Sadie’s Birth Story: Part 1
We just got back from our 2-week (TWO WEEK?!) pediatrician visit, and learned that the shorty is indeed thriving on her All Boob Diet. She’s gained ten ounces in a week, and while I’m sure that’s totally ordinary, I feel an absolutely inappropriate amount of pride that Sadie is a weight-gaining superstar. Of course, weight gain = SHE’S GROWING UP OH NOOOOO! but knowing that it’s my body that’s been sustaining her since she arrived makes it somehow better. I mean, it’s not like her being underweight would keep her a smooshy little newborn forever.
And what would I eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I didn’t have those cheeks to nom nom nom on?
She’s napping right now, and I decided to postpone my shower a few more hours (I did put on MAKEUP for this morning’s appointment, so it wouldn’t kill me to look like a real person for a bit longer) and get crackin’ on this here birth story. It’s already starting to feel like the entire ordeal unfolded MONTHS ago (even YEARS, sometimes), and there are times when I honestly cannot remember what it felt like to be so massively pregnant.
This girl would be happy to remind you.
So let’s begin, shall we? I’ll start a couple days out, just for kicks.
Thursday, April 9
This was the day the roads were closed between my office and the hospital, making me pretty nervous since I was having some substantial and frequent contractions throughout the day. I took a short walk at lunchtime – both wanting and not wanting to kickstart labor – and recorded my contractions by writing down the start times on a post-it note at my desk. But alas, they petered out as they had every other day before, and soon the roads opened back up and we drove home from work, just the two of us, AGAIN.
Friday, April 10
I woke up officially 41 weeks pregnant, then promptly called off work because I was both mentally & physically DONE (not to mention my days had been spectacularly boring since most of my bosses were traveling and I’d wrapped up all my projects quite nicely the week before because SURELY I’d be on leave by this point, right? RIGHT?). It was a rainy and thoroughly dreary day, and I was unusally hungry for breakfast. I made eggs, toast, and waffles and inhaled them at the speed of light. I decided that the near-orgasmic act of eating while pregnant was probably the only upside to me reaching 41 weeks. We had an early afternoon appointment with the midwives that I was very much hoping would end in my admittance to the hospital – although I felt in my gut this wouldn’t be the case. Sure enough, an internal exam revealed that I was still 50% effaced and only 1-2 cm dilated. The baby was still incredibly low, though, which was a good sign. I asked the midwife about sweeping my membranes to possibly get things going, and she obliged. It wasn’t awful & painful like a lot of internet message boards said it would be (when will I learn to STOP READING BADLY MISSPELLED COMMENTS POSTED BY TOTAL MORONS ON INTERNET MESSAGE BOARDS?!), but she said that afterwards I’d have some spotting & cramping – which I did, almost immediately. She also scheduled three more appointments for me: Two at the beginning of the week for an ultrasound & another membrane-sweeping, and one the next Friday for an induction. She reminded me that a good number of women end up canceling some or all of these 42-week appointments, but I didn’t have much faith in my lazy-ass uterus at this point.
I called my mom and sister as we were leaving the hospital to give them the update, and on the ride home we decided to make the most of an uneventful day and go to a cool restaurant for dinner with friends. What the hell, right? We’ll just see how my uterus likes it when it sees me out with friends, not even paying attention to any weak-ass contractions! Take THAT, reproductive organs!
We left for dinner with FoST and her husband around 5:30, and had to wait for about an hour for a table (the place didn’t take reservations, despite Brad’s valiant attempt to play the pregnancy card in the hopes that they’d be so afraid of me going into labor that they’d seat us immediately. No such luck.). It was a fun wait, though. Everyone got drinks & Brad let me sip the different beers he sampled. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’m only going to have a few…just in case we have to go to the hospital tonight.” Hee.
We had an awesome and leisurely dinner. I ordered a grilled chicken sandwich on a baguette with fresh mozzarella and a side of the Belgian frites that totally ruined me for any other kind of french fry on the face of this earth. I was enjoying my food and our conversations so much, in fact, that it took me a few minutes to realize that I was having (and ignoring) some pretty strong contractions. Pssh – whatever. I wasn’t about to start caring about them now, when it was almost certain they’d ebb away into nothing. I settled deeper into my seat and ordered dessert.
Halfway into dessert, I was officially uncomfortable. I could definitely still talk through the contractions, but they were impossible to ignore. I became confident enough to announce to the table that hey, I’m having contractions. Brad immediately got nervous, and FoST got excited – and shit, it was hard to try to stay level-headed myself, since these were the strongest ones I’d ever had, and with the fun, grown-up dinner and all – it just seemed like a big send-off into the world of parenthood. I got up to use the bathroom while they rest of the table asked for the check. I felt more comfortable once I stood up, but the contractions continued as I waited in line for the ladies’ room (the woman in there ahead of me took SO FREAKING LONG I was convinced she was delivering a baby of her own in there), and chatted with a man about how he was expecting his first in another month. I especially enjoyed the look on his face when he asked when I was due and I replied with “Last Friday.”
Once I returned to the table, Brad told me that FoST and her husband had insisted on treating us to dinner since they knew our nights out with just the four of us were limited – a gesture that made it feel even more like This Was The Night, although I was still trying to stay low-key about it. I drove us home, sitting on a plastic trash bag covered with a beach towel – something that made me feel about as dignified as an incontinent elderly beagle, but hey – it’s a new car, yo!
We stopped for gas after noticing our tank was just about empty (although being in labor with no gas in the car = my last chance at a sitcom-esque birth since my water hadn’t broken at the restaurant). FoST and spouse hung out with us for a while at our house while we began to time my contractions. They didn’t feel like they were getting significantly stronger, but they stayed steady at 5-7 minutes apart. I still remained about 60% skeptical.
Once FoST & HoFoST took off, I decided to call my contractions’ bluff, and I put on my pajamas and settled in on the couch to watch The Dog Whisperer. “What do you want to do tomorrow?” I asked Brad, trying to downplay the fact that – no matter how hard I tried – I couldn’t make myself believe that I’d be making another Saturday morning breakfast the next day. “I don’t know,” he said. (He would later admit that he, too, couldn’t imagine for a minute that this wasn’t The Big Show.)
After we’d been timing regular contractions for two hours, we decided to page the midwife on call. I spoke to one of the newer midwives I’d never even met before, and she told me that yes, it sounded very much like early labor, but there was no reason to come in yet. Just keep tabs on the contractions, she said, and call back if your water breaks or things progress otherwise. I thanked her and hung up, then sat on the couch while Brad stood in front of me, waiting to hear what she’d said. I got about two sentences in when…
My water broke. Not in the massive Niagara Falls gush of liquid, but enough to make me absolutely certain that this was not your average pregnancy-related, uh, wet stuff. It wasn’t so much that the couch was made a martyr, but it definitely spurred me to jump up and make a beeline for the bathroom while Brad called the midwife, his voice trembling from the sudden onset of Nervous Excitement Shakes.
The midwife said that if I was certain my water had broken (and after spending a few minutes in the bathroom, I WAS), I could either relax at home while the contractions progressed, or come to the hospital, get registered, and relax there. We were FAR too anxious to get this baby show on the road to wait any more at home, so it was TO THE HOSPITAL! for us – right after a shower, some last minute packing, a few phone calls, a blog post, and a lot of love heaped on the cat, who was most definitely aware that somehow, somewhere, the shit was hitting the fan.
The ride to the hospital was a quiet one, with the air in the car entirely thick with nerves. Brad’s nerves, to be exact. I expected my water breaking to send me straight into a panic, but instead it flipped me into total cool-calm-and-collected mode, and I tried my best to transfer my energy to Brad. We listened to a random radio station and I tried to make jokes, but we mostly just sat there, totally absorbed in our own thoughts. “The next time I ride in the this car/drive down this road/pass this building, I’ll have a baby,” I thought. We passed my office building and I said aloud, “Smell ya’ later!” because labor apparently brings out my inner 10-year-old.
We arrived at the hospital around 2am. The main entrance was closed so we had to enter through the emergency room. It suddenly hit me that having a baby was pretty much the only time a 2am visit to the hospital is a good thing, and I felt immediately sorry for the couple sitting in the emergency room lobby, watching a show on bass fishing. “You in labor?” said the security guard when we walked in. I nodded, and he held out a sticker that said “VISITOR.” I reached to take it, and he said, “Not for you, for him. It’s obvious why you’re here.” I guess it was. Heh.
A nurse escorted us up to the labor & delivery floor. The hospital looked so different than it had when I’d come for my appointments over the past 8 months. No hustle & bustle, no music from the baby grand player piano in the lobby (always a weird feature, I thought). We went through registration quickly and were shown to a triage room, where I was instructed to get naked, put on some SEX-AY mesh panties and a hospital gown, and sit tight for the nurse to come in and hook me up to the monitors. As I undressed in the bathroom I shared with the triage room next door, I heard the woman in the adjoining room moaning. I hoped that we’d get into our labor & delivery suite as quickly as possible. Hearing other people made me nervous.
A young nurse came in about 20 minutes later and got me hooked up to the contraction and fetal heart rate monitor. She tried to find my profile in the computer, but said that the front desk must not have entered me yet, because she couldn’t find my name anywhere in the system. I thought that was kind of weird, since we hadn’t seen another living soul (except The Moaner in the next room and the gaggle of nurses standing around the nurses’ station), and the registration desk didn’t seem to be busy at all. The nurse went back and forth from our triage room and the registration desk three times trying to get them to enter me into the system, but no luck. I’m still not entirely sure if they just weren’t entering me, or if there was a problem with the computer. Either way, it wasn’t making me feel very confident at all.
After waiting for about 45 more minutes, another nurse came in, and MY WORD was she a delight! She came banging into the room as loudly as she could (keep in mind it was now after 3am), and when she approached me to take my blood pressure, SHE BELCHED IN MY FACE. AND IT SMELLED LIKE GARLIC.
I’m just going to give you a minute to process that.
Seriously, what the FUCK is that about? Thankfully my contractions had leveled out around “painful but not awful” and not “OMFG kill me now,” because otherwise I’m sure I would have vomited all over this miserable woman, and for good reason. I mean, who belches in someone’s face? Honestly.
OK, moving on.
Nurse Charming – in her brashest outdoor voice – proceeded to ask me all the same questions they had asked me in registration, since finding my profile in the computer was apparently a lost cause at this point. Every time she left the room to get another form, she’d slam the door behind her. For the first time, I started to feel really unsure about picking this hospital to give birth in. I felt scared and small. If these were the kind of people who were going to be around me during this process, I really didn’t feel confident that I could do it without becoming an emotional mess. And I really didn’t want that to happen.
Eventually, the midwife on call came in to meet with us. At this point – around 4am – we’d been in the extremely bright, tiny, and uncomfortable triage room for about 90 minutes, and were starting to get anxious to be moved into an L&D suite so we could rest a bit. The midwife examined me while I watched Miley Cyrus singing on a re-run of the Tonight Show on the TV mounted on the wall – one of the more surreal moments of my life.
And by surreal, I mean “kind of gross.”
I had been steadily leaking amniotic fluid since we arrived, and the midwife confirmed that there was definitely a wealth of fluid. But when Nurse Congeniality handed her the pH strip with which to test the fluid, the midwife paused. “Huh,” she said. “This didn’t turn bright blue like it should have. There’s a possibility your water didn’t break.”
Cue the tightness in the back of my throat and the crocodile tears in the corners of my eyes.
“But I know it did,” I said, and Brad backed me up as my only witness. The midwife asked a bunch of questions about why I was so certain, and agreed that yes, it certainly did sound like my water had broken, but there was only one way to be sure – to take a sample and look at it under the microscope.
Fantastic! I was hoping it would be something time-consuming that would keep me penned in this fucking triage room for the rest of my natural life!
Brad called my parents to tell them not to start their 4-hour drive to Pittsburgh yet, because there was a chance I was getting sent home. “But I just know my water broke,” I kept saying, mostly to myself.
Roughly 873 light years later, the midwife came back into the room. “Yep, your water broke. Must’ve been a bad pH strip. I’ll put in the orders to have you moved to a labor & delivery suite so you can rest.”
Music to our fucking ears.
Nurse AngelWhispers came slamming into the room once more, this time to ham-handedly insert my IV port for potential future use (and I STILL have a very painful set of bruises from where she did this, because she sucks). She barked a few more questions at me and left the room.
Then some time passed. And some more time. Soon it was nearly 5-fucking-30, and we’d been in triage for three hours. Nurse Sweetness-and-Light came in, and Brad asked if we were going to get moved to our L&D suite soon, as the midwife had promised.
“It’s a very, very busy night here, and you’re not progressing. If I give you a room and then some woman comes in here 8 centimeters dilated, then what?”
Brad told her that the midwife said we would be moved to a room quickly, which – by the way – was the entire reason we decided to come to the hospital so freaking early: so we could get to our room and REST before things really started to happen. Nurse Awesome snapped that maybe we should just go home, then – to which we replied that the midwife had just said (IN HER PRESENCE, no less) that now that it was confirmed that my water had broken, I had to stay. Adding to our argument for a room, Brad said that once we got into a room, we could walk around to help my labor progress, which prompted Nurse Sunshine to say, “You can’t go walking around in labor!”
(Yes, you totally can. And should.)
Brad, in the first of many awesome moves he made on my behalf during this experience, told Nurse Happiness he wanted to speak to someone else. She left in a huff. And slammed the door, because OF COURSE she did.
Not two minutes later, the midwife came in. “I”m so sorry,” she said. “We’ll get you into your room right away.” Another very nice nurse came in and detached me from the monitors so we could move. At the crack of 6am – after spending nearly 4 hours in that godforsaken triage room – we finally got into the labor suite. Oh, and as for Nurse Chuckles’ claim that they were “very, very busy?” WE PASSED THREE TOTALLY EMPTY LABOR SUITES ON THE WAY TO OUR ROOM.
Suck it, Ratched.
End Part 1. Stay tuned for Part 2, in which the nurses get way better, I get to eat breakfast, and a baby shoots out the ol’ brewster!
Entry filed under: Thanksgiving.