the car with Rob rather than in a taxi so that Rob could prepare him for what would happen next.
Although I still wasn't having any contractions, I knew that labor was inevitable so I threw in a load of newborn clothes. I was obsessing that I didn't have any washed clothes to bring the baby home in. I finished packing our bags. Nick arrived around 11:30pm and we finished up a few things around the house and headed to the hospital. I had eaten very little for dinner that night and was starving. Knowing that it could possibly be 24 hours before I ate again, we stopped where everyone else seems to go before having a baby -- In-N-Out -- so I would have some sustenance for the next umpteen hours or so.
I checked in to triage at 1:30am. They confirmed it was the "bag of waters" (such a silly name), and the doctor said I needed to be induced (something I did not want so I had to throw that part of the birth plan out the window).
Emotionally I was mourning the loss of the four weeks that I was about to take off from work. State of California gives you disability four weeks prior to your due date. The following day was going to be my last day of work. I knew the baby was coming and all of the things I had planned for those next four weeks was no longer going to happen (sadly, you cannot add those four weeks on to your leave postpartum). In addition, Nick's birthday, our first anniversary, and our BabyQ party was planned for that Saturday. We were going to have to cancel the party. And, I had just purchased enough food to feed 35 people! I was shooting myself in the foot for actually being proactive. Forget the thoughts that a baby was coming. I was upset about losing disability leave and having 20lbs of meat in my fridge!
The Pitocin started at 3am. The birthing class we took never mentioned that if you are on Pitocin, then you have to be on a fetal monitor. I asked for the wireless monitor and it happened to be broken. So now I was hooked to a machine and no matter which way I turned, the monitor would lose the heartbeat and then the nurse would come back in to re-adjust. I was annoyed not only with having to constantly adjust the monitor, but also the noise it makes. In my elevated mental state the sound was equivalent to nails on a chalkboard. I was also on an IV for penicillin (because I hadn't made it to 36 weeks yet), Pitocin, and sugar water. The nurse couldn't find a vein in my arm, so she went through my hand. Not only did it sting, but it prevented me from being able to do any hands and knee positions and I had to resort to elbows. Although it shouldn't be a surprise, what I learned about this experience is that being in labor made me extremely irritable. Despite those things, I did pretty well for the first few hours and was very appreciative that Nick was there lockstep with me for every single contraction helping me through it.
The nurse kept asking if I wanted an epidural and I said no because I wanted to walk around. She told me the only place I could walk was the little 2x4 space near the machine because I had to stay hooked up to the fetal monitor. At that point (7:30am), I asked for an epidural. If they were going to confine me to the bed, then there was no point to try to "work through" the contractions with position changes and breathing exercises. She checked me and said I was only 1/4cm dilated and said I could not get an epidural until 4cm. She offered me fentanyl, to "take the edge off", but that it would only last an hour. The fentanyl was great. It makes you feel drunk and I think I managed to sleep for 2-3 minutes at a time in between contractions.
My mom called at that point. Mark was on a 6am flight back from Phoenix and she was going to pick him up at 8 from San Jose and drive up to Walnut Creek. I told Nick to tell her not to come until around noon. If I was only 1/4cm, then it was going to be a very very long day and I didn't want them sitting around.
At 8:30am the drug had worn off and I was in increasing pain. A new shift of nurses came on. At one point, my vocalization must have changed significantly. She looked at me and asked, "Jessica, where does it hurt?" I told her the pressure was in my rectum. She immediately checked me and said, "You're at 9cm. You're going to have a baby in a few minutes." Total shock and awe. How did I go from 1/4cm to 9cm in only an hour? This meant I was not going to have an epidural after all. I told Nick to call my mom to get up to Walnut Creek immediately. Everything started changing in the room. More people came in. The bed shifted. All the baby stuff came out. The midwife arrived. I did not want to deliver on my back, but once again, that fetal monitor was a hindrance and they informed me it was the only way I could deliver while hooked on a fetal monitor. Around 9am, the pushing began and all of it was a blur.
The pushing part was overwhelming for my mind to process. There were too many things to remember at once. For each push, I would forget at least one of the things I was supposed to be doing. At one point, the nurse grabbed my face and said, "Listen to me" and then told me what to do. At another point, I remember an oxygen mask being put on me for a minute because I wasn't breathing correctly. The weirdest thing of all was pushing without making any noise. At first I thought she was going Katie Holmes on me (the silent birth). But she told me she needed all of my energy to go to the baby and that if I made noise, then I was wasting energy out of my mouth. Smart lady....
At 9:24am on September 27, little Zachary was born. I'm not going to say it didn't hurt. But it was not as bad as I expected it would be. Of course, with him being pre-term, he weighed only 5lbs 5oz so there's no doubt his small size made things easier than a full-term baby.
|I envy the woman who has a photogenic picture within a few minutes of delivery...|