Disclaimer: If you don't know me then do not feel obliged to read this. Then again, who reads this thing anyway??
Because I have been wanting to write out the story of Tommy's entrance into the world for quite a while now (read: nine months), I am retroactively linking up to Camp Patton to share how things went down. I have read many too many birth stories. I read quite a few before Tom was born (not the best idea), and many since, for solidarity's sake. Let me first say that I really admire the people who can recall blow by blow, minute by minute everything that happened during their birth. This isn't gonna be one of those stories, because I can barely remember parts of the 26 (25? 27? I dont know) hours that I spent laboring and delivering. I was recently lamenting to Patrick that we have no family photo from the hospital when Tommy was born, but he reminded me that that is probably because we were in Jersey, and it was just the two of us, which is something I think that I have chosen to erase from my memory.
My due date was May 21, and I decided to quit my terrible, temporary, customer service job a few weeks before my due date hit so that I could prepare for our upcoming move, which was supposed to take place 2 or 3 weeks after the baby was born. My pregnancy was pretty uneventful, and without complication, unless you consider crazy mood swings and a bottomless pit of a stomach complications. No braxton hicks, no nothing. I was pretty sure that the baby was going to be late, though I couldn't say why, but I still stubbornly hoped that he might come early. My mom took a flight out to Jersey the day before my due date so that she could be there when the baby was born and stay with us for a few days before the move. Obviously, the mere fact that she came out and could only stay a week pretty much guaranteed that the baby would NOT arrive while she was visiting, which is exactly what happened. We spent the entire week trying to distract me with terrible 3000 piece under the sea puzzles, and pedicures, but to no avail, and a week later we drove her back to the airport, and I rode all the way hope in tears. That was a sunday. I'll note now that for the past week I had been almost all the way effaced, but only one centimeter dilated, with nary a contraction to be found, and my doctor had stripped my membranes the day after my due date just in case. My mom left on a Sunday, and I had another doctors appointment scheduled for Tuesday, if the baby didn't make an appearance before then. On Tuesday, when I still hadn't gone in to labor, we went to the doctor to have a non-stress test to make sure things were going alright with the baby, and to have an ultrasound to check my fluid levels. My fluid was low, but not alarmingly so, but I was a little worse for wear at this point, and we were supposed to be moving in two weeks, so time was not on our side. The doctor said that even though the fluid levels weren't a huge cause for concern, it was her recommendation that I go to the hospital either that day or the next to be induced. I should mention here that I did not, not NOT want to be induced. Somewhere along the line during my pregnancy, I had convinced myself that the only right thing to do, the thing I NEEDED to do, was have a natural birth (this is a whole other post, that perhaps I'll write another day), and we had come up with a birth plan that involved no meds, intermittent monitoring, the works. Patrick and I had discussed a few times what would happen if we needed to be induced, and I knew that if that happened, I would most likely not be able to labor without an epidural. So, I wasn't super jazzed about being induced, but I was more than ready to have the baby already and get a move on, so we went home, took a shower, and showed up at he hospital later that afternoon. While I was being admitted, I found out after being checked out by a nurse that my water had broken, unbeknownst to me. I mentioned that I had been having some leaking on and off since Sunday, but I had no idea that that meant my water had broken, because lets be honest, I was having a bit of trouble holding in my pee at that point anyway. After realizing that my water had broken a few days prior, it was clear that they definitely wanted me to deliver as soon as possible to minimize the risk of any infection. Looking back later, I realized that as I was laying in the admitting room waiting to go to labor and delivery, I actually started having my first contractions. It bears commenting that when I realized this later, I was not a happy camper, because I had really wanted to labor at home before going to the hospital, but at that point the ball was already rolling. The first thing that happened when we got to the birthing suite (that makes it sound alot more glamorous than it was), was that I received a balloon catheter that was supposed to help me dilate more quickly. This catheter...not fun. It caused a lot of really painful pressure, and to be honest I'm not even sure how many centimeters I was dilated by the time they finally removed it. At this point, a nurse gave me some Ambien in the hopes that I might be able to get some rest. At this point, we were watching What not to Wear on the TV, and when I told Patrick there were six people on the screen, he replied, that no...there were only three. I may or may not have slept at this point, but I really don't remember. That night my contractions really started rolling, and they werent unbearable, but I was definitely feeling them. The following morning, they took the catheter out, and decided to go ahead with pitocin to strengthen my contractions. Again, this is something that I really did not want, but I have to say, being a first time mom, in a hospital in Jersey, when its just you and your hubbie, and you're both newbies is pretty overwhelming, so I'm sure I said something like...."Pitocin...ok sure." Needles to say, the pit kicked my contractions into high gear, and I was in serious pain from that point on. Around the same time, I had started having some severe back pain. Not back labor, just pain, as if my whole back had seized up. I couldn't change position, and I could barely breathe, between the contractions and the pain in my back and neck, and I accepted that I pretty much needed the epidural, or I wasn't going to be able to function. The epidural worked...for a while. I managed to get in a few hours of rest, before I realized that the contractions were feeling really strong, my back was killing me and...wasn't that huge needle you stuck into my spine supposed to take away all the pain? This was probably the most agonizing part of labor for me, and I couldn't tell you how long it lasted, but it felt like days. Pat was a trooper, and although he was probably terrified, tried his best to help me through really intense contractions, while I clung to the side of the bed because I couldn't move because of my back. I remember being on oxygen at one point, though I'm not sure if it was for my benefit, or the baby's or both. So much of this was a blur, I can barely remember it. The first Epi failed SO miserably, that it took a really long time for the nurses to convince me to go ahead and get another one, because I just didn't see the point. I think the turning point was telling my nurse that I could handle the back pain or the contractions, but I just couldn't handle both, so she called for another EPI, which actually worked. After that I really was able to rest for a few hours (can you tell my timeline is a bit fuzzy??), and the nurse told me to just take it easy, and to let her know once I started feeling alot pressure, or felt like I had to push. The wonderful thing about the second epidural was that it didn't take away the pain of the contractions completely, just enough so that I could function, and I could definitely tell when the baby started moving down and it was time to push. After the doctor came in, and got ready and I started pushing, the doctor said that I could push with each contraction if I wanted to, or I could take a break. I remember thinking he must be crazy thinking that I could take a break during a contraction, instead of pushing...the urge to push was so strong. Another note here is that the doctor who delivered the baby was one of the doctors in the practice that I had only seen once, but he was amazing and I wouldn't have wished for a different doctor. After pushing for a while, the doctor told me that I would need an episiotomy, which is something else that I was adamantly against, but after convincing me that he wouldn't do it unless it was completely necessary, he went ahead with it. I only pushed for about 30 minutes before the baby was born, and it was a boy! It was so exciting to finally find out the sex of the baby, and after holding him for a few minutes Patrick and I finally decided on a name: Thomas Patrick. 8 lb, 7 oz, 21 inches long, and completely perfect. I'm sure alot of new moms would say the same thing- no matter what happened during labor, no matter how painful it was, it just doesn't matter once you meet your baby. I had alot of big ideas about what I wanted my labor to be like before Tommy was born, but it was clear to be pretty much from the moment it was over that I had the labor I was supposed to have, and things happened the way that they needed to happen. I love my birthing experience, and although I really desired a natural birth, I don't wish that it was any different than it was. And there is only one reason for that, and its a big reason: Thomas.