So remember in my last post how the doctor said that I had a good ten days before Elska made her debut?
Turns out she was WAY off.
December 22 started out like every other day. Woke up, made hot chocolate, ate cereal. Went to work for a few hours. Ate lunch after my shift. It was then that things began to change.
I worked a five hour shift at Liberty Market and had some mild cramping and back pain all day, but with no contractions- something I attributed simply to pre-labor pains. There was nothing excruciating about it and I was able to work through it without any interruptions. A friend of mine warned me that she felt something very similar to that when she was pregnant, and it turned out that she was in the beginning stages of back labor. To which I replied, "Yeah, but this isn't so bad, and anyway my doctor said I have ten days or more, so there's just no way I'm starting labor. This is just pre-labor." Her response: "Uh huh."
After my shift ended at 2:30, I sat at the pizza bar and began eating a salad, when suddenly I felt the beginning of a contraction- no big deal, I had been having those for a couple weeks now- but this one began with pretty gnarly pain in my back that moved around to my front. "WOO!" I said. "This is different." A couple of guys that were working there stopped what they were doing and asked me if I was OK. I told them, "Sure, yeah, I'm fine………… Uhhh….. Hmm." About ten minutes later, it happened again. And again a little less than ten minutes later.
"Welp… gotta go," I said as I abruptly exited the building to head home. I called my husband and told him that I wasn't really sure what was going on, but that I was having painful contractions, and gee, this is new, we should probably call the doctor when I get home to find out what is going on. I hated the idea of being that first-time mom who thinks that any pain means I'm going into labor, but when I had four more contractions on my fifteen minute drive home, I knew there was some major shifting going on in my body.
Before I continue, let me just say for the record that we were so completely unprepared for our child to arrive that particular day and FOR THIS I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY. All I've been hearing this whole time is that I'm so neurotic and my hormones are making me more ridiculous than usual about getting things done and there's no rush, we still have time and BLAH BLAH BLAH. To that I say, I TOLD YOU SO. Nobody listens to the crazy pregnant lady until the contractions start coming three weeks early and crap! We aren't packed for the hospital! And who is staying with the dogs! Do we have a pediatrician! And is the dresser done yet because the baby's clothes were never washed because we have nowhere to put them! And why of all days does the house look like a tornado went through it and I AM IN NO SHAPE TO CLEAN ANYTHING RIGHT NOW!
"Oh, you're probably just dehydrated," said the nurse over the phone. "Drink some water, and if it doesn't calm down in a half hour, head in to the hospital and they'll check you out." Two hours of excruciating contractions and one long, hot shower later, we managed to pack our bag, throw our poor dogs in their cages and head to the hospital in the pouring rain. We checked in and were sent to triage, where I was hooked up to all sorts of fun monitors and my dilation progress was checked. I was at a whopping 2 cm. Further along than the day before at my checkup, but what I was really thinking was ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?! An hour later I had progressed to 3.5 cm, but the doctor still seemed to think that I was just dehydrated and needed to walk around the hospital floor for an hour, freezing my butt off and sucking down ice-cold water in order to hydrate my suddenly temperamental uterus. After several knock-me-to-the-floor contractions and one promise to my sweet, patient husband that I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN, I learned the sad news that I had in fact made no progress over that fun hour and they were sending me home. With an Ambien (prescription sleeping pill) and a pain pill, only one of which worked, and to narrow things down for you it was NOT the pain pill. It was 10:00 p.m.
Before we even got home I was completely knocked out. The best part was that I was dead asleep for about three minutes at a time, since I would wake up with every contraction and those came along about every four minutes. Yep. Awesome. I vaguely remember my other half getting into bed, turning out the light, and not long after that waking up to a contraction accompanied by my water breaking, i.e. a giant gush coming out of my pants and running down my leg. YES, THIS IS CLEARLY A DEHYDRATION ISSUE. Good Lord. Like I said, no one listens to the crazy pregnant lady.
So around 11:00, we went back to the hospital. I marched my half-asleep butt in there and said, "Epidural. NOW." But much to my chagrin, it was a rainy night, and apparently when the barometric pressure drops, everyone who could possibly go into labor does exactly that. At this point I was dilated to a five, still half asleep through the whole thing with no relief from the back labor I was having. An hour later, I was at a seven, and an hour after that I was at an eight. The nurse, Holly, was doing everything she could to get an anethesiologist in the room but had no luck whatsoever. By the time he showed up, I was at a nine (out of 10, mind you), and all he could give me was a spinal block. Which, honestly, didn't do anything to help the situation other than numb my legs and slow down my contractions, after which I promptly passed out cold and all the nurses left the room. Shortly before 3:00 a.m., I woke up thinking I was peeing all over the nurse. I immediately began apologizing profusely (and I also apologized afterward) but fortunately and unbeknownst to me there was a catheter involved. All I can tell you is that there is nothing dignifying about childbirth.
Pushing commenced in one form or another. I was told not to push and no matter how hard I tried not to push my body was simply doing whatever it wanted- mainly pushing. Finally the doctor arrived and I got the green light to start pushing and what a bizarre process. I kept getting told to push as if I was making a bowel movement (I would consider this the Mother of All Bowel Movements), so I would try that and I just wasn't sure I was doing it right because NOTHING was happening. I had a whole cheering squad of nurses in there telling me I was doing great and making progress but I couldn't feel any progress at all, but I could definitely feel everything since the pain meds had long since worn off. I saw the doctor sitting there with a syringe and had no idea what she was doing and I didn't really care. Turns out she had to make a little more room for baby to come out and boy was she smart not to tell me. I would have FREAKED OUT, and I already couldn't control my breathing and consequently was donning a super sexy oxygen mask (giving my dear friend Jessica from Session Nine a whole lot to work with for our birth pictures, I'm sure).
Looking back, everything happened so incredibly fast. At 3:50 a.m., on Wednesday, December 23, 2009- Cody's 30th birthday- our daughter Linnea Joelle was born. She weighed six pounds even, was 19 inches long, and was simply the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life. She has her dad's eyelashes and a full head of blonde hair and my long fingers and skis for feet. I had no idea how much she would change everything in my world- not just my priorities, but everything- from how I view my relationships, to how I spend my time, to valuing what is truly important and making life count.
I had grand visions of the perfect birth- it would be Cody and me, in the zone, focused on each other, fully present and in the moment. It was nothing like that at all. But when all is said and done, none of that matters. I have a healthy, precious little angel that I get to hold in my arms, to love and raise up with my husband, a whole new adventure we can share together. Labor was hard, but it could have been worse. And who knows, maybe we will do this again. After all, when you look at her little face, it's easy to understand why moms forget the aches and pains of pregnancy and childbirth and want to do it all over again.