Here is both a very short and a very long version of Connor's birth story. The long version is for me, but I know that some people, like me, love detailed birth stories, so I'm sharing the play-by-play here (since apparently this blog has been nothing but birth stories for three years).
Last Tuesday, which was very fortunately Mark's day off, I had contractions off and on from about 6:30 in the morning to about 3:00 in the afternoon, when they really picked up while we were out running errands. Mark took the kids to his parents’ house around 4:20 when I was finally sure things were happening, and happening fast. We got to the hospital at 5:05 and Connor was born at 5:55. It was really fast and really intense, but he’s super cute.
Since I felt relatively good during this pregnancy, I wasn’t overly anxious for Baby to come early. Sure, I was uncomfortable—my heartburn was awful this time around, and for the past month or so the swelling in my extremities had been getting progressively worse. But I was sleeping at night, so I wasn’t going crazy. Some days I felt more ready to be done than others, but emotionally I wasn’t chomping at the bit, like I had been with Andrew (Mr. 6-days-overdue).
I woke up on Tuesday morning around 6:30, but couldn’t fall back to sleep because I was having contractions. This was unusual, because I never had contractions first thing in the morning. I went to the bathroom and noticed I had lost my mucus plug. I told that to Mark and we both started thinking about the idea that things were going to happen today. Still, you can lose your mucus plug days before delivering, so I tried not to put too much stock in it.
It was Mark’s day off (thank heavens!), so we took the morning easy. I decided against going to the gym in case today was the day, and I showered early and got ready. I urged Mark to shower and get ready, thinking things could pick up any time.
I was having irregular but strongish contractions. Nothing I couldn’t talk through, but they were more than what I had been having any other day. I timed them for a bit about mid-morning, but they were still 12–20 minutes apart—nothing to get excited about. Still, we got bags packed and told Mark’s parents (who were going to watch the kids) to be on the alert.
By 12:00 we were all going a little crazy. The kids were annoying each other, and Mark and I were both a little grumpy. (My excuse was that I was uncomfortable from contractions.) My contractions seemed to have subsided quite a bit, and I started thinking maybe today wasn’t the day. I felt frustrated because I felt like it was my fault that we’d wasted the morning, and I had no progression to show for it.
So at my urging, we decided to get out of the house. We went to Costco, where I had a few contractions that I couldn’t walk through. I just stopped and pretended to be very interested in the Dysons for a minute (I wouldn’t mind one of those, actually). Then we went to the grocery store where I had a few more contractions strong enough that I had to stop moving.
Still interested in killing time, Mark suggested we stop by the thrift store to pick up some scrubs for him. He’s had scrubs on loan for the last two babies, and the idea that he’d wear regular clothes for the delivery just seemed weird. So we headed to the thrift store to look through scrubs. They were $10—what a racket.We bought them anyway.
I had more contractions that were pretty strong in the store. I had to stop and put my head down until they passed. The hospital called while we were there to preregister me, which annoyed me because everything the guy asked me I had already answered in the online preregistration. Oh well; I made it through most of the conversation before I started contracting again, and all I had to say at the end was “Okay. Okay,” during the contraction.
It was at the point of leaving the thrift store that my contractions started getting really serious, because I had Mark pull the car over whenever I had one because the bumps were really uncomfortable. In hindsight I’m baffled that I didn’t realize this meant the show was starting, but I didn’t. I think I was just so annoyed at how the day had gone that I had concluded that there would be no baby today.
We got home at about 3:45 and I lay down in bed and started timing my contractions again. They were about 7 minutes apart and over a minute long and getting pretty uncomfortable. Still, I thought I had some time. I was hungry, but didn’t feel like eating, and I felt a little worried that I wouldn’t have enough energy once things finally kicked in (which I was anticipating would be some time much later that night). I told Mark to get the kids a snack and to hurry and wash those scrubs.
But by 4:15 I could tell this was happening, and it was happening fast. I suddenly knew that there was no time to finish snacks or wait for scrubs to dry. I told Mark to take the kids to his parents’ and come back to get me ASAP. I was full-on moaning during contractions now. Mark sped to his parents’ house (Maren: “Dad, you’re driving really fast!”). He was gone for only 20 or 25 minutes but it felt like an eternity, and I was feeling a little bit of panic because I felt the slightest urge to bear down. I was mostly terrified of the drive to the hospital, because I know that riding in the car while having contractions is basically torture to me, and they were pretty hard at this point.
Anyway, I knelt on the floor in the back seat (no way you are getting me to sit down once I’m in labor) and gripped the seat belts. Our car does not have very good shock absorption and it is really hard to get it to shift super smoothly. Because of my heightened sensitivity I felt like I was off-roading with someone who was just learning to drive a stick.
By now it was 4:50 and contractions were 75 seconds and about 3 minutes apart. I couldn’t believe how close together they were coming already, since just 45 minutes ago they were 7 minutes apart. Mark called the hospital and the midwife to let them know we were coming. The midwife couldn’t hear him because I was so loud in the back seat. “Is that her I hear in the background?” she asked. “Yes!” Mark yelled. “Okay, I’m coming right now!”
We pulled into the hospital at 5:05. There were about five nurses swarming me, telling me to get undressed and putting my IV in (for the antibiotic since I had Group B Strep) and putting on the monitors and trying to check me. I remember telling the nurse that she had about one minute to check me between contractions and then feeling SO annoyed that she didn’t even have her gloves on when I was ready for her. I was already at an 8.
The midwife showed up and we tried to figure out what was going to be the best position for me to deliver in. I had planned to labor in the tub but it was clear there wasn’t going to be any time for that, and the urge to bear down was creeping up on me. I was most comfortable standing, but I was standing on the bed and no one wanted me to deliver like that, so we tried hands and knees. That was good enough for me, but when I started needing to push the midwife wanted to make sure my cervix was completely gone and she couldn’t check in that position. They told me I had to roll over to be checked, and I did not like that idea at ALL. There was definitely a sense of urgency in the room, or at least I felt that there was.
While I consider myself to be a generally reasonable person who is open to compelling arguments—such as a the inadvisability of pushing before one’s cervix has completely opened—when I feel like I am being ripped open from the inside out (which is essentially what is happening), I get a little obstinate when people ask me to do even simple things, like roll over. I’m also pretty sure I yelled “shut up!” at least twice, mostly because I found it highly irritating to have people chatting like this was all in a day’s work while I was in agony. Sorry about that, everybody.
Anyway, eventually I managed to get to my side, and it turned out there was a lip of cervix left. Curse you, cervix! They told me not to push until the midwife could reduce it. To say it’s really hard not to push when you feel the urge to push is kind of an understatement. It’s like fighting against the most primal mammalian instinct in existence. I yelled, “How do I do not push?!” They told me to breathe. Then they thought I’d hyperventilate so they stuck a bag in my face. I don’t really know what was going on, but it wasn’t fun. The don’t-push-while-we-reduce-your-cervix part is a little fuzzy, probably because my brain wasn’t getting enough oxygen.
The next thing I remember, the midwife said she’d gotten my cervix out of the way and I could push. Pushing is really, really hard and it really, really hurts, but it’s so much better than having contractions. I knew that once I started pushing it was only a matter of a few minutes before the baby was out. I just clutched the side of the bed and someone held my leg and I felt like my head was going to pop off (in fact I did rupture a blood vessel in my eye), and it hurt and it was hard but then out came the baby!
I remember the relief of having the baby out being much greater with the other two, but for some reason not so much with this one. They handed baby to me and I was—again—shocked to see a boy. It was 5:55 p.m., about 50 minutes after we had pulled up to the hospital. Whew!
The next 20 minutes were not very fun. They took the baby away sooner than I would have liked and the midwife started stitching me up right away. I was cold and shaking uncontrollably and I just wanted the stitches to be done so I could roll over. I was super uncomfortable and pretty grumpy, and, I think, just overwhelmed by the speed and intensity of the experience. But eventually she finished, and I think we are still on good terms despite me saying some ornery things at her. I rolled over and they got me some warm blankets and I started feeling much better.
While after labor with Andrew I felt like an Amazon warrior princess, after this one I felt like I’d been hit by a freight train. It was like I was planning for the Labor and Delivery Express to pull into the station at a predictable pace, and I’d get on and we’d pick up speed while I settled in to a rhythm, hit my stride, and coasted into town, like I did with Andrew. Instead it’s like I was told the train was coming only to believe it was canceled, and on my way home it blindsided me and dragged me along at twice the expected speed before arriving in Babyville.
There was no time to “settle in” to labor. While I was never scared (except of enduring the car ride), it happened so fast that I didn’t get a chance to accept what was happening and relax into it. On the other hand, I only had to really labor for about 3 hours, and less than one of those at the hospital, so there’s that.
I also wasn’t thrilled with how things went down right after Connor was born. I didn’t like that they took him away so fast, and I didn’t even realize they’d taken him until later. I didn’t like that Mark was texting everybody already like the party was over, meanwhile I was shaking and freezing while being stitched up. We stayed in the same room that I delivered in, and the bed was like a brick—I hardly slept at all that night. Mark and I both got bored the next day waiting to be discharged after 24 hours. I was anxious to go home and sleep in my own bed.
But Connor has been amazingly easy so far (knock on wood), so a week out I have no complaints.
And now for some pictures!
|Mark had it rough in the hospital|
I can never have a summer baby because all my kids have come home in this bear suit:
So, I have three children now. That makes me feel old.