Last weekend our lives became infinitely more complicated in the best way possible.
World, I introduce you to Tommy! He was born on Friday, August 29, around 6pm. He’s healthy and perfect, and we are doing well.
Either he’s the cutest damn baby in the entire world, or my hormones are just doing their thing. I suspect the former. Here are some photos to allow you to make your own assessment. I’ll tell the birth story at the end of the post for anyone who is interested in that sort of thing.
On Friday morning, around 5am, I woke up to really strong, painful contractions, which were fairly far apart. I got up, made myself some breakfast, did the dishes, ordered a book online, and took a shower. Around 7am, I suspected that I was leaking some amniotic fluid, so we decided to go into the hospital. It was a small leak, and I probably could have waited a while to go in, but all of the books say to go to the hospital if you start leaking, and I trust books, so off we went. Before we headed out, we made sure to call Robin’s family to get them on the road, because it would take them a few hours to get to us.
We were allowed to go to the post hospital this time, which I’m really happy about, because I got to use my own doctor, and the nurses were all really great. There was already a C-section going on when we got to the hospital, and another woman in labor arrived shortly after us, so it was a big day in the labor ward.
It was determined that I really was in labor and that my water was partially broken, so we got admitted. I was about three centimeters dilated, but my contractions were still irregular, so they gave me some Pitocin to speed them up, and the doctor ruptured my membranes the rest of the way. I proceeded, throughout the rest of the day, to gush what seemed like twice my body weight in fluid; it was a bit disconcerting, but these things happen during childbirth.
About two hours later, the contractions started to get painful enough that I decided it was time to get the epidural, which was lovely. At this point, I was still looking pretty fresh and feeling calm. This labor thing was going to be a breeze. Things moved along some more, I got more dilated, hurray, hurray. The family arrived and everyone chitchatted for a while; it was great fun.
And then. . . .
About five hours in, it was decided that the time for pushing had arrived, so I tried that, but the epidural was working too well, and I couldn’t feel to push, so they had to turn it off. That scared me, because I LOVED the epidural. I didn’t want it to go away. I started getting feeling, but not fully, and as I pushed, I was having a hard time getting the baby to move down the canal. In hindsight, I probably should have waited a while longer before I started pushing, but I really wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible, and at this point, I still thought that was a possibility. I pushed through every contraction, but I had only the vaguest notion of how it should feel when I was pushing. It’s not as if I regularly push things out of my vagina; that skill is rarely called for in most people’s lives, I’m pretty sure. So sometimes I would do something that made the nurse say, “Yes, that’s it!” but the majority of the time I would think I was doing the exact same thing, and she would indicate that I wasn’t quite on top of things. This went on for a while; it was really frustrating, and it got extremely painful. I felt like I was doing things wrong and it was all my fault that I wasn’t moving things along. Robin, meanwhile, stood by me, held my hand, wiped my brow with cool washcloths, and tried to stay out of the way.
Finally, they told us it was going slow because the baby was facing up instead of down. This meant that his head wasn’t positioned to come out in the easiest manner.
It got even more painful as I continued to make no progress, and it was so frustrating. I began to hate the nurse and my mother-in-law who were trying to coach me through. I dreaded each contraction. I felt a little bit like I was dying. I started crying because it hurt so badly and because I couldn’t see it ever ending. I started to wonder if it was too late to reconsider this whole childbirth thing. Perhaps they could still do a C-section? I didn’t actually suggest it, but anything that would numb my lower extremities again was looking pretty damn good.
In the end, I pushed for three solid hours before the baby was finally born; at least two of those were without any residual relief from the epidural. Robin says the baby came out with his eyes wide open, which was kind of creepy, but amazing.
Tommy was not only face-up, he also had the umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck. He was in a bit of distress, so I only got to hold him for a minute before they took him to the nursery to do assessments and whatever else. I didn’t get him back for another three hours. But when I did, he was perfect and plump despite a bit of a ring around the top of his hear from where he got stuck in the birth canal. The anesthesiologist called him a unicorn.
Since then, we’ve been learning everything together. Over the past several months I’ve read everything I could find about breastfeeding and attachment and diapers and, well, everything, but it took a while to get things figured out in real life. Is he latched onto the breast? I have no idea, but it hurts like hell. I don’t have any milk yet, and he’s so hungry, but if I give him formula will I ruin him for breastfeeding forever? How do I get this diaper on him? Why isn’t he crying? Aren’t babies supposed to cry? He’s so floppy! How is it possible that his head won’t fall off and go rolling across the room? How are his arms so strong? How on earth am I ever supposed to pee again, much less poop? The prospect of that last one was terrifying. Eventually, with the help of nurses, family, and some faulty attempts, we managed to survive the first night.
And now we’re home, and the baby is still doing well, and we’re still figuring things out.