Two months later, I’m finally ready to put Lucy’s birth story in writing. Given all that we had going on in our lives going into the birth, it was such a relief that the moment we had been waiting for had finally arrived. Actually, it turned out to be the 36 hours that we had been waiting for had finally arrived, but that doesn’t have the same poetic ring to it! That’s right, ladies and gents, Lucy took her time in getting here, but she was so perfect when she arrived, that it was well worth the wait.
I woke up very early the morning of Friday, March 11th with what felt like dull cramps that came and went from time to time. I laid in bed for about two hours, wondering if I was in the beginning stages of labor. When my husband woke up, I told him I thought my labor was starting, and we spent a while trying to decide whether he should go to work or not. We had done our homework, and knew that labor, especially a woman’s first labor, can take a long time, and since I wasn’t even sure if I was in labor, I didn’t want him hanging around all day if it was just a false alarm.
I tried my best to rest throughout the day, but as the moments of wonder turned to hours of increasingly more pain, I felt that this was the day I was finally going to have my child in my arms (good thing I didn’t know at the time that I wouldn’t hold her until the next night).
Now, being the middle of March, March Madness was gearing up, and as it turned out, my alma mater was playing in a game that night that would decide whether or not they would make it into the tournament. I was supposed to watch the game that night with a bunch of my college friends, so I emailed them mid-day saying I wasn’t sure if I was in labor or not, but that I was still planning on going to the game. As the game time neared, I was fairly certain that I was in labor, but I had been inside all day and wanted to do something that would help to pass the time, so off I went to the bar—at 9 months pregnant and definitely in labor!
When I got to the bar, I immediately realized this was the worst-idea-ever! I was huge, trying to navigate my way through a crowded bar, and to top it off, the labor pains began to get more intense and closer together. About 15 minutes after walking into the bar and before my friends even made it, my husband (who had met me at the bar after work) and I went home.
We were timing my contractions, which came really close together, but didn’t last that long. They were increasing in intensity, and we knew we were approaching the time when we would leave for the hospital. We called the doctor and they said to try to wait it out at home as long as could, and about two hours later, at 9pm, we started to make our way to the hospital. My water never broke, and I wasn’t screaming in pain or yelling at my husband like you see in the movies. I was in pain, but trying my best to breath through it until we arrived at the hospital.
When we got there, they checked us in and a doctor came to check to see how much I was dilated. When she checked, I was 3cm and definitely having strong contractions. They admitted me onto the labor and delivery floor and the pain continued to get worse and worse. I opted to have an epidural around 2am. For those of you questioning epidurals, IT WAS THE BEST THING EVER! Soon after they were done, the nurse told me I having a really strong contraction and I couldn’t feel a thing. I had heard a lot of horror stories about getting the epidural but it really wasn’t bad at all, and I am glad I got one since my labor went on all through the night and into the next evening. Perhaps the epidural slowed things down, but I am still glad I had one.
My labor was progressing on its own, just very slowly. Each time they checked me I was dilated a bit more, but things were taking forever. Finally, and seemingly out of no where, around 4pm, they told me it was time to push! I couldn’t believe it. They had been telling me now for almost 18 hours that it wasn’t time yet, so I just assumed it still wasn’t time. I remember this moment being sort of anticlimactic. Again, it was nothing like the movies! No screaming, no yelling (thank you epidural!).
And so, I pushed. And pushed. And pushed. For about an hour, I pushed, the whole time, just trying to get the baby to turn because at that point they could tell that she wasn’t positioned correctly for a vaginal delivery. By this time, I was nauseous and throwing up, my epidural was wearing off, I was in a lot of pain, and I was exhausted! The doctor told me that because the baby wasn’t turning, they felt they should do a c-section. I had really wanted to avoid having a c-section, but at this point, after almost 18 hours of active labor, I was ready to meet my baby!
I should say that during labor my blood sugar was handled really well. I had initially wanted to try to keep my pump on, which I did, but as my numbers rose due to my adrenaline pumping, I couldn’t control my numbers myself and the doctors put me on an insulin drip. Looking back, I wish I would have let them do this from the beginning. They managed it really well and I didn’t have to worry about it.
Getting ready for the c-section was a whirlwind. By now I was in severe pain since my epidural had worn off, and thank god they came to numb me up for the c-section. They wheeled me into the operating room (OR) and got started. I don’t remember hearing the doctors at all during the procedure (some people talk about hearing, “scalpal!”), but I do remember feeling a lot of pressure. I repeat, A LOT of pressure. It felt like they were rummaging around inside me and trying to get something out that seemed like it was really wedged in there! I found out later that they had to tug so hard because the cord was wrapped around the baby’s stomach so she was difficult to get out (which was also why they couldn’t turn her before).
Finally, after what seemed like ages, I remember hearing what sounded like cheers from the nurses, and a few seconds later, hearing a cry. I remember asking, “what is it?!?!?!” since we hadn’t found out if the baby was a boy or girl. Not realizing we hadn’t found out the gender, one of the doctors sarcastically said, “It’s a boy,” but then the nurses chimed in, “NO! It’s a girl!!!!” I was shocked because during my pregnancy, everyone had been convinced I was having a boy. I remember asking several times, “It’s a girl?!?” And, I must say, I was surprised by how thrilled and satisfied I was that I now had a daughter.
Now, you would think that after all that, the hard part was behind me. But may labor was nothing compared to the almost 4 brutal hours I had to wait from the time my baby was delivered until the time I finally got to see and hold her. The doctors held her up for me very quickly after she was delivered (I’m talking seconds), but then because of her heart issues, they quickly took her to a transitional nursery. For what seemed like hours, but was really only about 10-20 minutes, my husband and I kept asking if she was OK. And, no one knew. The not knowing was agonizing, and immensely worse than any of the pains of childbirth.
Finally, they said my husband could go to see Lucy while they finished closing me up. During this time, I had never felt more alone or scared in my life. Less importantly, but still memorably, I also was FREEZING and so thirsty that I almost couldn’t breath. I was told a lot of people get extremely cold and shaky in the OR as I was, but they weren’t sure why I was so thirsty. I had to beg them to bring in some water or ice chips or something because I really felt like I was choking (apparently they aren’t supposed to bring water into the OR). They finally brought in some gauze that was dipped in water for me to suck on which sounds gross, but was heavenly, and although my thirst was quenched, I still ached to know how my daughter was doing.
They began to wheel me back to recovery room, and I saw my husband in the hallway, grinning. He had been with Lucy in the nursery and told me that they were still monitoring her, but she seemed to be doing really well!! Her heart seemed to be OK and she didn't have any blood sugar issues, which can be common in children of Type I moms. I was so relieved, but still wanted to see her myself. Because of the c-section and the anesthesia, I wasn’t able to get up or walk to go see Lucy, so I had to wait. And wait. And wait. The nurse kept saying they would bring her to me, but they never did, so thankfully, my nurse finally took the bull by the horns and wheeled me in to the nursery.
And then the world stopped, and I got to hold my daughter. My perfect little Lucy Jane!
Will finish the rest of the hospital stay on my next post!