So where were we...right, it was about 3:30am, I was leaking something pinkish, I am a month away from my due date on December 28, 2000.
While Hubby goes to find the phone number for the hospital I pull out a bag. We have not yet had our appointment where we get all this information in a nice neat package. We called the main line and after some garbled ramblings about being pregnant, a month early and leaking we are transferred to Labour and Delivery. I am told I am probably leaking amniotic fluid and thus my water has indeed broken. They are very concerned about the colour which I assure them is not brown only pinky/red. The nurse checks my file and tells me I am about 3-4 days away from being full-term, therefore I am in preterm labour, which sounds very, very, scary when they tell you this over the phone. The nurse tells us to get to the hospital right away, um can I have a shower I ask? The answer is yes, if I don't dawdle, they would like me at the hospital within the hour.
A shower you might think? A girl has plans for her birth you know? Everything taken care of, shaved, prepped, polished and the like. Let's just say it was a hasty preparation. After my quick shower and blow-dry I get dressed. I am leaking still, but a pad seems to do the job fine for now. Now we need to pack the bag, which Hubby starts while I am in the shower - his biggest worry is the stopwatch.
The stopwatch was prominently featured in our childbirth classes, it was important to time the contractions and keep track of everything. He searched and searched and could not find it, much to his dismay. It meant nothing that I wasn't even having contractions, at best I could be described as slightly crampy or perhaps that was cranky. We manage to pack a bag with my must have item - lip balm, I cannot live without lip balm. I love the stuff. We get downstairs and it is about 4am or so and Hubby stops me in the doorway to take a photo, I even look happy.
As we getting in the car, my seat protected with a green garbage bag - I don't know what I thought would happen on the car ride, Hubby informs me we need gas - we are on empty. Huh?! It is 4am I am in labour or something like it and we need to stop for diesel. And so we did. This made me edgy, didn't Hubby pay attention in class, you must have a full tank of gas at all times!
We parked and found our way up to Labour and Delivery with little fuss, with our bags and pillows in tow. I was put into an assessment room with one other woman who was groaning so loudly. I mentioned to the nurse that the baby had been breech about six days at my last appointment when she could not find the heartbeat where it was supposed to be. Right away, I was taking off my nail polish which I don't normally wear, but had put some on at Christmas. Next I was signing all kinds of forms and the words emergency c-section were said somewhere. While I know I was not panicked there was an intensity to this moment that was very palpable.
You might laugh, but the next thing did was check me, you know down there, internally. It was my first internal examination of my entire pregnancy and after declaring I was, "tighter than a steel drum" and not effaced or thinned out at all, I was sent for an ultrasound to confirm where the baby was heading. I remember telling the doctor I was breech just a few days earlier, let's just say he was not in the mood for my assessment. When he told me the baby was indeed head down I was shocked. I had thought I felt the baby turn, but wasn't really sure. It was such a roller coaster of thinking I might have to have a c-section, being terrified, accepting it, and then going through the process all over again when I realized I was going to be pushing this baby out.
One of the most difficult moments of my entire labour happened during this assessment. The nurse told me that since the baby was preterm he/she would have to stay in the hospital while I went home...that the baby might be sick and would have to stay in the nursery while I went home. I am sure she was just trying to prepare me, but it cast a shadow on the labour that never really lifted. I was scared already and even though my assigned nurse was great and reassured me that the baby was going to be fine, those first words stuck with me.
By about 6am we were settled in our large, pink, room (a sign!) equipped with all the necessities like a big TV. I was told I would have to be put on Pitocin since I was not quite in labour despite my water breaking I was not having any real contractions, it was important to get things moving. They started all the IV's and the massive bruise on my arm lingered for weeks where the nurse could not get it in right.
We were settled, I was feeling fine, no pain yet and the TV was on for Hubby to watch a little news. I waited until about 8:30am to call my Mom (she was working that day) and tell her I was at the hospital, despite me assuring her I was fine she left work and came to the hospital around noon. I had never discussed with Hubby who (if anyone) would be present at the birth of our baby, I think it was just unspoken that it would be us only. I am a very private person, I once yelled at a doctor as a child for lifting up my shirt.
We also phoned my in-laws and my best friend. My best friend (we met in Grade 9 and while very different in personality, love each other like sisters) was home and her Hubby was out skiing with his brother and she decided to come by and arrived around 2pm. Her initial reaction to the call from Hubby was "yeah right" she had seen me the night before at the Nutcracker, she thought it was a joke...it was the crepes he told her. In fact, all the phone calls we made to tell people we were having or had the baby were met with similar reactions. Several people flat out didn't believe him at all. I would have to take the phone to make them believe it.
The day passed slowly I remember, but when I think of what I might have done for all those hours I cannot think of a single thing. I was not allowed out the bed since I was on the Pictocin, I did not pack cards or games, I was not allowed to eat anything, I just remember my Mom, Hubby and my friend sitting by the edge of my bed in a very reassuring way. I was mad I couldn't use the tub, I had been imagining my labour taking place in the tub and thought of it as a magical place to labour, I never made it to the tub the second time either. Er.
By early afternoon I was still one centimetre despite the increasing Pitocin coursing through me for hours. I was getting uncomfortable, but was still not in enough pain to get the epidural. My lovely nurse, Caroline kept telling me that Pictocin causes a very intense labour and to not be so stubborn to not say when I might need it. By the time I realized I needed it and could not cope, I was having back labour and contractions minutes apart. They made everyone - including Hubby leave to do the epidural which upset me greatly. It hurt like hell of course, but once it was done I felt a bit better knowing that I would feel better soon. That however, never happened, it did not work as it was supposed to, I could still feel everything. We waited and waited, then they "topped me up" directly into the line. Nothing. My option was to stay as it or try it again. Hubby says he heard me scream done the hall while they pulled it out and did it again. Thankfully, the second time it worked and I was numb in no time.
By about 3pm I was still one centimetre or so and had had a few scary moments when the baby's heartbeat dropped suddenly. Out of nowhere, nurses rushed in and put a mask over my face, furiously checking the papers spewing out of the machines. For most of the day up until that point, my nurse would come and go checking on me and the papers with little fanfare. My nurse kept saying over and over how this must be a boy because she would constantly lose the heartbeat with the fetal belt around my belly. Over and over she would readjust the belt and faithfully the baby would wiggle away. It drove her crazy. Something that drove me crazy was the blood pressure cuff that went off automatically every 15 minutes. In the middle of pushing I demanded it be removed, it was bothering me more than pushing.
When the doctor would check me every few hours it would always be the same, I was getting thinner and the baby was moving down, but I was not dilating. When the heartbeat dropped for the second time they consulted about what to do next. They decided to "Pit past it" which I think meant that if it happened again after increasing the Pictocin one more time I would have to consider a c-section. Thankfully that didn't happen again. I was told at some point that there would be several people in the room for the delivery, the baby would have his/her own nurse and doctor and there was a special warming table moved into the end of my room. I was warned the baby would be taken to the Special Care Nursery for assessment and I may not even get to hold the baby depending on how things were...
By 6pm Hubby was starving so he left to grab some food. I think my Mom and friend did come and go and had grabbed coffees and food at some point. Right after he left the doctor came to check me and I was finally dilated, I was 10 centimetres and there was just a tiny edge left and soon I would be able to push! Uh, where is Hubby? Bring him back now!! My Mom goes to find him and he returns (food uneaten) just as I am giving the nurse a practice push, just to see how I can do it, in her words. What happens next is pretty quick. It is about 6:30pm, I am showing the nurse my great pushing skills when she tells me to stop pushing and I hear the doctor being paged to our room. At some point I am put into the stirrups, they are asking me who is staying in the room - they only wanted two people in the room so my friend leaves, which freaks me out. I don't want anyone to leave me, I want them all there. No dice, so she watches from the hall. My Mom and Hubby are by my side, something I never imagined was having my mother in the delivery room, that is just not me, yet somehow it was exactly as it was meant to be.
I remember demanding the cuff be removed (in the photos though it appears to be still on after the birth so perhaps I only imagined they took it off), I remember the oxygen mask put on my face, and mostly I remember Hubby right in my face talking to me and telling me to listen to him and I remember hearing lots of voices, but it was like they were floating in the air far away from my ears. Between 6:30pm and 7:01pm when Papoosie Girl was born was a blur in a way. I was not trying to push, it was like my body took over, and even though they were telling me to, "blow it away" my body just did what it was supposed to do. Her head was out before the doctor arrived and I think I may have pushed about 6 or 7 times. She came out very quickly, which I paid for in the form of many, many stitches.
Since this was somewhat of a high-risk delivery, we did not cut the cord and she was given to me very briefly. They took her to the end of the room in the warmer and told us she seemed fine and wasn't even that small (she was 6lbs, 7oz's), but they had to take her to the Special Care Nursery for a more thorough assessment. I got to hold her for about a minute and while I sometimes wished for those early bonding moments I really was in no shape for much at that moment. Hubby stayed with me initially while my Mom followed the baby, my friend had immediately bee-lined into the room once the baby was born and took our first photos. I sent Hubby to see the baby and my friend remained by my side during the less than delicate after-birth part of labour.
There was lots of blood, that I remember and the stitches took nearly an hour. My friend held my hand during the entire hour and regaled me with stories about her co-workers to distract me. At one point the doctor asks, "is she a vegetarian?" to which she replied no. The doctor never addressed me directly and was complaining about my poor tissue quality and was wondering if I was a vegetarian, I piped up that I did have low iron and I don't think she answered me. Later when the epidural had worn off and I was literally lifting off the bed, they gave me a shot of local anesthesia - ouch! At some point I asked when this was going to be done, a voice came up from the bottom of the bed, "I will be done when I am done." To be fair this doctor came by room the next day to apologize for being so terse, she told me later that I was so bad she was very worried I might need more than what she could do, she had done over 50 stitches. I was thankful she was so concerned if not personable. I do not know what I would have done if my friend had not been with me, she saved me at that moment.
During our hospital tour we stood outside the door to the Special Care Nursery. I remember kind of zoning out as they talked about the various scenarios for which you might require the nursery. There were pregnant women all around walking, being wheeled, on beds going by, some with babies, some still in labour and I was totally distracted by it all. When were initially told our baby would be going to the nursery I remember thinking I was being punished for not paying closer attention on the tour. Stupid I know, but I felt so guilty about that after delivery that I practically memorized the brochure they gave me.
Hubby gave me a present right after Papoosie Girl was born and off in the nursery with Nana. He had the idea to present me with a special gift right after the birth, a keepsake of this momentous occasion. He forgot the present in our haste to leave the house and had his parents bring it to the hospital, which I found out about much later.
It was a tough delivery in so many ways, but of course it ended with a healthy, beautiful baby girl we loved and loved as if she was always a part of us. She was not allowed to room with me since she was quite jaundice and needed to be hooked up the "Bili" blanket all the time. The SCN staff were wonderful and Papoosie Girl was assigned a nurse every 12 hours and we had complete access whenever we wanted. I could call or visit anytime. It took me until the afternoon before I could walk down there the next day, after sitting on a rubber glove full of ice all night.
She was our special little angel and always managed to get out her hand to put it on her face...she still sleeps like this sometimes.
That is the end of this story. the only other important information and maybe those of you who had babies around the same time have picked up on it. I was planning on taking a one year maternity leave as the legislation was changing from six months to one year at midnight December 31, 2000. At some point during labour we realized I was not going to get the one year leave, it didn't matter when you were due, it mattered when the baby was born. Not a high concern when you are in the middle of labour, but let me tell you I cursed that little monkey quite a bit after. I was three days shy of getting an extra six months of maternity leave. I ended up taking off eight months in total, the last two months with no benefits.
We went home on New Year's Eve 2000 and I remember asking the nurse what would happen if someone was pushing right near midnight? I mean one push either way and you are out six months with your baby! She told me it really would not be a factor, the health of everyone, blah, blah, blah. Let me tell you, I bet a lot of babies were born at 12:01 am that night.
I will take a little birthing break before I recount the one or two paragraphs my planned c-section with Rosebud will take. She deserves her moment though no matter how orchestrated it was. It was still special and all that, just not as riveting. Well, there was the problem of no name up until the night before, that was fun.
I love reading about other birth stories, mostly because mine were so different, none of the hewing and hawing, cursing or hours of pacing and pushing. I guess they are all different no matter which way it goes. A birth is a miracle each and every time. I was so lucky to be in the delivery room for both of my godchildren - the friend who held my hand, her kids. I was able to witness it in such a way that I could never have with my own girls. It was so moving and special to witness a baby coming into this world, such a high I could barely sleep both times. She is pregnant with her third child and if I am invited I will try to be there again. I have no idea if I will make it to the delivery room again, I can't even think about it right now. It makes me too sad to think it is all over.
Tell me your story! Now it is your turn.