I spent Thursday, March 29th, 2012 exchanging baby shower gift doubles, two Target locations, two Walmarts, Fred Meyer and Ikea all saw me waddling up and down, and in half of the stores I had to leave my cart and go, um.. you know, really bad. Because I have Celiac disease I thought maybe I'd been glutened, but couldn't think of what it could've been. I was also hoping to find something that would fit over my enormous belly that was prettier than what I had for Papa's best friend's wedding.
Friday morning I woke up around 8, ate breakfast and after getting dressed and making the bed I got this overwhelming desire to crawl back into my freshly made bed. In fact, I did it, but as it was only 10 and way too early for a nap and I had way too much to do, I jumped up and switched off the light. How I would later regret not taking that nap!
My water broke in a gush of disbelief as I talked on the phone with Nana Eve. "Water doesn't just break, like in the movies!" we said. It does. I was getting ready to go to Chase and Dara's wedding rehearsal dinner and there I stood; hair curled and water coming in gushed on the floor, my pants, the rug. I sat on the toilet and called the midwife, Nana Eve (back to tell her what the midwife said,) Papa (don't rush home now, but don't go to the dinner...) and Auntie Katie (help, I'm stranded on the toilet and water's gushing... are you busy??)
Sam the Midwife said we could come in any time but definitely in the morning. Katie rescued me from the toilet around 5:30pm. The first contraction came around six. They weren't bad and I managed for awhile. Papa came home at 7:30, and they had gotten a little stronger and more regular. We had a snack, I showered and we decided to go in, because we had slept on our brand new mattress one night. There was no way I was going to get amniotic fluid on that, especially because it still came in gushes as you or I moved.
Off we headed, around 10:30pm, excited, nervous and feeling quite unreal. We got checked right in, because my "membranes were grossly ruptured," yes, that's what I had been telling them!
Things were starting to amp up as we were admitted, I remember hanging on to the side of the bed as hard as I could while Papa put as much pressure on the small of my back as he could. In retrospect, this was by far "not bad" or at least, not as bad as it would get, but what did I know, this was my first time!
Sam, the midwife came in and said hello, offered to check our progress and start some pitocin if we wanted. (we didn't) Once the cervix is checked the clock starts ticking for a delivery within 12 hours. The night was spent in fits of contractions, and promises to myself, "in an hour you can have a hot bath," and I would manage through an hour and take a bath. I remember once in the wee hours Papa was asleep on the couch- he'd worked 12 hours that day before, remember- and I was alone in the tub, so tired and the tub felt so claustrophobic I jumped up and begged Papa to please wake up, wake up please, come help me! I found myself swaying my hips in wide circles like I had thought was weird when I saw women do it in birth videos I had watched. It was just instinct, I guess.
Around 5 am, after lots of walking the halls, the one warm bath which gave Papa the only sleep he would have and a shower, Sam came and did the check. I was dilated to 5cm, and I felt so cheered, surely our baby would be here soon! Surely we would be done soon!
She came back just before her shift was over at 7 (another promised bath after she left) and I had dilated to 7 centimeters. She said maybe things would really start up, and that it should take an hour a centimeter after 5 (by the textbook, anyway!) This news cheered me even more and I continued on, doing everything I could think of to cope. They pulled out and prepped the delivery cart.
I don't remember when we decided it, but I asked Auntie Emmy to come be at the birth with me, since Nana wasn't coming for 10 more days and I had been at her birth with Meredith. I called her after the 7am check, and she raced down from Kalama worried to miss the big event. How glad I was and am to see her, and to have had her there!
The shift changed and our pregnant night shift nurse went home (and incidentally went into labor and her baby was born before you, Elliot!) Galina came on duty, and I at first didn't love her and misunderstood that I was her only patient. I quickly learned how sweet she was and how patient! The kindest angel of mercy; whatever I needed through that long long day she would fetch, do or ask, anticipating needs before I could think of them, ensuring Papa could eat while she took over the counter pressure on my back or would get ice chips. She probably heated the flax pack (hospital issued and a life saver for sure) over 50 times. There was also a student nurse in there and we thought that it would be a great learning opportunity to see a natural, unmedicated birth and labor process.
At 10am or so we met Lauren, the midwife on duty who I loved. She was a little amazonian, but calm, gentle and encouraging. She checked me and there was a little progress, maybe dilated to an 8. The labor seemed to stall there, though the contractions kept coming. I hadn't slept since the night before and all day I marked time by thinking, "if we had our baby in an hour, that will leave Papa x amount of time to shower and make it to Chase's wedding for pictures...he can show off pictures of our baby and bring me wedding cake after!
Around noon, which is when Papa started missing picture taking, I'm sure I was in transition. Nothing felt good. Breathing instruction irritated me and I felt grumpy and caged. Come OUT, baby, please please come out. I begged more than once. I bounced around the room, from couch to bed, to rocker to birth ball to toilet, barely settling in when a contraction would send me flying to my feet, on to the next thing. It was so intense, the pain in my back relentless and I just wanted to DO SOMETHING, for goodness sakes. I could see the privacy hedge out the window and thought to my self, if I could only touch that shrubbery, go out that window, then maybe I could leave my body and this terrible pain behind. Pushing would've been a welcome relief. I said so to Lauren, who checked me and I was still dilated to 8 and only 90% effaced. She strongly suggested pitocin to strengthen and regulate the contractions.
I knew the pit would only "worsen" everything and my coping skills were not only wearing thin, they were wearing through. I remember looking at the little "Baby Wilson" bracelet and thinking with disdain that there would be no baby... they had gotten everything ready and there would be no baby, only this awful purgatory of pain and crazy thoughts.
I cried talking to Nana Eve, telling her how tired I was, how badly it hurt and how disappointed I was. Papa and I decided to have this baby I'd better do the package deal of pit and epidural. It took awhile, but the anesthesiologist came in- a real jerky guy with a crude, crass manner but supposedly the best at his job.
For various reasons, reading too much and having an overactive imagination among them, I was terrified to think of that big needle sliding into the epidural space, but at the same time, the three contractions I had while waiting for him were the worst yet. Or maybe it was because I knew I didn't have to hang on much more so it felt even worse. The epidural slid right in, but rubbed a nerve and my right leg shot up in the air and the doctor yelled at me for moving. I explained and he said sorry, and we had to start all over.
Once it was in, I was "trapped" in bed, but was finally able to rest. That was 3pm. When I woke up, I could feel the pressure of a contraction but the pain was gone. It was 5pm and when I looked at the clock I cried and cried, knowing beautiful Dara was walking down the aisle, Papa was missing his best friend's wedding and I felt so responsible- why wouldn't my body have this baby, already?? I was powerless. Lauren came in and checked me and we had dilated to a 9 and were 100% effaced. I suspect that if either number had not budged she would've put a c section on the table. Your heart rate was also stable and strong after contractions and that helped our cause a lot.
Around 7 pm I was almost complete and ready to push, Irene, who had checked us into triage the night before was our nurse and she was tiny but mighty in kindness and cheerful helpfulness. We got Nana Eve on skype so she was there, Emmy manned our camera and around 8:30 I stared pushing.
It was the hardest work I have ever done. It felt ineffectual, and I almost couldn't believe Irene or Lauren when they would tell me you had moved down or they could feel your head. It sounds disgusting, but once they got me a mirror I could see they were telling the truth, and it really helped me push longer and harder. Midway through I was getting heart burn again which I had almost constantly the third trimester. It was so bad it was making me throw up and that was definitely holding up progress so Lauren ordered a shot of hydrochloric acid, and Irene, the nurse backed away, sure I'd spit it out on her. I gagged it up and swallowed it down probably three or four times before I got it down for good and it did the trick almost instantly. I was able to keep pushing and then. At 10:32pm, March 31, 2012, after two hours of pushing and 30 hours since my water broke, there you were. So beautiful and blue and scowling fiercely, the biggest cone head we'd ever imagined. Early on in my pregnancy we'd decided on Elliot Oscar "if it's a boy." They lifted you up on my chest and I felt something inside me click into place and turn on. "It's a boy," someone said, but I already knew you, and I said, "hello, Elliot, we have been waiting and waiting for you." because we had been, and nothing felt as right as holding you in my arms does. I'm your Mama, you see.
You came out sunny side up, with your hand near your face and you were tearing my body before you even came out, Lauren the midwife later said the repair she did on me was one of the most extensive in her career. It didn't heal for months and all I can remember from the first months of your life is being deliriously happy and in incredible pain. I don't think I could've handled it without being so in love with you, little boy.
I'm still a little sad to have missed Chase and Dara's wedding, to have robbed Papa of the privilege of standing up as best man, but your birthday and their marriage are now always entwined, which is part of why we picked them as your God Parents.
Your birthday was also the one day Nana requested we NOT have our baby, because 11 years before her little boy flew away to Heaven on March 31. We all dreaded that sad day, and missed uncle Benny, and we always will. But God has given us that day back, Mr. Elliot, because I love to celebrate your coming.