Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

In honor of Labor Day, I have decided to share the story of my labors.  Since you get to read the play-by-play of Inessa's "labor", I'm going to write about labor with Jude and Cal.  I imagine this will be a multi part series, but you never know.  My labors were pretty quick.

Mark and I had been trying for 6 months to get pregnant with Jude, but when it finally happened I totally freaked.  I peed on a stick one morning after he had gone to work and when two lines appeared, I suddenly wanted to back out of the whole plan immediately.  I did what any wife-in-love-just-discovering-she-is-great-with-child would do at that moment - I called my sister and FREAKED OUT.  Since I also was having cramps, I called my ob/gyn to find out how reliable a plastic stick could be when I felt like my uterus was doing crunches.  Meanwhile I began brainstorming how to romantically break the news to Mark that he was going to be a daddy.  No need to think too hard on that one.  The ob/gyn called back and left a message that "Pregnancy tests are very reliable so if it says positive, you are pregnant, but we will have you do a blood test tomorrow anyway".  Mark got home first and heard the message.  Sigh...

This is what a month of candy bars look like.
I had a fairly normal pregnancy, except for the fact that I fainted like it was my job.  No idea why, but it made for several awkward moments.  I also took the old adage "eating for two" to a never before seen level of commitment.  Case in point - the month of the What-cha-ma-call-its.  A good friend, upon hearing of my craving for those particular candy bars, went to Sams Club and bought me the 60 count box.  I ate them all in less than a month.  You do the math.  I gained 53 lbs when I was pregnant with Jude, and I am convinced that well meaning gift contributed to 90% of my heft.

Of course, toting around the extra weight of a pre-teen made me a less than pleasant pregnant woman towards the end of my pregnancy, and finally, in a great act of mercy, my ob/gyn told me they were willing to induce me.  At that point, I would have done just about anything to get whatever was in there OUT.  My appointment was at 3 in the afternoon right across the street from the hospital, and the dr sent me over to another one of the doctors in the practice to begin the process.  I remember the ob/gyn at the doctor's office said, "If you are really, really, REALLY lucky you might have a baby by midnight.  But I am willing to bet this baby's birthday will be tomorrow."  I waddled out of the office as quickly as I could, determined to evict the sweet baby who had taken my body captive.

Mark and I didn't want anyone to know we were being induced because I didn't want or need any additional pressure, so we called the families and told them my appointment went well and I would possibly be induced in a few days if nothing happened soon.  It was an unusually warm January afternoon (about 55 degrees), so we stopped in a little gazebo outside of the hospital and prayed - Mark for my health and the health of the baby, and me for free flowing drugs.  Fear makes for some interesting prayer requests.

Once I got settled in a room, Mark left to go get our hospital bag and to make arrangements for someone to stay with our two dogs.  As soon as Mark stepped on the elevator, the doctor and a nurse came in to begin inducing me.  I thought for sure they wouldn't start without Mark there, but at that point it was 3:45 and it was "go" time.  Once the nurse got an IV in, I grabbed her hand as the doctor explained the process of breaking my water.  I was calm until I saw the giant crochet hook heading places I didn't think it should go, and even though the nurse tried to let go of my hand to open sterilized packages for the doctor, she finally had to resort to tearing them open with one hand and her teeth because I wouldn't release my death grip on her.

Once my water was broken and the pitocin was started, I started to relax.  I remember the hospital had way better cable channels than we had at home, so I found something on TV and laid there...waiting.  Waiting for Mark to get back.  Waiting for contractions.  Waiting for the baby to arrive.  We didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl, and the curiosity was overwhelming.  Boy?  Girl?  We had names picked out for both - Judah for a boy and Ainslea for a girl.

All of the sudden, I realized I was peeing the bed.  Repeatedly.  Not a lot, but a little squeak here and a little leak there.  I was mortified!  All I could think about was how to get through people hanging out "down there" without letting them notice I had peed the bed!  Finally, I could tell it was soaked, so I tearfully told an lovely older nurse who checked on me, "M'am.  I am peeing the bed."  She laughed and explained that amniotic fluid comes out with each little contraction.  That would be good information to have prior to labor.  Unfortunately, I got woozy reading the labor and delivery chapters in "What to Expect When You're Expecting" so with the exception of a brief video in our hospital labor class, I wasn't really up on what was about to go down...down there.

Mark finally made it back to the hospital, and shortly thereafter I started to feel the contractions.  They weren't terrible, just uncomfortable.  I remember Mark was watching ESPN (a channel we didn't get at home), and when I asked him to hold my hand through a contraction, he gave me the "just one second" finger.  You know - the hold on...give me a second...something good is on TV finger.  Men, take note.  If you give a woman the "one second" finger while she is in labor, you are bound to get a different, although more passionate finger right back at ya.

Shortly after that, a nurse asked if I wanted my epidural since the anesthesiologist was right next door.  Um, yeah.  I was of the belief that the less pain, the better so a totally unprofessional, unkind, socially challenged anesthesiologist came in and started my epidural.  Mark almost fainted, I hollered out when my leg jerked without my consent, and the doctor said, "Well, YOU'RE the one who wanted this!" when I cried.  Good times.  Good times.

The epidural worked wonderfully though (I believe my quote was, "I feel like I am sitting on the beach!".  The epidural gave me this nice, warm feeling and I was able to totally relax.  It was almost worth putting up with a horrible medical "professional" to feel like that.

Once I had the epidural, Mark and I settled in to watch TV.  I remember we watched the episode of The Cosby Show where the men were pregnant and delivering the babies.  My hands got cold, so Mark got out my red mittens that my Gram had knit for me and I wore one of those on my non-IV'ed hand for awhile.  Eventually the doctor came in and put my on some oxygen since the baby was feeling some stress with the contractions.

Around 8:00 the doctor checked me and I was 10 centimeters and it was time to push.  I did some mental preparation for the long haul - my sister had pushed for three hours with my nephew so I calculated that there was a chance I could get this baby out by midnight still.  Hopefully.  If things went well.

As I started pushing, I could feel pressure but not pain.  Counting to ten never took so long!  It was like the nurse and Mark weren't sure what number came next.  "One..."  pause, pause, pause.  "Two", pause...pause...  All I could think was how could someone who earned a 4.0 in chemical engineering count to ten like it was rocket science!?!?!  Get there already!!!   After my first long push, I said to the nurse, "This is hard!" at which point she replied, "If it was easy honey, they wouldn't call it labor."  Touche.

Next push.  I gave it my all.  I figured I could put together a good effort for three hours, right?  The doctor and nurse became a little concerned as the baby's heart rate dropped dramatically with the pushing. I remember being alarmed, but not sure what I could do to fix that, so when the doctor told me he wanted to use forceps to get the baby out quickly, I agreed and we began push number three.

I remember the moment I gave birth - it was the strangest sensation, and I was totally caught off guard because I was sure I had another 2 hours and forty-five minutes of pushing to go.  It was terribly anticlimactic - the baby was out before I even realized what that strange sensation was.  I heard this cry, and I was so confused...the baby's out already?  What?  Isn't it supposed to be way more pushing than that?  All of the sudden the doctor said, "It's a boy!" and it finally sunk in that I was done.  I had delivered our baby, and I was now the mommy of a beautiful baby boy.  I didn't cry, mainly because I was so stunned that it was over.  At 8:17 Mark and I became parents of a beautiful 7 lb 7 oz baby boy.  The nurses cleaned him up and we marveled at how precious he was.  He had two little marks on his head from the forceps, but other than that, he was pure perfection.  I remember looking at Mark holding our son as if it was the most natural thing in the world, and we decided that since we were going to call a boy "Jude" we would just name him "Jude" instead of using that as a nickname for "Judah".   Jude Stirling Matthews it was.

As the doctor stitched me up (gotta love the episiotomy...NOT), I called my oldest sister who lived in Germany at the time.  She was the only person we had called to tell that we were being induced, and when I called her to tell her she was an aunt, she didn't believe me until she heard Jude crying in the background.  I do believe her comment was, "Bitch!" when she realized my labor was around five hours start to finish.  Which is only two hours longer than she pushed.

Next we called the new grandparents, which was so much fun.  Mark's family became grandparents for the first time, and it was so fun to tell them they had a new grandson.  My folks were also excited.  I remember my dad laughing and my mom hollering when I told them we had a baby.  I think they knew something was up when they called our house that evening and no one answered.  They were thrilled to have another grandson.  I also got to call my grandma and she got out of bed to hear she had a new great-grandson.  I remember she said she liked his name.  That meant a lot to me.

Oxygen and a red mitten make for a happy labor!
It wasn't always smooth sailing after labor and delivery.  I fainted on my way out of the delivery room.  Breastfeeding was a nightmare.  I grieved the temporary loss of my regularity.  But life changed for the better that labor day in January.  So much in me changed and was healed by becoming a mother.  I don't believe there was anything magical about the physical process of giving birth, but there is a special blessing that comes with becoming a mother, no matter how it happens.


Renovation Girl said...

Ann, you should submit this to the Birth Stories blog!!! (if that doesn't work, just go to BLack belt mama and click on the link). This would be perfect there!! Lovely to hear this story!

Anonymous said...

For the record, I did not call you a 'bitch' out loud. Likely said it in my head (in both German and English) but I did NOT call a brand-new, blissfully happy mother that awful name. Even if you did call to brag about how easy labor was for you...

Anonymous said...

I loved your detail of the joy of birth - now that makes me even more anxious for my turn when it finally happens - your boys are so adorable and reading your blog, one can tell that you are a wonderful mother and it has all be worth it.