October 24, 1999 was my due date with my first child, Trout. I was miserable. I was truly huge, and I begged my midwives to induce me at my checkup on the 25th. They assured me that the baby was only about 7 lbs, and that they usually want to wait until 2 weeks after the due date. I freaked. I was certain that the child was enormous, and I wanted her out. I lobbied, I cried; they induced.
On October 28 we went into the hospital at around 5 am. We were admitted, paperwork and bloodwork done, and I got settled in. I really wanted to have a drug-free, natural labor, but my husband had an enormous head when he was born and I am only 4'10" tall, so I always had in the back of my mind that a c-section might be necessary. However, my mother took a while but had both my sister and me drug free, so I figured with determination I could do it.
Because I have a heart condition, and because I was already dilated to 1 cm and was 100% effaced, I didn't need anything to soften my cervix, but they couldn't just crank up pitocin initially, so they gave me some kind of pill to start labor. I got that at about 7 am, and responded well - I started contracting well right away, they were good contractions, but I was able to handle them with the tools the midwives and doing prenatal yoga had provided me. I progressed well, and by noon I was at 4 cm.
At that point, the midwives told me that I had originally been scheduled for another dose of whatever it was, but since I was doing well, they wanted to break my water instead. If I knew then what I know now I would have suggested I walk around and try to keep going on my own, but I was naive and didn't know as much as I thought I did, so I said yes, and the midwives broke my water.
Immediately the contractions were horrid. The midwives suggested I either walk or sit in the chair to labor, but I tried to walk across the floor to go to the bathroom and just couldn't. I sat in the chair, but quickly moved back to the bed. I began throwing up with every contraction. It was just awful. This went on for about an hour, when the midwife suggested I might want to try an epidural. I refused - I wanted to do it on my own. They checked me and I hadn't made any progress at all, so they strongly lobbied more for the epidural, suggesting that I might be able to relax if I wasn't vomiting and that might help me progress. Finally, I gave in.
I got the epidural, which took 2 tries to find a good spot, and after that I felt fine. I could feel pressure, sorta, but no pain, and I stopped vomiting. The rest of the day was a bit of a blur - my father, sister, grandparents, in-laws, and friends came in and out all day, and we just played a waiting game. I tried to sleep but just couldn't - I was too anxious. They checked me every hour or so, and every hour I was 4 cm. About 1 hour after I got the epidural they had started the pitocin, and cranked it up gradually all day.
Eventually, at about 9 pm or so, the midwife brought the OB in to take a look at me. He checked me, then came and took my hand, and said "I'm sorry, but this baby just isn't going to come out this way." I was prepped for surgery, and I was terrified. I'd never had surgery before. I had been determined to do it on my own, but apparently by body wasn't aware of that fact; I never progressed beyond the 4 cm I was when they broke my water.
I was taken to the OR relatively quickly - I'm not sure why, as I was not aware of it being an emergency, but maybe it was. The midwife stayed right up by my side, right by my head, and I was grateful for her support, even though it hadn't been the way I'd planned. DH watched the surgery the whole time. It was amusing; my OB is a very short man, and he had a little ramp he stands on so the nurses and the PA didn't have to stoop down to where he was comfortable. The drape was up in front of my face, but at one point a wad of gauze came flying over as the doctor tossed it to the anesthesiologist, who tied it to the IV pole - turned out it was a string of gauze holding all the clamps together to pull me open.
They were in fast, and she was out fast. The first thing my doctor said was "It's a big one!" and the PA said "Cord around the neck - twice." Guess it WAS an emergency. She wasn't making any sounds, so I was freaking a bit, but then she started to scream. I thought her cries sounded not quite right, but it ended up being fine. The best thing was that since the midwife was there and there were some extra hands around, one of the nurses took pictures of the whole thing - incisions and all. I am so grateful to have those, even if I really can't show them to many people.
Once I was open they had a little trouble getting her out - she was stuck, and a couple of nurses had to push on the top of the baby to get her out. Unfortunately, because I am so short and she was so big, they ended up giving me a chest compression in the process; I could have lived my whole life without that experience - I remember yelping and the doctors freaking, worried that the epidural had worn off, but it was just the pushing on my chest that hurt.
They wrapped the baby up and sewed me up - fast. At one point, they tilted the table to put my feet up in the air. I didn't know why; since it was my first I thought that was standard procedure. I was stitched/stapled up in probably 20 minutes, Trout was laid between my legs, and we were wheeled into recovery.
Recovery was busy. I had four nurses and the anesthesiologist was running around like crazy - giving me lots of IV fluids; it was my first baby, and I didn't know that wasn't normal. I wanted to sit up - they kept yelling at me that I couldn't. They let friends and family come in to see us - there was probably 10 people in there to visit alone, plus DH and the doctor and nurses. I had been through about 2 BP checks when it dawned on me that it seemed like I was getting my bp taken an awful lot. The next time it ran (every 5 minutes), I glanced up at the monitor to see my bp reading was about 50-something over 30, and I thought, "Oh, that's not good." Yep, my feet were up in the air and I was out of surgery so fast because my bp crashed. Oddly enough, I never lost consciousness, or even got drowsy. At one point, I had 3 IV bags going into me at once. I was talking to my father about it a couple of months later and mentioned that I had noticed what my bp was, and he said "Oh, you should have seen it when you came out - it was 30 over nothing." Yeah, I could have done without that knowledge, too.
After a while the nurses and DH took the baby to the nursery to be weighed and measured and all cleaned up. My supposed 7 lb. baby that the midwives hadn't wanted to induce was 8lbs. 9oz., 20 1/2 inches long, and had a whopping 14.5 inch head, just a half an inch smaller than her father's was. When the midwives broke my water, her head came slamming down on top of my cervix. Her head was wedged there, and that's why I never progressed - she even had a red welt on top of her head where she was jammed up. But she was beautiful, chubby and pink, with dark black fuzzy hair and the longest eyelashes you've ever seen (seriously, this girl will NEVER need mascara). She looked just like her dad, right down to her "monkey toes" which are long and thin and could be used to write with (when BigDaddyFish wants to annoy me, he pinches me with the damn things).
I stayed in recovery for about 3 hours, I think. My wonderful friend stayed with me while DH and everyone else went the way of the nursery. Since Trout was born at 9:44 pm, the crowd thinned out fast as everyone went home to sleep - we were all exhausted from the all-day ordeal. I was finally moved to my room about 3 am, and the baby was brought to me to nurse. She did great from the start, although I was disconcerted when the nurse just started grabbing at my breasts to adjust the baby (please, please if you are a lactation consultant or a postpartum nurse - please respect your patients to ask or at least warn them before manhandling them, okay?). I sent her to the nursery for the night; DH was exhausted and my hospital doesn't have private rooms, so I sent him home, and my friend followed at about 4 am.
I took a percoset that night to help with pain, and the nurse brought the baby to me to feed her in the wee hours. Every time I fell asleep, though, I would jerk awake a few minutes later feeling like I couldn't breathe. That makes for a long night. The next morning the new nurse came in and told me to cough. WHA? My insides have just been eviscerated - you want me to cough? But she told me that the morphine they put in my iv after the surgery can depress my respirations, making it tough to clear fluid out of the lungs. I said, "Oh, I thought it was the percoset" and she said that can have the same effect. No wonder I was jerking awake all night.
After that, I never took anything else stronger than tylenol. I tend to react more strongly to most medications than others who are the same weight, for whatever reason, so for me it just wasn't worth the side effects of taking the drugs. I did fine, though, on the tylenol - I am, if nothing else, determined (although there are those who would call it stubborn).
The next day, DH came to visit, and I had the baby laying on the bed between my legs as I sat up. The baby indicated she was poopy, so the nurse who was standing next to me threw a diaper to DH and said "you're up." He looked at her like she was nuts - he'd never changed a baby before. He did it, though - it took about 17 wipes and 2 diapers, I think, but he did it.
He's much better at it now. But thanks to that nurse, he's been good about changing diapers, though he will lobby to get out of poopy ones (but really, who can blame him? I do it too).
He stayed a few hours, but then said he wasn't feeling well and went home. Turned out, he got the flu. So Trout and I were kept in the hospital until Monday (she was born on Thursday) to give him an extra day to get healthy - I didn't see him again until Monday when he came to take us home.
I remember driving home so well - it was a bright sunny, autumn day, and there is a row of trees down the street from us that turn positively gold in the fall. These trees were golden, brilliant yellow, and the sun was shining through them and glinting off their faces. Every year when these trees turn I think back to the day we came home with Trout. I was in a pain-induced state, and every bump and jump of our Cherokee seemed like an earthquake, but I had been tired of the hospital and I wanted sleep. I was so happy to be home. She slept through the night from day one (yes, I'm well aware of how rare that is); she always liked her sleep, so much so that I had to wake her up to eat when she was super little - that first night we jumped up about 5 am freaked to all hell that something had happened, because we knew babies didn't sleep through the night, but she was fine. I used to wake her up to feed her, but then the pediatrician found out I was doing that and told me I was crazy, to take it for the gift it was, just wake her every 3 hours during the day but let her sleep at night. They didn't have to tell me twice.
Now, she is getting so grown up. It is so cliche, but it really does seem like yesterday that she was born and was so tiny in my arms, and now she's my oldest, helping out with her brother and sister, reading to them, reading to me, doing math word problems in her head, writing stories, doing ballet, creating suspensions of oil and water in science club, inventing all kinds of adventures in her head. She is growing into such a wonderful, creative young girl, doing an admirable job of both surviving her parents and challenging them. She has taught us so much. And she still enjoys her sleep.
I thank God every day for her. Happy Birthday, Trout. No matter how much you grow, you will always be my baby girl.