The delivery of my fourth baby was supposed to be a piece of cake. I mean, come on, fourth baby, right? Aren’t they supposed to just pop right out with two pushes? My fourth pregnancy had been a doozy, and I was ready for smooth sailing into my first foray with sweet little pink clothes after three beautiful bouncing boys. Our daughter, Scout, had a different idea on how she wanted to come into this world, and I have to say, girlfriend knows how to make an entrance.
My pregnancy came as a huge shock to us after three boys who are from start to finish, twenty-eight months apart. What were we going to do with four? How would we support them or send them all to college? Where were we going to put everyone? After wretching my way through the first fifteen weeks, an ultrasound technician dropped a bomb on me and said the words I never thought I would hear: It’s a girl.
“No way!” I said. “I can see his little tinkler right there!” as I pointed frantically to the screen.
“Uh-hmm,” she answered smugly. “But where are his testicles?”
Huh. No turtle shell. She had a point there. Giddy, euphoric, disbelieving, anxious, excited are all words that come nowhere close to expressing the high I was riding on that afternoon after leaving my appointment.
By my third trimester, I was a high risk pregnancy patient with gestational diabetes and cholestasis, a gallbladder condition that posed an increased risk of fetal demise after 37 weeks. There were downsides to my conditions, like worrying, blood sugar checks, and a ban on pizza and Chinese food (truly tragic for a hungry pregnant chick), but the upside was a weekly glance at my unexpected little blessing. Her cheeks got chubbier with every set of pictures, and by 36 weeks, I was predicted to be carrying a 7 lb. 9 oz. little butterball.
At 37 weeks, I went in for my very first amniocentesis to check her lung development, and two days later, I was in the labor and delivery room expecting to have a baby by lunch. My water broke an hour into my induction, but Scout’s heart rate began fluctuating with my contractions. My Pitocin drip was decreased, and an internal fetal monitor was inserted. Peeing suddenly became a lot more challenging, but I was thankful they could keep a better eye on Scout with the device. From that point on, however, my body refused to go back into active labor.
At midnight, a nurse brought me a pill and assured me she had never seen it not work. I would be allowed to have three doses. Let me tell you, I felt so special (insert sarcasm) to be the first patient who downed all three doses with no baby to show for it.
I began to beg my doctor for a C-section with a tubal ligation thrown in just for fun, confident I would get my way considering I was at the 24 hour mark from my water breaking. Apparently when you’re Strep B positive and getting steady streams of I.V. antibiotics, the whole 24 hour rule doesn’t apply to you (imagine a large Pregnosaurus Rex sulking upon hearing this news). My doc was determined to give the Pitocin one more shot and after hooking me back up, she sent in the anesthesiologist to administer an epidural in preparation for the Big Show.
Cue ear ringing and fainting as the needle hit the wrong spot. Attempt number two just didn’t get the job done, and after an hour of active labor (yay!) and no relief (boo!), a second anesthesiologist was sent into administer another epidural. The much needed break from the pain lasted about an hour and a half, and my husband and friends gasped when I picked my legs up and rolled completely over in an attempt to get comfortable. After maxing out my boosters for the second epidural, the first anesthesiologist returned to evaluate my condition. He determined I would need a third epidural, but at that point, I felt pressure.
A quick check confirmed my worst fear—there was no time for a third epidural, and I was going to have to go au naturel for the first time ever.
Let me just say with great reverence and respect, women who do this on purpose are crazy. I went full tribal on my doctor, moaning and screaming my way through two hours of pushing. Every time I sat myself up, I came face to face with Spaceballs, which someone in the room who was clearly asking for trouble left playing on the TV. For a woman who prided herself on strength and perseverance, these were not my finest moments.
At one point the midwife reprimanded me for screaming too loudly and told me to use my energy for pushing instead. My pride was wounded, and my dignity flared. I briefly considered cursing at her that it hurt like hell, but I could already see she viewed me as one of those sad women on TLC’s “A Baby Story” who wail “I can’t, I can’t” in high dramatic fashion.
Scout finally debuted thirty-two hours from the time my water broke with the assistance of a vacuum (not pleasant) and greeted the world turned sideways instead of face down. She was 8 pounds and 12 ounces of love. I was too exhausted to do anything other than pat her tiny head. When she and I were both cleaned up, I finally held her for the first time and felt my world fall into alignment. Someone I didn’t even know was missing from our lives was resting in my arms, and suddenly, our family of six didn’t frighten me anymore. I felt an awestruck peace snuggling my little beauty, fully aware our lives were from that point on richer than we could have ever imagined.