We will be leaving the hospital in a few short hours to go home and begin our life together – in some ways, ending the journey from “you and me” to “a family” that initially began this blog, some eight or so months ago. But of course, I’m keeping the blog, since all the fun is still really just starting.
I woke up Tuesday morning (Sept. 14th) feeling permanently pregnant, except for a freakishly weird trickle of clear liquid that went down my leg as I stepped out of bed. I tried to chalk it up as more of the strange and ever-evolving discharge that is part of late pregnancy, but decided to call the nurse at my doctor’s office because something “just didn’t feel right.” For one, my back pain wasn’t getting any better, and I was still having nightly fake-out sessions with contractions. I felt like my entire torso was just hanging low, and that wasn’t helping with the back pain much, either. The nurse listened to me complain (as she has on many, many occasions throughout this year), and told me it sounded like it would be best for them to check me and see if perhaps I wasn’t in the early stages of labor. I figured Heck, those crazy chicks on ‘I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant’ get to 10 cm without suspecting more than stomach upset…I could have some action happening and not realize it. Right? RIGHT?
So Jonathan met me at 1:45 pm for my impromptu check-up, where my favorite doctor was going to check things out and possibly even start discussing a future induction if Russ didn’t come. My weight had dropped just a touch (odd), pee-in-a-cup was all clear, and my check-up yielded little news other than that I was dilated to almost 2 cm and effaced about 70%. I asked the doc if he thought stripping my membranes would help move things along, and he said he’d be happy to give it a shot, so he did that – it didn’t hurt nearly as bad as I expected and I actually chuckled at something the doc said during the process. The doc said it would be two more days before they would start considering scheduling an induction, but that he was going to run a non-stress test on me, as well as an ultrasound to check my amniotic fluid levels. The NST yielded little news – Russ was healthy and thriving, though I began having contractions in the middle of the test, possibly due to the membrane stripping the doc had just performed. The contractions continued, every 5 or 6 minutes, but not so bad that I couldn’t tolerate them. I assumed they’d go away, but turns out, they never did! Then the ultrasound – this test showed that Russ was doing great, weighing in around 8 lb., 2 oz., but that the amniotic fluid around him was pretty low. The ultrasound tech smirked to herself and said to us “You may be having this baby sooner than you think.” BEST
Upon meeting with the doctor, he told us that given how healthy and ready Russ was to be born, the amniotic fluid levels were a clear indicator to him that inducing would be the best course of action. We couldn’t believe that it was actually, FINALLY time to go to the hospital!
We headed home, finished packing up some last minute things in the hospital bag, and headed out from the house around 6 pm – since we were supposed to get to the hospital around 7:30 or so. After dropping Rocky off at Jonathan’s parents’ house, we decided “Hey, what the heck, Becky can’t eat again for at least 24 hours, right?” and hit our favorite pizza place, Paisano’s. I got my pregnancy-standard Pizza Margherita with extra EXTRA fresh basil (so much that the entire pie is basically green when it comes out). I munched on two pieces, all the while still feeling intensifying contractions – but still able to chat and laugh a bit. I was in that foggy haze that a lot of pregnant women hit around week 39 or 40. Like you know, logically, that you won’t be pregnant forever, but a very real part of you doesn’t fully believe that fact. In other words, it just wasn’t hitting me.
We chatted a lot with people we knew at the pizza place, and ended up being kind of late getting to the hospital. When we finally got out of the car, I looked up at this monstrous brick building and thought to myself “Wow…this is it. This is really happening.” I knew: the next time I came out of that building, I’d be holding my little boy. When we checked in, the administrators we spoke with had been expecting us, and the process only took a few minutes. Soon, I was set up in a triage room (since all the Labor and Delivery suites were full – kind of a crazy night for baby havin’) for a little while, and our nurse started my Cervadil insertion. The contractions REALLY began to get serious at that point. I actually had to concentrate and breathe through them. For me, contractions were a lot like menstrual cramps, but with one big difference. I don’t know if it’s the way my uterus is tilted or something, because Russ wasn’t a “Sunny Side Up” baby – but I had a ton of back labor, just as I usually feel my menstrual cramps all in my back. My stomach would tighten up like a rock, but all the intensity of the pain was really in my lower back.
Now for the fun part…the event that will forever be known to us as the “Bad Ambien Trip.” Jonathan and I will laugh about this for the rest of our lives. The nurse said that since my contractions were just starting to ramp up and I still wasn’t dilated much past 2 cm, they’d give me an Ambien to help me sleep. I’m not exactly someone who takes a lot of controlled substances (I’d have made a horrible drug addict, I simply have no tolerance for much other than Benadryl and Motrin), so I was nervous – not to mention, the contractions hurt bad enough that I knew I wouldn’t sleep through them anyway. She assured me I’d fall right asleep. Well…guess again! Though it wasn’t much fun at the time, I can really laugh this off now. Basically, from about 1 am until 4 am early on the morning of the 15th, I was a mess. At one point, I asked Jonathan, “Who is that fat man in the corner? The round man in the chair?” and Jonathan looked over where I was pointing (there was nobody there) and said “Um…baby…that’s your Boppy pillow.” I then proceeded later to complain about how many people were in the room (including a skinny lady smoking cigarettes who, I told Jonathan, “can’t be smoking in here, they use oxygen in this hospital!”). There must’ve been 20 people in that room with me that were complete hallucinations from the Ambien. I was just bouncing back and forth between dreaming (because it did work…for about 3 minutes in between contractions!) and being awakened (by the contractions…OUCH!) so fast that I couldn’t make any sense of it all. I even tried to “hold up” the bathroom walls at one point when Jon helped me go potty, because (my words) “they’re falling down.” It literally looked to me like the walls were tilting in on me. Eeek!
By about 3:30 am, we were told that an L and D suite was available and it would be best to go ahead and get me set up in there, so I was helped into a wheelchair and rolled over to that side of the maternity wing. I was REALLY hurting at this point, and because of the Ambien, I couldn’t stay on top of my contractions…they were sneaking up on me, and before I knew it, I was shocked awake and trying to control my breathing (not very successfully, I might add). Jonathan stayed right with me. The doctor came in around 4 am and said she thought it would be best for me to go ahead and get the epidural if I wanted. I told her I didn’t want to get it too soon and have it slow down my labor, but she assured me that they’d be starting the Pitocin in another hour or so, and then I’d really want it – and that I needed to get some sleep to be ready for pushing. So in went the epidural and…wait for it…AHHHHHHHHHH! (that’s the biggest sigh of relief ever, by the way).
I have an entirely renewed respect for women that forgo or miss the epidural, because WOW…I wouldn’t have wanted to go without it. I know the things can have complications, but mine was perfect. I really was happy I got it. I went right to sleep and slept for a good 3 hours (but it was such good sleep, it felt like 7 hours). Around 6 am, someone came in and started the Pitocin drip, but I barely remember it. I only woke up for a second or two. Jonathan even caught some shut eye! Around 8:30, Jonathan’s mom arrived and we all just visited and I had breakfast (ice chips). Jonathan went downstairs to get some food while his mom sat with me, and I chatted with my mom on the phone, who was on her way up from Myrtle Beach along with my older brother, Jake. Dad wasn’t too far behind them, but had a meeting before he could leave town. Around 11 am, the nurse came in and I said “Hey, can you check me? I just want to know what kind of progress things are making.” She checked me and said “Hmm…you’re about 5 cm, give or take. About halfway there!” I wasn’t disappointed, but I assumed it would be hours before we’d have a baby. Boy, was I wrong…
Mom and Jake arrived about 10 minutes later and we all hung out for a little while and chatted. Jake ran out to grab a drink and mom went outside to call Dad. That’s when I felt it. The shift. A drop, like Russ’s head had just suddenly fallen a few inches lower or something. I reached down under the blankets and noticed that things were kind of…well…not what I’d call “normal.” What can I say, lady parts do strange things during labor…it’s just the way it is. I asked Jonathan to get the nurse, knowing that what was happening was probably pretty normal – but wanting to give her the heads up just cause I’m paranoid sometimes. She took a look and said “Oh yeah, that’s normal,” but her expression gave me pause. A few minutes later, the doctor swung through the door, saying “Well, let’s just see what’s going on here.” She did a quick check, and her eyes flashed upward “Wow! Okay, well, we are ready to have a baby!”
“We’re going to start pushing, it’s time,” said the doc. She seemed amused at how bewildered I was. Jonathan had been about to go grab lunch downstairs – thank goodness he stuck around when the doctor came in! We called Jonathan’s mom (who had gone to have lunch with his dad) and told her to hustle back because it was time (she made it, about 5 minutes before Russ was born – haha!). Then my brother retreated to the safety and sanity of the waiting area, while my mom got situated near my head and Jon grabbed a leg. The doc stepped out, probably thinking that it would be awhile before she was really needed (many first time moms push for anywhere from 30 minutes up to 2 or more hours) to “play catch.” I told Jonathan that there was no way that I was going to be pushing for 2 hours. Not that I really had a choice in how long it took, but I guess I’m just competitive like that sometimes.
Pushing is a strange thing. You can’t push with your face or your jaw or your arms or anything like that. It requires the most intense physical and mental focus I’ve ever given in my life! Luckily, Russ’s head was pretty low, and on the first push, Jonathan saw hair! Now, I had always told Jonathan “Do NOT look! Err…don’t look until he’s almost out! Well…just look for a second!” But the reality of the matter is that, in that moment, I couldn’t have cared less that he was looking. We were having a baby. These two guys were my life. If he wanted to watch his son be born, I didn’t have anything to say about it. Besides, the look on Jonathan’s face was absolutely priceless – he just couldn’t believe that our little boy was right there, about to be finally be in our arms.
Russ moved down a bit in the first few minutes, but got stuck for a few minutes. It happens, no big deal, but it took some work to get him unwedged and moving along. I was having a little trouble getting my form just right to move him under the bone, so Jonathan started directing me.
“Becky, you know how your body is curled when your sitting in the leg press machine at the gym? (Oh, yeah sure, I’m totally thinking about that right now…) You have to do that to get him out.” Having some familiar reference from my gym life actually helped a lot, and with that, I pushed with all my might. Just a minute or two later, Russ was crowning. I expected to feel the infamous “Ring of Fire,” despite the epidural (since I knew women who had epidurals and still felt plenty of pain), but never did. The nurse said “Do you feel anything?” and I was like “Nope, I’m pretty much numb!” I couldn’t feel anything except for pressure, which was absolutely manageable. At this point, the nurse began to get a little worried because the doctor wasn’t back yet and Russ was just about out! She hit the call button on the wall nearby and asked for the doc to get in there – quickly. She asked me if I could stop pushing and I said “Sure, no problem!” After all…I really couldn’t feel that much of what was going on. When the doc returned just a minute or so later, she said “WOW! You work fast! Alright, let’s have a baby!”
With just another push, our son was born into the world, at 12:45 pm.
Russ was put directly on my chest on top of a cloth that had been laid down just before he was born. The baby nurse that was in the room for him helped wipe him down as I looked at him, completely in awe. All I could really say was “Hi, baby! Hi, baby! Hi, baby!” I’ll never forget Jonathan’s face – tears streaming down, huge smile plastered on, just as amazed as I was. It was the moment of a lifetime. Nothing could top it. I could hear my mom and mother in law both squealing with joy, hugging each other, and crying, but none of it really made any sense to me at that moment. Everything was fuzzy compared to the sounds of my son’s cry and my husband whispering in my ear that he loved me. I remember (and have on video) looking at Russ and Jonathan and saying to Russ “That’s your daddy! That’s your daddy!” It was just the most beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. We stayed like that for five minutes or so before the baby nurse asked to go weigh and check Russ and took him away for a few minutes.
Right before the baby nurse picked Russ up, the doctor let me know that – though I had some mild abrasions that would feel like a skinned knee – there was no major damage (which was what scared me the most going into the whole experience). She knew how scared I was about really bad tears. I guess Russ just had a small head (it ended up being right in the 50th percentile at birth, I think). I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, expecting a 9 lb. (or more), gargantuan baby boy, and what I ended up with was a 7 lb., 14 oz., handsome little man – and NO irreparable damage! What luck, right?
Seriously, I know I’m going to get hate mail soon.
After just a few minutes with the baby nurse, Russ was returned to my arms, where I was able to get him to nurse. That was weird at first, but we got the hang of it pretty fast. The hospital we delivered at really encourages moms to try and breastfeed within the first hour or so after birth, when babies are usually very awake and active. Russ latched right on with very minimal discomfort, and nursed pretty well for a few minutes on each side. Granted, for the first few days, all I produced was colostrum. But by the time my milk came in on Saturday morning, we had hit a rhythm and things worked out pretty well for us. Two visits with the lactation consultants on staff at the hospital really helped, of course! I cannot say enough about the lactation consultants at Greenville Memorial. They are amazing!
About two hours after his birth, Russ and I were moved from delivery suite to the postpartum room that we remained in for the next two days. This was a funny process because – though it had been removed at that point – my epidural was nowhere near wearing off. So moving me from one bed to the next was…well, entertaining. Thank goodness for a hoss of a male nurse who, along with another nurse, used a nifty little contraption he had to shimmy me from one bed onto the next.
The remaining two days in the hospital were pretty much dedicated to getting to know our new son, waiting for my lazy right leg to regain feeling again (haha…that happened, finally, around 8 or 9 o’clock Wednesday night! Sheesh!), nursing every 2-3 hours, learning about baby care, and trying to recover (and deal with the usual postpartum stuff). Probably the most unpleasant part of the process was the pain of cramping the first few days, especially when I would feed Russ. It was especially bad at night! As long as I stayed on Motrin, it was at least manageable – but I really wish someone had told me that the cramping from the uterus returning to its smaller size would be almost as painful (for me, anyway) as the contractions I felt during the earlier part of my labor. But as is always the case…it was all totally worth it.
I couldn’t have been happier or more thrilled with my birth experience. Greenville Memorial was a wonderful hospital and we got to work with an amazing group of people during the process of having and getting to know our little boy. We felt cared for and looked after the entire time, and the quality of actual education that we received was especially impressive. I’ll definitely be delivering future babies there, Lord willing.
Russ’s birth was the single most incredible event of my life, and though I’m sure any future children Jonathan and I have will be just as amazing and wonderful when they are born, I don’t think anything in life will ever really rival the beauty of that experience. The wonderful privilege I received was that I not only finally got to meet my son, but I was lucky enough to have a birth experience that I would happily go back and re-live if I could. It was just so incredible. I am so blessed. And so in love. 🙂