** This is such a self-indulgent post. The reason — although I don’t owe you one because it’s my blog and I can blog if I want to — is because I wanted to put this down in words to put in her baby book. However, handwriting it out? Well, ain’t nobody got time for that.
When we went in for our appointment at 32 weeks, my blood pressure was elevated. My legs and feet swelled up over night and I went from gaining a steady .5lb a week to 8lbs in two weeks. The next week, things were just as bad. While the situation wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t great. The baby’s heartbeat was strong and she was very active. I, on the other hand, had borderline pre-eclampsia.
When my blood pressure continued to climb, I was put on modified bed rest. That turned into “just go to work and go home and rest” rest, which turned into “Seriously, Heather. Stop doing laundry and going to Target and lay on your couch, on your left side, feet elevated and only get up to pee” rest. They wanted to get me to 36 weeks, which was Christmas day. In order to go to my parents’ for Christmas, I had to promise Jason that I’d relax the whole time we were there.
I was scared. Scared we’d have a premie. Scared I was doing something that was hurting her. Scared we were going to have a baby nearly two months earlier than anticipated.
Fast forward to week 38 – Tuesday January 7th. I had been pulled out of work by that point and we were at the doctor’s twice a week. That Tuesday, my blood pressure was higher than it had ever been. Bed rest wasn’t helping. I was sent to spend the night at the hospital to be monitored. Our doctor warned us that he wasn’t sending us there to have the baby, but that he wasn’t saying we wouldn’t have her either. If my blood pressure didn’t go down, he was going to have to induce me Wednesday morning.
I was upset. I didn’t want to spend the night at the hospital. I didn’t want to be induced, but I also didn’t want to keep going the way we were going. I felt like there were no options that made me feel good about the outcome.
So I spent all day and night Tuesday in a bed at the hospital, with Jason in a chair beside me. My blood pressure started going down. Our doctor came in Wednesday morning, at 7am and told us that my blood pressure was down, he was sending me home but that I needed to go back to the office the next day to be checked again. I was irritated. I was sooo done with the every other day at the doctors. I was done with all the “You’re not horrible, but you’re not great either” and the “Let’s just get you one more week.” Done done done.
Our doctor walked out of our room and literally two minutes later, I thought I had a contraction. Naturally, nobody believed me. I was not at all dialated, and I hadn’t been having contractions before that. Jason and I watched the monitor and exactly five minutes later, I had another contraction. Five minutes after that, another contraction. A resident came in to check me and assured me that it was most likely Braxton Hicks. He checked me and I was 1cm dialated. Nothing, he told me. But they’d keep an eye on it. The contractions continued to get stronger and continued to be exactly 5 minutes apart. He came in an hour later and I was 2 cm dilated. An hour after that, I was 3cm dialated. “Ok then,” he said. “You’re now in active labor. At this point, you’re not going home without your baby.”
Um, what? Three hours earlier, they were sending me home because I was fine. Now I was in active labor?
“You’re so stubborn. You LITERALLY just made your body go into labor because you didn’t like what they told you,” Jason said.
The contractions began getting stronger. They started to hurt. Really hurt. I changed my mind. I didn’t want to do this anymore. Not today. Maybe tomorrow, or a in a few days.
“I want to go home now, ok?” I asked Jason.
He laughed and told me that’s not how it worked.
“But when you don’t feel good, you go home and you feel better. I don’t feel good. I want to feel better. We should just go home.”
Needless to say, that didn’t fly with him.
I couldn’t get comfortable. I was in my bed. I was out of it. I was walking around. I was sitting. Bent over. Standing. Guys, contractions suck.
They moved us from our room into labor and delivery. When I get in there, I was immediately hooked up to an iv and asked if I wanted something to “take the edge off.” Um, yuh. I want the edge GONE. I want a damn circle. No edges. Give me all the things. They pumped me full of something and, I blame cinema for this one, I expected immediate relief … which did not come. But, the drugs. Why weren’t they working? Why was I still feeling this pain? Should they give me more? I thought they should. They told me they couldn’t. Well, that was some bullshit. By that point, I was 5cm and it was recommended that if I wanted the epidural (more drugs! no edge!) we should get ready for that.
I was ready.
The epidural was something I had been very scared about. Naturally, I wanted it because I don’t do well with pain and, also, hey, if they’re handing out drugs, I’m all about soothing via medication. If I have a cold, I open up our medicine cabinet and make a cocktail of things that are in there — NyQuil, Sudafed, some Rolaids. I don’t care. Something will work. So naturally, I wanted something to control my pain during child birth.
The worst part of the epidural was that Jason had to leave the room. He pretty much hadn’t left my side in over 24 hours and now I had to face this big, scary, possibly paralyzing needle without him. But I was brave and kept reminding myself that the braver I was, the quicker I’d be free from pain. The procedure was actually fairly painless and soon, the contraction pain was subsiding. It didn’t go away totally, but it was a million times better than it was. I finally felt like I could breathe for a minute.
Relief that should have lasted hours lasted about an hour and a half until I started having back labor – which, apparently, science has not created drugs for. Say what?! Why can you stop the pain in my stomach but not the pain in my back? Science is a man.
The good news was that I was still dialating close to 1cm an hour, which the exception of a couple status-quo hours. The doctor came in and told me that pretty soon we’d be pushing, which is when I had a mini panic attack. She was going to be coming out of me. I had to get her out. I did NOT want to do that. I wanted the whole thing to be over, and I was being reassured that it WAS almost over. But what the nurses and my husband didn’t understand was that I wanted it to be over without actually having to push.
I have heard horror stories about women actively pushing for hours. I couldn’t deal with that. At that point – around 10 pm on Wednesday – I had only had 3-4 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours. My body was now my newest enemy and I couldn’t fathom actively pushing for hours. It wasn’t going to happen. I laid there with my eyes closed, breathing through contractions and telling myself that it wouldn’t last longer than half an hour. I’d do a great job, the baby would do a great job and it would NOT take hours.
The doctor told me I’d know when it was time to push and I was skeptical. Guess what. Turns out this wasn’t his first rodeo. I most definitely knew when it was time to push. After the first push, I started hyperventilating. I couldn’t do this. This was the only time Jason yelled at me. My breathing was affecting the baby’s heartbeat. Slow, deep breaths kept her heartbeat strong. Quick, shallow breaths caused it to drop pretty dramatically. When I started hyperventilating, it went down and quick. He put the oxygen mask on me and pretty much told me to cut my shit and focus on breathing. Right after this, the doctor pretty much informed me that I could be doing a better job pushing (this also had to do with my breathing.)
At this point, I realized that I had two choices. I could continue to half-ass this situation, but that would mean being in pain for literally the rest of my life (which is literally how it felt). Or I could put every ounce of energy into this thing, fighting through the pain and reminding myself that the harder I worked, the quicker it would be over and our girl would be here.
According to Jason, my doctor and the nurse, I was “doing great.” Sure didn’t feel that way. And it felt like it was taking forever. I tried to keep my eyes closed and not look at the clock, but I was sure I could feel the hour passing. But then the doctor saw her head. And then she was almost out. And then she WAS out! A quick smack on her back (our doctor was kicking it old school) and our lady was crying.
“Is she born?” I asked Jason through tears.
He kissed my head and told me that yes, she sure was born. Ten fingers. Ten toes. After he cut her cord, she had to be taken away for a minute because she wasn’t having the easiest time breathing, which was quickly taken care of by one of our amazing delivery room nurses.
Before I knew it, she was putting my baby on my chest. My baby who was just inside of me. My baby who had spent countless hours squirming and kicking inside of me, was now out here, in the world, with her mama and daddy.
What a beautiful, bizarre moment.
We had a couple of names picked out, but one strong front-runner.
“So, what do you think?” Jason asked. And I nodded, knowing what he was talking about without him having to say it.
“Hello, Amelia Jean,” he said.
Fifteen or so minutes after she arrived (at 11:19 pm on Wednesday January 8th), one of our nurses came into our room. She had been with us all day and left five minutes before we began pushing to help deliver another baby. When she came in, she was disappointed she missed it.
“How long did you push for?” she asked me. I wasn’t sure. “Like an hour, I think. Maybe a little longer?” I answered.
Nearly in unison, Jason, our doctor and the other nurse all said something along the lines of “Um, no. Not even close. Like fifteen minutes. Twenty, tops.”
Could have fooled me.
And just like that, I was the mother to a 5lb 9oz, 19 inch little human.
Welcome to the world, our little Amelia. It’s not always happy and it’s not always easy. In fact, there aren’t a lot of things that are “always” in this life, but I can promise you one — your daddy and I will always love you.