At 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant, not that I was counting, my husband and I were sitting on the couch watching West Wing reruns. Suddenly I felt a small pop in my abdomen and a trickle of something wet down my leg. Now if you are anything like the two of us, we immediately searched the internet for “water breaking,” and we came up with hundreds of what our doctor calls “mommy blogs” where people post anything and everything, some positive and most scary to new parents. But each site was the same, speaking of a deluge of water, not this small trickle I felt. It was 10:30 p.m. and we decided to call the doctor anyway. This being our first pregnancy, we wanted to make sure we covered all our bases. When we called, it wasn't my doctor on duty but another woman in the practice who had recently delivered a friend's baby so we felt comfortable talking to her. She said she didn't think my water had broken but I should come to the hospital anyway just to be sure.
We packed up the car, just in case, and headed over to the hospital. The whole drive I kept telling my husband that this was silly. I didn't feel like I was in labor. I had no pain, no contractions—I was sure we weren't going to have the baby that night. We checked in at the ER as per hospital policy and I was wheeled up to labor and delivery. I was still insisting that I wasn't in labor and that we were going home after they checked me. The nurses gave me a gown then told me to change and then lie down on the bed. After I got in the bed the nurse on duty took a small piece of litmus paper, the kind you used to use in chemistry class to check for pH levels, and touched it to my thigh to test for amniotic fluid. It immediately changed color and she walked out of the room. We were so confused because they never said if my water had broken or not. Turns out, yes it had broken and I was having contractions—I just couldn't feel them. They hooked me up to the fetal monitor and told me that I was going to have to start pitocin in order to progress my labor because I wasn't dilated at all.
By this time it was 11:30 here in the Central Time Zone and we called our parents. My parents live in the Eastern Time Zone so it was 12:30 for them and I didn't want to call so late but I did. I called and my groggy mother answered the phone. “Mom we are having a baby,” I said. She replied, “I know honey.” I repeated, “No Mom we are HAVING a baby!” That woke her up. They live six hours away and the nurse and said that I wouldn't have the baby before noon at the earliest since this was my first baby and I hadn't even started to dilate. So she asked us to call her again at 6 for an update before they got on the road. My husband reached his sister and his parents and they said the same. They would get on the road by 6 a.m. and be here just in time for the birth.
So they started my pitocin. I was adamant that I didn't want an epidural, so I turned down the offers at the beginning of the process. I just wanted to see how much of this I could do on my own. That in addition to my fear of needles made me sure I didn't want an epidural. After about an hour and a half on the pitocin the contractions started in earnest. I could feel the pain and forced my husband to talk to me through each contraction in order to distract me. Around 4 a.m. I began vomiting. This has always been my reaction to severe pain but I hadn't anticipated it happening during labor. My husband was a trooper and helped clean out my bucket each time. (Note: If you meet a man who will throw away your vomit when you are most vulnerable, marry him. He is a keeper.) They checked me and I was around 5 cm so they turned off my pitocin to let me progress naturally.
Around 5:30 a.m. I just couldn't take it anymore and had decided that I was no longer afraid and that I wanted the pain to stop. I couldn't envision another six hours of this. I asked for the epidural. The anesthesiologist came in and went over all the paperwork. At the end of his speech he asked if I had any questions I responded, “I'm in a sh*t ton of pain, so can we move this along?” (My husband still laughs about that and our son is now 6 months old.) After signing all the forms I asked if I would be bed-bound after the epidural and my nurse said I would so I asked to be unhooked from the monitors because I felt like I needed to use the restroom. She asked me to wait so she could check me to see if I was progressing, and low and behold I was 9 and 1/2 cm dilated. She called off the epidural and called my doctor into the room. I was going to get my drug free child birth after all.
I began pushing at 6:15 a.m. on June 21, 2012. I hadn't screamed, I had cried plenty, and I had vomited twice. This was not exactly how I had seen my night going and I hadn't finished everything I wanted to do in the nursery but my little boy was coming and it was all or nothing. The nurses kept saying how they didn't understand how I hadn't screamed or how I had progressed so fast. The doctor told me to give a few pushes and she would see how we went. I pushed once, then twice, and she said she saw the head. Now if you should know anything about me it is that I read nearly every pregnancy book out there and have visited tons of websites for information about my pregnancy and what I should expect. Nothing prepared me for the BURN of delivery. I had only read once about the “burning ring of fire” that can accompany delivery. Well I had that going on for sure. I told the doctor I couldn't do it and she told me I could and that at this point I really didn't have a choice. She was right. My body took over and after 30 minutes of pushing my beautiful son came squalling into the world. We named him George. He weighed 5 lbs and 10 oz, and he was perfect.
We basked in his beautiful newborn self and waited for our family to arrive six hours later. What we didn't know was that in less than 24 hours our precious son would be taken from us and placed in the NICU. George wouldn't eat and hadn't passed his meconium plug. The doctors gave him a suppository and waited. At this point we still had our precious little bundle but I was getting anxious that he hadn't eaten yet. We had been trying to breastfeed since the moment he arrived and though he seemed interested at first he soon tired of it and refused. The lactation consultant said not to worry and she brought me a pump to stimulate my milk supply until George was ready. Suddenly while my sister-in-law was holding him George vomited up green bile. We called the nurses desk and they told us not to worry but that someone would come get him to check. They did come get him, but they never brought him back. After two hours my husband and I walked down to the nursery to check. He was surrounded by doctors and nurses and they asked us to return to our room and that someone would come down to talk to us soon. When they did I asked my husband to take them into the hall to find out what was going on because I was hysterical and couldn't listen. He came back in and told me what was happening. George was being taken to the NICU. He was having trouble maintaining his body temperature and they were concerned that he still hadn't passed his plug. We would be allowed to see him at any time and the grandparents could come during visiting hours two at a time. I was beside myself. I knew he was getting the best care possible but I just wanted to hold my baby.
George passed his plug at 48 hours old. I continued to pump so they could feed him my colostrum and milk instead of formula and we visited him multiple times a day. I was released after three days but George stayed in the NICU for a week. We had wonderful nurses. After two days we were able to hold him, after five I was able to try and breastfeed, and on day seven we took our tiny boy home.