We all know that I didn't get a chance to go in to labor naturally. We were scheduled to go in to the hospital on 2/19 at 6 pm, so to the hospital we went. We were taking to a labor and delivery room, where I was instructed to get undressed and get settled into the (extremely uncomfortable) L&D bed. At around 7 or 7:30, my OB came and inserted the Cervidil. They refer to it as a "balloon", but it's really just a long, wide string with a slightly wider bit at the end, where I assume the medicine resides. They hooked me up to the contraction and heart rate monitors, as well as a blood pressure cuff, and told me to get some rest/sleep. Yeah, right.
I don't remember exactly when the contractions started, but it wasn't too long after. They were never regular, even as the morning approached. I'd have one per minute for 15 minutes, and then none for 45 minutes. Between the contractions, the monitors, the horribly, horribly uncomfortable bed, I didn't get a single wink of sleep. I spent the next 12 hours flipping channels on the TV and trying to zone out and ignore all of the discomfort I was in. JP, however, was able to fall sound asleep on the couch. He was sour at me, later, for letting him sleep while I sat there awake all night. But, honestly, one of us may as well have gotten some rest!
The nurse came in and checked on me fairly regularly. In fact, I'm going to pause the story here for a second and compliment every single medical professional that I dealt with over the course of my stay. They were all AMAZING and wonderful. From the nurses to the CNAs to the doctors and anesthesiologists. Every single one of them was outstanding.
They had asked me, early on, if I wanted to go ahead and plan on having an epidural in the morning. At that point, I was still laboring under the delusion that I might be able to tolerate all of the discomfort without drugs. I at least wanted to see what it was going to feel like before I decided. By 7 am, they had started the Pitocin, and I was ready to be numb from the waist down. I went ahead asked for the epidural. The anesthesiologist was busy with a schedule cesarean at 7 am, but would be by afterward. At around 8:30, he was there. He was amazing. He was very gentle, and explained every little thing that he was doing. Despite everyone claiming that the local anesthetic was the worst part, I barely felt it. The worst part for me was trying to hold the position, bent over to open up the spinal column, but I think that's just because I'm rather short, and I HATED THAT BED. The relief was almost instantaneous. If you has asked me at that moment, I would have proclaimed an epidural as the best invention ever.
Very shortly afterward, the OB was back again and broke my water. After all that time, I had only dilated to 2.5 cm. All of that fluid escaping me while being numb from the epidural was a rather bizarre feeling. At this point my OB also noticed that there was some meconium in the fluid. By itself, not something to be terribly concerned about, I was told.
Over the next 3 hours or so, I napped a little, I visited with my mother-in-law a little, I talked on the phone to my mother, who was en-route, I watched some more TV, and tried to relax. Then my baby's heart rate started to elevate. They put me in various different positions to see if that would calm her down. Left side, right side, sitting up, they also tried putting me on oxygen. Nothing seemed to help. I overheard a serious-sounding phone call with the OB on-call and my nurse.
By Noon-ish, the on-call OB was there, proclaiming that it was time to get the baby out. Between her elevated heart rate and the meconium in the fluid, it was better to be safe that sorry. Everything happened so fast at this point. I had started to be very scared by the time they were putting the oxygen mask on my face, by this point I was completely terrified, not for myself, but for my little girl. My mother had not yet arrived, even though she was very close. By 12:05 or so, I was in the operating room, having my epidural re-dosed, being reassured by the on-call OB, my OB, and waiting for JP to be instructed by the on-call pediatrician and putting on scrubs. I have never been so terrified in my entire life. I relaxed a little once JP was seated by my head. His presence made all the difference in the world.
I felt a lot of pressure, a lot of tugging, but no pain. At 12:21 pm, on 2/20, my daughter entered the world. very shortly after that moment, I heard her cry for the first time. I burst in to tears. It was the sweetest sound I have ever heard. She weighed 5 pounds, 2 ounces, was 19 inches long, and absolutely perfect and healthy. After they checked her and wiped her off, they brought her over to me so I could see her and give her a kiss. So beautiful. I then had an hour's worth of being closed up, so JP went out with Betty Jean, and I promptly fell to sleep, confidant that everything was finally going to be ok.
I woke as they were wheeling me in to the recovery room. My mom had arrived just in time to see Betty being wheeled out of the operating room and in to the nursery. JP, my mom, my mother-in-law, and my baby girl were all waiting for me in the recovery room. She was immediately handed to me for skin-to-skin and to try to nurse, which she did almost immediately (if only the rest of our breastfeeding experiences had been that easy!).
We had one (kind of) scare that evening, as her blood sugar came back kind of low, so they gave her a little bit of formula via a syringe. Otherwise, she seemed like she was going to be a champion nurser, even though it was pretty painful for me from the start, as she did as much chewing as she did suckling, even from the first go. I let the nurses have her for a few stretches during the overnight hours, so JP and I could get some sleep without the first-time-parent stressing over whether or not she was ok. I figured I may as well take advantage of that while I could.
After 2 more days of a few visitors, lots of phone calls, and some FaceTime with a couple of family members, we finally got to head home on Friday (2/22) evening around 7 pm. Her weight had dropped to 4 lbs, 14 ounces, which was normal. At that point began what was probably the toughest week of my life, but that is best left for another post.
I almost look as terrified as I felt.
On her way to see Mommy for the first time.
The very best moment of my life.
Words cannot express how much I love this picture. The grandmas getting their first glimpse of Betty Jean. You can tell that their breath was just taken away.
She had been crying until Daddy reached in. She grabbed his finger and stopped crying instantly. I wish I had been able to see this in person.
My other favorite picture. Best Daddy in the world.