Saturday, June 5, 2010

Reflections on Mother's Day

So, it was my first Mother's Day.  Perfect time to reflect on being a mom, right?  [Ed. Note: it's not Mother's Day anymore. It was when I first started writing this, but you know how that goes...] Where better a place to start than Claire's birthday.  Or, the events leading up to Claire's birthday, anyway.

I blogged on the Thursday before Claire was born from the bathroom of my Dr. office.  Classy.  It was my 39-week appointment, and at the appointment, I was shocked when my Dr. said "so let's talk about induction."  I wanted to avoid induction (this seems obvious to me, but some people schedule inductions out of convenience, or supposed need, or actual need), and after my Dr. explained induction methods, I REALLY wanted to avoid induction.  Let's just say, I don't want someone's hand up my hoo-ha separating things from other things.  Honestly, I still don't quite understand what it entailed, but OMG NO THANKS if it involves the aforementioend hand up the aforementioend hoo-ha.

Approximately three seconds after that conversation, I told myself to deliver on time.  My Dr. suggested some things to help get things moving.  Long walks, um, relations with your husband, spicy food.  All very scientific methods, right?

So, we headed to Las Fuentes, our favorite Mexican (haha, well, they serve enchiladas, but you won't find this food in Mexico) restaurant.  And MAN.  DID I CHOW DOWN.  Spicy salsa?  Check.  (And seconds, and thirds... waitress probably lost 2 lbs. with all the running back to the kitchen she did for me.)  Spicy enchilada sauce all over my burrito?  CHECK.  (And doesn't Mexican food talk sound dirty?)  Fried apple dumpling ice cream caramel omg dessert?  CHECK.  Although, that didn't necessarily help get labor started.  But come on, I was 39 weeks pregnant.  I'm sure you can understand.

On the drive home, I was in a panic that I'd have the baby that night.  Why the panic?  Well, after consuming so much food, it's gotta come out sooner or later, if you catch my drift.  I honestly had a quick panic that the spicy food would cause some, um, intestinal issues, and that I'd shit all over the doctors if I was pushing a baby out within the next 12 hours.  I think every woman fears shitting in the delivery room, so I won't pretend like the thought didn't cross my mind.  Thankfully, the baby wasn't really ready to come out quite yet.

I went to work the next day, a Friday, and was so busybusybusy that I stayed until 6:30 p.m. wrapping things up.  Perhaps my subconscious knew that it would be my last day of work for 12 weeks, hence the staying so late.  I mean, shit, it was a Friday night?  Who stays until 6:30 p.m.?! 

I don't really remember what we did on Friday night.  Probably cashed in early as we are wont to do after a long week of working.  Oh, and the whole 39 weeks pregnant thing.  Yeah, pregnant bitches be TIRED.

Saturday morning was when it all started, in my opinion.  The spicy food of Thursday and the long work day of Friday were the precursors of the beginning, but I wasn't contracting or anything.  Saturday morning, I went to my chiropractor.  He asked when I was due, I indicated "any day now", and he did an adjustment on my pelvis that he'd never done before.  I didn't ask about it, but the moment after he did it, I thought "this is going to start my labor."  I had spoken to a man in the chiropractor's office a month or so prior, who mentioned that his wife went into labor with both of their kids the day she went to the chiropractor.  He even joked that for their second child, she wanted to deliver so badly that she drove to the chiropractor for an adjustment because she knew that would jump-start labor. 

Maybe it's psychosomatic, but I had my first contraction in the car within 10 minutes of leaving his office.  We went to breakfast at our favorite Coney Island, where we had gone every Saturday for the past month.  The waitresses joked "still pregnant?" and we chuckled with our stock answer of "any day now." 

I had a couple more contractions sporadically, but nothing to indicate "this is it."  Nick's friends came over and the three of them hung out in Ann Arbor for the afternoon.  I was invited, but was definitely not in the mood to be traipsing around.  Plus, they were going to get Indian food, and well, if I didn't want to shit Mexican food on the delivery table, I sure as hell didn't want to shit Indian food on the delivery table.  Right?  Right.

Instead, I got a pedicure, thinking that if my legs would be up in the air within the next week or so (in labor! you pervs), my toes better look nice.  This is the smartest thing I have ever done.  Well, not really, going to college was pretty smart, starting a 401k was pretty smart, etc. etc., but it was the best $35 spent for sure.  Everyone commented on how nice my toes looked during labor, I swear.  And I felt like a million bucks, just because some guy loofah'ed my feet and slapped some polish on my toes.  It's pretty hard to make a pregnant lady feel hot, but nice toes did the trick.

In hindsight, I can't believe I didn't realize that I was in "pre-labor" - I spent the rest of the day big-time nesting, pretty much just napping non-stop the rest of the day on the couch while I watched horrible (both in plot-line and execution) documentaries on Netflix OnDemand. 

Sunday morning and afternoon were pretty uneventful, except for the random contraction here and there.  I knew these were real contractions, because they hurt like a mother.  Not totally gut-wrenching, but definitely sobered me up to the realization that ouch, I'm about to have a baby, and ouch, it's going to hurt.  We had lunch at Grand Traverse Pie company.  I was trying to sneak in as many "dates" as I could before the baby arrived.  Plus, while I normally love to cook, I couldn't bear the thought of cooking, or, even more so, cleaning up after cooking.  I was starting to get exhausted, even though I hadn't really done anything but lounge around.

That night was the Oscars.  My contractions started to get closer together, and more consistent around the start of the Oscars, around 8:00 p.m.  I later decided that this was the start of my labor.  We started timing contractions, and kept a log of them for an hour or so.  I remember getting up to walk through a contraction, but stopping to say that Ryan Reynolds was looking mighty hot in a tux.  Early labor, clearly, as I could still converse and have clear thoughts.  Thoughts that were not like "OMFGGGZZARSGGEASHITFUCKDAMNAZZZZEAPPPAEEERRRPPRPEZMGAGPAO!"  Those would come later.

We went to sleep around midnight.  Well, I should say, Nick went to sleep around midnight.  I got into bed, had a few contractions, and said "aw hell naw" because laying down made them horrible to bear.  I got an exercise ball, situated it next to my bed, and sat on it for 3 hours, contracting every 5-6 minutes.  Nick was none the wiser.  I figured I'd let him sleep, it's not like he could have helped anyway.  Very early on in labor, I realized that I wouldn't be needing Nick's help other than to have him in the same room as me.  I didn't need him timing, counting, massaging, or even coaching.  I just needed him to be in the room with me.  So there he slept, because I didn't even let him know that my labor was charging ahead full steam.

Truthfully, I wasn't even 100% sure I was in labor.  I still didn't believe it.  I knew I was having contractions, but I had read too many birth stories about women being sent home after tons of contractions.  I didn't want to be that woman, because I had/have such anxiety about hospitals (no, like, REALLY) that the thought of going to a hospital, getting checked out, and being sent home was akin to torture to me.  I don't mean that metaphorically, either.  I would rather pay someone $1000 than have that happen. 

So when Nick woke up at 3:00 a.m., found me next to the bed contracting every 5 minutes, and learned that I'd been doing that for the past three hours, he jumped up and said "we're going to the hospital!"  I dragged my feet big time, taking a long, hot shower, packing my hospital bag verrrrry slooooowly, and blow-drying my hair.  He kept rushing me, and I kept saying "well, we still have time..." 

Not only did I not want to get sent home for false labor, but I didn't want to spend most of my labor at the hospital.  We had already visited the hospital, and while it's one of the best in the country, the rooms leave much to be desired.  I was enjoying (as much as I could) being in my own room, on my own exercise ball, in sweats.  In hindsight, I should have stayed home longer, but I had to get hooked up to an IV to get antibiotics (group B strep positive) at least 4 hours before delivery, so Nick was eager to get to the hospital.

Before we left the house, I hopped on the computer to write my boss an email.  "I think I'm in labor, so I won't be in today."  On the way out the door, I gave my dog a sympathetic speech.  Poor guy watched us pack our suitcases, and thought he was going on a trip with us.  Most of the time, when we packed a suitcase, it meant we were going on a roadtrip, and Murphy usually is in attendance.  So he got geeked for this trip we were obviously about to take, and wagged his little tail to the garage door.  I had to explain to him that we were going to the hospital to have his baby sister, and I apologized for the upheaval I was about to cause him. 

I think only "dog people" will understand.  I truly felt devastated and sad that I was leaving my little guy, and about to betray him by having a baby and shifting all of my love elsewhere.  As a non-parent, that feeling made sense to me at the time.  Now, as a parent, it seems silly that even happened, and maybe it was partly the hormones, but I truly got a little choked up as I saw him stare up at us, like "we're going on a trip, right? Right?! Yay!" only to have us leave without him.

We arrived at the hospital - it was a ghost-town - at 5:30 a.m.  I was checked within an hour.  4 cm!  Not being sent home! HIP-HIP-HOORAY!  I could have kissed the Resident Dr.  I couldn't believe I had actually started labor, and that this was the real thing.  Contractions were definitely uncomfortable still, and painful.  But I could walk to my hospital room, and still talk fine.

By the time I was in my room, around 6:45 a.m., the nurses were about to change shifts.  The nurse who was leaving put my IV in.  "You're really really good at this, right? You never miss, right?"  After she assured me she was an expert... she missed.  Of course.  Cue mild panic attack.  I have a needle phobia, if you will.  Yeah, I was about to have a baby.  You'd think that the excitement of the event, along with the pain of the contractions would distract my mind from focusing on the needle about to pierce my vein, but you'd be wrong.  Anyway, once that fiasco was over, my new nurse arrived.

I swear, someone was looking out for me.  Or maybe this was some good karma coming back my way for past good deeds.  Or maybe it was just dumb luck.  But this nurse couldn't have been better, I swear.  She was with me from 7:00 a.m. until her shift ended at 7:00 p.m.  I told her that I planned on trying to have a natural birth, and she was my biggest cheerleader.  She was so present (I think I was her only patient) and gave me just the right amount of praise ("you CAN do this, you absolutely can") and encouragement ("why don't you go walk some laps around the hall?"  "do you want to try to get in the tub now?") that I became really confident in my ability to labor and birth a child.

I had no idea what to expect of labor - I think that was my biggest question while I was pregnant.  How would I handle labor?  How much would it really hurt?  Was I strong enough to go natural?  Despite my fear of needles, would I beg for an epidural.

This nurse could not have been a more perfect match for me.  Yes, it hurt, but she told me I could do it, and I believed her.  I credit her with helping me to believe that I could actually do it.

But I'm not going to sugar-coat it.  Contractions?  Hurt like hell.  Toward the end, they were so bad that I was barely able to stand.  We were making loops around the maternity wing, and the loop would take us past the waiting room where my mom, sister, and in-laws were waiting with baited breath.  Those last few hours, though, I told Nick I just wanted to walk back and forth down the short hall, instead of making loops, because I didn't want to have to walk by my family.  The thought of having to stop and say hi, make funny comments about being in labor (all things I felt obliged to do, I mean, they had been sitting there nearly 10 hours at that point!) was more than I could bear.  I was having out-of-body experiences with the pain at that point, and couldn't make eye contact or even smile.

After my first check in triage, before I was admitted, I was checked two times in about 8 hours.  The prognosis?   First I was 4-5 cm, then I was 5 cm.  WHAT THE EFF?  I had labored at home and got to 4 cm.  Then for EIGHT HOURS I only went 1 cm further.  It had to be a mistake.  They said to keep on walking... so walking I did.

Finally, after a brief stint in the tub, and more swaying and walking and out-of-body holy-hell-this-hurts pain, I was 8 cm.  More walking.   More eyes rolling back in my head.  It never even occurred to me to ask for an epidural.  I was so focused on getting through each contraction, that I didn't really even notice the time or how long I had been in labor.  When Nick quietly asked me if it was okay for him to order some food, I couldn't believe that hours had passed.  Labor was so strange, it was as if time stood still and I existed in some sort of parallel universe.  I actually couldn't think past the next three minutes.  With the end of each contraction, I just focused on resting for the brief 1-3 minutes I had until another one came. Sometimes they were back-to-back and it was just survival mode.

When I was finally 10 cm, my Dr. asked if she could break my water.  She did that, and I went back to 8 cm dilated!  I was FLOORED.  THE HELL?!  Contractions post-water-breaking were much more painful than before.  (Which, side-bar, makes me wonder if my water had broken early in the labor... if I would have been able to go drug-free - because really - they hurt a hell of a lot more after my water broke!)  It only took 20 minutes or so to get back to 10 cm. 

When they say "you'll know when you need to push" - they aren't kidding.  One second, I was in labor, having contractions.  The next second, I was immediately feeling the need to push.  The need to push? by the way, feels like you're about to shit your pants.  I know, it's not really the romantic and beautiful side of childbirth, but I'm just being honest.  It's that feeling you get (well, maybe you don't get it, but I get it occasionally) when you have to get to the bathroom quickly, or else.  Except the release of that pressure feeling would take nearly an hour to get rid of!   Can you imagine?  Thankfully, by this point, though, I'd been in labor for 24 hours, and had already, um, gone to the bathroom while I could. And I hadn't had anything to eat in those 24 hours (no Mexican food, no Indian food, I was in the clear!) so thankfully there wasn't a whole messy mess to clean up.  Well, it was messy, but most of the mess was due to the birth, and not due to my last 2 days worth of food.

I pushed for about 45 minutes.  I won't lie... at first, I was fake-pushing. Because that shit HURTS.  So I would give maybe 30% effort and then take a break.  Luckily, the lights were low, and the nurses/doctors in the room weren't super loud or cheerleadery.  I told Nick early into my pregnancy that I didn't want a cheerleadery nurse chirping at me to pushpushpush! It was pretty calm and quiet. 

But after a few dozen fake-pushes, my doctor leveled with me. "Listen Lindsay... you're not really giving it your all.  You're going to waste a lot of energy with these pushes, which you need down the road."  I knew she was right, and I tried to give myself a pep-talk.  "It's not like I can keep avoiding this pain, the longer I dink around with these fake pushes, the longer I will be in labor."  I just had to accept the fact that I was about to endure horrific pain, and get on with it.

At this point, they took a bed sheet that had a bunch of knots in it, almost fashioned it into a rope, and had me hold on to one end of it while Nick held on to the other.  He was literally standing at the foot of the bed, front and center right between my legs where the doctor normally is, coaching me through each contraction. I was kind of nervous that he would end up delivering the baby!  Finally, the doctor told him he could resume his spot up closer to my head, and she prepped for delivery.

I honestly don't really remember many more details - lots of pushing, which is basically like you're constipated and about to have a human-head-sized-crap, if we're just being honest. Turns out it kinda hurts for a human head to come out of your nether regions.  I am sure this is the first time you have ever heard that, I am a visionary, right?

And all of a sudden, I open my eyes, and there's a skinny, crying baby, arms spread out, covered in blood.  My first question was "are you sure it's a girl?" because I had been terrified that all of our pink clothes and purple walls would be for naught, but I had no reason to worry.  They plopped her on me, and there we have it - I became a Mom.

This was pieced together mostly for my own posterity... because while I had planned to write it down for within a week of the birth, here it is almost 3 months later and the details are already kinda fuzzy to me. (And truthfully, it took me 4 weeks to write. Yeah, this lovely piece of Nobel-prize-worthy literature took me 4 weeks to write.  Call Stockholm!  Or is it Helsinki?  Some Scandanavian city, right?  I am so smrt.)

Here is a picture of my kid as George Washington, because how else do you end a cluster-(swearword) of a post that really has no cohesion or flow?


Lindsay Collins said...

Wow - I just read my own post and am embarassed at how I repeat myself so many times. Yeah - wrote it over the course of many weeks, jotting down things as I remembered them.

Another thing I just remembered that was kinda funny? My brother came to visit the day after Claire was born, and we turned on the TV for the first time. We flipped to Jerry Springer and watched it for a few minutes, making jokes about how ridiculous it was and what not. All of a sudden, a doctor opened the door, and Nick and I both scrambled for the remote because we were so embarassed that we were watching Jerry Springer instead of reverently fawning over our newborn. Ha!

Pfabulous Pfallers said...

Lindsay, you are one funny girl. I am still in awe of you... and I can't wait to see Claire again. :)

Meg said...

I think this is going to sound really bizarre, but I loved reading this. It's kind of refreshing just to read something about childbirth that's straight up about how much it frickin hurts and the shitting the bed fears etc. I give you major credit for going natural! I don't think I have the cojones to do that.

Your sweet little baby is just the cutest thing ever. I'm so glad you didn't poo Mexican food on her.

Also: as a momma to a furry-baby only at this point, I totally get the guilt/sadness you felt saying bye to your pupdog. I'm glad to know that feeling will go away!

Amber said...

I get all of this! We watched People's Court, though. :)

Danielle (elleinadspir) said...

You are cracking me up! I have always thought it was odd to suggest 'eat spicy food to induce labor' when child birth has a high probability of inducing...well, yea. Anyway... I am so glad someone else pointed this out other than me. Your little George Washington princess is adorable!