WTF WEDNESDAY IS BACK, MOTHAFUCKAS!!!!!!! By popular demand. Or, well, one person’s demand. Whatevs.
So Nug and Poo – remember them? Here’s a refresher:
They are bird dogs. Which means they are bred to hunt birds. (Well, and other things too. They’re pretty useful to have around if you’re ever in danger of going hungry. Those Germans sure did invent a pretty handy dog.)
ANYWAY. They hunt. They hunt birds. Also lizards, bunnies, flies, and fucking tarantula hawks. But birds are their faves. Their bread and butter, if you will.
Some dumbass momma bird built a nest in a tree in our backyard. Yes, a nest. From which the baby birds would one day venture forth to attempt to fly. And to fail to fly. And land on the ground in a backyard with dogs who love hunting birds. And that day is today. And I’ll let you guess how I figured that out…
While the Alien (seems that should be capitalized now that he’s a real person, no?) snoozes contentedly in his swing, which I predict will last at least another 27 seconds or so, I’m going to take advantage and start writing the birth story before it all becomes too hazy. It’s going to be long, so settle in. Or just don’t bother reading it. Short version: successful induction!
I had a non-stress test after work the day after my due date, just to keep an eye on things at the post-40 week mark. After taking the printout in for the doctor to see, the nurse practitioner came back in and said, “You’re gonna have a baby!” And I said, “Well, yeah, if he ever decides to come out.” And she said, “No, I mean…you’re having a baby by tomorrow.” Apparently, after a couple of light contractions I was having, his heart rate decelerated, and it also spent a few minutes in the 112-118 bpm range – lower than the comfort zone. So the doctor said that it was most likely nothing, but given that we were past 40 weeks, she felt more comfortable just getting him out in case it was indicative of a problem. So, time to gear up for something I really didn’t want – an induction. Around 4:30pm, she checked my cervix, I was around 1.5-2cm and effaced to some degree (she didn’t tell me exactly), so we got the induction started with the super fun Cook catheter. Now, inserting and inflating this balloon in my uterus, with its sister right outside my cervix in my vagina, and the tubes taped snugly to my thigh to provide “traction” was not the most pleasant thing in the world, but hey – the point was to put me in labor, so I reasoned I’d better be able to handle a balloon catheter if I was gonna survive pushing a giant-headed (did I ever mention his 99th percentile head?) alien out my hoo. I called the engineer on my way home to let him know what was up and to assure him I’d call him when he needed to leave work, once I heard from the hospital about when to come in.
Then I got home, still kind of freaked out about this whole induction thing, and after about 20 minutes at home, I realized that the ever-accommodating Poo never came to greet me when I got home. Shit. Where was she? Not in the house, not in the yard. Fuck. I swear to gods, that dog…so I’m pacing up and down our street, aforementioned tubes taped to my leg so the balloon inside my uterus continues to push down on my cervix and…yeah. I mean, yay that it got contractions going, which was the idea, but not really what I needed right now. Finally, she came trotting around the corner of the neighbor’s house, happy as a clam…till she saw me and duly tucked her tail. Though I was relieved more than anything, because I didn’t like the thought of her having been hit by a car or something, and forever associating my son’s birth with my dog’s death. (A little over dramatic? Ok, maybe.)
Blah blah blah, I started having contractions that were remarkably like miscarriage contractions. By around 9:00pm they were about 45 seconds long, coming regularly every 5-6 minutes, and making me stop, pay attention, and breathe. Which is great, because the better contractions get going from the catheter, the less pitocin I’d need. Then the hospital called around 9:30 to tell me to come on in – and the contractions stopped. Completely psychological, because I was worried about the induction going well, so my body just clammed up. We headed in to the hospital, and the contractions started again, thankfully. They hooked me up to the pit and all its accompaniments, and drew blood to test my thyroid levels and a bunch of things they already had like my blood type and the seven squillionth STD test I’ve had since my first pregnancy. I still had the balloon catheter in, it was supposed to fall out between 3-4cm dilated. They did a cervical check when I got there and I was 3cm. The nurse told me they’d move me from the triage room to a real L&D room once I was in “active labor” – which sounded ok at the time. Hell, I was already 3cm, only one more to go to be considered in active labor! So the next few hours were spent laboring on a really shitty and uncomfortable triage bed, calling the nurse in to unhook my IV and BP cuff every time I had to pee, and contractions that were getting really intense and close together. At one point I asked the engineer that if this wasn’t active labor (strong, minute-long contractions every 4 minutes), then what the fuck was?? Finally, around 5:30am, the nurse decided to check my cervix again. She hadn’t yet because the balloon was still in and was supposed to just fall out on its own by 4cm. Well, I guess my doctor overfilled it to make it extra effective, because the nurse was able to pull it right out and I was between 5 and 6cm dilated. Which was a HUGE relief, because I was feeling really demoralized after an entire night of pitocin-induced contractions and thinking I hadn’t even progressed one lousy centimeter.
So now I qualified for a real L&D room! I stood up and my water started leaking – it was already broken but the fluid couldn’t come out because of the balloon blocking my cervix. In the 20 yards or so between the triage room and the L&D room, I had 3 contractions that made me stop in my tracks and, ahem, “vocalize” my way through them. That’s when the contractions started getting really hairy – they were lasting about 90 seconds, and coming every 3 minutes, so only 90 seconds between them. And they were never really going away. Instead of building up, peaking, and going away, mine just built up, peaked, and went back down some, and then built back up from there. That was also the point at which I was rude to my husband for the first time. When we finally got transferred to the L&D room, he made the grievous error of trying to make a joke about the fantastic view we had of Tac.o Bell – right in the middle of a contraction, at which point I told him to shut up.
I had a fantastic L&D nurse who was coaching me through the contractions – seriously, she was awesome. But the contractions were so strong, and so close on top of each other, that I was crying through them and fighting them as soon as they’d start building. She checked my cervix around 7:00 and told me I was at 10cm and ready to push! My doctor had a 7:30 c-section, so they ran to grab her before she scrubbed in for that. She re-checked me, and…I was at 7cm, not 10cm. My cervix was just so effaced that it was thinner than a rubber glove, and the nurse couldn’t feel it. Damnit! (The nurse was profusely apologetic and embarrassed that after 25 years of OB nursing, she made such a huge gaffe) So I asked them to go ahead and call the anesthesiologist. At that point, it could’ve been another hour of labor, or it could’ve been another 3-4 hours and I knew I could not take these contractions for another 4 hours; plus, I was still fighting them tooth and nail so I figured the epidural would allow me to stop fighting them. I had wanted to try for a natural birth, but that went out the window with an induction anyway, and I was always open to the epidural – shit, I’d never done this before, so while wanting to go natural sounds great, I knew I really had no idea what I was in for. None of the breathing exercises, massage techniques, focal points, anything, were even touching the contractions. The anesthesiologist arrived and went through the spiel with me (I’d signed an informed consent in triage already), and by about 7:45 I had the epidural placed and HOLY SHIT WAS IT THE MOST MAGICAL THING EVER. It only took full effect on one side, so I could still feel all my contractions, but they were only mildly painful now.
That allowed me to drift in and out of sleep for an hour and a half or so, since I hadn’t been able to sleep at all the night before. Then I texted the parents to let them know what was going on and chatted with my mom for a bit. The engineer set up his satellite radio and we listened to NPR, till they started talking about the GOP race and we decided that Rick San.torum was the last thing we wanted to be hearing about when our child came into the world, and changed the channel. By 11:00 I was fully dilated, so they called my doctor and my awesome (10cm gaffe notwithstanding) nurse started doing some perineal massage (for which I’m certain I’m glad I had the epidural), told me I had a “great perineum” (weirdest compliment ever), and had me do some practice pushes so I’d have it down by the time the doctor got there. Which took awhile because some assholes were parked in all the ob parking spots and parking at that hospital is atrocious, so it took her an extra 10-15 minutes to find parking and get in the building. (Side note: I noticed all the nurses call my doctor by her first name, not Dr. Lastname. I really like that she’s not all hierarchical with the people who are instrumental to her doing her job.) Oh, right, and they asked if a medical student could observe. And I said yes, as long as observe means observe, and not do anything. So at some point he came in and introduced himself, to which I replied, “Hi, I’m C. And this is my vagina,” because at that point….well, it was all out there.
So my doc came in, I kept pushing, and at 11:51am, at a blistering 8 pounds 14.5 ounces (a hair over 4 kg for you who sprechen sie metric) and with a 15″ head, the alien made his debut to the song “Tin Cup Chalice” on the Margaritaville station on satellite radio – coincidentally one of my favorite Buffett songs because it’s about enjoying the simple pleasures in life. Everyone in the room knew my history (imagine that, when you come into the hospital under the care of a perinatologist, the nurses actually read your chart to see what your deal is!), and they were all so happy and thrilled for us, and there was just such a wonderful, celebratory mood in the room. Then they put the alien on my chest, he nursed right away, and they let us have some family cuddle time before doing all the weighing and measuring and other crap they do. We also texted a picture to family, which my brother promptly posted to FB. I was completely covered up and all, but it was the just-after-birth-baby-still-shiny-with-goo picture that I’d die before I’d put on FB. But I couldn’t be too mad that my brother was so excited to have become an uncle. But still.
And so that is how the Alien came to join us.
Apparently if you are me, the answer to that question is, “Break down sobbing on a regular basis.”
No, not post-partum depression (though I’m certain the hormone crash makes the tears start to flow more easily). No, not frustration or anxiety over caring for a newborn. No, not nipple pain or lack of sleep or anything like that.
I just keep looking at this sweet little boy who is finally here, and thinking about what we went through to get him here. And I’m overcome by a mixture of gratitude, relief, and joy that is more profound than anything I’ve felt in my life. I still can’t believe we got this lucky. That he’s real, and he’s here, and that we got our happy ending. The cliches are all true – I love him more than I thought possible, these past couple of weeks have been both challenging but more rewarding than they are challenging, it’s amazing to watch my husband become a father. (And of course, the most insane cliche of all, that you really do forget labor the second the baby is here. Actually, no – not forget. Just simply don’t care.)
I feel fortunate beyond measure that I finally got what I’ve so badly wanted for so long. I think back to all of the doctor’s appointments, the miscarriages, the desolate despair when I honestly believed that no pregnancy could ever end happily for us. I had long since reached a point where I essentially didn’t acknowledge my pregnancies. I took that the farthest in this pregnancy in that I ixnayed betas and waited till I was past the point where I normally will have started bleeding before I went in for an ultrasound. I refused to tell anyone who saw me in real life – I let them figure it out on their own when it became obvious. When close friends and family asked me how the pregnancy was going, they got a clipped, “Fine, as far as we know.” And why? Because, I figured, the higher you fly, the harder you fall – so why celebrate or even ponder a pregnancy if it’s only going to end in heartbreak as usual? That was my pregnancy MO.
But now I’ve discovered something else. I don’t know that I was really sparing myself any grief by always assuming the worst from the get-go; I liked to tell myself I was, but I don’t really know that I was. So maybe “the higher you fly, the harder you fall” isn’t an absolute truth. But now I know that its opposite is. Gravity doesn’t work the other way ’round, so that analogy doesn’t either. My buddy Monica compared it to coming out of a dark, dark cave, and that only once you’ve emerged into the daylight do you really see how dark it was. And she’s right. My tears have been largely tears of joy. But they’ve also, maybe, just a little bit, been tears of some sort of retroactive grief. Now that I’ve gotten through the worst and come through to the best, I can let myself acknowledge just how bad it really was. I don’t need to put on my brave face anymore.
First, BLOGGER IS STILL BEING AN ASSHOLE. I can’t comment unless there is an anonymous option, and believe me – I understand why people don’t want anonymous commenters.
I was originally going to title this post something about deja vu (but I think I’ve already called a post that), or something like that, but then I thought that might give people the wrong impression and they’d think something has gone horribly wrong and it hasn’t. This is actually a lighthearted post. And maybe a little TMI, but, um, well, that kind of comes with this territory, doesn’t it?
My due date is tomorrow, March 4. Holyfuckingshit. So this week, Operation Get This Baby Out Because Nothing Good Happens in Post-dates Pregnancies has been in full force and effect. Apparently, if I can keep ’em in past 10 weeks, they don’t ever wanna leave🙂 You name it, I’ve tried it – raspberry leaf tea, evening primrose oil, walking, working out, squats, poking my belly and telling him to come the fuck on already, acupuncture, massage, and…sex. Which is…interesting, what with the human being’s head in my vagina and all.
But I’ll spare you the physical details and just share the funny, not haha-funny but peculiar funny. I felt that familiar nagging feeling of sex being a chore that needed to be accomplished at a certain time…like when we were trying for a pregnancy, but with great reticence, knowing how it might likely end. And let’s be honest – I far, far prefer sex feeling like a chore because I’m 40 weeks pregnant and it’s a physical hurdle instead of it being a chore because I’m several miscarriages deep and it’s a mental hurdle.
And so here’s the plan. My doctor doesn’t like pregnancies going past 41 weeks, and I’m board with that. As much as I dread the thought of an induction, I very much more so dread a calcified 42 week placenta. So, if this baby doesn’t decide to make hay sometime this week, I’ll be scheduled for an induction next Saturday. At my appointment on Thursday, the doc will put in a balloon catheter to try to mechanically dilate my cervix. There’s a chance this will put me into labor on its own, but at the very least, it should dilate me to 3-4cm so that if I have to be induced, my cervix has already gotten past that early labor part already. There was no change in my cervix between my appointment last week and this week, so while I’m still hoping I’ll just go into labor on my own, the hope is dwindling and I’m resigning myself to the likelihood of an induction and all of the increased risks that go along with that. Somehow or another, this baby has to make it into this world, and it looks like that’ll be next Saturday at the latest. Holy shit.
I’m knocking on the door of 39 weeks. Let me say that again. 39 weeks. I’m due next Sunday. I had an appointment with my doctor’s nurse practitioner today because my doctor was out for a delivery. She did an internal, the first one I’ve had since 36w, at which point my cervix was beginning to efface, but that was it. Today, my cervix was very thin, very soft, and about 1cm dilated. Before she started, she asked if I wanted her to do a membrane sweep if I was dilated, which is something the doctor and I had discussed last week. She warned me that it was painful, but brief. I figure the point is to prod my body into labor, and surely it can’t be more painful than that. Go for it.
Within a nanosecond of starting the exam, I got a, “Wow! His head is LOW! Really, it’s RIGHT THERE!” Which explains why I had a little trouble the first time I tried inserting the evening primrose oil (a mild natural prostaglandin) capsules – because there is quite literally a head in my vagina. Whoa. Anyway, then she discovered my cervix was behind his head (again, the reason why I couldn’t get the EPO capsules in at first), and she had to pull it forward before being able to check for dilation and sweep my membranes. I’d heard some pretty awful things from friends about the membrane sweeping. Meh. It hurt, but it was indeed quick. On a scale of ice cream sandwich to HSG, it was kinda like that lidocaine shot before you have dental work done. Makes you wanna yell “Fuck!” and as soon as you do, it’s over. (I did not yell “Fuck!” I just made a lot of “Ow, oh, wow, ack” noises.) I guess a couple-few years of having your cervix probed, examined, shot with dye, and subjected to misoprostol puts a little membrane sweeping into perspective. Being fertile makes you a wimp.
My doc won’t have me go past 41w, and will schedule an induction at that point. So next week is full – a chiro/massage appointment, two acupuncture appointments, and another ob appointment, in the hopes that the kitchen sink treatment will get this baby makin’ his way out before then, sans pitocin.