Not that I remember everything very clearly but this time last week, I think I was in a fair amount of pain.. OK, that's an understatement. I was in-- in my cousin, Terri's words-- a crapload of pain. I had been in unmedicated labour for almost 18 hours and because my water broke in the middle of the night the day before, Jude and I hadn't had any sleep in close to 36 hours... I was exhausted.
I figured as Sophie turns a week old today, I should take some time to blog a little about our birth story- not in too much detail of course, but something to share with all of you who've been following our little journey from here to here these last 9 months or so :)
2.45 am: Jude switches off bedside lamp to go to bed. My water breaks literally 2 minutes later. I scream, "Water, water, water!" First thing that crosses my mind was what a liar our childbirth instructor was- she said things never happen dramatically like in the movies and chances are, contractions will start even before my water breaks... NOT TRUE! Next thought: our doula's camping and not going to be back in town for a week!!! Looks like it's going to be just Jude and I. Here we go, people...
3.30am: We're out of the house after calling the hospital, our mothers, packing last-minute stuff into our already-packed hospital bag (thank god!), and throwing the sheets into the laundry (don't ask why we thought it as necessary to do that before leaving...) Oh, and downloading our unprinted birth plan onto Jude's iPhone. Let's hope someone reads Apple at the hospital...
4.20am: We're all checked into our Labor/Delivery/Recovery/Postpartum (LDRP) Room, a place I will not leave for the next 48 hours...
Sometime between pre-dawn and morning: A whole string of residents, medical students, attending physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists come trooping through our room asking me for my medical history- OK, hello, I'm having a baby and in some amount of pain- do I really need to be repeating my drug allergies to the 16 different people coming through that door?
8.30am: The attending OB comes in with a posse of medical students and unceremoniously announces to me that after 6 hours of labour, I'm only 1cm dilated and no where close to making the progress to the 10cm necessary for Sophie's birth. She highly recommends induction via Pitocin (or what Jude dubs the Bag of Pain) to speed up my contractions and hence dilation... I'm petrified by the process of any kind of medical intervention and ask for time to think about it.
Friday morning: Call every friend I know who's had a baby and ask for advice on artificial induction and the prospect of an epidural because of it. Feedback is to take the Pitocin. Since my water had already broken, we basically have 24-hours before Sophie was going to have to be delivered anyway or risk infection. If I didn't get the induction, and I'm not fully dilated by 24-hours of my water breaking, it might have to be a C-section and that was the last thing I wanted.
11.00am: Announce to the nurse that I'll take the Pitocin.
Noon: Have a very bad hospital hotdog for lunch. But it didn't look as bad as Jude's gloppy lasagna...
1.00pm- 4.00pm: Deal with what I think are some fairly painful contractions. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say they were 7s or 8s.
4.00: Pitocin arrives finally (there was an issue with some pump...). We brace ourselves for the onslaught...
4:00- 11:00: OK- so here's where it gets interesting. I knew what a wuss I am when it comes to pain and I was kind of proud of myself for bearing with the increasingly painful contractions (so we're talking 9s and 10s now...) quite well. Jude was an awesome birth coach and really supportive every step of the way. We tried all the different pain-relieving positions we learned at childbirth class and moved around the room as much as we could. I was convinced I might just be able to pull off a crunchy, unmedicated, natural-as-granola birth. Yay, the pain coward! Right? Wrong.
11.00: A resident comes in to check my dilation and sheepishly announces to me that even with the Pitocin and the added intensity of the contractions, I had only progressed by another... get ready for this... 1 cm! OK, people, 2 cm dilated after 18 hours- I thought I was ready to pass out. If I had to endure this amount of pain for goodness knows how long more before I was completely dilated, you may as well just rip the baby out of me right now. And like I said, because we checked into the hospital in the middle of the night, Jude and I essentially hadn't slept in 36 hours. Given more rest, I might have been able to cope with the pain, but coupled with the exhaustion, it was too much. I caved in and got the epidural. So much for a crunchy birth...
11.00pm- 2.00am (Saturday, 8/8/09): Jude and I finally get some sleep. The epidural takes almost all the pain away and I barely feel a thing. I remember drifting in and out of sleep, the sounds of Kate Bush and this video ringing through my ears. I think it might have to do with having just found out about John Hughes' death the night before and deciding to put "A Woman's Work" onto our labour and delivery playlist (which of course, we didn't get a chance to either 1) transfer onto our iPods, or 2) use even if we wanted to- listening to music was the last thing on my mind, honestly...)
2:00am: A resident comes in to check on my progress and lo and behold, she feels Sophie's head! The next 20 minutes is a blur- all the lights in the room come on, I hear stuff being carted in (I didn't have my glasses or contacts on and can't see a thing...), people flood the room, Jude squeezes my hands, and we prepare to push.
2:38am: Sophie's arrives! I hear her before I see her and immediately burst out crying... :) It was everything I had imagined it to be and it was wonderful. They laid her on my bare skin and I started crying even more... until I heard the doctor shoving the surgical scissors in Jude's hand, insisting he cut the cord. No way that's going to happen, I thought, but the doctor persisted and I started smiling, then laughing at Jude's look of horror-- I imagine-- when the nurse warned him, "Be careful of the spurting..." He eventually cuts it :)
And just as quickly as it happened, the doctors and nurses cleaned up and cleared out of the room in a jiffy too. The birth was uneventful to everyone else but us and in about 30 minutes, Jude, Sophie and I were left alone for some quality family time.
I think I'm putting all this down in words more for our benefit than anyone else's- it was an amazingly profound experience- and nothing exactly like it will ever happen again. Sophie's birth was a once in a lifetime event and despite the initial anxiety and fear, and the pain of the process itself, it's something I will always remember and embrace joyfully and lovingly :)