The waiting seemed endless. He was our first. We had waited three years and then begun infertility testing. One of the procedures (a hysterosalpingogram) had forced open a collapsed Fallopian tube and two months later, there appeared two pink lines on the little home pregnancy test!
Two days later, the spotting started. Blood tests revealed a low hormone level suggesting that I would lose the pregnancy. An ultrasound was ordered and many tears were shed.
Yet, low and behold, as the radiology technologist scanned my belly, we saw a little heart beating inside the teeny lima bean that was our child. The doctor never did discover the cause of the bleeding and I continued to shed a few spots every day well into my third trimester. We had several ultrasounds to check on the baby’s progress and discovered during an ultrasound at 20 weeks that we were having a boy.
I worked as an emergency room clerk on the graveyard shift during my pregnancy. My co-workers shared our joy at this long-awaited baby. I remember once having gas pains so severe it took my breath away and said “I wonder if this is what labor feels like”! The nurses just chuckled; they knew what it would be like.
We prepared everything so carefully; a four-page birth plan, perfectly packed overnight bags, and childbirth classes. We practiced the three levels of breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and massage strokes. We made cassette tapes of relaxing music and found a “focal point” object to take with us to the hospital. If anyone can be ready for a birth, we were ready!
Due date came and went. I am close to six feet tall and my husband was 6 ft 5, so the doctor began to become concerned about the size of the baby. At 7 days post-dates, we were admitted for an induction. They began with a prostaglandin suppository and then gave IV Pitocin. There were a few irregular contractions, but not a lot of changes in the cervix. So after 12 hours, we gave up and were discharged. I just stood in the parking lot and cried; my husband drove me to the nearest Dairy Queen and soothed my nerves with chocolate.
Our doctor decided to try another induction at 10 days overdue. I decided, this time, I was not going home without my baby in my arms. Upon admission, the doctor decided the same thing; we discovered my blood pressure was creeping upward.
The nurse told me they had read my birth plan, but that they would be unable to accommodate most of my requests. IV’s were “hospital policy” and necessary for the induction. Also, because of the induction, I would need to spend most of my time in the bed hooked up to a monitor. We listened to the baby’s heart beat echoing in the tiled hospital room and waited for the contractions to begin.
My mother and sister arrived. My sister was due to have her own little one that day; she ended up giving birth 6 days later. She was there for every part of the delivery as she operated the video camera so she definitely knew what she was in for and I’m afraid I was not delicate and quiet about any part of the labor or delivery.
Once the contractions started in with a vengeance, I had a shot of Stadol (a narcotic) to help with pain. It worked well, so I got up, unhooked and walked around some. The doctor broke my water at 4 centimeters and I remember thinking “OH, boy! No turning back now!”
The hospital had a small walk-in tub and I had wanted to give that a try so we all trundled down the hall to the tub room; the nurse, the IV pole, my husband and I. We filled up the tub and I settled in for a few minutes. But it didn’t help the pain at all and the heat was making me nauseous. I asked for some more Stadol and got two shots back to back without any effect. I decided to get out of the tub and barely made it back to my room before I had to throw up.
After I threw up, I don’t remember much; just snatched memories of certain events. I remember the childbirth breathing was not helping with the pain at all, but it did give me something to focus on as my husband counted along with my panting. At the peak of the contraction, my panting would rise into a scream; the nurse told me later I was raising the hair on the back of her neck. Once, I realized husband wasn’t breathing with me and I roused some to find out where he was. I looked down toward my knees and his head was cradled in his arms on the bed. He was sobbing and my mother was rubbing his back, saying “it’s OK, hon; I know it’s hard to watch, but she has to go through this to get the baby out.”
I also recall, at one point, pounding the bed with my fists. It seemed to ease some of the pain. I felt totally out of control.
I remember they asked if I wanted an epidural and, even though I had wanted to do it without that assistance, I caved under the pain. They called the anesthesiologist in and by the time he reached the hospital an hour had gone by. He told me I would have to sit up, hold still and bend over. I told him what I thought of THAT idea! The nurse decided she’d better check my dilation before we attempted the epidural and found that I was already past 9 cm; almost fully dilated. So the epidural was out.
I kept feeling the urge to push so asked for something to put my feet against. Once I was able to push, I felt like I was coming back into myself. I had been so spaced out and kind of in a dream world between contractions. I could hear people talking but felt unable to answer. Now that I had something to focus on, I could talk some and push when the contractions hit. I even cracked a joke or two.
The pushing seemed to take forever. After about an hour, the doctor suggested that my energy was all being spent in yelling and that maybe if I tried to hold it in while I pushed, we could make some progress. My face was turning purple as I grabbed a quick breath and held it, pushing, while my husband counted to 10. My mother cheered me on, “He’s almost here, honey! You’re doing so well!” I remember gagging and saying I couldn’t go on and I didn’t want to do this anymore as we passed the transition stage.
The baby’s head would slide down when I pushed and then go back up when I stopped pushing; what an uncomfortable feeling that was! Because of the super-strong contractions caused by the Pitocin, his heart rate was dipping low at times and there had been evidence of meconium (baby’s first bowel movement) when the doctor broke the bag of waters. As we came closer to delivery, the doctor told me that after the head was born, I would need to stop pushing for a minute to allow time for him to suction the baby’s nose and mouth well to prevent him from inhaling that meconium.
As his head crowned, I discovered why that point is called “the ring of fire”; it burned bigtime! But the relief as his head was delivered was indescribable. As the doctor quickly suctioned his airways, I tried to hold off, but it was just too much. Out he came into the doctor’s lap. Doctor quickly brought him up and placed him on my chest where we welcomed him with warm towels, caresses, ooo’s and aaah’s.
His Apgar scores were 9 and 10 and even though he cried some upon delivery, he soon quieted and just listened to the sounds around him, blinking big bluish brown eyes at me. After the placenta was delivered and inspected, I had to have two anterior stitches and once I jumped from the pain. It scared him and he began crying again, but he was then and always has been a VERY calm baby. He weighed 9 lbs even and was 21 ½ inches long.
We ended up needing to stay an extra day in the hospital because baby ran a fever; the assumption was that he had aspirated some of the meconium. Because I worked at the hospital and we both had very large families, we had lots of visitors and it seems each one brought a balloon. The bouquet of balloons grew and grew!
When it was time to go home, we discovered family had come and cleaned the house for us. It was scary venturing outside the safety of the hospital with our new little one; he seemed so small in the big open world. The first week at home, I often wondered in my sleep-deprived foggy mind when the kids’ parents were coming to pick him up. I also had quite a bout with postpartum depression. But after 10 hours of labor, including 1 hour and 45 minutes of pushing, I was just happy to have him safely delivered.
He is a an amazing young man; he is very creative and intelligent. And as his 13th birthday approaches, I want to tell the world that I am honored to have him as my son.