I woke up early on Thursday, October 23rd. I showered and decided to shave my legs that morning (I was unstoppable). I was 36 weeks 1 day pregnant – officially the longest I’ve ever made it in a pregnancy. The rest of the house wakes up. I do what I can to help get the kids ready for daycare and Alex gets ready for work. He goes to the bathroom and comes back telling me he doesn’t feel well. He decides that he’s still going to head into work, so he drops the kids at daycare and heads in. At 7:45, I’m in my car heading to an ultrasound and appointment with my high risk OB. I get a call from Alex saying that he has a stomach bug and is coming home from work. I joke and tell him that I will probably go into labor today since he’s sick. He requests that I don’t. I even tell my mom the same thing when I call her. I get to the office and the ultrasound looks perfect. I have to wait a while to see the doctor. I notice I’m having some contractions in the waiting room, but they aren’t regular. I see my doctor and he decides that we should induce that weekend. We talk about a game plan for the induction and he checks my cervix. I’m at almost 3cm and 50% effaced. We talk some more and I notice that my cramps are getting worse. I head to my car to drive home. I needed to run through the bank and drop a letter at the post office. I notice contractions at 10am. Immediately I knew they were labor contractions because they wrapping around my back. I made some calls and texts to people that should be in the know if I was actually in labor. I picked up a Sprite for Alex and made it home.
I park myself on the couch to see what happens. My contractions were coming about every 15 minutes and then every 8 minutes and then every 6 minutes. The contractions were kind of sporadic and not super regular. But, they kept coming so I kept timing and filling in my group of people. I kept texting Alex to keep him updated (and informed him that I was most likely in labor) because he was upstairs doing the sick thing and I refused to be around him at that point. He sent me a text asking if I would go get him another Sprite and a cup of soup. I informed him that I was in labor so I would not be leaving to fetch things for him and that he could come downstairs and make a can of soup for himself. He dramatically made his way downstairs and made his soup. He then proceeded to lay on the other side of the couch moaning. It was around 2pm and my contractions had moved to every 5 minutes. I had no sympathy for him at that point.
After an hour of every 5 minute contractions, we decided that I was going to have my mom pick me up and drive me to the hospital while Alex stayed at home, moaning. The plan was that he would come up to the hospital if we got the word that I was actually in labor and that we were going to be having a baby. I called my mom and she was out the door in a flash. She told me later that she was sitting with her purse by the phone. She made it to my house and we were off to the hospital. Apparently I was the first person in active labor that my mother has ever driven to the hospital. She drove 5 miles under the speed limit and cussed at anyone who passed us. Driving Miss Daisy responsibly delivered me to the labor and delivery floor around 3pm. I walked in looking like the after school special with my mom and no wedding ring (the ship sailed a while ago thanks to some serious swelling). I was taken to a triage room and hooked up. My contractions were coming every 2 minutes and increasing in intensity. My blood pressure was high (around 150/100) which wasn’t surprising, but it wasn’t decreasing when I was laying down (like it would normally do at my previous triage visits). The floor doctor came in pretty quickly and seemed concerned. Blood was drawn and they left me alone to monitor my contractions, BP, and baby’s heart rate. Around 4pm, the floor doctor came in and checked my cervix. I was a 3/4 and still 50% effaced. She had spoken with my OB and the decision was made that I would be moved to a labor room and would be having this baby. Alex was called and he made his way to the hospital. Surgical masks were waiting for him. I asked if there was anything that could be given to help with the pain. My contractions were every 1.5 to 2 minutes and they were getting to the point that I needed to breath through them. I didn’t have any downtime and was getting really uncomfortable. The nurse replied that the only thing that was going to take the edge off was to get the epidural.
I made it to my labor room, an IV was started and I got a first dose of antibiotics for group B strep. I ask the nurse to request an epidural. Alex arrives and complains that people were avoiding riding in the elevator with him because he had a surgical mask on as if he was an Ebola patient. He takes a seat in the recliner and continues his moaning. My contractions are making life pretty miserable. I tried to focus on breathing through them until the anesthesiologist arrived when Alex complains that his back hurts because he’s been laying around not feeling well all day. I either just stared at him or I told him to fuck off (my guess is that it was something closer to the latter). If I could have moved, I probably would have ripped his face off. If men were the ones to have babies, the human race would be extinct.
Much too long later, a lovely man named Charlie arrived and told me that he was going to be giving me my epidural. I could have licked his face I was so excited to see him. I signed all the paperwork and assumed the position. My OB walked in and gave me a big hug. He told me that he was going to break my water after my epidural was placed and then he left to see another patient. My nurse held me in place while Charlie got started. He numbed one area, inserted the needle and started to thread the catheter. I had a shooting pain down my left side. I can only describe it as like a lighting bolt going through my hip and leg. I started moaning with my face in a pillow. Charlie removed the catheter and tried again. No luck, it actually got worse. My body was involuntarily jerking with the pain. At one point I screamed for him to stop. It was really intense and by far my worst epidural experience. Apparently my OB walked in during this part and immediately left because we were having such a hard time. Charlie ended up moving to another spot on my spine and redoing the whole process. He was able to get it placed and I immediately felt some relief. While Charlie was cleaning me up and taping everything off he apologized to me and told me that he didn’t mean to hurt me. I was apologizing to him for moving and carrying on when all of a sudden I started sobbing crying. I don’t know why, but I couldn’t stop. I was a mess. My nurse wiped away my tears. Around 6:45 my epidural was really taking effect and I was loving life. I started feeling a little loopy and my heart was pounding. My blood pressure went from 150/100 to 80/50. The nurses started panicking. They had me lay on my side and Charlie arrived back in the room. He ended up having to turn the dose down so my BP would increase a bit.
Around 7pm, my mother-in-law arrived with Anna and Luke. We lucked out because Alex’s stepsister had a planned c-section to deliver her baby (Abby’s cousin) that morning. So, Alex’s mom and stepdad were in town when I happened to go into labor. When we knew that I wasn’t leaving the hospital until I had a baby in my arms, she stepped in to stay with the kids at our house. Anna and Luke were so excited that the baby was coming (we’ve been talking about it for what seems like years) and were incredibly curious about everything that was going on. Anna was staring intently at the machines and wires and asking me what everything was. She asked me if she could touch me. When I told her she could, she patted my arm. I got teary eyed. Luke pooped. The nurse came in and said that she needed to place the catheter (PARRR-TAY). My mother-in-law leaves with the kids. Luke was extremely upset to leave and Anna was excited to come back to meet her sister the next day.
Pee tub is placed and my doctor arrives around 7:45 to check me (till a 3/4) and break my water. It was the first time my water ever had to be broken for me – really odd experience. My contractions space out a bit, but I’m numb from the epidural so I can’t really tell. My cousin, Rita, arrives to visit. That we know of, she’s the 5th generation of Rita in my family with my mom being the 4th and Abby being the 6th. I just love my cousin. She’s been at the hospital for all three of my labors. Around 9pm, Cousin Rita leaves and Alex pauses his moaning to take a nap in the recliner. The poor guy was just beat…
At 9:30, my nurse comes in to check me. I’m a 4. The plan was to start pitocin, but I ask to wait a while so we can make it to midnight. I didn’t want Abby’s cousin blaming me for him having to share a birthday. Plus, my sister’s birthday was the next day and we thought it would be neat for Abby to share a birthday with her aunt. I was doing everything I could to make it to midnight. My doctor wasn’t thrilled that I’ve turned down the pitocin (probably because he didn’t want to get called back in the middle of the night), but he agrees to have the nurse check me at 11pm and then hang the pitocin. I’m feeling good about my chances of making it to midnight. Around 10:30, I call my sister (she was traveling for work). I start feeling pressure with each contraction. At 10:50 my nurse checks me again. I’ve jumped to a 6 and am 100% effaced. Take that, pitocin! She informs me that she’s going to run to the cafeteria to get something to eat. I tell her to take her time because, after all, we aren’t having this baby until after midnight. At 11:15 a different nurse (with 3 friends) come in because Abby’s heart rate isn’t showing up on the monitor. She decides to check me and place an internal monitor. I’m fully dilated and Abby’s heart rate is decelerating with each contraction.
Everyone was aware of my midnight goal, so they set the room up methodically but not in a rush. My stand in nurse informs me that there’s no way I’m making it. Poo on her. We start to wake Alex up. He’s not the easiest bear to rouse from hibernation. I’ve had several encounters in the middle of the night where he’s been half asleep and doesn’t recall our conversation the next day. As I yell at him, my mom starts kicking his foot. He opens his eyes and I explain what’s going on. He asks me if he has to get up right then. I yell at him to stand up so that he fully wakes up. Nothing would have sucked more than for him to be half asleep and miss the birth of his third child. Eventually he’s fully present and standing next to my bed.
My doctor is called and arrives in my room at 11:30. Myself, the room, and the bed are prepped. My doctor gowns up. The pressure is really painful. I ask why it hurts so much and they explain that my epidural cartridge is out and that there’s not enough time to replace it. This is not what I signed up for. I got that B for a reason. My doctor explained that he would have no issues sitting on the couch for 20 minutes until we could get to midnight but since Abby is having decels, he needs to get her out quickly. I agree. Obviously her safety is most important. The NICU team arrives (because she’s preterm, a NICU team has to be present for delivery) at 11:37 and my doctor tells me to push with the next contraction. The pressure is so intense right now I would have cut off my thumb if he told me it would help. A contraction comes and I start to push. The pain and pressure is horrible. I scream as I push, not because I want to but because my body just takes over and does whatever it can to get through it. They tell me her head is coming out as I experience the ring of fire. Johnny Cash can go to Hell. Next thing I know I can feel her shoulders trying to come out. It hurts like a son of a beach until her shoulders are out. The next thing I know the rest of her slides out like there’s Dawn dish soap on a slip and slide. Abby Rita Rose arrived after pushing through one contraction at 11:39pm (I missed midnight by 21 minutes) and instantly started to cry. It was instant relief for us. Alex is able to cut the umbilical cord before she is passed off to the NICU team for assessment.
The pediatrician determines that her APGAR scores were an 8 and 9 and that she is healthy enough to stay with us. It was the best news we could have heard (besides being told that I didn’t poo all over the table while pushing)! Abby is measured (20 inches long) and weighed (6lbs 15ozs). The pediatrician is shocked when we tell him that she is our biggest baby to date. He makes a comment about how he can tell we’ve been down the preemie road before by the questions we were asking. I explain that the preemie road was the only one we knew. Meanwhile, back at the murder scene my doctor banks my cord blood for donation. I’ve been given pitocin to help deliver my placenta. My hamburger steak, I mean placenta, comes out and my doctor proudly shows it to us. I have a second degree tear (most likely from her coming out so quickly) that has to be stitched up. I explain that I could feel the delivery and that I definitely don’t want to feel someone repeatedly sticking a needle in my taint. After doing a test poke, my doctor numbs everything up with local anesthetic and fixes me up. He fills out all of his paperwork and (per my request) signs the frame we are going to hang in Abby’s room. Before leaving he gives me a giant hug (I just love my OB) and then heads home.
It’s past midnight at this point. Everyone has taken turns holding Abby, so the nurse explains that it’s time to breastfeed. Latching is difficult, but she ends up nursing on both sides for 15 minutes. I call the nurse because we have to take blood sugars at every feeding for the next 24 hours (it’s a preemie thing). Her level is a 32 (it needs to be above a 40). We end up feeding a bottle to get her blood sugars up and she sucks down an entire ounce. Alex is back in the recliner and sound asleep. Abby passes out on my chest so I take the moment to sniff sweet baby head. At 1:45, the nurse takes Abby’s temperature, gives her a bath, does another blood sugar (her level went up to 63), and checked her respiratory rate (it was normal). Just after 2am, Abby is all cleaned up and resting under a warmer. The nurse grabs a wheelchair and cart in preparation for changing rooms. I wake Alex up so he can load the cart. My nurse draws blood for the cord blood donation kit. The adrenaline of the evening’s events started to wear off. I could barely keep my eyes open as I ate some graham crackers and took some pain medicine. Around 2:45, I could fully feel my legs and it was time to use the bathroom for the first time. She unhooked everything except the IV and helped me walk to the bathroom. I sat in a pathetic heap on the toilet while my brave nurse cleaned my back, hands, behind, and snap dragon. I had officially hit rock bottom. I used the peri bottle for the first time (which is a little slice of heaven for those that haven’t shot a watermelon out of your lady parts). She then whips out a pad the size of a Volkswagon van and a slinky pair of mesh panties. Get in line, fellas. My nurse walks me to the wheelchair, removes my IV, and changes my gown. Alex has fallen asleep yet again, so I yell at him to get his ass in gear. The nurse dressed Abby, swaddled her, and added a sweet hat with a bow. I held her as I was wheeled to my postpartum room. I was like the dad in Lion King when he held his baby up for the whole kingdom to see. I was a proud (albeit exhausted) mother.
Shortly after 3am we were in the postpartum room and Alex had quickly tossed our bags on the floor. We had requested a cot for him (the standard couch bed doesn’t cut it when you are 6’6″), so Alex did some rearranging to make it fit. He set it up and was quickly asleep again while we waited for my new nurse to come in. Poor Alex, what a rough day he must have had… About 15 minutes later, my postpartum nurse enters and starts rattling off information. If this hadn’t been my third time going through it I would have completely missed it all from sheer exhaustion. She went over the alarms, bracelets, badges, and the tests and checks that would have to be done on Abby since she was a late term preemie. She took my vitals, pushed on my water bed (I mean, belly), got an ice pack for my undercarriage (those things are the shit), checked my stitches, and took Abby’s vitals. Abby’s blood sugar had dropped to 42, so I was a little concerned that we weren’t out of the NICU woods yet. The nurse kept glancing over at Alex, who was now snoring. She assured me that husbands fall asleep all the time even though the wives are the ones that have been through the ringer. It’s time for Abby to eat again, so I nurse on one side and she latches and goes to town. The other side – not so much. She completely refuses. I call the nurse in to let her know. Abby is sleeping soundly, so she wraps her and (by my request) takes her to the nursery for the night. I’m so tired that I’m seeing double, but also deliriously happy that my new baby is here and healthy. Just before 5am I fall deep asleep.
I clocked a good hour and a half of sleep when I hear a knock on the door. Before I could say anything, Anna and Luke (with my mother-in-law) burst through the door demanding to see the baby. While we wait for the nursery to bring Abby to us, Anna asks to see my belly. The entire time I was pregnant, she thought that to have the baby my belly was going to explode and that the doctors were going to put my belly back together. We never corrected her because I’m not ready to have that conversation just yet. I show Anna my belly and she seems quite impressed with how well the doctors ‘put me back together’. Eventually Abby arrives in the room and the kids are completely and totally in love with her. It was seriously the sweetest thing to watch.
We were surprised, to say the least, when we found out that we would be adding a third child to our family. It took some time to sink in and for us to fall in love with the idea. We prepared the house, bought a bigger car, prepped the kids to have another sibling, and mentally wrapped our heads around becoming a family of 5. We had endless conversations with the kids about the baby and I spent countless hours at doctors appointments and ultrasounds. All the medicine and injections and contractions and bedrest and pain from delivery – it was all gone in the instant I saw all three of my children together. I’m not saying that we are having another (we are done, done, DONE), but the overall experience doesn’t seem as bad now as I remember it being while I was going through it. It’s amazing how quickly you forget the unpleasant moments of a pregnancy and delivery once you are holding a baby in your arms. It was all completely and totally worth it.