October 15th, 2009
One year ago today was the most wonderful — and most challenging — day of my life. I spent virtually all of it in hard labor, but the result was the arrival of my perfect daughter. I don’t know that I ever blogged her “birth story,” so here it is. Mostly. Amazing how fast mommy amnesia comes in to start wiping away your memories of childbirth…
In any case, I had a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, October 14th at which I learned that I wasn’t dilated at all but that she expected an on-time delivery on the 17th. Several hours later, I went into labor. I spent the afternoon lounging around, hanging out with my best friend. I could feel periodic small contractions, but nothing to get too worked up about. As the day wore on, they got stronger and Josh and I timed several but they were still quite far apart.
By 1am, things were speeding up and we called the doctor. At 3, contractions were four minutes apart and lasting for a minute, so I got a quick shower and we headed for the hospital…
…where we learned that I was only dilated two centimeters. At that point, I had my first (but not last) mini-breakdown of the day. I was absolutely terrified that they would send me home. And then what would I do? I was in intense pain during each contraction and could not fathom going home when I felt like that.
Mercifully, my blood pressure was up. (Who knew I’d be excited about that?). So they let me stay.
Hours passed and I dilated one more centimeter. Big woop. I had been gearing up for a natural delivery – no meds. But after many hours of hard labor and very little progress, I was running out of steam. I’ve heard contractions described as waves — that they’re manageable because you only have to deal with each one as it comes, then you get a break before the next one hits. That was not my experience. It hurt all the time, constantly. My back was killing me and I never felt like I got even a second’s rest between “waves.” I was afraid that I wouldn’t have anything left in the tank when it came time to push.
So I took drugs.
First, just a low level pain killer to help me relax a bit. It didn’t help much. So at 6pm, nearly 17 hours into active labor, I got the blessed epidural. (I was still only 3 centimeters dilated.) Epidurals are heavenly, I tell you. Absolutely magic. I went totally and happily numb. Well, not totally. There was this one funny spot that they had a hard time reaching with the meds for some reason. I have no idea why, but there was a patch of pain over my left hip for a while. They had me rotate around a bit to distribute the meds and that helped.
They had planned to break my water for me, and my doctor was advancing upon the bed with a giant crochet hook in his hand (seriously, that’s what it looked like). And just like that, my water broke on its own. My body basically said: “Ain’t no way you’re touching me with that thing.”
Then I slept. Which was also heavenly. I woke up a couple hours later, feeling a bit of discomfort. The doc came in to adjust the epidural, only to take a peak “down below” and exclaim — “Wow! You’re fully dilated…and I see hair!” Thirty minutes later, Eliah Jean arrived.
It was a very funny moment, because she came out quite fast. I only pushed a couple times, and I swear to you (although maybe that’s a drug-altered memory) that the doctor’s darn near didn’t catch her. My memory of the moment is of pushing hard and seeing both doctors’ eyes widen as they lunged forward to welcome my girl into the world.
My birth experience wasn’t at all what I had envisioned, expected, or — to be honest — wanted. But looking back, it’s hard to remember why I was so worked up about “how” the birth happened. My daughter was born. What else matters?
Happy Birthday, darling. I love you.