Lightning Fast: The birth of Olive
Scott and I had talked for a few months about starting a family. We decided we were ready, but we weren’t counting the days or timing things perfectly. If it happened, it happened … and it did happen not long after we decided to start trying! I had a very normal, healthy pregnancy. It was almost to the point of being over-normal. I was not sick one day, I was able to continue my 4 hours of commuting a day for 38 weeks, and I figure skated right up to the week before our baby arrived. I didn’t gain a ridiculous amount of weight like I had expected – only about 30 pounds in total (give-or-take an Eggs Benedict or two!), and some people in my office, who I work with on a regular basis, found out I was pregnant literally on my last day at work. Pregnancy was a breeze for me. I enjoyed every moment of non-swollen ankles, controlled cravings, and regular kicks to the rib cage.
During the last month of my pregnancy, I went to the hospital every week for a check-up with the doctor on-call. Up to this point my visits were so quick and easy. I didn’t have any concerns, and neither did my doctor. For my 37-week check-up I did my pee-dance (a usual for all my check ups!) all the way to the clinic on the first floor. I signed in, peed in the cup and waited for the nurse to come in and measure my baby belly and take my blood pressure. She was in and out so fast—a routine I thought was normal. I stayed on the bed as I waited for the OB on-call to come up and give me the “Everything looks good. Any questions? See you next week” talk … but that didn’t happen. I waited and I waited and I waited. It seemed like an hour before the doctor came in. I figured she was just busy with all the other waddling moms-to-be, but when I saw her face I knew something was a bit off.
“Stacy, how are you feeling today?” she asked me. I was feeling fine with the exception of a slight headache, but that was normal for me. “Stacy,” she said. “I am very concerned with your blood pressure. It is extremely high. Have you had issues with your blood pressure before now?” I hadn’t. “I think we might have to induce you today. It is too high for my liking,” she proceeded to tell me.
At that moment a wave of panic washed over me. I can remember I thought a million different things—I still have one more week of work before I leave for the year … I still have 2 weeks to bake this baby… I haven’t packed that infamous hospital bag yet … I haven’t installed the car seat. At this point I’m sure my blood pressure was even higher. The doctor sent me upstairs to the maternity floor where the kind nurses gave me a smile and hooked me up to a bazillion monitors—for me and for the baby. I sat there for about 3 hours, sweating bullets and pressing a little button every time I felt a kick. I had sent a message to Scott telling him to be prepared to come to the hospital that night and I had Granny all excited that the baby would be here soon. I just tried to breath slowly and keep calm. I had had 37 weeks to get ready for this moment, but I didn’t feel ready yet. I needed more time.
After the doctor was finished with her clinic check ups, she came to see me. My blood pressure had gone down to a more reasonable level (surprisingly!). She thoroughly checked me over and had a talk with the nurses. They decided to let me go home and to come back in 2 days for another check up. The sweating stopped, and I was able to register a timeframe in my head that included a baby being delivered in two days. This was more doable than right now!
For the next week I went in to get checked every two days. Blood work, baby monitors, kick counters, hours and hours. My blood pressure was still high the entire week, but they sent me home every time. I made it to the 38-week check up, but instead of doing it in the clinic, they did it on the maternity floor. This time I arrived with my hospital bag (over) packed, car seat installed, and mind ready to hear, “Its baby time.” Luckily the OB I had seen all along was on-call this week. She looked at my charts and baby’s heart rate print-outs. She measured my belly and took my blood pressure. She concluded that because I was already full term and baby was measuring bigger than average, it was time to get this show on the road, even though the baby was still very high and had not dropped down at all. Hearing her say that she was going to induce me at 8 p.m. that night was a little bittersweet. I was going to be a Momma … I was soon going to have someone who will rely on me 24 hours a day … Scott and I would no longer have quiet nights alone at home … Was I going to like this? Was I going to be a good mom?
They said I could stay there and wait the 4 hours until Dr. Kerner induced me, but I decided to go home, take a big breather, eat some home-cooked food, and come back with Scott. By this time Scott was ready. He had a week to prepare and get things wrapped up at work, although I have never seen him drive so slow. He noticed every little thing on the way to hospital that made him slow down to turtle speed. This was when I realized he was just as nervous as I was.
We (finally) arrived at the hospital, was checked in, and given Cervidil to induce my labor (a slow-acting medicine). I was 2cm dilated at this point. The Cervidil was supposed to act over a 12-hour period and Dr. Kerner would be back at 8 a.m. the next morning to break my waters. We spent the night in the hospital. I didn’t really feel anything other than some back pain that kept me wide awake and ticked off at my snoring husband in the corner. I moved from the bed to the La-Z-Boy to the bathroom in what seemed like 15-minute intervals, but I really wasn’t in much pain at all.
Around 7:30 a.m., we heard Dr. Kerner’s voice in the hall, and right at 8 a.m., she came into our room, ready to get the pain started. After watching delivery shows and videos in prenatal class, I thought she would break my water and my labor would progress slowly. I mean, I was still only 2 cm dilated at this point. I fully expected to be able to sit up, to walk around, to carry on a conversation (of course, with the odd interruption of contractions)—I have never been so wrong in my life! As she was breaking my waters, she said we would likely have a baby in our arms around supper time. I was ready and was determined to do this the natural way. When she broke my water a wave of nausea and cold sweats went through my body. They barely found a bucket fast enough for me. In between me trying to gracefully throw up and Scott soaking up the sweat with a washcloth, Dr. Kerner said she would be back later in the afternoon—it was Saturday after all! She had things to do at home while she waited.
I was in instant pain. Our prenatal classes told us that contractions should last about a minute with 5 minutes in between, but it was completely the opposite. I barely had any time in between to recover before the next wave of pain came. No amount of reading, or watching”Baby’s First Day” on TLC could prepare me for this. This is not how they said it would be. I couldn’t lie on my back, I couldn’t stand up (let alone walk), and I could barely talk. All I could do was lie on my side, eyes closed, jaw clenched and thinking, “NEVER AGAIN!” I like to think I’m not a loud person. I don’t talk excessively (when in public), and usually stay quiet unless someone talks to me. All of that went out the window as soon as my labor started. I couldn’t talk, but I certainly could make noise. Lots of noise. Scott was trying to be as supportive as he could … Rubbing my back, getting cold washcloths, asking if he could do anything else. I could tell he wanted to stop the pain, but knew nothing he could do would stop it. In between moans and groans and back rubs, the nurse kept coming in and trying to give me medication and encouraging me to have an epidural. It was all I could do to not tell them to “beep” off and let me do this the way I want. I don’t need any pain relief. (Yes, I needed pain relief! But this was how Scott and I talked and talked and decided how we were going to do this.)
I remember looking at the clock at 9 a.m. and thinking two things: 1) Supper time? Are you kidding me? I can’t keep this up all day and 2) How the heck did Scott’s mom do this four times? By this time, Scott had called my parents and told them they should come to the hospital. I think he needed backup. He needed some moral support as well. I don’t blame him. I don’t think I could have sat there by myself watching him doubled over in extreme pain and not being able to do anything about it.
The pain continued to increase, and so did my noise. I don’t think I opened my eyes for over an hour. By 10 a.m., the nurse came in to check on me because I was making so much noise. She decided to see how far dilated I was but assured me there was absolutely no way that I could be that far along. When my contraction finally ended, I rolled on to my back with all my might, fists clenched to let her check. The next thing I knew she was screaming and running out the door. “CALL THE DOCTOR! THIS BABY IS COMING NOW! THE DOCTOR NEEDS TO GET HERE IMMEDIATELY!”
It all made sense now. All the intense pain made sense. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, but it did. I went from 2cm dilated to transition and ready to deliver in under two hours. It shocked me. It shocked Scott. It shocked the nurses. It shocked the doctor who was currently going through the long cycle of the automated car wash! This was about the same time my mom and dad made it to the hospital. I can only imagine what they thought walking on to the floor hearing me screaming, seeing the nurses running, and Scott as white as a ghost. This is definitely nothing like the books described!
All I wanted was my mom. She originally was going to wait outside with my dad, but I sent the nurse back out to get her. Between Scott and her, they managed to keep me calm while we waited for the doctor to come. The nurses had everything set up and ready to go praying she would make it in time! Things get a little blurry for me now, but I do remember hearing, “I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW FAST SHE PROGRESSED,” and seeing a jacket fly across the ceiling as Dr. Kerner sprinted into the room ready to catch our baby. Scott grabbed my hands, coaching me along like a seasoned professional and my mom supported me in the background. I knew at this point that pushing could last upwards of 1 to 3 hours, but I was not having that, and neither was Olive! I literally pushed (and screamed at the top of my lungs) for 10 minutes—eyes closed the entire time. I then heard Dr. Kerner yell, “Look at all the hair!” I gave one more big push and that baby we had been dreaming about for 38 weeks was on my chest, looking up at Mommy and Daddy for the first time. I don’t think it even registered when Dr. Kerner announced “It’s a girl!” I just remember staring down at that gorgeous face and long hair, thinking, “I did it! She is here! She is healthy! She is crying! She is beautiful!”
As soon as Dr. Kerner had the room settled and made sure Olive and I were okay, she quickly ran outside to move her car which was parked on the curb of the hospital entrance, door still wide open and engine running! We had a great laugh when she came back and told us she had never experienced a situation like it!
Now, being through the process, I truly feel that the birth of a child is a beautiful miracle. I learned to always expect the unexpected. No one labor and delivery is the same, and it certainly isn’t like the books describe. It’s amazing how the feeling of “never again” disappears as soon as your baby is in your arms. I completely forgot about how painful it was, because the reward is so worth it. I am neither afraid nor too modest to tell you that I am so proud of myself. This is the most incredible thing I have ever done. I am so proud of myself for sticking to my plan and having healthy natural birth. From this, I can only look forward to giving Olive a sibling or two (or ten!) in the future!
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By Stacy Blair